Here’s a job that has to rank high among the list of “cool things to do to earn a living.” For Genesis Estes, her work as Guest Experience Designer appears to be a lifestyle, not just a living. Her enthusiasm is shown in her latest project for the Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson, Missouri, for which she also served as Creative Director. Genesis talked with us about the development and construction of the new Culinary & Craft Center:
What was the vision for this particular project?
We took the concept of a culinary school, since cooking is one of the oldest crafts, and thought about how we could make it interactive with our guests. Our vision was to make crafts relevant today. We had a desire to go back to our roots and connect differently than with a ride or a show.
Tell us about the design.
We call it a sophisticated farmhouse. It’s an 1880s exterior with a state-of-the-art kitchen inside. It’s really our prototype for what we may do at other properties. We went and visited a number of cooking schools in our region, did a lot of online research, and worked with Viking and Midwest Living on ideas. We tried to go to the experts and say, 'What would you do if you were doing a cooking school?’
Are you a foodie?
I’m a designer, but I’m becoming a foodie thanks to this project! It’s been all-consuming for 8-9 months. Normally I design new rides for the Park, so this has been something new. There is nothing like it in a theme park. It’s my job to preserve the guest experience, so we considered light, beauty, and inspiration in the design. It’s why we have the flat screen TVs, the forward seating, and why I fought for the fireplace.
How would you describe the guest experience?
They get to taste everything that is made. Silver Dollar City is well known for its food, so that was important to us. And, they walk away with the recipes. We want them to walk away saying, “I see now how I can do this in my home.”
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