COSI Says It Will Revive Planetarium

1a-cosi-planetariumx----use-this-art-giorosn6-1cosi-artMarch 31, 2014–
The planetarium at COSI Columbus — dark for a decade — will reopen in the fall, officials at the science center plan to announce today.

The attraction closed in 2004 as COSI dealt with financial problems after moving to a much-larger facility on the Scioto Riverfront in 1999 from its original location on E. Broad Street.

“We’ve been looking for ways to reopen it since it closed,” COSI spokeswoman Jaclyn Reynolds said.

COSI officials are seeking to raise $1 million to revamp the planetarium and install new digital equipment.

“The planetarium, when we opened in 1999, did not have state-of-the-art equipment,” COSI President and CEO David Chesebrough said. “Just think about how much the world has changed in those 15 years.”

Contributions from private and corporate donors have met about a third of the center’s fundraising goal, and COSI is looking for more donations, Reynolds said.

“With the support that we’ve got already and the support that we anticipate getting, we’re pretty confident that we’ll meet that goal,” she said.

The center hasn’t set an official reopening date for the attraction, which seats 221 people under its 60-foot dome.

Planetarium programming won’t be restricted to astronomy. Other content possibilities: underwater volcanoes and a virtual tour of the human heart.

The science center is expected to formally announce the plans for the planetarium today during its 50th-anniversary celebration.

“The planetarium has always been a key part of our history,” Chesebrough said.

The science center had a planetarium when it opened on E. Broad Street in 1964. And it made sure to keep a planetarium when it moved to its current location in 1999.

When the center ran into financial problems, COSI administrators appealed to Franklin County with a proposed tax-levy that would have raised $12.4 million a year to help fund the center. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the levy in 2004.

“When we did not have success with the levy, we ended up having to kind of shut things down and start working from a smaller base of expenses,” Chesebrough said.

The center closed part of the building, including the planetarium.

Over the past 10 years, COSI’s financial outlook has improved.

COSI reported a balanced budget of $17 million for fiscal year 2012-13.

General admission to COSI costs $17.95 for an adult. Whether or not COSI will charge a separate admission for the planetarium (as it has in the past) has not been determined.

“One of the things that we will be doing is working on the business model,” Chesebrough said. “ COSI’s very different today than it was in 2004.”

By Deborah Fitts


New Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Explores The Work Of Chuck Jones

ChucksHands%20drawing-opyright[1]March 31, 2014–
Jones Created Some of the Most Memorable Cartoon Characters of All Time.

Animation director and artist Charles Martin “Chuck” Jones (1912—2002) brought to life some of the most iconic cartoon characters in animation history. He perfected the wisecracking Bugs Bunny and the exasperated Daffy Duck and created a host of other characters, including Pepé Le Pew, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. He brought an unparalleled talent for comic invention and a flair for creating distinctive, memorable characters to the art of film animation.

“What’s Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones” is a new Smithsonian traveling exhibition that explores Jones’ creative genius, influences and legacy. The exhibition is a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, and the Museum of the Moving Image.Sketch%20of%20Bugs%20Bunny%20for%20WB%20film%20short

“What’s Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones” will open at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City July 19. After closing Jan.19, 2015, it will continue on a 13-city tour through 2019. Notable stops along the tour include the EMP Museum in Seattle, The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in Fort Worth, Texas.

“Chuck Jones is one of the enduring geniuses of American comedy, as accomplished in the art of animation as his hero Mark Twain was in literature,” said David Schwartz, chief curator of the Museum of the Moving Image, who curated the exhibition with Barbara Miller, the museum’s curator of the collection and exhibitions. “His work is marked by its ability to convey the distinctive personality of his characters, his endless comic invention and his mastery of timing and visual and verbal humor.”

