Call on the GW Group to guide and assist you through the creation of an outstanding, experiential guest experience for your museum, theme park, heritage center, science center, visitor center, themed retail, expo pavilion, FEC, planetarium or other visitor attraction. GW Group is headed by George Wiktor, who has 25 years' experience working with top companies in production and project management, on both the creative and the business side.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Participation Culture: What I Learned from Burning Man

Photos: George Wiktor and Burning Man. (c) all rights reserved.
George Wiktor discusses Burning Man in the context of the themed entertainment industry and the evolving Participation Culture:

"Seen first-hand, Burning Man turns out to be a highly structured, well-organized, law abiding, civil society: A society that encourages self expression and self reliance in an incredibly inhospitable physical environment. Commercial activity is prohibited and, refreshingly, there are no corporate sponsors. The place operates on gifting with no expectation of return.

"And most importantly, participation is the key to the success of this event because participation is a form of gifting. Everyone is focused on adding to the success of everyone else’s experience. Whether it be creating an art installation, volunteering in the cafĂ©, building a lounge in your camp, or providing entertainment for everyone, all the participants add to the overall experience.

Photos: George Wiktor and Burning Man. (c) all rights reserved.
"Who knows where the participation will lead?"

Read the complete article on the InPark Editors' Blog.
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Park World magazine's "smokin' hot" coverage of Barnas Brannstasjon at Norway's Kongeparken

The September 2011 issue of Park World magazine includes an article about the new Barnas Brannstasjon (Children's Fire Station) attraction that opened this year at Kongeparken in Stavanger, Norway and was very successful in its first season.

From the article:
"We used five years of research on this project," reveals Kongeparken owner Haakon Lund. "...we wanted to make the next generation of immersive experience, in line with our park's six values: learn, play, share, explore, magic and excitement."

The GW Group is proud to have been part of this project as consultant and special effects producer.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

GW Group produces special effects for Kongeparken's new children's attraction

Los Angeles, USA, 17 August 2011 – The GW Group produced a complement of special effects for Barnas Brannstasjon (Children’s Fire Station), the newest attraction at regional theme park Kongeparken, in Stavanger, Norway. Barnas Brannstasjon immerses children ages 4-9 in meaningful role-play while teaching principles of fire safety and teamwork in an authentic setting. The attraction opened for the 2011 season. It was completed on a budget of $2.75 million.
The simulated fire
“I was very pleased when Haakon Lund, proprietor of Kongeparken, asked me to contribute to this project,” says GW Group principal George Wiktor, who has been a story design consultant for Kongeparken and for Lund since the park opened about 15 years ago. “Haakon understands the family market. He has a clever and interesting way of creating attractions that blend entertainment, education and storytelling, and has built a successful business drawing about 350,000 annual visits. With Barnas Brannstasjon, Kongeparken has again set a brilliant example of how much can be accomplished on a modest budget with a resourceful team that cares about quality.”
Young firefighting team

Sliding down the pole at the firehouse
The 20-minute experience begins as a home fire safety briefing that quickly becomes an adventure when a fire emergency call is received and the young park visitors are enlisted to respond. They run across the bridge to the fire station, don firefighter jackets, slide down the pole and then board bright red trucks that rush them to the scene of a simulated fire. There, the children work as a team to pump the water, man the hoses and extinguish the fire. Their success earns them certificates of accomplishment and a home fire safety checklist (which can be submitted later for a gift from the attraction sponsor, a local insurance company). 

Young firefighter in training

Putting on their firefighter jackets
Parents watch as their children take on their roles with gusto. “For the parents it’s powerful – even cathartic - to observe their children’s earnest participation,” says Wiktor. “The kids are very focused on the ‘grown-up’ tasks at hand.” Barnas Brannstasjon accommodates 30 children at a time.

GW Group’s main role was to design and deliver the lighting, smoke, fire and water effects that help make Barnas Brannstasjon feel authentic, and to provide a control system that would be robust and simple for park staff to operate and maintain. It was a cross-continental endeavor: GW Group designed the effects and control package in the US with creative technical partners Visual Terrain (Lisa Green and Steve Young), Kool Fog (Brian Rowe), Sigma Services and Alcorn McBride (Tommy Bridges). Wiktor traveled to Kongeparken to manage installation and commissioning of the system. The $2.75 million budget included everything except land costs; Kongeparken used its in-house resources for facility design, construction, fabrication, AV and purchasing, with Lund as project manager and Wiktor providing some additional consulting.

Taking their jobs seriously

Attraction exterior
About Kongeparken
Kongeparken ( is a seasonal, family-owned and -operated theme park  in Stavanger, Norway. Among the 50-odd attractions at Kongeparken are a chocolate factory, numerous rides and shows, and 4 different themed areas. The park’s signature characters are Bamsekongen, the king (“konge”), Brumle the mischievous bear and Brumle’s girlfriend Brumleline. Kongeparken re-opens in winter for a popular series of Christmas events for families.