PGAV Destinations is celebrating over half a billion dollars in project openings by year-end. There are quite a few reasons to be optimistic.
“The destination market continues to evolve, innovate and remain competitive even through this pandemic, and we are so honored to have worked with our clients to develop these attractions,” says PGAV CEO Mike Konzen.
In a volatile year where the industry suffered a significant downturn, several organizations elected to proceed with significant projects. The leadership of these organizations saw the need to follow through on their investments, while also positioning their destinations for the anticipated return-to-travel in 2021.
“Opening was a risk that we contemplated for some time,” said Kurt Allen, CEO of Mississippi Aquarium. “But eventually, we wanted to show good news and we did that by opening on the anniversary of Katrina, during a pandemic, all the while the rest of the world was shutting down. We felt that Mississippi needed it and we were focused on getting open and doing it right. So far, the response has been phenomenal, and we appreciate the support of our local and state leaders as well as the general public including our community. We have certainly been a bright spot over the last several months.”
Konzen adds, “We applaud these clients who made the hard decision to push forward with projects even amidst a pandemic. This decision enables them to be one-step-ahead in offering visitors new and exciting options as attractions are able to open up and stimulate visitation for themselves and their community.”
PGAV Destinations is a leading master planner and designer with major attractions including theme parks, aquariums, museums, zoos, heritage sites, lodging, and branded destinations. In 2020 the openings include:
Mississippi Aquarium, Gulfport, Mississippi –August 29– the Aquarium opened on the 15th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina as a catalyst for the revitalization of Gulfport and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
PGAV Destinations designed and master planned the aquarium campus and guest experiences. Much of the experience is outdoors, taking advantage of the views to the Mississippi Sound. The Aquarium sits on 5.8-acres and contains over 80,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibits connected by landscaped walkways with plants that represent all the physiographic regions of Mississippi. The large indoor building, “Aquatic Wonders,” is approximately 30,000sf and contains one large 300,000-gallon ocean habitat with multiple viewing opportunities, touch tanks, a 19,000-gallon sardine ‘bait-ball’ habitat and a walk-through 360 acrylic tunnel suspended in the middle of the tank.
The Aquarium at the Boardwalk, Branson, Missouri – November 23
The Aquarium at the Boardwalk is prominently located along the Spirit of ’76 Highway, and is equal parts education and entertainment attraction. The project is the first phase of Kuvera Partners’ ‘Branson Boardwalk’ development.
Before stepping inside, guests are mesmerized by the exterior of the building— a 55-foot tall stainless-steel sculpture of a giant Pacific octopus. This new 46,000 square-foot home for saltwater species of all kinds, introduces guests to the wonder of the oceans by way of 26 uniquely-themed tanks and jewel tanks, along with a large central tank – collectively supporting 400,000 gallons of aquatic life. Designed by PGAV Destinations, the Aquarium will strengthen Branson as a destination for families with children.
Hersheypark Chocolatetown, Hershey, Pennsylvania – July 3
The $150 million Chocolatetown expansion encompasses several new attractions, including Candymonium, Hersheypark’s biggest coaster ever; an entirely reimagined arrival experience including the one-of-a-kind Kisses Fountain; the relocated Hersheypark Carrousel; and all-new shopping experiences, and more. Hersheypark’s Chocolatetown represents the place where fun meets chocolate.
PGAV Destinations served as the project’s attraction designer, architect, interior designer, retail designer, and graphic designer.
Ruth & J.O. Stone Dolphin Complex, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Clearwater, Florida – October 16
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is famous for being the home of dolphins Winter and Hope, the stars of “Dolphin Tale” and “Dolphin Tale 2”. PGAV Destinations provided exhibit design, graphic design, and interior design services from concept through construction. The extensive expansion project triples the space for the Aquarium’s rescued dolphins and includes five interconnected pools totaling 1.5 million gallons of water. New back-of-house spaces and habitats permit staff to double the number of animals for which they provide specialized care, including new species.
This expansion offers a wide diversity of habitats, veterinary care areas, enrichment opportunities, and a thematic, open concept with beautiful rockwork that encourages relaxation for the animals and guests. The expansion project includes education space; a new entry experience; new dining area with locally sourced food options; a new retail area; private event space with a ballroom and full prep kitchen; high-tech theatre; four private meeting rooms; and five-times the guest space.
Georgia Aquarium Expansion 2020, Atlanta, Georgia – October 23
Georgia Aquarium continued its long-term partnership with PGAV to design a new entry experience and a new shark exhibit. Sharks! – Predators of the Deep features stunning floor-to-ceiling acrylic windows to give guests an up-close and personal view of these majestic animals. The $100 million, four-story project features a 1.2 million gallon habitat, home to multiple species of sharks. The new exhibit aims to inspire guests to have a deeper appreciation for the important role sharks serve in the oceans and encourage guests to join conservation efforts around the world to protect our oceans.
This expansion is anticipated to significantly increase both attendance and economic growth. With more than two million annual visitors, Georgia Aquarium has contributed nearly $2 billion to Georgia’s GDP since it first opened.
Big Bear Alpine Zoo, Big Bear Lake, California – November 5
After two decades of planning, fundraising and construction, the Big Bear Alpine Zoo opened its doors to the public at its brand-new, $18.2 million state-of–the-art facility. The Zoo is a sanctuary and rehabilitation facility offering injured, orphaned and imprinted wild animals a safe haven. The Zoo temporarily houses animals while they heal or permanently if they are unable to survive on their own in the wild.
The new Big Bear Alpine Zoo is more spacious for the animals and provides a better guest experience than the Zoo’s prior facility. Guests can visit up close and personal every type of animal that lives in the San Bernardino National Forest along with some special residents – snow leopard sisters and a family of grizzly bears.
Elephant Expedition, Kansas City Zoo, Kansas City, MO – May 22
The Kansas City Zoo’s long-range master plan was developed with the idea of “Three Zoos in One”. One of the projects resulting from the master plan is “Elephant Expedition”. This renovated habitat incorporates a larger, more enriching space for the animals, a splash pool and waterfall, and a filtration system that saves approximately 100,000 gallons of water every few days. With this project, PGAV is proud to continue our long-standing relationship with the Kansas City Zoo.
Virginia Air & Space Science Center, Hampton, Virginia – December 18
The nearly $1.5M in updates to the Center bring dozens of new interactive displays, a robotics lab, innovative and exciting artifact showcases, and cutting-edge exhibits to Hampton Roads. The team has been working on creating content for the Space Explorer Gallery that will engage a wider, multigenerational audience. Updates to the IMAX Theater include new seating, projection screen, flooring, and lighting. These updates provide visitors with an improved, more immersive IMAX experience.
About PGAV Destinations
PGAV Destinations is a global leader in the planning and design of unique destinations. Now entering its sixth decade, the practice has evolved to become the ideal destination-consulting partner, skilled at developing growth-oriented master plans and translating those plans into successful projects. No other firm offers such an integrated approach to destination planning.
PGAV Destinations’ key clients include industry leaders such as Delaware North Companies, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the Biltmore Companies, Bass Pro Shops, Ameristar Casinos, Universal Studios, The Gettysburg Foundation, the Saint Louis Zoo, and many others. Recent assignments include planning and design at many of the world’s “must see” destinations, including the Grand Canyon, Biltmore Estate, Space Shuttle Atlantis, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, the Georgia Aquarium, the Hoover Dam, and SeaWorld Adventure Parks. www.PGAVDestinations.com