The exhibition features 23 of Chuck Jones’ animated films and more than 125 original sketches and drawings, storyboards, production backgrounds, animation cels and photographs, demonstrating how Jones and his collaborators worked together to create cinematic magic. The films, shown as large wall projections and on monitors throughout the exhibition, include such classic Warner Bros. cartoons as What’s Opera, Doc? and One Froggy Evening, and the Academy Award®­­-winning short film The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, which expanded the boundaries of the medium with its experimental techniques.

Trained as a fine artist, Jones graduated from the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles in 1931. By 1933, he was making cartoons distributed by Warner Bros. Studio. In a career that spanned seven decades, he created more than 300 animated films and received an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement. After leaving Warner Bros. in 1962, Jones continued to create award-winning films, including collaborations with author Theodore Geisel on the classic television specials Horton Hears a Who! and Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

About the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 60 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at

About the Museum of the Moving Image
The Museum of the Moving Image advances the public understanding, enjoyment and appreciation of film, television and digital media. In its expanded and renovated facility in New York City—acclaimed for accessibility and bold design—the museum presents innovative interactive exhibitions; screenings of significant works; discussion programs featuring actors, directors, craftspeople and business leaders; and dynamic education programs. More information is available at

About The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards—in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners—the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.

Designed by architects Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali, The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will be located next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the historic Wilshire May Co. building. Slated to open in 2017, the Academy Museum will contain nearly 300,000 square feet of state-of-the-art galleries, exhibition spaces, theaters, screening rooms, education centers and special event spaces.

About The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity
The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 public charity located in Costa Mesa, Calif. Founded in 1999 by four-time Academy Award recipient and legendary animation creator and director, Chuck Jones, the Center’s vision is to inspire the innate creative genius within each person that leads to a more joyous, passionate and harmonious life and world. For more information about The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, visit

By Deborah Fitts

Commemorative “It’s A Small World” Merchandise at Disney Parks to Benefit UNICEF

AFU986312March 31, 2014–

Some of you may have seen my fellow Disney Parks Blog author Thomas Smith’s recent post sharing the exciting news about the first-of-its-kind, online global sing-along that will take place on April 10 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “it’s a small world.” Today, I have more exciting news to share with you. Our merchandise team has been hard at work creating some very special merchandise as part of this 50th anniversary celebration.

Here’s your first look at the T-shirt and reusable totes that will be available for you to add to your very own collection:
And here is the artwork that will appear on the commemorative pin:AFU986313-613x414

But wait, it gets better! How? One hundred percent – 100%! – of the sale price (exclusive of sales tax) of these select “it’s a small world” items (shown above) at Disneyland park (Emporium and “it’s a small world” Toy Shoppe) and Magic Kingdom Park (Emporium and Fantasy Faire) will benefit UNICEF from April 9 – 13, 2014.

For any of our Disney fans visiting Disneyland Paris from April 10 – 30, keep an eye out for the T-shirt (in adult and kid sizes), as well as the pin, with 100% of the sale price (exclusive of VAT) of these select items benefiting UNICEF as well.

And don’t forget – you can join in the celebration online at!

By Deborah Fitts

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Will Build $2.3 Million Rentable Event Center

logoMarch 31, 2014–
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo announced it will build a $2.3 million, 10,000-square-foot rentable event center on its grounds overlooking its Waterfowl Lake.

The center, which will be available for parties, weddings and other events, will be open by spring of next year.

The event center will include a 2,100-square-foot patio overlooking the water. It will be located in Savanna Ridge portion of the zoo. Zoo officials say it will complement the Circle of Wildlife Carousel and Nature Discovery Ridge play zone currently under construction.

The zoo’s longtime caterer, Aramark, committed $1 million toward the project. The fundraising arm of the zoo — the Cleveland Zoological Society — committed $300,000 toward the construction, and the Metroparks will kick in the remaining $1 million.

“The Zoo is such a unique place to have an event,” Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman said in a release. “And the demand for rental space throughout the Zoo has been increasing, while our ability to host events has been limited due to all of the indoor, year-round rentable spaces being inside animal exhibit buildings.”

Peninsula Architects has been selected as the project’s architect.

