Rethink attends EAS 2014

"I amsterdam" letters - Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

"I amsterdam" letters - Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

On September 22, I was the first member of the Rethink team to arrive in Amsterdam to attend EAS (Euro Attractions Show) 2014. It was a crisp dry beautiful day at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. I hired a taxi for the short trip to the hotel. Arriving at the NH Amsterdam Centre, I stepped out of the cab and immediately heard a ding ding behind me. By stepping onto the curb, I had unwittingly stepped into the path of a bicyclist. Lesson learned — Amsterdam is a dangerous place for pedestrians.

A busy intersection near the hotel.

A busy intersection near the hotel.

My hotel room was small, but clean with modern IKEA-like furniture.

My cozy room.

My cozy room.

What it lacked in size, it more than made up for in a scenic view overlooking the rooftops of Amsterdam-Zuid (Amsterdam South)

A room with a view.

A room with a view.

With several hours to spend before the rest of the Rethink team would arrive, I set out to explore the borough. Just steps from the hotel, I arrived at Vondelpark.

The gates of Vondelpark.

The gates of Vondelpark.

Designed by architect Zan David Zocher, Het Nieuwe Park (The New Park) opened in 1865. From 1875 to 1877, his son Louis Paul Zocher completed the park. In 1880, the park's name officially changed to "Vondelpark" as it had been popularly called since the addition of a statue of writer and playwright Joost van den Vondel in 1867.

The pleasant English garden setting of Vondelpark.

The pleasant English garden setting of Vondelpark.

I enjoyed a latte at the Blauwe Theehuis (Blue Tearoom), a 1937 Modernist circular structure designed by the Baanders architectural firm.

Blauwe Theehuis

Blauwe Theehuis

From Vondelpark, I made my way through the Museumkwartier (Museum Quarter).

The new extension of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects.

The new extension of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects.

The Ezelsoor (Donkey's Ear) - an elevated public green sheltering underground parking and an Albert Heijn supermarket.

The Ezelsoor (Donkey's Ear) - an elevated public green sheltering underground parking and an Albert Heijn supermarket.

The Museumplein (Museum Plaza) looking toward the Rijksmuseum (State Museum).

The Museumplein (Museum Plaza) looking toward the Rijksmuseum (State Museum).

Kisho Kurokawa's addition to the Van Gogh Museum. 

Kisho Kurokawa's addition to the Van Gogh Museum. 

Statue at the Rijksmuseum.

Statue at the Rijksmuseum.

Later that evening, Scott Ault, Josh Updike, Annette Stock, and Lisa Levy arrived. After drinks in the lobby, Scott took us all on a quick tour of Leidsestraat through the Canal Ring. Several years back, while at BRC Imagination Arts, Scott was stationed in Amsterdam during the redevelopment of the Heineken Experience. His love for the city was evident. He introduced us to FEBO, a Dutch walkup automat chain that serves snack foods from coin-operated vending machines. The various krokets, kaassouffles, and burgers were delicious.

No bikes -- or extraterrestrials!

No bikes -- or extraterrestrials!

On Tuesday, we attended EAS 2014 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre in Amsterdam. Organized by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), EAS is Europe’s largest conference and trade fair dedicated to the attractions industry. EAS 2014 reported the highest number of exhibitors, the largest amount of exhibition space, and a record attendance by visitors in the event’s 11-year history.

Notably smaller in scale than the IAAPA Attractions Expos held in Orlando, EAS 2014 offered a relatively more intimate setting to meet with European vendors and focus on developing partnerships with European clients. The trade fair took place in Hall 7 and Hall 8. Hall 7 is part of the original Europe Complex designed by architect Alexander Bodon and opened on February 2, 1961. Rooted in postwar Modernism, Bodon’s exhibition spaces are neutral, expansive, flexible, and bathed in natural light. His celebrated Europahal (Hall 1) was featured in Jacques Tati’s 1971 comedy film TraficHall 8 (Park Hall) opened in 1993 as part of a major expansion.

The Neverland Themepark Projects booth in Hall 7.

The Neverland Themepark Projects booth in Hall 7.

The ETF booth in Hall 8.

The ETF booth in Hall 8.

The Opening Reception at Strandzuid, located on a city beach between Halls 7 & 8, was a rewarding opportunity to network with friends and industry colleagues in a tropical beach theme. The delicious Dutch cuisine ranged from fresh shucked oysters to deep-fried automaat snacks. Tropical drinks and Heineken flowed generously.

The free automaat at the Opening Reception.

The free automaat at the Opening Reception.

A daring man in an aquatic jetpack brought the Opening Reception to a close.

A daring man in an aquatic jetpack brought the Opening Reception to a close.

On Wednesday, John Rust joined us for the second day of meetings at EAS. In the afternoon, we toured more of Amsterdam Centre before heading over to the Heineken Experience.

Who knew Topper Helmers had a cafe in Amsterdam?

Who knew Topper Helmers had a cafe in Amsterdam?

Apparently, traveling by pedal boat is as dangerous as walking.

Apparently, traveling by pedal boat is as dangerous as walking.

Amstel beer coasters being put to good use.

Amstel beer coasters being put to good use.

Copper vats in the Art Deco brewery at the Heineken Experience.

Copper vats in the Art Deco brewery at the Heineken Experience.

That evening, Scott and Josh worked while Lisa, John, Annette, and I attended the TEA Mixer at Madame Tussauds Amsterdam.

L to R: Wax Sean Connery and Gary Blumenstein

L to R: Wax Sean Connery and Gary Blumenstein

L to R: Wax Dame Edna and John Rust

L to R: Wax Dame Edna and John Rust

Afterward, we toured the Old Centre, the medieval heart of Amsterdam.

Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam (Royal Palace Amsterdam)

Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam (Royal Palace Amsterdam)

De Wallen -- Amsterdam's most famous red-light district

De Wallen -- Amsterdam's most famous red-light district

Crooked buildings

Crooked buildings

On Thursday, we all visited Efteling theme park in Kaatsheuvel. I'll share that wonderful experience in a separate blog. On Friday, we packed up and hit the road for an 8-day benchmarking/vendor trip through 7 countries. In spite of its two-wheeled dangers, Amsterdam was a charming, productive, and enjoyable experience.

To be continued...

L to R: Gary Blumenstein, Josh Updike, Scott Ault, John Rust, and Lisa Levy Credit: Annette Stock

L to R: Gary Blumenstein, Josh Updike, Scott Ault, John Rust, and Lisa Levy
Credit: Annette Stock