Sunday, May 31, 2009

Virginia is for [Sesame Street] Lovers!

Recently I was invited to take a tour of the newest addition to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg:
Sesame Street Forest of Fun!
It was really interesting to step into another world of Sesame Street after having worked with Sesame Place and Sesame Street Live.  The characters are built by a company called Animax and as you can see here, they differ from the VEE built characters (used in Sesame Street Live).

As a performer I'm not really sure how much I'm allowed to divulge... but, what the hey!  The biggest differences between Animax and VEE Costumes is in the materials used.  Especially with this particular set of Animax builds, they opted for a much more lightweight approach using high density foam instead of the rigid plastic molded heads we use on tour.  This is completely understandable, as the workload in the park is not nearly as demanding as a ten-month rigorous run of a high-energy dance show.

Other inner workings were different as well, such as the mechs and the performer's bracing within the character heads... both of which are kind of hard to explain in words...

The biggest hazard of working outdoors (regarding costume integrity) concerns fading colors due to exposure to the sun.  It was most noticeable on Abby Cadabby - whose hair, dress, and especially her fur bore stark differences when viewing their respective undersides.

Not all the characters made an appearance that day, but in addition to Elmo, Abby, Zoe, Cookie Monster, and Grover, the park also has opportunities to meet Bert and Ernie, Big Bird, Count Von Count, and Oscar (sadly no Telly).  Along with the characters, some familiar attractions from Sesame Place also seem to have been altered for this Sesame outlet including "123 Smile With Me", and an upgraded version of the character dining experience.

As part of the Busch Gardens "KIDsiderate" initiative, there are also some very cute, family-friendly rides and play areas.  For a complete list of attractions in the Forest of Fun via a nifty fact sheet, click here!

Overall, I think it is a cute little addition to the Busch Gardens theme park... although I'm not sure why they nestled it into England.  

PS - I loved the bathroom signs...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Formal Greeting: Yancy

Yancy has peeked into the blog a few times over the past several months, but has never officially introduced himself.  Well, wait no longer!  Here he is...

[cue extraordinary applause]

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Not much blog action lately...
It seems like everyone is getting the springtime blues in anticipation of summer, and why not?!

College has concluded for Dave (until Fall), and tour will be ending in about a month for me... so what is next?

I am proud to announce that we are NOT lazy people!  We are already hard at work on our next big project - and by "we", I mean Dave and the newly relocated New Hampshire crew!  Rehearsals are underway for the three shows we'll be doing at Story Land (only one is a puppet show, however) and Dave held a workshop with the other performers this morning to go over the basics of puppeteering.

I can't wait to join them in a month, but I guess we'll just have to settle for pictures as our latest build develops!  Believe me, this blog will be picking up steam again very soon...  but in the meantime, friend us on Facebook!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

On the Move!

The time has come to say goodbye to Chicago for the summer and get back in touch with mountain life in BEAUTIFUL New Hampshire. We'll be doing shows at Story Land, one of the cutest, most friendly little theme parks ever created.

One of the hardest things about being a puppet builder on the move, is trying to limit what you can take. On tour, Kyle has had to limit his load to about a quarter of a suitcase, so at least I don't have to downsize THAT much. Here are SOME of the supplies I'll be taking...

Summer is definitely the best time of year for me to focus on puppet building...of course, it's really the only time of year I can really focus on puppet building. It is also the only time of year where Kyle and I are in the same place for more than a week, so as you can imagine, we have a lot we'd like to get done.

Speaking of which...


We've been asked to build the puppets for The Three Little Pigs Go West, one of the shows we'll be doing at Story Land. (They picked the show before this whole Swine Flu dillio). This will be a fun show to design...3 cowboy pigs, The Big Bad Coyote, and Mother Goose (who serves as the narrator). We're hoping to have time to add in fun little props for cute bits too, but we'll share all that as it happens.

This may be my last post for a couple weeks...I've got to finish up at school, move out of my apartment, and start rehearsals in NH, so I wont have much computer time. I'll have tons of pictures to share, of the 3 Little Pigs project in the next couple weeks so keep your eyes open for that.

Kyle has just started playing with editing video. He may have some fun examples of his test runs to share in the mean time.