The 2016 IAAPA Leadership Conference proved to be another excellent opportunity to interact with fellow members of the attractions industry and learn about established, and up-and-coming, attraction facilities in Latin America.
As IAAPA describes it, the Leadership Conference is “created for top-level leaders and executives from attractions around the world who are looking to evolve by delivering refined guest experiences, lead by forming a culture of creativity based on park capability and budget, and excel by maximizing earning potential.”
The conference consisted of:
3 days of education and networking
7 exclusive facility tours
Day 1 began with an opening general session with words from Keynote Speaker, Enrique Ramirez. He is an owner and member of the board of directors of the Cinépolis Group—a chain of high-end movie theaters that operates 3,841 cinemas on four continents. He played a role in reviving interest in movie-going through his family’s innovative theaters.
Afterwards, we broke out into one of two “Breakout Sessions”.
From there, we headed to our first attractions facility, Acuario Inbursa. The first aquarium in Mexico City, Acuario Inbursa features more than 230 species of marine life including sharks, turtles, barracudas, and seahorses. Three stories below the streets of Plaza Carso, guests descend through aquarium tanks to explore 48 different exhibition areas that cover a variety of watery ecosystems and include interactive features like touch pools.
We were given a lovely tour of the aquarium.
Our next stop was Recórcholis. This FEC has 40 locations in 16 Mexican states and features more than 50,000 square meters (538,195 square feet) of attractions. Facilities are divided into six entertainment areas focused on kids, games and fun, big attractions, bowling, snacks, and, at some locations, ice attractions.
After a nice presentation, the IAAPA LC crew enjoyed some free time. Are we in the business of FUN or what??
One of the best, and most rewarding things about the Leadership Conference is you get to spend great time with great people. Networking and growing friendships is what it’s all about. Many (I do mean, MANY) of us got to do just that during a dinner at a nice local Mexican restaurant.
Day 2 was filled with another round of wonderful, enlightening experiences. First up, the Papalote Children’s Museum. Founded in 1993, this museum features more than 50 attractions designed to help kids learn through hands-on activity.
Activities incorporate water, sand, technology, and more to stimulate senses and exercise motor skills. Here’s IAAPA’s First Vice Chair, Greg Hale, giving the bed of nails a try.
The museum is also home to an IMAX theater where documentaries, 3-D films, and performances are offered.
The next stop on the 2016 Leadership Conference agenda was one that all of us at Sally were really excited about – Six Flags Mexico where we just installed JUSTICE LEAGUE: Battle For Metropolis!
We had some special guests at lunch!
The anticipation was building and everyone soon made their way over to ride Six Flags Mexico’s newest dark ride, JUSTICE LEAGUE: Battle For Metropolis!
And they’re off to ride!
“Who’s THAT handsome fella??” JRA’s Chloe Hausfeld gets up close and personal with Sally’s animatronic Cyborg in the ride’s queue.
Our ride proved to be a BIG hit with the IAAPA LC group. Justice League’s thrilling ride experience did not disappoint as riders exited with heroic hearts and chest pumping adrenaline.
Next stop… KidZania Cuicuilco where we were given a warm welcome by Xavier Lopez. Xavier founded the Company in 1997 and as KidZania’s CEO, he leads the Company’s overall operation, finance, and concept development.
This edutainment center scales city life down to kid size with interactive play areas based on real, grown-up occupations.
Kids participate in the average activity of a working urban area—pretending to change oil in the auto repair shop, creating currency in the mint, driving a city bus, working in a cookie factory, obtaining their KidZania drivers’ license, and more. It features a fleet of 250 electric kid-size cars, a simulated power plant, a center for natural disaster preparedness, and tactile elements throughout to help visitors with developmental disabilities navigate on their own. This is the only KidZania location in the world with outdoor attractions.
I think it’s safe to say that ALL of us were incredibly impressed by this innovative attractions facility.
They also know how to throw a party! The IAAPA LC group was treated to a wonderful cocktail reception after our facility tours. Here’s Sally Corporation’s CEO, John Wood enjoying time with JRA’s CEO, Keith James.
Day 3 of the Leadership Conference was like going back in time. We spent the majority of the morning learning about and exploring, the ancient city of Teotihuacan.
Between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D. Teotihuacan grew to be one of the largest ancient cities in the Americas. The UNESCO World Heritage site features a number of pre-urban monuments and pyramids, including the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the Temple of the Sun, and the Temple of the Moon. Called City of the Gods, Teotihuacan was abandoned in the 8th century.
This used to be a reflecting pool, to read the stars.
The site was absolutely spectacular!
Our guide taught us about the positioning of the pyramids and had us do a walking and clapping activity.
We also learned about their methods of “painting”. The colors actually come from the excrement of local insects.
The next activity was by far the most challenging, especially given the blustery winds that day. But, up we went!
Here’s IAAPA President and CEO, Paul Noland and his lovely wife Megan taking a moment to soak up the scenery.
The rest were waiting at the top…
With cervezas!! Cheers to making it to the top!
After climbing the pyramids, we enjoyed lunch at La Gruta, a restaurant housed in an underground cave.
Lunch even came with a serenade!
After lunch it was back on the bus to head to our next stop… Reino Animal for a presentation and a tour.
It was a beautiful day to be outside.
Part zoo, part theme park, Reino Animal Safari is home to more than 800 animals, including buffalo, deer, camels, giraffes, and a rare white lion. We were able to get up close and personal with a number of friendly animals (this one really liked Lauren’s hat!).
Guests can take 45-minute safari tours through herbivore habitats or enjoy a lion safari that brings them up-close with the big cats.
We got to feed the animals, some choose to feed them by mouth!
The park also hosts a number of shows featuring horses, dogs, and birds.
With some departing words, IAAPA President & CEO Paul Noland thanked us all for being a part of this year’s fantastic Leadership Conference and concluded the event.