After delays, Super 78 debuts RiseNY attraction in Times Square

By | March 1, 2022

NEW YORK — When James Sanna, president and CEO of Running Subway, came to the team at Super 78 seeking the design firm’s expertise to help develop an attraction in New York City, little did they know it would take them on a 10-year journey together. RiseNY, the first flying theater experience in the northeast U.S., recently opened to acclaim in Times Square.

The attraction tells the story of New York through a series of engaging museum galleries and culminates with a simulated flight above its storied boroughs. It treats guests to sweeping vistas of the Brooklyn Bridge, the 9/11 Memorial and other evocative scenes that capture the city’s grandeur as well as the spirit and energy of its people. The development of RiseNY and getting it open, however, has been something of a bumpy ride.

Soon after meeting to get the project going, Hurricane Sandy unleashed its wrath. Running Subway then lost the location on which it had set its sights, causing further delays. The COVID-19 pandemic added additional turbulence. Through it all, the creative partners persevered.

“New York is a city that never gives up. This project speaks to the resolve of New Yorkers like James who refuse to take no for an answer and rise up anyway,” said Dina Benadon, Super 78’s co-founder and CEO. “We’ve been along for the ride since the beginning.”

With a 25-year background in visual effects and attractions development, Super 78 has crafted several projects including Seattle’s  Wings Over Washington, and Flying Over Indonesia at indoor theme park Trans Studio Bali

For RiseNY, the company pitched an overarching story built around tipping points, the important and often surprising junctures that led to the city’s preeminence in culture, finance and trade. The theme resonated and led to media-rich exhibit halls that celebrate topics such as the evolution of Broadway theater, the establishment of radio and television with New York as the broadcasting epicenter, and the ascent of the fashion industry.

“There is great depth to the attraction,” stated Brent Young, Super 78’s co-founder and president. On average, guests spend 60 minutes exploring RiseNY, but some linger longer. “Visitors can access and unpack lots of layers,” he added.

A short film traces the history of New York and sets the tone for the experience. Created by noted documentarians Ric Burns and James Sanders and narrated by Jeff Goldblum, it is presented in a replica of the city’s first subway station. A modern-day subway train virtually transports guests to the museum galleries. In the final room, guests enter a 1950s-era television studio and see a black-and-white broadcast of the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square.

Unbeknownst to visitors, they are sitting in Brogent Technologies’ 46-passenger flying theater ride vehicles. Designed to pivot 180 degrees, the seating turns and enters the main theater with a flourish to begin the tour above and through New York City. Directed by Young, the film includes practical footage that is seamlessly blended with CGI to provide a captivating ride experience.

“We’ve made a lot of flying films, and we’ve seen a lot of them. This is by far one of the most unique and special experiences out there,” said Benadon. “It captures the soul of New York.”

Young adds that he was able to commandeer helicopters and fly above the city to capture scenes in ways that may no longer be possible. 

“The way flight paths are being restricted, there may not be this kind of access,” Young added. “This may be the definitive aerial record of New York.”

This article appears in the  MARCH 2022 issue of Amusement Today.
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