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In November 2007, Nick Farmer will become the first European President of the TEA (formerly the Themed Entertainment Association), a post to which he was unanimously elected. Blooloop talked to him about his 30 year career in the themed entertainment industry and ambitions for his presidency.

30 years in Themed Entertainment : Blooloop talks to Nick Farmer

30 years in Themed Entertainment : Blooloop talks to Nick FarmerIn November 2007, Nick Farmer will become the first European President of the TEA (formerly the Themed Entertainment Association), a post to which he was unanimously elected. Farmer has 30 years experience of working for theme parks, amusement parks, aquariums, zoos, science centres and other leisure destinations. He advises clients on park, story and brand development and new attraction planning in Europe and Scandinavia. Blooloop talked to him about his 30 year career in the themed entertainment industry and ambitions for his presidency.Early CareerFarmer started his career in marketing with Palitoy, makers of Action Man, Tiny Tears dolls and Star Wars toys. He then formed his own production display company, Farmer Studios, in 1976 which rapidly expanded to offer full design, production and installation services. 4 years ago, having become increasingly frustrated that the growth of the company meant that his time was spent on management, administration and cash flow rather than design and creativity, Farmer disbanded the production company and established Farmer Attraction Development. By reorganising and developing a team of freelancers which can be gathered together as needed for projects, Farmer has created a more efficient business model with a lower fixed cost base. This flexibility allows the company to weather the seasonality of the industry, as well as reducing project costs. He is now free to concentrate on attraction concept development, production and consultancy.Farmers core business involves drawing on his experience in the industry to create and develop attractions. Most of his business is in Europe and Scandinavia and reflects the current state of the European market, with few new parks opening and most work revolving around existing parks by either reworking existing rides or enhancing new standard rides. He particularly enjoys the challenge of working with established venues to develop attractions which will change the direction and the publics perception of the park. Recent ProjectsFarmer worked on seven new rides and several other attractions for the 2007 season.Recent projects include: Grona Lund in Stockholm. Farmer developed the name, graphic identity and station design for Kvasten, their new suspended coaster. Kvasten is playing a major park in repositioning Grona Lund within the Swedish leisure market. Bewilderwood in Norfolk. Farmer provided consultancy to the 50 acre family curious treehouse adventure which opened to such acclaim in May 2007. His contribution was to enhance the original concept and to provide a layer of storytelling engagement on top of the basic attraction to deliver a much richer experience and a highly marketable attraction Earth Explorer in Ostend. Farmer developed a concept using a standard drop ride to create an educational experience which takes children on a flight around the solar system. In this case Farmer produced a custom video show to integrate with the basic ride, so children have fun at the same time as leaning about space.In addition to his consultancy business, Farmer is a non-executive director of Wicksteed Park Ltd, Kettering, one of the UKs oldest leisure parks. This gives him the additional benefit of an operators perspective. He finds this useful for an appreciation that operators battle with budgets just as much as suppliers. Industry TrendsIn terms of demographics, the market has now finally realised the long heralded aging population is finally here and Farmer is working with parks to help ensure new attractions are designed to cater for grand parents and grand children. In his own business for attractions aimed primarily at small children he will usually try to add a layer of entertainment, often humour, that will appeal to adults too.Geographically, he believes that there is still growth available in Europe, although this is largely through updating of existing parks and attractions rather than new projects. In his own business, of the fourteen projects he has worked on this year only one has been a completely new enterprise. As far as industry expansion into India and China is concerned, while these markets are growing at an incredible pace, those entering will need nerves of steel. Farmer recommends the fellowship to be gained by membership of the TEA, as many members are already operating in these regions. Discussion amongst fellow members can often be very helpful when dealing with such critical issues as contracts, terms of payment and business ethics in these regions. The TEAFarmer was effusive about his experience of TEA membership saying that it had been an incredible thing and had expanded his network within the industry enormously. The TEA (formerly the Themed Entertainment Association) is an international non-profit organization, founded in 1991, dedicated to connecting around 6,500 creative specialists in nearly 500 firms in 39 different countries. Farmer has been a TEA member in Europe since the association established its European Division in 1998, and has served three years as European President. He is currently in his second term on the International Board and has been a Vice-President for the past five years.Around 80% of TEA members are based in the US. However Farmer, despite not working in the States, feels that he has learned a great deal from US operators and creative suppliers. Our members in the US have been the driving force behind so many key developments in our industry, he says. Our own European industry has benefited enormously from the work of these pioneers The TEA exposes you to the worlds brightest people and most exciting ideas, helping to develop your own creative thinking and good business practice.Farmer hopes to develop two key aspects of TEA membership. The first is to expand membership within architectural and digital production disciplines to better reflect the wide range of skills and creativity now found in project teams. The second is to expand the TEAs horizons by bringing in members from around the world; there are positive benefits of membership where-ever creatives are based. He sees his tenure as the TEAs first European president as a great opportunity to confirm to the world that the TEA is a truly international association.