By Deborah Fitts

May The Force Be With You! Two New Star Wars Themed Characters Dining Experiences ”May 4th-June 15th” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

stt837881-613x408March 31, 2014–
The Force is strong this year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

As Gary Buchanan has been sharing with everyone here on Disney Parks Blog, there’s a galaxy full of fun and excitement planned for this year’s Star Wars Weekends. Now there’s even more Star Wars fun coming your way with two new, out-of-this-world character dining experiences at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Guests will be able to start their day with the “Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast” at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant. Inside, it’s a long time ago in a drive-in far, far away, where out-of-this-world breakfast delicacies are accompanied by thrilling movie moments from the Star Wars saga. Guests may encounter Darth Vader and other Star Wars film characters as they appear to step right off the screen to join the fun.

At dinner, famous Disney pals get dressed up as their favorite Star Wars characters for “Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood & Vine.” Wearing his very own Jedi robe, Mickey joins a host of characters at guests’ tables for an intergalactic celebration of the saga, complete with Star Wars music, interactive moments and a delectable dinner buffet.

Best of all, these exciting new character dining experiences won’t just be offered during Star Wars Weekends event days. Both experiences start May the 4th (known informally by many fans around the globe each year as “Star Wars Day”) and will continue to be offered daily through June 15, 2014.

Price of the breakfast experience is $47.99 for adults and $29.99 for children. The dinner experience is $55.99 for adults and $33.99 for children, or as part of the “Fantasmic!” Dinner Package at a price of adults $59.99 and $36.99 for children. Both experiences include a digital photograph. (Taxes and gratuity are not included in these prices.)

To book these experiences, guests can go online at

I can’t wait to take my boys to this. Who else is making reservations?

By Deborah Fitts

Six Flags Celebrates Easter Weekend With a PEEPs Egg Hunt

mn_peepsMarch 31, 2014–On Saturday, April 19, Six Flags will host a special Easter Celebration giving guests the chance to search for eggs filled with PEEPS®. The morning event will also include onsite entertainment, games and giveaways. The first 100 guests to arrive early at one of the participating parks will receive a PEEPS® Egg Hunt Participant Wristband and up to 3 Spectator Wristbands for friends and family members to join in the celebration. All participants and spectators must have valid park admission to receive a wristband.

Adding more excitement to the Easter basket, Six Flags and PEEPS® will launch an interactive voting component to the promotion where consumers can vote for their favorite Six Flags Park with the winning park to receive a bonus delivery of PEEPS® for the Easter Weekend Egg Hunt. A PEEPS® branded leaderboard will be updated weekly and will launch April 1 on

The PEEPS® Egg Hunt event and Easter Weekend will be promoted in-park via Six Flags Out-of-Home and Digital Networks and, and throughout multiple in-market touch points including social media and press. Just Born will also promote the event via their online and social channels.

“We are thrilled to have PEEPS® as our first-ever Easter Weekend national partner,” said David McKillips, Six Flags senior vice president of corporate alliances. “Our family-friendly theme parks are the perfect venue for Just Born to reach its core audience and their products allow us to continue to provide our guests with the highest quality of brands and exciting special events.”

The promotion is part of a strategic partnership with Six Flags and Just Born, Inc., including brands such as PEEPS®, MIKE AND IKE® and HOT TAMALES® Brand Candies. The integrated program includes in-park retail and brand messaging across the Six Flags Media Networks with out-of-home signage, digital advertising and banner placement on throughout the season. In addition, MIKE AND IKE® will return in 2014 as presenting sponsor of the Six Flags Summer Concert Series, featuring up and coming pop music acts at select Six Flags theme parks. Just Born will also promote a special discount offer at retail on specially marked packages of MIKE AND IKE® Original Fruits and ZOURS® candy this summer.

Visit for additional event details and to vote for your favorite Six Flags park to receive more PEEPS®.

