IAAPA Expo Runners Leave Footprints From the Heart

The 16th annual 5K run/1-mile walk benefits Give Kids The World

As the sun rose on Thursday, Nov. 17, attractions professionals from around the world began affixing their race numbers and stretching their legs in anticipation of the 16th Annual IAAPA Footprints From the Heart 5K Run/1-Mile Walk Benefitting Give Kids The World Village.

Held on-site at Give Kids The World Village, the event attracted individual IAAPA Expo attendees, as well as groups of employees from exhibiting companies.

Runners warming up

Sophie Masse, marketing specialist at Falcon’s Creative Group, attended the run with several of her colleagues. “At Falcon’s, we’ve been doing the race here every single year for a very long time, so it’s a cause that’s close to our hearts,” she shares. “This is my second year personally doing it, and last year we had such a fun time … it’s just great to get together with your coworkers to do it and help motivate yourself.”

Runners at the start

The event drew in many international participants as well, with 35 individuals from the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions (BALPPA) opting to run. Duncan Phillips, United Kingdom-based theme park and family entertainment center (FEC) operator and chairman of BALPPA, detailed his long relationship with Footprints From the Heart.

Duncan Phillips Duncan Phillips

“I came here ten or eleven years ago, saying, ‘Well, I’ve never run in my life, but I’m just going to run it,’ and I’ve not missed one since,” he reflects. “I just think [Give Kids The World] is an amazing organization, and for me, it rounds off what we do in the industry. It puts a smile on everyone’s faces, and nobody needs it more than those here.”

Give Kids The World provides cost-free vacations to children with critical illnesses and their families. The week-long vacation includes visits to beloved Orlando area attractions and theme parks.

Before the start of the race, 2022 IAAPA Chairman of the Board, Ken Whiting, welcomed the crowd and thanked sponsors for supporting the event. Pamela Landwirth, president and CEO of Give Kids The World, also took the stage.

“I know you’re getting ready to walk the show floor. From what I understand, that’s 11 miles, so this is going to seem like a piece of cake for you this morning,” she joked. Landwirth then took a more sentimental turn, noting the impact that the attractions industry has had on the Village. “And when you look at the Village, every single inch of this village has been touched by IAAPA, a member, a partner, a manufacturer, a supplier. We couldn’t have this incredible village without all of you.”

After the speech concluded, IAAPA Expo attendees took off running with their attractions industry family—kicking off a new day of IAAPA Expo on a joyful and charitable note.

Duncan Phillips – The Incoming Chair of BALPPA

Duncan Phillips, owner and founder of 360 Play, will be taking the Chairmanship role of the UK attractions group BALPPA for the next 2 years. Having been brought up in the leisure and theme park industry and filling the vice chair position throughout the pandemic, his experience will be invaluable in taking the UK attractions out the other side of the lockdown.

Founded in 1936, BALPPA is the non profit-making Trade Association representing the interests of owners, managers, suppliers and developers in the UK’s commercial leisure parks, piers, zoos, family entertainment centres (indoor play and soft play centres) and static visitor attractions sector.

Amongst BALPPA’s principal aims are to represent the needs and concerns of the industry to HM Government departments, policy-makers and influencers and to promote safe practice throughout the industry.

BALPPA has been particularly active over the past year representing and fighting for the leisure and hospitality industries that have been devastated by the pandemic.

A few words from Duncan:

“Our sector has had one of the most difficult times ever experienced in our lifetimes and the need to work together for the good of all has been the defining value of BALPPA this last 12 months. Under the careful Chairmanship of Richard Mancey the association has had to respond to unprecedented challenges as we have worked to serve the membership in new ways. At this time I would like to pay heartfelt thanks on behalf of the industry for Richard’s commitment to the sector and working hard to ensure our collective needs are put forward at the highest levels, at all times. On a more personal level, working alongside Richard these last two years as Vice Chairman has enabled me to appreciate his calm approach to even the most challenging of situations, thank you Richard.

