The Power of Dark Rides, Part 2: Extending the Life of a Dark Ride
The Power of Dark Rides, Part 2: Extending the Life of a Dark Ride
John Wood is one of the original founders of Sally Dark Rides and has been a key member of the company’s management team and Board of Directors since its inception.
For over 43 years John has led the way for Sally Dark Rides to design, manage and create memorable experiences for theme parks, museums and attractions worldwide. Sally's dark rides (indoor themed ride attractions) and animatronics entertain millions of guests all over the world. As story tellers, Sally has been able to adapt customer's dreams into rideable realities. Whether the customer wants a family ride, a thrilling experience, a branded attraction, or a way to tell their own story - every project is special. Sally is a turnkey provider of these unique dark ride attractions. Over the years we have expanded our design and development capabilities to include a wide variety of special effects, scenic techniques and show action equipment for our rides. Sally is largely credited with the birth of the interactive dark ride, and with recent award-winning attractions such as Justice League: Battle For Metropolis and Sesame Street: Street Mission, have moved into the world of mixed media attractions to enrich the gameplay experience even more.
For his entire career, Wood has been an active participant in the industry. He has twice served as a director of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) and was awarded the Meritorious Service Award for his work in 1994 and the Lifetime Service Award in 2016. In 2013 John Wood was inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame for Sally’s work in the field of dark rides.
Currently, he is a member of the International Board of Directors of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), serving for over three terms. He is also a longstanding governor of the prestigious Liseberg Applause Award, an award that’s aim is to recognize excellence and inspiration in the amusement and theme park industry.
In addition, Wood has been active in the Jacksonville community and is past president of the Greater Jacksonville Fair Association, board member of the North Florida Boy Scouts of America, trustee of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, and serves on the WJCT Board of Trustees.
In more than three decades of executive management experience, Paegert has demonstrated a dedication to improving customer relations, service, quality and organization profitability. Prior to joining Sally Dark Rides, he served as the COO of Parques Reunidos' United States division, which involved the strategic planning and operations of 22 theme parks. Prior to that, he served as the Corporate Vice President of Theme Parks and Capital Management for Palace Entertainment. He's also worked in executive leadership and management roles for FEC Operations, Castle Park and SeaWorld California. Paegert is fluent in German and earned his B.A. in International Business from San Diego State University and MBA from University of San Diego.
With an award-winning background in art, theater, and music, Hunter leads Sally’s full-service design department in the creation of characters and story. He oversees a team of designers, sculptors, scenic and finish artists. Hunter is a fine arts graduate of Centenary College of Louisiana with post-graduate studies in Rome. He has worked as a show designer, muralist, scenic artist, illustrator, fine arts painter, playwright, and actor. His experience includes: designer for Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museums, wax museum creative director, president of Vorta, Inc. and even television’s Bozo the Clown. Hunter is a founding member of the International Association of Haunted Attractions. Hunter came to Sally as a specialist designer in haunted attractions and was promoted in 2001 to department director.
Visit DrewEdwardHunter.art to see what kind of creations Drew is up to in his free time.
As Sally Dark Rides' Creative Director, Rich Hill oversees the development of major attractions from idea origination through opening day. Creative vision, storytelling, technical knowledge and department leadership are qualities that make Rich a valuable member of Sally’s management team. Over the years, Rich has led the design of numerous award-winning attractions that have helped define Sally Dark Rides as a leader in the next generation of themed entertainment.
Besides overseeing ride and show development for Sally, Rich is also a professional sculptor, fine artist, illustrator, writer and movie-maker. During his 20+ year career in themed entertainment, Rich has worked with Disney, Universal Studios, Cedar Fair, Six Flags Entertainment, Warner Bros., DC Entertainment, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and many others.
Rich holds an Industrial Design degree from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh where he majored in Attraction Design and minored in Digital Animation. His attraction designs have received recognition from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the Themed Entertainment Association, Theme Park Insider, USA Today and others. He is frequently asked to speak to industry groups and schools including the American Coaster Enthusiasts, The Art Institute of Jacksonville and Savannah College of Art and Design.
