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PGAV Destinations’ 2014: Record-Setting Theme Parks, Museums, and Zoos


PGAV Destinations award winning projects open around the globe in 2014.

From China to Spain to America,  PGAV Destinations, a global leader in the planning and design of unique destination, has designed beautiful, award-winning attractions that opened to much applause and fanfare. The firm is thrilled to showcase these incredible, innovative destinations and share in their clients’ celebrations.  

“It’s been a fantastic year, ” says Mike Konzen, principal and chair of PGAV Destinations. “We’ve experienced unprecedented growth in all of our markets, including zoos, museums, theme parks, and more. As the global economy continues to rebound, we’re seeing new and long-standing clients eager to innovate and expand their offerings for their guests, here and abroad.”

Manta Ray entry tunnel at Chimelong Ocean Kingdom designed by PGAV DestinationsProject Openings

When Chimelong Ocean Kingdom opened on Henquin Island, it immediately set five Guinness Book of World Records, most notably the “World’s Largest Aquarium.” Ocean Kingdom, which blurs the lines between thrilling rides and immersive animal habitats, has also won the Themed Entertainment Association’s Award (Thea) for Outstanding Achievement. The theme park serves as PGAV Destination’s first full theme park master plan and design in Asia.

PGAV Destinations create Heart of Africa at Columbus ZooWith the welcoming celebrity power of “Jungle” Jack Hanna and long-time supporter Betty White, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium opened PGAV-designed Heart of Africa this summer. The new, immersive experience depicts the soul of Africa’s lands, the spirit of its people, and the thrill of its animals (such as lions, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, and more) through up-close, experiential adventures.

PGAV Destinations Inside the Economy MuseumBased in St. Louis, Missouri, the one-of-a-kind Inside the Economy Museum opened this fall and soon welcomed throngs of field trips. The unique museum educates guests on how their individual actions – such as shopping, saving, investing, the careers they choose, and more – impact the local, national, and global economy, all through nearly 100 fun, cutting edge, hands-on exhibits.

PGAV Destinations design PortAventura's Ankgor: Adventure in the Lost KingdomPGAV Destinations returned this year to its Salou, Spain theme park design, PortAventura, for the opening of Ankgor: Adventure in the Lost Kingdom. Immediately capturing the world record for longest interactive boat ride, Angkor revolutionized the traditional ride design by creating a winding, mysterious path through a lost jungle as guests explore Angkor Wat-inspired ruins. The attraction went on to be voted “Europe’s Best Family Ride” at the European Star Awards.

PGAV Destinations design st louis cardinals hall of fameShowcasing the largest team-held collection in Major League Baseball, the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum opened in St. Louis to kick off Opening Day 2014. The Museum celebrates and explores thousands of stories, victories, and heroes from the late 1800s to today. The Museum has since won Creativity International’s Silver Award for Outstanding Creative Design and HOW International’s Merit for Graphic Design.

PGAV Destinations design Thunderbird at Holiday WorldHoliday World opened three wonderful, immersive retail and dining attractions for the summer season. Mrs. Klaus’ Kitchen, Safari Outpost, and Wildebeestro all complemented the storied park with themed experiences that enhanced the destination’s Christmas section and Splashin’ Safari waterpark. Holiday World also announced the 2015 opening of Thunderbird, marking their first steel roller coaster and PGAV Destination’s third record-setting wing coaster.  

Industry Awards

But it wasn’t just new destinations that attracted industry attention. Numerous PGAV-designed aquariums, museums, theme parks and more continue to receive national and global accolades, year after year.

PGAV Destinations design Georgia AquariumFor the second year in a row, Discovery Cove was voted the number one amusement park in the world in the 2014 TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice™ Awards, topping the likes of Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Disneyland, and Animal Kingdom. The same award program also recognized the Georgia Aquarium as one of the top three aquariums in both the world and America, and was also voted North America’s best aquarium in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards.

PGAV Destinations design space shuttle atlantis experienceCelebrating its first anniversary, this PGAV master planned and designed Space Shuttle Atlantis received the American Alliance of Museums’ top Muse Award in the Multimedia Installations category. The breathtaking attraction also won Creativity International’s Silver Award for Outstanding Creative Design and the International Academy of Visual Arts’ Communicator Award of Excellence for its more than 60 immersive, interactive exhibits.

PGAV Design Biergarten at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. LouisRounding out PGAV’s 2014 trophy case was the new Biergarten at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis, which landed the firm’s third Creativity International’s Silver Award for Outstanding Creative Design. The carefree and relaxed atmosphere tells the rich story of Anheuser Busch, and provides unique and fun ways for guests to learn about beer brewing and the brewer’s history.

PGAV Destinations

In addition to wonderful project openings and numerous accolades, PGAV Destinations innovated through new partnerships, staff development, and its renowned research.

To address the international development of science education, the firm partnered with COSI Columbus to create COSI+PGAV Global, a unique collaboration of science center operators and designers.

PGAV Destinations publish PGAV also piloted PGAV GO, an innovative professional development program that empowers staff to design their own self-directed educational programming.

Lastly, PGAV Destinations published two landmark studies that garnered extensive industry attraction. First, Storytelling: It Can Change Your Mind explored how we process stories and how expert storytelling can be incredibly impactful at destinations. Second, Digitizing Destinations 3.0: Technological Preferences of Today’s Destination Guest was published in the firm’s quarterly magazine, Destinology, and showcased a revealing study on what guests do with their smartphones while at destinations and their specific attraction preferences regarding technology.

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