In search of Moon Lake: a Montana Mission Mountain Oddessy

In search of Moon Lake: a Montana Mission Mountain Oddessy

Montanas Mission Mountains - a phenomena of stunning proportions and striking beauty. I marveled as I waded back between those magnificent peaks. I was following the trail around McDonald Lake and back up Post Creek, off in search of Moon Lake. I had no illusions about the meaning of the designation stamped on the map - Annual Grizzly Bear Closure Area. There was no indication that this was the time for the closure though, so with considerable trepidation I set out on my adventure, figuring they must be off doing other things at the moment. To get to "McDonald Lake" , travel Highway 93 between Polson and Missoula, Montana. About 7 miles north of St. Ignatius, you turn right on McDonald Lake Road, following it straight east toward the mountains. Crossing a canal, you turn left and north, following the winding road another mile to McDonald Lake dam. Turning left again, follow the dirt road across the dam, past picnic spots and finally to the trail head at the end of the road.I am always in awe at the up-close and personal proximity of the surrounding peaks in that area, providing the constant lure to the area. In particular McDonald Peak with the McDonald Glacier towers over me to the south, directly across the lake and creek. Even as I marvel at the majesty of the towering peaks, the imagination takes off, spying a hundred vantage points above me forthe local Grizzly population. I struggle to avoid picturing them sitting up there, flipping a coin for which one gets first crack at the prewrapped morsel blindly stumbling into their kitchen. Theamazing mountain scene, however, provides an unstoppable appeal, and the logical probability of having a bad day with a Grizzly is low enough that the exploration must proceed. The first thing you notice as you hit the trail is that it is not overly used. Makes you wonder. Within a quarter of a mile on the trail around McDonald Lake, following a set of mild switchbacks, you find yourself out on a point above the lake, with an awe inspiring view of the lake and "McDonald Peak" . Many times Ive stopped when traveling through the area to walk that quarter mile to that point for just one more picture, as can be seen on our website in Gallery 3. From that point leading back along the north side of McDonald Lake, the overall trail is surprisingly level for trekking into such steep mountains. The trail, virtually following the base of McDonald Peak sits at around 3,800 feet in elevation, with the peak right next to you up there at 9,868 feet. Leading around the lake, the trail crosses numerous wide open slide chutes leading clear to the top of the peak opposite McDonald. At another point the trail crosses a moss covered shear cliff, but is wide enough that you dont feel at risk for falling. Past the end of the lake, the trail drops down onto Post Creek, and in the next couple miles leads through an amazing old growth Cedar grove. Needless to say, my bear paranoias prompted me to pick up a sturdy stick. Not that Im ready to put up much of a fight. Rather, I whacked that stick on every other rock and tree branch all the way up the trail. Bears really have no interest in spending time with the humanoid species. So if the bear hears you coming, they will interrupt their otherwise busy schedules to find pursuits clear up over the ridge from you. The key is to avoid surprising them. With all my noise, they at least stepped aside to a safe distance from the crazy person.Past the wonderful cedar grove the trail gradually climbs through a brushier area approaching the upper end of the canyon. I hit a set of 4 or 5 switchbacks leading in a steep climb up a rock faceup the north side of the valley, opposite McDonald Peak. The trail then leads off from here in a loop circling around, crossing Eagle Pass and coming out on Eagle Pass Creek north of McDonald Lake. Moon Lake was within striking distance. Once past the switchbacks and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the trail leads through some marshier areas in the upper reaches of Post Creek. At last, through the trees Moon Lake came into view, settled in the midst of tall pines. In late June this glistening jewel of a high mountain lake still entertained snowbanks along the shadier shorelines. Settling on a sunnier lake shore spot under the tall pines I marveled that the Dieties allowed me this unbelievably unique opportunity. Flanked by the massive peaks all around I existed in this exquisitely rugged backcountry spot, far off the beaten path. No other human beings were anywhere within miles of this awesomely gorgeous corner of the world. In an emergency that might be a negative aspect. With the Dieties at my side, I wasnt living to always watch for emergencies, and savored that sense of uniqueness, and do to this day. Soon enough I had to hit the rugged trail back out of there. Of course, coming back is quicker than going in. Its a downhill run. Still, the overall distance of around 5 miles each way made that return journey one of aching legs and feet. Finally, back to the car, I bid that awesome mountain paradise farewell and hit the highway to Polson. The prospect of soaking the tired, aching feet and legs in the motel jacuzzi became the primary driving force. Thank goodness I had found the perfect motel for the occasion through our website at http://www.montanaadventure.com When youre in the western Montana area, you dont want to miss the opportunity to enjoy the wonders of the incredible "Mission Mountains" for yourself.