As we all start to look towards our industry opening back up again, BALPPA has learnt much through the pandemic that I hope will enable us to shape the Association in a way fit for the future and become even more responsive to the needs of all its members. The Pandemic has forced us to do things differently, some of which have been successful, and some of which we can’t wait to leave behind and get back to traditional methods. As your incoming Chairman I want to focus on what we have learnt to do well while still remembering what brings us all together as a body and has served us so well for many years.

The use of new methods of connecting and working has certainly been one of the key learnings for me through the pandemic. Through my Chairmanship I hope to build on this to widen the reach and access to BALPPA. Not just to the key decision makers and thought leaders of organisations but to the many talented, passionate individuals who deliver our great products every day across the UK. These industry professionals, either starting out, or part way through their industry journey should be able to access all the benefits our association has to offer. By widening the organisation’s reach I think we will find greater strength and diversity of members to equip BALPPA as a must-have for tomorrow’s industry professionals.

I would also like to thank Terry Monkton in agreeing to support me and the BALPPA team on this journey as my Vice Chair and I very much welcome his wider understanding of the sector from the trade side. Over the coming months as we emerge from “pandemic crisis management mode” I very much welcome meeting up with many lifelong industry friends and colleagues across the membership to see what we have learnt and what BALPPA needs to do tomorrow.

Finally on a very personal note I still remember my first BALPPA event experience back in 1986 as a very young helper serving food to guests during a BALPPA Summer Conference visit to our family’s theme park Gulliver’s Kingdom. It will therefore be a great honour to serve you as your Chairman in 2021-23.”

One year on from DPA trade trip to India

IAAPI Mumbai February 2020

It’s now one year on from DPA’s first trade trip to India and co exhibiting at the IAPPI trade show in Mumbai.  What a year it has been for the global attractions industry, many projects have been put on hold as organisations find pathways to survive the lockdowns and significant dips to trade.  

Duncan Phillips, founder of DPA and the 360 Play group, kept conversations and relationships alive through the very difficult year, sharing best practice learned from the global attractions industry coming together like never before.  From supporting existing clients we are now ready to share our own operational learnings from the start-stop operations of covid-safe indoor leisure in the UK.

Now one year on from the trade show in Mumbai DPA is working with a number of opportunities to further expand the 360 play group with Licence and IP arrangements with partner operators across the pan Indian market.  

 “As the experience economy comes out of its year long hibernation I think we are going to see strong growth in our sectors globally.  We predict the FEC sector to grow fast now in part responding to the changes in other sectors, such as retail, where there is significant structural and organisational changes occurring.  We are now in live conversations on a number of retail focus schemes where experience in leisure is sought as a major restructuring tool.   

One year on from IAAPI we are pleased to say our conversations and development has picked back up as we look to explore opportunities to partner with organisations to bring the values of 360 play to operators and the public.“ Duncan Phillips, Founder and Managing Director DPA GB Ltd – 360 Play group.

If you are looking for new ways to widen your offering, be that a second gate attraction or a new FEC concept for your shopping mall, please do reach out to us and we would love to join your conversations and support your thinking. 

DPA developed covid-safe operating practices for 360 Play group of FECs

The Global Covid 19 Pandemic has had a devastating effect on the attractions industry and any sector that delivers their product directly to the customer face to face.  The smiles and the contact are the life blood of our industry and finding ways to deliver our smiles with a mask has been a global challenge in 2020.  With the light at the end of the tunnel finally coming into sight, DPA are offering new levels of business support that have been created for its own group companies throughout the past year.  

As the global attractions sector emerges from its near year long hibernation, DPA see there will be many needs across new sectors as a direct result of the pandemic.  As the economic adjustments continue to be felt for some time, park, attraction, and local authority operators are looking at more efficient ways to deliver their products and ways to develop new offerings with limited budgets.  The multi disciplinary teams at DPA are now on hand to offer cost effective support at all levels of the industry.  

