Sally’s chairman and CEO, John Wood, has been inducted into the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Hall of Fame. This is a tremendous honor for the man who has dedicated thirty-six years of his life to the company and the development of animatronics, dark rides and interactivity. The IAAPA Hall of Fame honors pioneers for their significant and lasting contributions to the worldwide attractions industry. Among the legendary honorees are Walt Disney (Walt Disney Company); George Ferris (inventor of the Ferris Wheel) and Milton Hershey (Hersheypark).
Wood, who was honored during the kickoff event at the IAAPA Attractions Expo 2013 on November 19 in Orlando, was cited for his ideas and leadership in reviving family dark ride attractions around the world. It was noted that his creativity has encompassed adding extra elements of fun and competition to the rides with strong story lines, interactivity and modern technology, music, sound effects, and spectacular special effects.
Animatronic characters, the first creations of Sally Corporation, have been incorporated into the company’s dark rides from the beginning, and the company mastered the art of black light painting–used in certain rides to create an additional exciting dimension–along with interactive laser targeting and ride car scoring consoles.
The company’s most recent designs, including the world’s first Justice League dark ride, Justice League: Alien Invasion 3D, at Warner Bros. Movie World in Australia, feature interactive 3D video technology blended seamlessly with 3D sets, scenery and animatronics.
Founded in Jacksonville in 1977 to design and build animatronic characters for marketing and entertainment, Sally Corporation’s first foray into the world of dark rides was the renovation of an existing ride at Alton Towers, a famous amusement park in England, in 1986. Several more ride renovations followed, and Wood recognized that there was a huge gap between the high-quality, story-based rides at the Disney parks and most of the dark rides in the smaller markets. He was determined to offer better options: “We wanted to create something new,” Wood says, “a highly-themed, affordable, interactive dark ride with a strong story line that would foster repeat business.”
He broadened the company’s in-house talent pool and began offering full design/build services. Sally’s first full drawing board-to-installation project, Zombie Paradise, a classic haunted castle type ride, opened in Tokyo,Japan, in 1992. This successful ride was quickly followed by many rides, both large and small, featuring new interactive technology. These became big draws in locations from Myrtle Beach,SC, to Seoul,Korea. Today, a wide variety of Sally Corporation’s dark rides can be found in theme and amusement parks from Sweden to Shanghai; Malaysia to Minnesota; Spain to Santa Cruz, CA; Windsor (U.K.) to Winter Haven, Florida.
Wood was joined by family entertainment center pioneers Jim and John Huish as the newest members of the IAAPA Hall of Fame. They were inducted by Ron Gustafson of Quassy Amusement Park, 2013 chairman of the IAAPA Hall of Fame and Archives Committee.
The annual IAAPA Attractions Expo is the largest conference and trade show in the world for the attractions industry. This year, over 29,000 industry professionals from more than one hundred countries attended.