Victoria Lane joined Sally Dark Rides in 2018 as Corporate Controller. In her role as controller, Lane enhanced Sally’s reporting to include future forecasting, budget forecasts, and other pertinent information. Her diligent work monitoring accounts, keeping payroll current, paying bills, and collecting invoices led to her promotion to vice president of finance in 2020.
She is also responsible for all human resources, benefits, and compliance within. She brings 20 years of experience in accounting/finance and operations, and has a demonstrated history in a wide variety of industries. As a successful manager and team player, Victoria brings a track record of working with and building highly productive and efficient teams.
Prior to joining Sally, Victoria spent her career as the Corporate Financial Controller at nationally focused technology companies such as Ezassi, Inc, OnSite-Physio, and InHouse, Inc. Vicki, as we like to call her, is a transplant from Long Island, where she grew up. She has a Bachelor of Science in Organizational management / accounting from St. Johns River State College.
Karen brings more than 23 years of global attractions experience to the role. After serving 17 years in leadership for IAAPA and IAAPA Europe, Staley gained extensive knowledge of the amusement park and attractions industry along with strategic planning, marketing, and project management skills.
In her new role, Staley will lead the sales team and manage global sales activities, building upon Sally’s exceptional quality and brand with new and long-term partners worldwide.
A graduate of Florida State University, Lauren Wood Weaver holds a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs. She has over 15 years of experience in the global amusement and entertainment industry. She joined Sally Dark Rides in 2007 as a member of the sales team. With her experience in modern campaigns, she quickly progressed to join the business department and was named Director of Marketing and Business Development in 2014. In 2020, Weaver was promoted to Vice President of Marketing and Business Development and currently coordinates all marketing efforts including, but not limited to trade shows, strategic partnerships, social media management, IP relationship management, and product development.
Lauren actively participates in the global amusement and entertainment industry, recently serving 3 years on the IAAPA North American Media and PR Subcommittee and currently Chair of IAAPA’s Service Awards Committee.
A graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Todd Gillrup brought his academic training in industrial design technology directly to the Sally production department. While at the Institute he focused on special effects technologies. Gillrup began his career as a staff artist at Sally in 1992. He worked his way through the supervisory and management levels of production operations since that time. Along the way, Gillrup’s research and experimentation contributed to a new level of knowledge in artistic figure finishing and enhanced the company’s reputation for high quality realism. Today, he manages the company’s production and fabrication operations.
Donna Gentry, graduated summa cum laude from La Grange College in Georgia, also holds an MBA, with honors, from the University of North Florida. Gentry came to Sally in 1983 as a member of the art department. Since then she has held a succession of supervisory positions with the company. As internal project manager, she has been responsible for coordinating many dark ride and animatronics projects. Gentry works directly with subcontractors, architects and engineers, also handling internal production coordination. She is a member of the Project Management Institute.
John Stegall has an extensive technical and supervisory background. Prior to joining Sally Corporation, he served in the U.S. Navy as a technical manager and supervisor in support of aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt and air wing electronics operations, retiring as a chief petty officer. John plays a great role in the design and specification of Sally projects, is responsible for laying out ride infrastructure requirements, and the procurement of all control, audio, lighting, special effects and interactive devices, in addition to managing the in-house electronics production team.
Greg Rodriguez has over 19 years in the Dark Ride/ Animatronics manufacturing industry, with experience in Mechanical fabrication, Pneumatic installation and CAD. He moved from the production floor after 10 years, to take on the responsibility of providing customer service and support. He serves our international client base with patience and understanding of language and culture. Greg has proven to be adept at working across a broad range of clients on a wide variety of mechanical and technical issues. He represents the company with confidence and skill never jeopardizing our reputation and always keeping the company in the best light. Greg has a passion for service excellence, a strong business-to-business acumen and an ability to quickly turn customer complaints into opportunities.