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Let us know what you think about the issues that matter to the industry. We’d love to hear from you [email protected] 


I read the recent article in Attractions Management on helping to make museums and attractions more inclusive with interest. [AM Issue 2 2022]

In 2010 we launched Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonia, Texas, US – the first theme park designed with individuals with special needs in mind. The completely wheelchair-accessible park features more than 25 elements, including rides, playgrounds, and other colourful attractions. From the very beginning, anyone with a special need has been admitted free of charge, no questions asked.

When we opened Morgan’s Wonderland, our belief was: Together, we can make a difference! During the ensuing years, we’ve seen a welcome shift to more inclusion-centric thinking and action. Thus, we’ve amended our belief to: Together, we are making a difference!

Earlier this year, we were delighted to help host the 2022 Amusement Today Golden Ticket Awards. Discussions with colleagues from throughout the industry suggested that much more thought is being given to inclusion and accessibility so our guests can have the best time.

Further embracing inclusion was my message – think about modifications and practices that make attractions more accessible for visitors with physical and cognitive special needs. At Morgan’s Wonderland, we’ve trademarked Ultra Accessible to serve as our guide in creating all of our follow-on ventures – Morgan’s Inspiration Island splash park, Morgan’s Wonderland Sports complex, Morgan’s Wonderland Camp and our new Multi-Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland, which brings together more than 30 organisations to tackle medical and non-medical problems confronting individuals with special needs.

We’re so focused on inclusion that we’ve incorporated it into the name of our umbrella organisation, Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative, which we established to coordinate all our inclusion-centric endeavours.

To learn more, visit www.Golnclusion.com.

Gordon Hartman, dad and founder, Morgan’s Wonderland 

Photo: Morgan’s Wonderland

"We’ve seen a welcome shift to more inclusion-centric thinking and action. Together, we’re making a difference" – Gordon Hartman, dad and founder, Morgan’s Wonderland

Fiona Eastwood,
COO, Midway Attractions and executive champion for inclusion and diversity, Merlin Entertainments
Photo: Merlin Entertainments

In October I was delighted to welcome Merlin’s first cohort of young people starting our brand-new accelerated management programme, which is targeted directly at our global frontline staff. Entitled XCalibre Rising (we always love to continue a theme), it is the sister programme to our senior management scheme called XCalibre – which has been running now for over a decade. This new Rising version, however, was created with two main goals in mind.

The first goal was to really live our values. As Merlin’s executive lead of inclusion and diversity, part of my role is to champion and drive real concrete actions, to deliver the words of our I&D vision: ‘Everyone Matters at Merlin’.

At Merlin we see a good amount of diversity in our frontline staff – both ethnically as well as in gender. Many young people come to the industry as seasonal workers or take up a role as part of a summer job, but as you then move up the company and our grading system, we start to see less diversity and a larger disparity between the genders. It’s something that myself and the whole of the Merlin executive team are resolute about changing.

We knew that if we wanted to make meaningful change, we needed to start from the beginning of the career journey: cue XCalibre Rising. The idea is much like one of our fast rollercoasters (think Rita at Alton Towers or Stealth at Thorpe Park). We need to get talented individuals on board early, build a robust and sturdy framework, ensure there are tools and power which allow for quick acceleration and then LAUNCH…..with real momentum!

We first communicated the programme in June, and I was delighted to hear we’d been inundated with entries from across the world. The final cohort was eventually whittled down to 14 successful candidates, who come from across a range of attractions in the USA, Australia, UK, Germany and the Netherlands. For some of those candidates, it was the first time they had travelled away from home and out of their country – a huge, but very exciting step.

Coming back to the main aims around the programme, the second reason it was created was more broadly around showcasing this industry. We want to demonstrate to these young people that as a business within the industry, we offer a long-term and really exciting career – one which, unlike many other sectors, can take you anywhere in the world - is creative, exciting, inspiring and ultimately, immensely rewarding.

"Let’s fast track our future leaders and show them an industry that can deliver a career like no other"

For us the programme is about more than just supporting our talented young people; it’s about showcasing the fact that you can have a long and rewarding career in the attractions industry.

Sometimes personal circumstances don’t allow people the same opportunities to get formal qualifications or really pursue the career of their dreams, or they just don’t see this industry as a long-term option. But with the right opportunity put in front of them, and the right guidance, they can go on to achieve a career like no other.

I’ve always known we have talented individuals across all of our businesses; but where I think this new XCalibre Rising programme will really deliver is the fact it will bring whole new and fresh perspectives right across our business, at all levels. This new cohort will not only change their own career story, but others around them too. Maybe they will challenge traditional company views, come with new ideas around innovations or technology, or tell us the next IP we should be working with.

One thing I do know these 14 ‘rising’ participants will bring to the programme is passion. Passion for their own career and others – and that won’t just last for the 12 months of the programme, but hopefully for the rest of their lives.