Descent into Dark Canyon: Kids Wild Fishing in Colorado's Raggeds Wilderness

Descent into Dark Canyon:  Kids Wild Fishing in Colorado

The trout literally leaped to snag our hooks as we cast them again and again into the small pools of Trout Creek as it cascaded down through the brush, waterfalling from rock to rock. No, really, that is one of those rare memories from childhood that stands out as a boggling phenomena, one of few that I clearly recall. Beyond that I dont bank a lot on my abilities to recall a lot from years past, and this trek into the Colorado backcountry almost seems like a journey to OZ. Trout Creek was a small side creek to the Anthracite in western Colorado between Paonia and Crested Butte up on Kebler Pass. I was 13 years old, and trekking into the Raggeds Wilderness with my buddy Steve, his dad and brother. We followed an obscure overgrown trail around Marcellina Mountain down into the fabled Dark Canyon to fish and camp, following Anthracite Creek out to the other trailhead. My family had driven over Kebler Pass many times, and Marcellina Mountain stood tall and daunting right near the road, jutting up in the Colorado backcountry to a lofty 11,348 feet within the Raggeds Wilderness. That we were actually going to backcountry trek around that peak, hiking through the Raggeds Wilderness and down legendary "Dark Canyon" - a childhood dream come true. To get there, we followed Highway 133 around 16 miles east up the North Fork of the Gunnison River from Paonia, Colorado to the road fork below Paonia Dam. Turning right the road leads up "Anthracite Creek" 5 miles to Erikson Springs Campground and a switchback, the road leading up Kebler Pass. Around 5 miles past the switchback, forest Trail 836, leads east into a tall stand of aspens. Trail 836 leads to Trout Creek following it down to Anthracite Creek and the heart of Dark Canyon, connecting with Trail 830. Our trail circled Marcellina Mountain looming tall south of Dark Canyon. North of us, the Raggeds Mountains rose tall and inaccessible as we worked our way down toward Anthracite Creek. Herein lay the wonder of the trek into this rugged backcountry. Crossing into the Raggeds Wilderness, we hit Trout Creek, receiving our fishing instructions from Steves dad. Issuing each of us a small barbless hook, we tied them to our lines, and were then instructed to enjoy. Never since have I experienced such amazement. Trout Creek, true to its name was teaming with trout as this wild little stream crashed through the brush . With no fly or bait on the hook I expected nothing. Instead to my disbelief, every cast into a pool below a rock prompted a rush of trout, all fighting to grab that shiney treat hitting their waters. Every time - boom - a set of trout would strike, one of them seizing the prize and the point of a hook. The majority of course, were far too small to be of any use whatsoever and were all tossed back - hence the barbless hooks. As Steves Dad pointed out, we would catch more than enough for our dinner and breakfast down on the Anthracite.We boys whooped and hollered at cast after cast. It was beyond unreal, falling into a category of sport fishing I had never encountered before. Working our way down the small creek through the brush we finally hit Anthracite Creek, and headed down through the fabled Dark Canyon, a deep and mysterious gorge through surrounding benchlands of aspen and spruce. The canyon narrows with rimrock cliffs and caves in the outcrops above. The narrow valley and the walls of Dark Canyon close in high above, casting deep shadows as the rock cliffs rise 1,700 feet above the river in the darker stretches. As the day waned, the trail grew dark and narrow, as it led through a deep forest of aspen and enormous spruce trees. Following our narrow trail around 5 miles from our beginnings up on Kebler Pass road, and down into Dark Canyon, Steves dad knew the perfect place to set up camp on the banks of Anthracite Creek. We set up our meager sleeping quarters in a park-like setting under the towering spruce. I strung my best tarp between two trees, staking the corners and figuring a good spot to sleep on the ground with a couple of wool blankets Mom was able to spare for this adventure. Within minutes after hitting the nearby pools of the Anthracite, we had more than enough fresh trout to ccommodate our evenings dining pleasure. Fortunately for us boys, Steves dad was skilled at wrapping the trout in foil with butter, quickly cooking them in the campfire coals to nothing short of gourmet erfection.The shadows grew longer with a deep, dark night settling upon us, far down in Dark Canyon, a prime Colorado habitat for bears in the heart of the Raggeds Wilderness. Despite that brief concern, our exhaustion from the days journey and excitement brought a deep, restful sleep to the bunch of us. Dawn came early even as the sun seemed to take forever to pierce into the canyon and warm us. As another of those wonderful memories of this journey into Dark Canyon, Steves dad had rustled up a morning catch of trout, and was again foil cooking a mouthwatering breakfast on the campfire to start our day.We packed our gear and later that morning hit the trail for the next 6 miles of trail to follow the rest of the way down through Anthracite Creek. As the day progressed we paused along the trail to pull in yet more wonderful trout, filling our limits working our way down stream. The canyon and the surrounding forests were a wonder as we worked our way through old-growth spruce and aspen, with views back up the small side canyons toward the surrounding peaks. Finally in late afternoon we straggled out the other end at the trailhead at Erickson Springs Campground where Steves Mom picked us up. What an outstanding adventure through Anthracite Creek! Years later that journey will be revisited beginning and ending in the comfort of nearby motel accommodations in "Crested Butte" or Delta, Colorado found at: http://www.montanaadventure.com/out/state/us-co.html. The memories and the anticipation come flooding back.