New key business support areas are in:

Covid-Safe Operations Procedures 

Company Restructuring

Board Level Support roles

Full on-site operational support

Masterplan makeovers

Place making support to the shopping mall sector

“This has been a year of learning for us in the attractions sector, particularly from our first hand experience from within our seven operating sites in the UK.  We have also learnt much as the global sector has come together to share experiences good and bad.  As we look to 2021 and beyond we stand ready to share our learnings and support other organisations through our passion for the industry.  We have now got some more bespoke support we can give operators, local authorities, and shopping centres when facing the positive effects of the pandemic as well as the negative ones” Lee Waters Director of Operations 360 Play Group-DPA

If you are looking for support in the reopen, from operational issues through to strategic short term management workshops, please do reach out to us and we would love to join your conversations and support your thinking.

Retailtainment with DP Associates

DP Associates are about to bring a new leisure tool to the market, in the growing trend to deliver experiences in shopping centres. Working in partnership with specialist manufacturers, DP Associates’ operational and construction teams in the UK are pleased to offer this new product.

DP Leisure opens seventh 360 Play at Rushden Lakes

Following in the footsteps of its six existing venues, DP Leisure (DPL), operator of the 360 Play family entertainment centre brand, opened their seventh UK site on Wednesday 13th February 2019, at Rushden Lakes in Northamptonshire.

Local Mayor of Rushden Cllr David Coleman was on hand to help open the doors to the region’s newest and brightest family attraction last week. Already a well-established and highly successful name within the UK’s children’s entertainment centre sector – with sites in Milton Keynes, Stevenage, Leicester, Basildon, Redditch and Farnborough – the latest addition to the group is located  Rushden Lakes Shopping Centre, a unique venue offering a mixture of retail, lakeside restaurants and cafés and leisure/entertainment options.

The site is owned by the Crown Estate which in conjunction with property development company LXB Properties, which specialises in developing leading, high profile and vibrant new retail and leisure destinations, is working to develop the Rushden Lakes scheme. The addition of 360 Play brings yet another key leisure offering to the venue as it continues to build on its reputation as a fun and entertaining destination for families.

Designed by sister company DP Associates (DPA), the newest 360 Play centre is housed in a 20,000sq.ft. unit spread out over one floor and features the familiar array of fun, active and creative play opportunities the brand has become renowned for.

The newest addition to the 360 Play ‘family’ continues the company’s practice of building venues around children’s development. As a result, the centre features numerous opportunities for young children, from toddlers up to the age of 12, to use their imagination and to enjoy fun, creative and physically active play in a safe, clean environment.

The attractions at 360 Play Rushden Lakes include a multi-level central play frame from SPI Global Play, a dodgem car track and carousel from IE Park/SOLI Bumper Cars and the creative play area 360 Street – a series of play shops and other ‘buildings,’ includes a supermarket, pizza parlour, vets and pets, fire station, garage and more – all designed and built in-house in workshops at the company’s headquarters premises in Milton Keynes. This role play and free play element is designed to stimulate the creativity in young minds, while also providing an opportunity for parents to get involved in play with their children. A party zone and a dedicated toddlers’ area are among many other elements on offer, alongside a family café and comfortable seating areas throughout.

For more information on 360 Play visit www.360play.co.uk

With 360 Play now the leading brand in the UK, we are actively seeking growth opportunities

360 Play has enjoyed much success during the past ten years with our children’s entertainment centres. Our plans were always to organically roll out the 360 Play model and having opened our first venue in Milton Keynes to much acclaim, we have since opened a further six venues, in Stevenage, Leicester, Basildon, Redditch, Farnborough and now under construction at Rushden Lakes leisure and retail destination. Moving forward, we see this organic, self managed growth to continue with more locations in the UK. If you have a UK location and are looking for a premium leisure anchor we would love to hear from you.