Credit: Photo: Morgan’s Wonderland
The XCalibre Rising scheme aims to increase diversity Credit: Photo: Merlin Entertainments
COMPANY PROFILES
Mather & Co

We lead the world in incredible museum, exhibition, and attraction design. We work across the herita [more...]
TechnoAlpin

TechnoAlpin is the world leader for snowmaking systems. Our product portfolio includes all different [more...]
Antonio Zamperla Spa

Founded in 1966, the Antonio Zamperla SPA is privately owned by Mr Alberto Zamperla. Located in Vi [more...]
ProSlide Technology, Inc.

A former national ski team racer, ProSlide® CEO Rick Hunter’s goal has been to integrate the smoot [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

Behind the Scenes of IAAPA Expo 2022 with Michael Shelton
There is no place like IAAPA Expo, it’s the place to take in the most exciting sights, smells, tastes, and sensations that will take your career and attraction to new heights! The excitement, energy and opportunity are palpable. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Red Raion - Keynote | Moby Dick - Friends to the rescue!
It’s extremely important for us to show you the process behind every content we produce. Each of our titles stems from deep research, focused on giving you the kinds of content that best fit your venues and target audience. Find out more...
More videos:
ProSlide's all-in-one waterplay entertainment center – Proslide Tech Inc
Red Raion Showreel 2021 – Red Raion
Red Raion TV - Opening Event: FICO Eataly World – Red Raion
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

01-07 Dec 2022

World Leisure Congress 2022

tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
05-07 Dec 2022

East Cape Futures

Hotel Palmas de Cortez, Los Barriles, Mexico
+ More diary  
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Jobs    News   Products   Magazine
Write to reply
Letters to the editor

Let us know what you think about the issues that matter to the industry. We’d love to hear from you [email protected] 


I read the recent article in Attractions Management on helping to make museums and attractions more inclusive with interest. [AM Issue 2 2022]

In 2010 we launched Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonia, Texas, US – the first theme park designed with individuals with special needs in mind. The completely wheelchair-accessible park features more than 25 elements, including rides, playgrounds, and other colourful attractions. From the very beginning, anyone with a special need has been admitted free of charge, no questions asked.

When we opened Morgan’s Wonderland, our belief was: Together, we can make a difference! During the ensuing years, we’ve seen a welcome shift to more inclusion-centric thinking and action. Thus, we’ve amended our belief to: Together, we are making a difference!

Earlier this year, we were delighted to help host the 2022 Amusement Today Golden Ticket Awards. Discussions with colleagues from throughout the industry suggested that much more thought is being given to inclusion and accessibility so our guests can have the best time.

Further embracing inclusion was my message – think about modifications and practices that make attractions more accessible for visitors with physical and cognitive special needs. At Morgan’s Wonderland, we’ve trademarked Ultra Accessible to serve as our guide in creating all of our follow-on ventures – Morgan’s Inspiration Island splash park, Morgan’s Wonderland Sports complex, Morgan’s Wonderland Camp and our new Multi-Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland, which brings together more than 30 organisations to tackle medical and non-medical problems confronting individuals with special needs.

We’re so focused on inclusion that we’ve incorporated it into the name of our umbrella organisation, Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative, which we established to coordinate all our inclusion-centric endeavours.

To learn more, visit www.Golnclusion.com.

Gordon Hartman, dad and founder, Morgan’s Wonderland 

Photo: Morgan’s Wonderland

"We’ve seen a welcome shift to more inclusion-centric thinking and action. Together, we’re making a difference" – Gordon Hartman, dad and founder, Morgan’s Wonderland

Fiona Eastwood,
COO, Midway Attractions and executive champion for inclusion and diversity, Merlin Entertainments
Photo: Merlin Entertainments

In October I was delighted to welcome Merlin’s first cohort of young people starting our brand-new accelerated management programme, which is targeted directly at our global frontline staff. Entitled XCalibre Rising (we always love to continue a theme), it is the sister programme to our senior management scheme called XCalibre – which has been running now for over a decade. This new Rising version, however, was created with two main goals in mind.

The first goal was to really live our values. As Merlin’s executive lead of inclusion and diversity, part of my role is to champion and drive real concrete actions, to deliver the words of our I&D vision: ‘Everyone Matters at Merlin’.

At Merlin we see a good amount of diversity in our frontline staff – both ethnically as well as in gender. Many young people come to the industry as seasonal workers or take up a role as part of a summer job, but as you then move up the company and our grading system, we start to see less diversity and a larger disparity between the genders. It’s something that myself and the whole of the Merlin executive team are resolute about changing.

We knew that if we wanted to make meaningful change, we needed to start from the beginning of the career journey: cue XCalibre Rising. The idea is much like one of our fast rollercoasters (think Rita at Alton Towers or Stealth at Thorpe Park). We need to get talented individuals on board early, build a robust and sturdy framework, ensure there are tools and power which allow for quick acceleration and then LAUNCH…..with real momentum!

