TEA Connect Blog

11 January 2018

TEA EME Festive London Day Out 2017 - Owen Ralph reports

Some 60 TEA members met in the British capital for the annual London Day Out: a packed program of attraction visits on December 19, 2017, organized by the Themed Entertainment Association Europe & Middle East Division (TEA EME).

Riding the Mail Rail at the Postal Museum, London.
Photo: Owen Ralph

Story courtesy TEA EME Division Board member Owen Ralph. Photo at top: Winter Wonderland, courtesy Owen Ralph. For more photos, see the 2017 London Day Out photo gallery. Past coverage: The TEA London Day Out in 2016 and 2015. Photo at top: Winter Wonderland.

As well as enjoying an interactive maze inspired by a hit TV show, a hidden underground railway and pop-up theme park, we networked heavily and competed in the first-ever European arm of the TEA's Ugly Holiday Sweater competition.

The first port of call was the Crystal Maze LIVE Experience. Originally screened on British TV in the 1990s but rebooted recently with new host Richard Ayoade, the Crystal Maze comprises a series of escape room style challenges spread across four themed zones. The look and feel of the show have been recreated faithfully by Little Lion Entertainment both in London and at its sister attraction in Manchester. What really makes the experience, however, are the eccentric Maze Masters that lead teams through the zones before they compete for foil tokens in the Crystal Dome finale. Voted London's Best Attraction for Team Building, it was the perfect way for our group to start the day and bond with industry colleagues old and new.

At the Crystal Maze. Photo: Crystal Maze.

Operations manager Gareth Cole provided a revealing insight into the Maze and its operations during lunch and took questions. Although the IP has a relatively limited international appeal, he noted, Little Lion does not rule out further Crystal Maze attractions in selected other English-speaking territories or the Middle East. 

TEA EME president Matt Barton of 7thSense Design and Chris Willrich of DJ Willrich Ltd. then led us on a windy walk trough the streets of North London as we made our way to The Postal Museum at Mount Pleasant. The facility has existed since 2004 but got a new lease on life last summer with the opening of an attraction called Mail Rail, and that's what many of us were here to see. Members were split into small groups to enjoy the subterranean railway that once transported letters and parcels beneath the streets of the capital. Following renovation work and new trains by Severn Lamb, tourists can now ride a 1 mile (1.6km) length of the route as they hear commentary from former mail workers. By comparison, the 15-minute 'tube' train (subway) journey over to Hyde Park for our final visit of the day seemed somewhat mainstream!

Cynthia Vergon of InFact Global
sports her "Reindeer with Gastroenteritis"
sweater that took the top prize for the 
EME Division Ugly Sweater competition. 
Photo: Matt Barton

Winter Wonderland has been a seasonal fixture of this central London park since 2007. Suzy Griffiths from organiser IMG/PWR Events, reprised part of her presentation from TEA SATE Europe back in May 2017 as she revealed what makes this pop-up Christmas theme park tick. Suzy is part of a core team of 10 that work all year to deliver an event that boasts more rides, more food and drink and better attendance than most established British parks, but crams it all into just six weeks. She's probably enjoying a well-earned holiday as you read this!

The day ended with a 'knees up' in the Bavarian Village beer hall at Winter Wonderland, and out came the ugly holiday sweaters (or Christmas “jumpers” as we call them in the UK). Just days after our TEA colleagues in the US had paraded their poor taste woolen wonders [the TEA Eastern North America Division has marked the season with an Ugly Sweater competition for several years, in Orlando], Cynthia Vergon from InFact Global picked up the prize for best (worst?) sweater in the EME Division competition with her jumper featuring a reindeer with gastroenteritis. Because nothing says Christmas like a puking Rudolf. The winner of the TEA's International Ugliest Holiday Sweater of Them All will be announced very soon!

Making the day possible were sponsors DJ Willrich Ltd., Garmendale Engineering, Electrosonic and Severn Lamb. Several events are already planning from TEA EME for 2018, including TEA SATE Europe, set to take place at Europa-Park on May 2 and 3. See teaconnect.org for more information as it is available.

 

 

Posted by Judy Rubin

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