Check out the latest youth travel industry news and updates.

New Educational Experience Announced for Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

MERRITT ILSAND, Fla.— Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has commissioned Ella Louise Allaire and Martin Lord Ferguson of the Montreal-based production company Monlove to create “All Systems Are Go.” This original live, immersive educational entertainment experience is to be presented at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, and it is targeted to begin in spring 2023. The experience will feature Peanuts characters, including Snoopy, Woodstock, Charlie Brown, Sally, Linus, Lucy, Franklin, and Schroeder.

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Artist conception of “All Systems Are Go”
Credit: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Monlove is transforming the visitor complex’s 300-seat Universe Theater for “All Systems Are Go” with Dolby Atmos sound, motorized scrims, and more than 20 integrated laser projectors to enhance the project’s high-end immersive edutainment experience. The original orchestral score composed by Allaire and Ferguson will offer music in an eclectic mix of orchestral, contemporary, and jazz styles. Using augmented reality interactive technology, audience members will be able to use their smartphones to scan the environment to discover space elements and a music sequence.

The 20-minute experience, included with admission and offered daily, will feature the Peanuts gang appearing as four- to five-foot-tall articulated characters operated by puppeteers. The characters will narrate the iconic history of NASA, the Artemis missions, and future plans in an educational and imaginatively enlightening way for the whole family. NASA’s Artemis missions will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon and establish the first long-term presence on the Moon.

“We are over the moon at the opportunity to work with Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and Peanuts Worldwide on this project to conceive a world-class experience that will both entertain and educate the audience about what NASA has achieved and will pursue in the future,” say Ella Louise Allaire, Monlove’s CEO and founder, and Martin Lord Ferguson, chief content officer, in a statement. “The creative potential for telling this larger-than-life story through the eyes of the fabled Peanuts characters is as vast and exciting as space itself.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with Monlove to bring the world’s most beloved Peanuts characters to the stage in All Systems Are Go at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex,” says Therrin Protze, chief operating officer at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. “Guests of all ages will love the experience from start to finish.”

“Peanuts has had a long association with space, starting with NASA’s Apollo 10 mission in the 1960s to Snoopy being the zero-gravity indicator on the upcoming launch of Artemis I”, says Craig Herman, vice president, Global Brand Experiences & Publishing, Peanuts Worldwide. “This joint effort between Monlove, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, and Peanuts Worldwide is a fantastic avenue for fans to learn about Peanuts and NASA’s storied history as well as experience Charles Schulz’s iconic characters in a new and exciting way.”

Ripken Baseball Wins Economic Impact Awards in Maryland and Florida

BALTIMORE—Ripken Baseball has been named 2022 Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism by Sports Destination Management. The Ripken Experience in Aberdeen, Maryland, and the Ripken Select Tournament at Publix Sports Park in Panama City Beach, Florida, received the honor from the sports tourism publication.

The Ripken Experience Aberdeen is where it all started for Ripken Baseball nearly 20 years ago. After the addition of two new state-of-the-art Major League Baseball replica fields in April, the 2022 baseball season in Aberdeen was the biggest in the complex’s history. Ripken Baseball brought over $47 million in economic impact to Maryland’s Harford County during its 2022 season. In partnership with Visit Harford, The Ripken Experience Aberdeen provided a big-league experience for over 20,000 participants and welcomed more than 90,000 visitors through 38 tournaments.

As part of its continuous growth in youth sports, Ripken Baseball took its Ripken Select Tournaments to Panama City Beach, Florida, from June 5-10, 2022. In partnership with Visit Panama City Beach, Ripken Baseball provided a big-league experience at the Publix Sports Park for 50 teams and more than 700 participants. The one-week economic impact totaled over $2.7 million. Based on the popularity of the first-time event, the tournament will return to Panama City Beach in June 2023.

“This recognition is a credit to our incredible staff and local partners in Aberdeen and Panama City Beach,” says Mike Kenney, executive vice president of Ripken Baseball. “From our Ripken Select Tournaments to our Ripken Experiences nationwide, the 2022 season was record-breaking across all our properties. We are looking forward to building on this success in 2023.”

Ripken Baseball recently expanded satellite locations through Ripken Select Tournaments. The company conducts tournaments, camps, clinics, and spring training at its state-of-the-art baseball and softball facilities—The Ripken Experience Aberdeen (Maryland), The Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach (South Carolina), The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge (Tennessee), and The Ripken Experience Elizabethtown (Kentucky).

Air Capital Hoopfest Draws Top Basketball Talent to Wichita

Three organizations in Wichita, Kansas, collaborated with the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) to hold the first Air Capital Hoopfest Dec. 1-3, 2022, at Charles Koch Arena on the Wichita State University Campus. The basketball showcase featured six of the top high school basketball programs in the United States. Sunrise Christian Academy, Visit Wichita, and the Wichita Sports Commission teamed up with NIBC to put together Air Capital Hoopfest.

Sunrise Christian Academy, whose program has produced more than 100 Division I men’s college basketball players and heads into this season ranked No. 4 nationally, was the only team from Kansas in the event. Also participating were Arizona Compass Prep, Bishop Walsh School (Maryland), Oak Hill Academy (Virginia), Wasatch Academy (Utah), and Legacy-The School of Sport Sciences (Texas).

Founded in 2020, the NIBC is a preeminent collection of established high school academic institutions committed to elite, national basketball competition. The conference comprises 10 member institutions across the country.