We first communicated the programme in June, and I was delighted to hear we’d been inundated with entries from across the world. The final cohort was eventually whittled down to 14 successful candidates, who come from across a range of attractions in the USA, Australia, UK, Germany and the Netherlands. For some of those candidates, it was the first time they had travelled away from home and out of their country – a huge, but very exciting step.

Coming back to the main aims around the programme, the second reason it was created was more broadly around showcasing this industry. We want to demonstrate to these young people that as a business within the industry, we offer a long-term and really exciting career – one which, unlike many other sectors, can take you anywhere in the world - is creative, exciting, inspiring and ultimately, immensely rewarding.

"Let’s fast track our future leaders and show them an industry that can deliver a career like no other"

For us the programme is about more than just supporting our talented young people; it’s about showcasing the fact that you can have a long and rewarding career in the attractions industry.

Sometimes personal circumstances don’t allow people the same opportunities to get formal qualifications or really pursue the career of their dreams, or they just don’t see this industry as a long-term option. But with the right opportunity put in front of them, and the right guidance, they can go on to achieve a career like no other.

I’ve always known we have talented individuals across all of our businesses; but where I think this new XCalibre Rising programme will really deliver is the fact it will bring whole new and fresh perspectives right across our business, at all levels. This new cohort will not only change their own career story, but others around them too. Maybe they will challenge traditional company views, come with new ideas around innovations or technology, or tell us the next IP we should be working with.

One thing I do know these 14 ‘rising’ participants will bring to the programme is passion. Passion for their own career and others – and that won’t just last for the 12 months of the programme, but hopefully for the rest of their lives.

Credit: Photo: Morgan’s Wonderland
The XCalibre Rising scheme aims to increase diversity Credit: Photo: Merlin Entertainments
LATEST NEWS
Alton Towers' iconic Nemesis coaster closes for major revamp
The famous Nemesis ride at UK theme park, Alton Towers, has closed for a major revamp.
Bob Iger's return to Disney sparks major restructuring focused on creativity and storytelling
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Battersea Power Station's chimney experience whisks guests up 109m in a glass elevator
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National Trust plans immersive experience at Bath Assembly Rooms
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Digital art installation in Nanjing helps the public keep an eye on exoplanets
A permanent public art sculpture allows the public to observe the galaxy's exoplanets – which human life could potentially exist on.
SimEx-Iwerks reveals first customised fly film in collaboration with Red Raion. Celebrates 30th anniversary in 2023
Immersive cinema specialist SimEx-Iwerks has supplied a new flying theater experience, Frostbite: Dino Island III – the company's first custom- produced film of it kind.
Dubai's Real Madrid theme park will immerse fans in the club's culture
The first-ever Real Madrid-themed experience is set to open in Dubai next year.
TEA announces 2022 Thea Award winners, with Disney, Futuroscope, Kevin Murphy and Roland Mack among those honoured
The Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser experience at Walt Disney World, Orlando, is among the winners of this year's Thea Awards.
Scott O’Neil takes the reins from Nick Varney at Merlin Entertainment
Merlin Entertainments, the UK-based global attractions operator which is second only to Disney in size, has chosen its new CEO, following the retirement of its founder, Nick Varney.
Disney launches wearable MagicBand+ for Disneyland resort
Disney is utilising wearable technology to provide guests at its Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, with a wide range of 'hands-free conveniences and immersive experiences'.
Museum of London to close its doors with festival and all-night openings
The Museum of London in the UK capital is to hold two free weekend festivals and all-night openings ahead of the closure of its current home at London Wall in the City of London.
+ More news   
 
COMPANY PROFILES
Mather & Co

We lead the world in incredible museum, exhibition, and attraction design. We work across the herita [more...]
TechnoAlpin

TechnoAlpin is the world leader for snowmaking systems. Our product portfolio includes all different [more...]
Antonio Zamperla Spa

Founded in 1966, the Antonio Zamperla SPA is privately owned by Mr Alberto Zamperla. Located in Vi [more...]
ProSlide Technology, Inc.

A former national ski team racer, ProSlide® CEO Rick Hunter’s goal has been to integrate the smoot [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

Behind the Scenes of IAAPA Expo 2022 with Michael Shelton
There is no place like IAAPA Expo, it’s the place to take in the most exciting sights, smells, tastes, and sensations that will take your career and attraction to new heights! The excitement, energy and opportunity are palpable. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Red Raion - Keynote | Moby Dick - Friends to the rescue!
It’s extremely important for us to show you the process behind every content we produce. Each of our titles stems from deep research, focused on giving you the kinds of content that best fit your venues and target audience. Find out more...
More videos:
ProSlide's all-in-one waterplay entertainment center – Proslide Tech Inc
Red Raion Showreel 2021 – Red Raion
Red Raion TV - Opening Event: FICO Eataly World – Red Raion
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

01-07 Dec 2022

World Leisure Congress 2022

tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
05-07 Dec 2022

East Cape Futures

Hotel Palmas de Cortez, Los Barriles, Mexico
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2022

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT NEWS
ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS