‘Dark rides’ may be part of NFL Experience at HOF Village

Thinkwell Group, which bills itself as “the experience company,” would spearhead the development of amusement rides at the Village.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s NFL Experience could have attractions designed by a production company that has worked with Cirque du Soleil and Universal Orlando Resort.

California-based Thinkwell Group — known for its work in designing theme parks, resorts and museums around the world — has signed on as a master plan partner. Thinkwell Group, which bills itself as “the experience company,” would spearhead the development of amusement rides at the Village, Hall of Fame president and executive director David Baker said.

Presenters during a news conference about plans for the village showed a video they said was an example of what could land on the campus as part of the Hall of Fame NFL Experience. The new building will be an indoor and outdoor activity center housing attractions similar to those that move around the country with the Super Bowl annually.

In the video clip, a boy wearing a football helmet sat in a roller coaster seat hooked to an overhead track. As the ride moved him forward and backward, he was propelled into a virtual reality where he was on a football field, running the ball and nearly getting pummeled by other players. Baker noted the video was a commercial that was several years old.

With news of the Hall of Fame Village project, there’s been talk of dark rides — enclosed attractions that take visitors on vehicles through a series of scenes filled with animatronic characters and audio tracks, such as the “it’s a small world” or “Haunted Mansion” rides at Walt Disney World. Other popular dark rides mix roller coasters or interactive components with more traditional dark ride elements, with examples including “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts” at Universal Studios Florida and “Toy Story Mania!” at Walt Disney World.

When contacted by The Repository, representatives for Thinkwell Group declined to release any information about the company’s involvement in the Hall of Fame Village project and directed inquiries instead to Legends, a company that provides expertise in planning, sales and hospitality, and has worked with the NFL and a host of professional sports teams.

Legends did not return requests for comments.

Thinkwell Group also lists Nickelodeon, Paramount and Warner Bros. Studios as clients and was tapped last year to head the creation of a traveling exhibit for “The Hunger Games” that launches this summer.

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