Why you should buy an Air Mattress for Indoor and Outdoor Comfort

Why you should buy an Air Mattress for Indoor and Outdoor Comfort

Air mattresses are not only perfect for overnight guests and for visiting friends and family, they are also ideal for camping, weekends away, for vacation homes and some people even use them every day, in place of a regular air mattress.In the last few years the variety and popularity of the "air mattress" bed has increased. For instance, many air mattress beds now offer built-in support systems, these have valves which enable you to control how much support you need. You are able to adjust how hard or soft you need the air mattress bed to be, to ensure a comfortable nights sleep. This can be helpful if you have back problems and are often used in the home as an extra bed.For weekends away and camping, the camping air mattress can now include built in sleeping bags and internal insulation. When choosing a camping air mattress, the size and weight of the mattress can be an important consideration. Nowadays, however, there are many modern mattresses that are both light and provide good insulation and comfort. If you are planning to go camping in warm weather its now possible to buy an air mattress that weighs less than 20 ounces.For flexibility (and those cold mornings!) its may be better to go for a medium weight insulated air mattress.Inflating your air mattress is now very quick and convenient too, battery pumps mean some mattresses can be inflated in less and a minute and deflated in seconds. Those of us old enough to remember inflating an camping air mattress with a foot pump will appreciate the difference!The battery powered "camping air mattress" pumps are usually rechargeable, some are cordless and with some you have the option of running the pump from the car battery lighter socket. You can also get standard electric plug-in pumps. There are some extremely light camping air mattresses available now. In the past it used to be a choice between a light but hard camping air mattress, or a bulky and heavy but comfortable mattress. However with modern camping air mattress beds it is possible to have both comfort and a reasonably low weight and size. This gives them the flexibility for use in both camping and home.To find the best camping air mattress for you answer these quick questions... What size camping air mattress bed will you feel comfortable in? Do you want a large bed so you can roll over or do you want to save weight and space with a smaller bed? Do you want multiple air chambers to adjust the firmness of different areas? Is an inflatable pillow needed?Before buying an camping air mattress it is recommended that you research first on the internet before heading to the stores to get a feel for size, weight and comfort levels. When deciding what camping air mattress to buy you need to consider what you will be using it for. Take into account factors such as the weight, durability, ease of inflating and deflating, what level of insulation and comfort it will provide, and whether it has any extra features.

Whale Watching - 5 Things You Should Know

Whale watching is the biggest show on earth. With the ocean as their stage, the spellbinding and entertaining whales put on daily star performances for the whale watch cruises visiting their feeding grounds. In this article youll discover how to get the most out of your trip.Picture this... a warm summer afternoon on a boat in a gentle rolling ocean. A cooling breeze softly massages your face where you sit, and you begin to close your eyes and drift away... the sound of the boats engine begins to fade and finally stops. The boat, like you, is drifting over the waves and following the breeze. Its very peaceful and calm and after a stressful week at work you finally feel in harmony with the world.Then something explodes... out of the water... and