Here's what the Thea Awards Nominating Committee had to say about Barnas Brannstasjon: "This adorable, free-standing attraction combines playful fun with a serious and important educational experience. Although created on a limited budget, the artistry and craftsmanship of Barnas Brannstasjon is both excellent and charming on a world class level. And yet it conveys deadly serious information about fire safety with fantasy play in a way that treats children with respect, by giving them adult responsibility. The experience transforms its young participants into empowered leaders and authorities on fire safety. And in the process, they had a ton of fun. This experience, combining serious education with world-class entertainment, exemplifies the highest standards of themed entertainment."
Below is a press release with details about Barnas Brannstasjon.
LOS ANGELES, USA - 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.
GW Group's main role was to design and deliver the lighting, smoke, fire and water effects that help make Barnas Brannstasjon feel authentic, along with a robust control system.
"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."
The 20-minute experience starts as a home fire safety briefing but quickly becomes an adventure when an emergency call is received and the young park visitors are enlisted to respond. They cross to the fire station, don firefighter jackets, slide down the pole and ride bright red trucks to the scene of a simulated fire, where they work as a team to pump water 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).
Parents watch from a gallery as the children enact 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.
"Kongeparken has set a brilliant example of how much can be accomplished at a theme park on a modest budget with a resourceful team that cares about quality."
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.
About the GW Group
GW Group principal George Wiktor has been a creative executive at 3 of the top design companies in themed entertainment: BRC Imagination Arts, Thinkwell Group and The Hettema Group. He has some 25 years' experience in the creation of theme parks, world's fair pavilions, museums andGW Group logo cultural attractions.
George Wiktor's project portfolio includes Beyond All Boundaries (National World War II Museum, recipient of a Thea Award in 2010), Die Glaserne Manufakture, Dresden(VW Assembly Plant Visitor Attraction, recipient of a Thea Award in 2003) and Postcards,a360 Film for theKorean Airlines Pavilion at Taejon Expo 1993. He is a past president of the Themed Entertainment Association.
Wiktor founded the GW Group in 2010 to create world-class experiential attractions in collaboration with owners of museums, visitor centers, theme parks and other projects for entertainment and education. Services include consulting, experience analysis, story development and research, design development, project management and production.
Kongeparken (www.kongeparken.no) 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.