In a press conference at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, RWS Entertainment Group (RWS) Founder and Chief Executive Officer Ryan Stana, along with JRA Chief Executive Officer Keith James, announced the acquisition of JRA by RWS. This acquisition expands RWS’ capabilities and creates the world’s exclusive, full-service provider of visitor attractions and experiences.
For decades, both leaders have pioneered the attractions industry’s approach to entertaining and educating guests. Today, with headquarters in New York City, London, and now Cincinnati, this powerful combined RWS team of dreamers, designers, creators, and operators is set to provide endless experiences for theme parks, attractions, cruise ships, zoos, aquariums, museums, theater venues, casinos, hotels and resorts, botanical gardens, visitor centers, port of call destinations, retail and real estate, municipalities, airports and corporations around the world.
The acquisition comes at a time when both firms are busy preparing for record growth in all sectors, and RWS embarks on a holiday season filled with lights, décor, performances and openings on two continents.
“JRA is launching into one of the most prolific years in its history,” said Keith James. “Over a dozen JRA-designed attractions will open in 2022, with still more in development through 2025. Whether it’s children’s museums, science centers, indoor theme parks, outdoor theme parks, or branded attractions, JRA designs will bring smiles to visitors across the globe.”
“RWS Entertainment Group has also experienced unprecedented growth this year,” added Ryan Stana. “We’ve tripled our cruise ship activations, added a new Leased Experiences Division, new RWS Décor Products line and launched the RWS Fun Crew: Staffing Reimagined. Adding the design, project management and media production experience of the JRA team to the RWS portfolio allows our clients to dream even bigger and achieve even more in terms of guest satisfaction and return on investment.”
Since opening in 2003, RWS Entertainment Group has grown to include live performances and experiences at theme parks and resorts, on cruise ships and at major events. With the 2016 acquisition of Binder Casting, RWS expanded to include casting for television, commercials and Broadway. The company’s new Leased Experiences Division provides interactive exhibits, delivering well-known brand activations to even the smallest museums and gardens.
RWS operates attractions, too. Launched in 2020 out of a need to fill seasonal staffing positions left vacant by COVID-19, the RWS Fun Crew: Staffing Reimagined provides hospitality-minded, front-of-house personnel with the charisma and training to truly engage guests and raise their experience with moments of surprise and delight.
Over the past two decades, RWS has opened a unique career path for performers and technicians, giving them the opportunity to follow their dreams, discover a new passion and even make it to Broadway, TV or film. Filling roles for more than 4,500 performers and technicians per year provides a memorable summer job, journey to success or the opportunity of a lifetime.
With the acquisition of JRA, the opportunities have become endless. The RWS Entertainment Group companies can truly take an idea from dream to design and realization to operation, covering every touchpoint in attraction development for both guests and the creative professionals that bring ideas to life.
“Selling JRA to RWS Entertainment Group is a natural evolution for the company, staff, and clients I love so much,” said Keith James who will remain as President of JRA. “With Ryan’s support, enthusiasm and energy, I can continue to do the work that excites me, lead our amazing team in Cincinnati, and stay engaged with the University of Cincinnati’s School of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (UC DAAP). I could not be more thrilled that Ryan has invited our team to join with his as we embark on a shared, expanded vision for themed entertainment.”
“I have admired Keith James for as long as I can remember,” said Ryan Stana. “To have the opportunity to work side-by-side with him, expanding his team’s creative vision to theater and cruise ships, and bringing live entertainment to even more venues throughout the world, is truly the realization of a dream. Thanks to the hard work, discipline and drive of both our teams, we are enjoying a record 2021 with even bigger projects and plans on deck for 2022 and beyond.”
Following the press conference, James and Stana celebrated a toast to James’ 50th anniversary in the entertainment industry along with a few hundred of Keith’s friends, colleagues, clients and vendors who were at the Orange County Convention Center for the annual IAAPA Expo.