DP Leisure GB ltd, the organisation behind the 360 brand, is also looking for opportunities to take the unique mix of activities to new markets outside the UK. We are keen to engage with investors, operators and municipalities within the following regions; Europe and the Middle East, North America, India, China and its regions. We now have both the strength of product and the operational function to support and deliver proven operational solutions outside the domestic UK market.

If you are looking to explore how the introduction of a 360 Play centre could strengthen your destination of mixed use development we would love to hear from you. We have a variety of models available to partners, from early concept development and licence opportunities, to fully supported franchise operations. Contact a member of our Projects team and we will bring you a solid operational partner with a proven track record.

The strength of brand

360 Play is a dynamic and fast growing business which has delivered it’s hugely popular brand of entertainment for families with young children to well over five million visitors since its inception. We have a vast wealth of experience in the design and operation of children’s play centres and have created a mix of activities that not only provides a great fun day out for youngsters and their parents but which also incorporates numerous activities to help children’s development.

Indeed, 360 Play’s unique offering ensures children enjoy a highly active, creative and imaginative experience so that they learn in a fun way whilst also developing social, cognitive and physical skills, all of which are so important in their younger years. We provide a wide range of activities which in addition to a three storey play structure, dodgem cars and a carousel, also include the 360 Street creative play area and a variety of other, complementary fun things to do, including messy play, building/construction play, singing, dancing and musical play and an Activity Time for our youngest visitors.

In today’s world the need for families to find experiences that are “screen free” and offer an antidote to the ever more tech filled lives has never been so important. 360 Play mixes traditional experiences but for the modern family.

If you are interested in sharing in our success, then we’d like to hear from you. For more information about what is a truly exciting opportunity, please contact:

Project Team
DP House, Sunrise Parkway, Linford Wood, Milton Keynes, MK14 6NU, UK
Telephone: (+44) 1908 670160

New 360 Play family entertainment centre opens in Rushden Lakes, UK

360 Play Rushden Lakes will be the newest attraction in the 360 Play group. This new centre is in a fantastic location and will feature an exciting outdoor play space. With six centres already operating in Milton Keynes, Stevenage, Leicester, Basildon, Redditch and Farnborough, for our seventh centre we are updating our customers favourite attractions and we cannot wait for you to see!

360 Play is often described as a softplay centre but softplay is just a small part of what we do. The wide range of facilities on offer at our centres ensures that there are activities and opportunities for all ages and abilities. Our full sized play frames and slides are big enough for parents to play on with their children and you’re never too old to enjoy whizzing around the dodgem track. For the imaginative guests there’s 360 Street where you can try out different careers, dress up in the boutique and visit the supermarket. This has always been one of our most popular activities and a lot of planning has gone into making 360 Street at Rushden Lakes the best one yet. We’ve looked at what children enjoy doing and expanded on that so that there will be more for them to do and the areas will be more interactive. The role play pizzeria will feature a scaled down wood fired oven and our post office will have a sorting centre.

The messy play areas are a must visit for all those essential, messy, mucky things parents would love to have the time to do with their children. We will have messy play activities specifically designed for our younger customers during term time that they can enjoy with Mum or Dad and the area will include children accessible sinks for an easy clean up.

All the current favourite facilities will feature at Rushden Lakes. It just wouldn’t be 360 without a carousel! There will be some new things at Rushden Lakes too, guests can look forward to visiting the sports area where you can enjoy a penalty shoot out in our football area or a game of table tennis and race toy cars on the race track on 360 Street.

There is no time limit on your visit so you could spend all day at 360 Play if you want to. Our cafe bar will serve a wide selection of beverages and family favourite meal options. You could join us for a weekend brunch or enjoy a coffee and slice of cake.