only a few feet from your nose! A 30-ton humpback... the length of a large house... it breaches... and in another second is gone. And youre left in disbelief and wonder. And its just the start of your "whale watch" ing!While whales are scattered throughout the world theres only a handful of accessible locations to view them in their natural environment. The coastal waters of New England and the west coast of North America are prime locations for "whale watching" . Hawaii and South Africa are also superb locations to spot whales, as are the ocean waters around New Zealand. So if a vacation or trip takes you to any of these areas make sure you book a cruise and take in the biggest show on earth.Heres five things to remember to ensure you have an enjoyable whale watch.PLAN YOUR WHALE WATCHING TRIPIt may seem obvious but book in advance for your trip to avoid long lines or even disappointment. Usually at least one week before the trip is recommended. Whale watching cruises can last anywhere from 3 hours to 41/2 hours, and the length depends on how long it takes to find the whales. If youre easily bored staring at the open ocean then take along a novel or your iPod, or something to entertain young children if theyre part of your group. While most boats are equipped with a place to buy food and drink they dont usually mind you taking your own pack lunch or snacks to keep the costs down.WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A WHALE WATCH CRUISEIve two criteria when I choose a whale watch cruise company. How long have they been in business and does it have whale experts on staff? You can usually uncover this information by checking out their web site or calling them.Most whale watch boats use sophisticated sonar and communications equipment to find the whales, but as Im not an expert in equipment I look to see if a company has a history of organizing whale watch trips. Good experience is usually a sign theyre doing something right and a safe bet. I also like to see at least one scientist or naturalist on the crew narrating the tour, as having a knowledgeable authority provides a better understanding of what youre seeing.CHECK FOR A WHALE SIGHTING GUARANTEEIt happens occasionally you dont get to see a whale. These mammals are unpredictable, and while the captain will make every effort to uncover their location, some days theyre nowhere to be found. So make sure you book on a cruise that offers a guarantee sighting or you get to cruise again for free. Offering a guarantee is another good sign of a confident and experienced whale watch company. WHALE WATCHING IS DONE ON THE OPEN OCEAN.Experienced whale watch cruise companies do not go out in rough seas, but the whale feeding grounds are normally miles from land in the open ocean. Even at the height of summer the open sea can still be choppy, and so if you suffer with motion sickness then take something about an hour before you board the cruise.QUICK CHECK OF WHALE WATCHING EQUIPMENT.Recommended things to bring on your [*_*] are a camera and plenty of film or memory cards. Take or borrow a pair of binoculars, as whales many times surface yards from the boat, and having binoculars will provide close up views other passengers just wont get.As for clothing, wear sneakers or something rubber-soled for good traction on a wet and slippery deck. And take sunscreen, sunglasses, and if its got a tie strap - a hat. Because of the breeze on open water take a sweatshirt just in case of temperature drop, especially for a late afternoon trip. The boats will go out in the rain, so if youve got a poncho pack it as well. I put most of my [*_*] necessities in a small fanny pack.Whales are mesmerizing mammals thatve traveled thousands of miles to feed in their playground coastal waters. They dont stay for long so go ahead and book your [*_*] adventure and prepare for the biggest show on earth.

