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Wednesday 21 March 2018
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22 Nov 2017
IAAPA 2017: Universal's Thierry Coup on taking immersive design to the next level

The man behind Universal Studios’ most successful visitor attractions says operators looking to stay ahead of the curve must go above and beyond to deliver new levels of immersive experiences.

Thierry Coup, senior vice president of Universal Creative, said that following successes such as Universal’s Harry Potter attractions, public expectation is higher than ever and visitor attractions are tasked to live up to those expectations.

“We have to deliver experiences that are much more immersive than anything you can find out there,” said Coup, speaking during the Legends panel at this year’s IAAPA Expo in Orlando, Florida.

“You can utilise technologies VR or AR but there’s nothing like entering a world where you have been transported completely. It’s not just igniting the basic senses like touch and sound.”

For the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction – first opened at Islands of Adventure in Orlando and then replicated at Universal’s parks in Los Angeles and Osaka following phenomenal success – Coup described how multiple senses were integral to the design when creating the attraction to ensure a one-of-a-kind experience.

“You walk into the Wizarding World and you can smell things coming from the restaurant, and it feels very much like what was described in the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling,” he said.

“She did such a great job of describing every one of the senses, that when you finally taste the Butterbeer for example, it’s like a system of engaging everything and placing you in a world that you can’t find anywhere else but there.”

There are, of course, challenges to IP collaboration, which Coup described as “almost like marrying someone for their wonderful child”.

“You have to get along, you have to develop this relationship, but the goal is to ensure together that this ‘child’ is successful,” he said. “That comes with a lot of complexity from the partner but there are so many great things that come along with that.

“For Harry Potter it was small shops, small stores, no marquees, no signage, small entrances – it goes against all the rules we have set for the perfect operating theme park. We learned from that and we were very open because we had to be.

“In the Transformers ride working with Michael Bay, we said ‘we can’t do slow motion on a ride, that won’t work’. But then we tried it and it was actually a great success.

“You have to make compromises. You have to learn as much as you can about where the IP came from and was born. You have to put your ego away and both sides have to speak to each other. It becomes a crazy great marriage and you end up with this amazing final product.”

Check back with Attractions Management and AM2 for all the latest news coming out of IAAPA 2017.

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15 Mar 2018
Jeff Kohl to receive ISPA Dedicated Contributor award
The International Spa Association (ISPA) will present Jeff Kohl, former chief operating officer of Spa & Club Ideations, with the 2018 ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award at the 28th annual ISPA Conference & Expo at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, US, set to take place 24-26 September.
13 Mar 2018
Wellness professionals gather for inaugural Women in Wellness Leadership Conference
On 6 March, two days before International Women’s Day, 230 wellness professionals from across the USA and beyond convened in New York City for the first-ever Women in Wellness Leadership Conference presented by American Spa magazine.
08 Mar 2018
RKF debuts luxury linen line with Paris fashion show
RKF Luxury Linen has debuted its new collection of high-end luxury linen wear with a fashion show in Paris.
08 Mar 2018
Attendances for women’s elite sport events set to break 500,000 barrier for first time
Women’s sport has never been more popular, as the number of spectators attending elite events in the UK is set to break the half-million barrier for the first time this year.
07 Mar 2018
Details confirmed for first ever FIBO USA event
Reed Exhibitions has confirmed the dates and venue for the first ever FIBO USA fitness trade show later this year.
02 Mar 2018
Global head of Miraval unveils plans for growth
Hyatt has plans to grow both Miraval and Exhale following its recent acquisition of the two wellness brands, with the hospitality giant investing another US$100m in Miraval by the end of this year, according to Marc Ellin, global head of Miraval Group, who spoke at the World Spa and Wellness Convention in London earlier this week.
01 Mar 2018
Matt Roberts reveals details of spa and fitness partnership at The Langley
London-based fitness entrepreneur, author and personal trainer Matt Roberts has called for a greater integration of spa and fitness in today’s holistic wellness space.
26 Feb 2018
Programme of speakers revealed for boutique fitness event Sweat
Daniel Macaulay, CEO of sports marketing group Brandwave, has been revealed as the keynote speaker at this year’s Sweat event, taking place on 8 March.
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