About Six Flags Entertainment Corporation
Six Flags Entertainment Corporation is the world’s largest regional theme park company with $1.1 billion in revenue and 18 parks across the United States, Mexico and Canada. For 53 years, Six Flags has entertained millions of families with world-class coasters, themed rides, thrilling water parks and unique attractions including up-close animal encounters, Fright Fest® and Holiday in the Park.

About PEEPS®
PEEPS® brand is an iconic marshmallow treat enjoyed throughout the year for all occasions. PEEPS® fans can find the marshmallow treats at their favorite retailer, and also find a variety of other branded merchandise and apparel through or at any of three PEEPS & COMPANY® retail locations. PEEPS® fans can also visit and to stay up-to-date on PEEPS® news and find delicious recipes and fun craft ideas to help them express their PEEPSONALITY®.

PEEPS®, a fan favorite since 1953, are manufactured by Just Born Quality Confections, a privately owned company founded in 1923 and headquartered in Bethlehem, PA, where it manufactures PEEPS®, HOT TAMALES® and MIKE AND IKE® Brand Candies. All Just Born candies are made in the U.S.A.

For more information visit

By Deborah Fitts

Bryan Nadeau: Ihu’s Breakaway Falls Will Raise Aquatica Thrill Ride

os-seaworld-aquatica-water-slide-roof-20140327-001March 31, 2014–
Bryan Nadeau is the SeaWorld vice president in charge of Aquatica Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando’s water park. Nadeau, 43, began his career with SeaWorld Entertainment in 1995 at Water Country USA in Williamsburg, Va. He spent time in the company’s former corporate offices in St. Louis, then moved to Orlando a year before Aquatica opened in 2008.

Ihu’s Breakaway Falls is going to tap a demographic that we’ve had in the park before, but not to the level of thrill that this thing is bringing. It’s really going to break away from our traditional thrill rides like Taumata Racer and Omaka Rocka and bring us to that next level. I get to watch it go up from outside my office window. It’s just going to be amazing. These guests who ride this ride are going to experience some pretty spectacular thrills.

When you look at our ride portfolio, you’ve heard us talk about the serene to the extreme. I think it’s broadening that scope of the extreme side for us. We’ve truly always had something for everybody, and this is just another way that we’re expanding that. We listen to guests and they talk about thrills, things like that. I don’t think anyone has a more thrilling attraction than what we’re getting ready to open up in a couple of weeks.

Our parks are so closely related we are part of the SeaWorld resort here in Orlando. We definitely are supporting the SeaWorld team on that. And they’re supporting us with Ihu’s Breakaway Falls. It’s a great opportunity to talk about not only their 50th but talk about Ihu’s Breakaway Falls and what that means to our guests here in the local market and how we can be their destination. Right here on our resort property, we’ve got everything for them that they need. It’s a great opportunity for us to talk about each other as one destination.

Aquatica is a great fit with a SeaWorld vacation, and it’s part of that resort family in Orlando. For locals, Aquatica is certainly a destination for them. So we get a nice mix.

I love water parks. I’ve been doing it for almost 19 years, being up in Williamsburg Va. with Water Country USA, which is one of our sister parks. Water parks to me are a different adventure every day. Water park fans are very loyal. I was actually working one of our attractions here, something I do every now and then. At the top of a ride I was dispatching a young lady and her fiancée. And it turned out that they were passholders from [Busch Gardens] Williamsburg and they actually recognized me from Williamsburg. “Don’t you work at Water Country USA?” And I haven’t been there since 2004. So they are diehard fans.

I think the resort feel that our guests have come to appreciate and expect from Aquatica is something that the brand set out to do. I’m really happy that I think we’ve continued that with things like expansion of things like cabanas and our ride portfolio and our culinary offerings. We’ve really maintained that resort feel, as we opened Aquatica in San Antonio and San Diego over the years. I have visited San Antonio’s park and they did a fantastic job of bringing the brand there. I walked that park listening to the music and going, ‘This is Orlando music.’ The brand transplanted very well to other properties. And I think that’s what we’ve done really well is stay true to the brand — a resort feel and something for families.

By Deborah Fitts