At 360 Play we are all about creating fun experiences for the children and families who visit us and obviously we love a party! Our parties have been designed to give you time to enjoy the experience while we do the work. We have a range of hot and cold food options and a dedicated party host is on hand to make sure everything runs smoothly. We have designed 5 different party packages to suit everyone’s needs and they will all be available at Rushden Lakes. Each package has been carefully developed to cater for different requirements and you can personalise your party with optional extras. Our very own resident characters, Twizzle and Twirl, love a good party so you can expect a visit from one of them too!

In today’s ever-busy world it’s very easy to miss the joy of play and what that brings to the development of our children. 360 Play hopes and desires to provide the setting to get us all having some fun together while at the same time reminding us how simple playing with children actually is.

360 Play operator DP Leisure begins 10 year celebrations

DP Leisure, headquartered at Sunrise Parkway, Linford Wood, marked its 10th anniversary recently with a day of celebrations for all staff in its home city of Milton Keynes.

The operator of the award-winning family entertainment centre brand 360 Play marked the milestone by bringing staff from its six centres around the UK to Milton Keynes, where the first 360 Play centre opened 10 years ago. All the company’s sites were closed for the day as the entire staff of over 400 “made time for play,” starting with a reception and party on 12th Street, Milton Keynes’ newest leisure district. After a morning involving indoor golf at the all new Mulligan’s, a street party was hosted by the original site, 360 Play Milton Keynes at Knowlhill, with street food, stalls, games and activities.

Founder and Managing Director Duncan Phillips commented: “I don’t really know where the time has gone but here we are 10 years on from an idea that started from a day out with my own children. It has been very special to celebrate this milestone in Milton Keynes where we are based and where it all began. We have a great team of staff in the group that deliver hundreds of thousands of magic memories to families in the regions we serve throughout the year and we are all very proud of the company we have now become.

Someone who has been with Duncan since day one is group business support and development manager Anne Basketfield who added: “Now with 6 (soon to be 7) centres the business and concept continue to grow and we have stuck to our early principle of ‘back to basics’ – encouraging families to play together away from screens and technology, developing imaginations and building independence.

In contrast to Anne’s experience, recent 360 Play recruit Holly Mortiz, who has been with the company for just a few months, commented: “The close day was lots of fun and brought everyone from 360 Play together. I got to meet lots of people from the other centres who do exactly the same thing as me. Working at 360 Play has changed my life for the better. It has helped me make amazing friends and I have gained more confidence.

In true leisure industry style 360 Play’s special celebratory day in Milton Keynes was just the start of a year of celebrations, with key dates coming up to further mark 10 years of success for this ever expanding leisure group.

New 360 Play family entertainment centre opens in Farnborough, UK

After two successful ‘Golden Ticket’ preview days 360 Play Farnborough opened its doors to the public on Wednesday 18th October.

Managing director Duncan Phillips who was on hand with the new 360 Play team said: “We are delighted to open our newest family entertainment centre at The Meads Shopping Centre here in Farnborough, our sixth UK venue. Our Golden Ticket open days have been very well received with a great response to the new centre from those who visited, both children and adults, so we are naturally very pleased with such a response. We are sure 360 Play will be a valuable and popular addition to the area as part of the town centre’s wider regeneration and are very much looking forward to providing our unique brand of children’s entertainment in yet another part of the country.

On Wednesday Deputy Mayor Cllr Steve Masterson was present to officially open the new centre which as well as using local contractors for the build has also created 40 new jobs.

Amongst the many 5* reviews are lots of happy children who have enjoyed meeting our mascots Twizzle and Twirl as well as all the fun activities on offer. Among the attractions are a three storey central play structure, a dodgem car track, a carousel and the creative play area 360 Street, where youngsters are able to let their imaginations run wild in a series of play shops and other ‘buildings,’ including a supermarket, pizza parlour, vet’s, fire station, garage and more. A special party zone and dedicated toddlers’ area are also on offer, along with a café and plenty of comfortable seating.

Everything at 360 Play is carefully designed so that mums and dads can join in with their children, a key element of the philosophy of the owners who recognise the importance of adults being involved in their youngsters’ play activities.