First Fridays at Fusion Studio (October 2023)

Lab director Dr. Kathryn Woodcock presented at the Purdue University Fusion Studio for their “first Friday” (Zoom) session in October 2023, talking about participation in amusement attractions and lessons for eligibility analysis and inclusive design of immersive entertainment using human factors engineering (and what your audience with disabilities would like to know!)

Thrill Design Competition

The competition originally known as the “Ryerson Invitational Thrill Design Competition” was renamed with the renaming of the University, and is now known as the Toronto Metropolitan University Thrill Design Competition. In addition, in 2022, we introduced an Open Qualifying (OQ) competition in the summer, to select teams for invitation to the TMU Thrill Design Invitational, taking place at Universal Orlando Resort.

Photo shows TMTDI competitors at Universal's Rising Star venue standing on stage and in front of the stage. Some teams are clustered together wearing team polos. A large monitor displaying a competition background slide appears in the middle of the group.
TMTDI competitors and production team, 2022

In 2023, we retain the same two-stage format. A record nineteen teams received invitations for two or three challenges each, based on their Open Qualifying submissions. Challenges include specific assignments related to mechanical design, safety and accessibility, interactive attractions, and several attractions design challenges involving NoLimits model, complex story, technology, and environmental constraints. A completely fictional requirement to replace an assigned area with new attractions unifies the multiple challenges.

Participants check in at a Universal Orlando resort on November 8, for a welcome ahead of the opening session on November 9. With the good grace of the hurricane situation (we had to revise our activities in 2022!), participants have a facilitated park walk before reconvening for presentation of selected OQ projects and reveal of the seven challenges. While the NoLimits challenge is partially disclosed to teams ahead of time, some changes and additional requirements are included at the competition reveal. Following the reveal, teams determine their preparation strategies and scatter, into the parks for more research, or back to their hotel headquarters for design preparation.

Fortunately, the competition swag includes an unlimited beverage mug, because teams dig in for some late night work and early morning presentations. The first challenge is presented the next morning, November 10, and another that afternoon. Three challenges are presented on November 11, and two more on November 12. Juries of industry experts from Universal Creative, Universal Destinations and Experiences, and manufacturers and suppliers provide feedback and assessment of the presentations.

Participants are also registered for the IAAPA Expo, which kicks off 4km down the road on November 13, helping pave the path for future attractions industry careers in a variety of professions.

We welcome inquiries from additional university teams to join the waitlist for the 2024 competition by contacting Ms. Shipman-Gervais [asgervais AT torontomu DOT ca]. Undergraduate and graduate students may participate if they are full time students at the same university, including its affiliated colleges, which does not already have a team, and meet other eligibility criteria. Full information about the 2024 OQ competition including eligibility criteria and costs will be provided in Spring 2024 directly to past and prospective teams.

Thrill Club project demo

Shortly after the Thrill Club began developing a scale model dark ride for its future activities, we had the opportunity to offer a demonstration for an audience of amusement ride safety inspectors, owners, and others at the annual TSSA Ride Safety Seminar in Niagara Falls. A smaller scale first draft model was quickly completed and packed for transport! Club president Jake Fulton attended the safety seminar and enjoyed great professional networking and continuing education hours as well.

Jake Fulton in dark hoodie and conference name tag, stands next to small scale model of a tracked ride, discussing it with four males in similar apparel. Other event participants are seen in the background, in the foyer of a conference seminar room.

Guest speaker

Guest speaker John Riggleman in shirt and khakis, sits in chair with legs crossed. To his right is moderator Ruby Aguayo, in dark slacks and blouse. To his left is sign language interpreter. Photo taken over the shoulder of audience members.
TMU Thrill Club guest speaker John Riggleman is interviewed about careers in themed entertainment

April 3 was an opportunity for TMU and local students interested in theme park careers to learn from industry veteran John Riggleman as he visited Toronto.

IAAPA Expo

Planning for IAAPA Expo, taking place in Orlando in November 2021, continues. Dr. Woodcock is joining a panel with Danielle Heffernan, of Cedar Fair, moderated by Charlie Wickham, grad student from Iowa State U, on industry-academia cooperation for themed entertainment. Check the IAAPA website for registration details. Early registration discount expires 23 September.