A Note From John Wood
The Sally Dark Rides team and I want to wish a happy new year to our friends, family and colleagues from all over the world.
Despite hardship in the face of COVID-19, our industry managed to stay active, positive and—most importantly—creative! In 2020, Sally updated our daily operations and protocols to better ensure the safety of our most treasured assets: our staff. By limiting our in-person interactions, we were able to remain safe and productive during an otherwise difficult time.
Sally gained more than just increased safety protocols in 2020. We earned a new team member: Chief Operating Officer, Rolf Paegert.
Highlights in 2020 began with the renovation of the Santa’s Village classic dark ride, The Great Humbug Adventure. Originally created in 2000, Humbug was ready for revival. After months of ideation and creation, the Sally team installed an experience that features new animatronics, custom wallpaper, lighting, props, and scenes in just 37 days.
Our team was grateful to close the year with humbling accolades from our colleagues. In November, we were thankful that our partner, PortAventura World, received the THEA Award for Outstanding Achievement for our 2019 project Sesame Street: Street Mission! Street Mission is a one-of-a-kind, family dark ride experience combining the beloved characters and settings that Sesame Street fans love. Using mixed-media and interactive design elements, rider’s set forth alongside Detective Grover to recover the missing Big Cookie for the Cookie Day Parade.
2020 was a year of discovery for Sally Dark Rides. From new team members and working remote, virtual networking to holiday-themed renovations, we were grateful to celebrate and create alongside you.
Cheers to a memorable 2020 and a fruitful 2021 to come!
John Wood | Chairman & CEO
Nashville Welcomes the World’s First Animatronic Karaoke Bar Featuring the Cross-eyed Critters
We kicked off 2020 with the launch of The Cross-eyed Critters animatronic band of musicians at The Graduate Hotel in Nashville, TN. Step right up and request a song by Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and more and these fine critters will back you up while serving appetizers to hotel bar guests! Golden Globe winner and Oscar-nominated actress, Kate Hudson even stopped by and sang onstage with the Cross-eyed Critters.
COVID-19 made a substantial impact on families, businesses, and people across the globe this past year. Working within compliance of city official recommendations required our daily operation to change. Our number one priority remained the health and safety of our team members and clients. Our staff members worked remotely, and we actively focused on doing our part to flatten the curve. We look forward to 2021 so we can get back to creating treasured memories together.
Welcome to the Sally Team!
This year we have welcomed a new asset to the Sally team! Chief Operating Officer, Rolf Paegert has assisted us by taking on a critical leadership position and driving the Sally team to new heights and experiences. Despite the unprecedented timing of this year, Rolf has managed to keep the engine rolling like a well-oiled machine.
A New Twist on an Old Favorite
The Great Humbug Adventure, originally installed in 2000 at Santa’s Village in New Hampshire, got a facelift from Sally this past May. It opened to the public in September, with visitors in awe of the three-dimensional set and props. The revival of the Great Humbug Adventure led to sold out crowds for Santa’s Village in New Hampshire for most of the season’s weekends!
The ride features the famous Ebenezer Scrooge, who has recently moved into Santa’s Village. His house is infested with humbugs that have robbed him of his Christmas cheer. Scrooge recruits spectators to help him tickle all the humbugs, make them giggle and thereby create more holiday spirit for all! The Sally Team worked hard to install the entire ride in only 37 days—with custom wallpaper, lighting, props, and scenes all strategically designed and placed after months of planning. We couldn’t be more proud of the reaction from Santa’s Village management and visitors from across the country.
The Power of Dark Rides and Daily Q&A with John Wood at Blooloop V-Expo
In November of 2020, Blooloop held the first ever online conference and exhibition for the attractions industry. Sally participated in this ground breaking event by leading a live panel discussion on “The Power Of Dark Rides”. Sally’s VP of Marketing and Business Development, Lauren Wood Weaver, joined industry experts to discuss the influence of dark rides on today’s amusement parks. Sally also led a daily Q&A with CEO John Wood where he answered all dark ride related questions!
A Look Back on IAAPA Over The Years
For the first time since the founding of Sally Dark Rides, the IAAPA Expo was cancelled to ensure the safety of all our friends in the entertainment industry. However, IAAPA launched a Virtual Education Conference that covered a variety of topics based on attractions of all shapes and sizes. Many notable experts shared their valuable insights with the attendees that included best practices for safety, operations, marketing, and more.
The cancellation of IAAPA brought time to reflect on the past, and how grateful we are to have those moments. We’ve been able to look back on Sally’s favorite products, projects, and awards that were made possible by IAAPA Expo, from 1979 through today.
Sesame Street Wins BIG!
As of November, we have been celebrating our Thea award-winning attraction! PortAventura World was awarded the prestigious Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement for dark ride Sesame Street: Street Mission.
Sesame Street: Street Mission debuted in April, 2019 at PortAventura World in Spain. This dark ride is the first of its kind: a family-friendly dark ride with interactive mixed media starring the beloved characters of Sesame Street. Since then, the ride has been recognized by the Park World Excellence Awards for “Family Ride of the Year,” received a European Star Award for “Europe’s Best New Ride” and was voted 3rd place in the category "Europe's Best Dark Rides."
I Love Christmas Movies
The "I Love Christmas Movies" walk-through attraction at Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida was a hit! Spectators enjoyed exhibits straight out of some of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time. “Elf” made a special appearance, along with the hilarious “Christmas Vacation,” “A Christmas Story,” “The Polar Express,” and the classic, “A Year Without Santa Claus.” The interactive aspects stood out to visitors. Especially when they got to help Clark Griswold, from Christmas Vacation, light his house with his abundant Christmas decor. Sally Dark Rides was proud to contribute their expertise with the decorative “shaking” Christmas tree and the laughable exploding turkey that you would recognize from Christmas Vacation.
Looking Forward to 2021
Sally Dark Rides exists to create and inspire with each and every new project. We are so excited to welcome a new year filled with these new possibilities, new growth, and new experiences for our team members and clients. We look forward to a future of continued prosperity and success for our clients, and the enjoyment of our dark rides by spectators of all ages across the globe. We extend a warm thank you to all those who have worked tirelessly to create and maintain our magnificent brand, especially during such a challenging year. Here’s to a happy and healthy new year with Sally Dark Rides!