Dubai's Great Desert Safari

Dubai is one of the finest cities not only in the middle eastern region, but also throughout the globe. What makes it more special among the known urban centers of the world however, is the sandy surroundings it has been built upon. It shows on one hand the ability of the city planners to have got such an architectural marvel built in the middle of the desert, and on the other it lends a chance for some major outdoor activities around for the fun seeking enthusiasts. There are several locations around Dubai that one could choose to embark on with their desert safaris and have plenty of leisurely time ahead in the rustic Arabian countryside.These safaris normally take place at a time the sun just starts lowering down on the western horizon and the sand dunes begin displaying larger shadows. The excitement of traveling straightway down from Dubai into a vast deserted land can be immeasurable in these circumstances. One normally encounters scattered villages and well-bred camels straying across on earth while being on these expeditions. The purple Arabian skies provide a very fitting backdrop for camping out in the desert as the evening finally sets in. Dubai is appreciated not only for its trade and commerce but also for the tourism activities it presents these days, and desert safaris may without doubt be stated as one of the key areas where these activities generally lay around at.There are several available options for the tourists to get their safaris selected from. Generally all major hotels and resorts will get such trips organized when asked for by their clients. Guides are provided with all traveling parties for the duration beginning from the late afternoon start of any journey to the same night return later. Travelers should keep aware about the kind of topsy-turvy ride they might be about to undertake, as miles of sand dunes will be lying ahead in the path to be taken care of. Any lack of carefulness on part of the driver may cause the jeep to be overturned or get stuck inside the sand. Somehow, the fun and excitement of traveling like a gypsy will make out these stressful parts insignificant.Once deep inside the desert, one may witness camels ferrying tourists across from one souk to another. It's not only entertaining but challenging as well to be placed at the top of mounting and dismounting camel backs. The long-necked mammals on their part are well bred and nicely taken care of by their masters, and would start acting somewhat like puppies whenever pampered by someone. Just scratch behind any camel's ears and it would start flattening its necks as if asking for more of the same massage.The late evening outings normally include visiting souks in the desert and having Arabian dinner along with some entertaining folk dance and music shows on. Liquor drinks may cost between $7.00 - 10.00 and beers in the range of $5.00 - 7.00. You will enjoy watching stars at night provided Dubai is not very near the place where you have landed for your outing. The return journey takes place soon after all you camp fire itineraries, including having dinner and spending time around in shops, have ended to the best of your fulfilment. You will be back to your hotel just before the midnight and get on with your usual Dubai holiday making.

Summary

In November 2007, Nick Farmer will become the first European President of the TEA (formerly the Themed Entertainment Association), a post to which he was unanimously elected. Blooloop talked to him about his 30 year career in the themed entertainment industry and ambitions for his presidency.