“It is with a great deal of pride, excitement and pleasure that I welcome Tony and the team from the Spinnaker Tower to Shaping Portsmouth as our latest Patron. The venue is iconic and one of the most recognisable in the city. Tony and his team are excellent ambassadors for the city and represent the very best of our businesses.” – Stef Nienaltowski, CEO of Shaping Portsmouth
We are excited to be joining other businesses, education centres, and cultural groups in promoting our home city. What makes our attraction so great is the view of our favourite city, Portsmouth, and our island’s beautiful coastline.
Shaping Portsmouth’s mission is to boost all things Portsmouth! Working with organisations to create sustainable partnerships and make Portsmouth the UK’s premier waterfront city to invest, learn and visit. They are well known for their work with The University of Portsmouth, The Armed Forces Covenant, and South Western Railway.
You can learn more about Shaping Portsmouth’s mission on their website.
By working with such a great group we are part of a movement dedicated to pushing projects we love. Shaping Portsmouth supports green space initiatives, education programs, and exploring and discovering Portsmouth’s vibrant cultural heritage.
We are proud to be Shaping Portsmouth and look forward to continuing to work in the heart of the community.
Learn how Spinnaker Tower also works with local Portsmouth suppliers read more in our blog post here.
Continuum Attractions continue to deliver exceptional award-winning visitor experiences in a post-pandemic market.
Despite the challenges of the past couple of years in the tourism and leisure industry, one of the UK’s leading visitor attractions companies, Continuum Attractions, has continued to place its guests at the heart of what they do.
As a result, the York-based company is delighted to see that five of its eight attractions have been awarded the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Award 2022 for; The Real Mary King’s Close, GreenWood Family Park, York’s Chocolate Story, Spinnaker Tower, and Oxford Castle & Prison.
These awards celebrate visitor attractions that are highly rated by travellers on the platform.
Julia Delaney, CEO of Continuum Attractions says: “When our teams work incredibly hard to create memorable and enjoyable experiences for our guests, it is so rewarding to hear back from those guests telling us and others how much they enjoyed it. We are delighted that our visitors have shared their five-star experiences on TripAdvisor, and that these reviews are recognised with these awards.”
“We have some exciting new projects planned for the next 12 months which will further expand the portfolio of experiences that Continuum Attractions offers, and we are looking forward to delighting even more guests in the future”.
As the world begins to reopen and life transitions back to normality, it’s natural that we’ve all been left wondering what ‘normal’ truly means for our future. For those of us in the tourism sector, normality, has continued to raise question after question about the future of our industry and what tourism really looks like in the ever- changing landscape we currently find ourselves in.
Having worked in the tourism industry for over 30 years, our CEO Juliana Delaney never anticipated that she’d have to shut the doors to her group of attractions for the best part of a year. But, more than that, when the doors closed in Spring 2020, she certainly didn’t anticipate the opportunities that this period might lead to. With a year of uncertainty behind us, innovation, flexibility and a willingness to embrace the unknown have been at the core of operations at Continuum Attractions. So, as we emerge from a period of extended lockdowns and closures, here’s what Juliana sees for the future of UK Tourism:
“Before Covid took hold of the UK, we were performing incredibly well and exciting new prospects were close on the horizon. The threat of having to close our doors to our guests was a devastating prospect, but we knew this period of closure wasn’t an opportunity to sulk and put our feet up. We started with the humble beginnings of managing Jorvik Viking Centre in 1981. Since then, we’ve built a growing portfolio of attractions across England, Scotland and Wales, welcoming millions of visitors a year. It was high time to hold a mirror up to our business and how it runs.”
“Naturally our customer-facing teams were placed on furlough, which has been a real lifeline for so many businesses like ours. But for those of us able to work, it was time to get lockdown fit. We overhauled our operations and booking program, investing in new software that would allow our teams to do more for our customers. We reviewed each visitor attraction in more detail than ever before, creating lean and close-knit teams to deliver on our changing customer needs. We also invested in physical improvements and expansions to our sites wherever possible, like the new sustainable accommodation and outdoor quest at our popular Greenwood site.”
“We also spent a lot of time working with industry partners and fellow operators to share best practice on how we navigate this completely unpredictable turn of events. It’s a shared opinion in the industry that tourism is often overlooked for its economic and emotional value. A global pandemic has finally shifted that aged perception. With that, and our improved joined up approach as an industry, I see a bright future in our comeback.”
“As the world continues to hold up its crystal ball, wondering what the future of their industry will look like post-pandemic, I think there are some changes that are here to stay for tourism. We’ll continue to create space at our attractions to allow for social distancing, even when it’s no longer mandatory. We’re also going to ask all our guests to book in advance to help us move them through our attractions, avoiding crowds or bottlenecks. We’ll also continue to offer experiences virtually as well as in person, like our popular underground video tour of Edinburgh’s forgotten Royal Mile – The Real Mary King’s Close.”
“I also think the revival of human contact will be high on our post-lockdown wish list. We’ve all had to adjust to a world lived online, from our shopping habits to our working environments and even how we catch up with friends and relatives. Our visitor attractions showcase real people and their stories in an enriching way that just can’t be experienced as authentically online. I can’t wait to see our tour guides light up a room of engaged visitors again.”
“With a lot of uncertainty around quite how carefree and open this summer will be, there’s also a new message needed for our industry: ‘Visit, but visit responsibly’. Britain does have beautiful landmarks and memorable places to holiday – I’ve been shouting about that for years – but we can’t overwhelm these places beyond recognition with a level of carelessness. If you’re planning to hike Snowdonia or head to your local park, pick up and dispose of your litter. It’s the least we can all do after more than a year of pulling together to try and safely open up our world again.”
So, with re-opening on the horizon, it’s clear that the landscape of tourism remains changed and further evolution is inevitable. Much like our attitude to the last 12 months, at Continuum Attractions we’re looking to this next phase with optimism and, more than anything, we’re excited to be welcoming our guests back into our attractions.
Our successful visitor business is created around the stories of some formidable women from the past, as we tell the tales of interesting and path-carving characters from the 17th century onwards in a number of our attractions. Landowners in Edinburgh, chocolate entrepreneurs in York and political campaigners in Oxford, these women built their successful independent businesses and environments from scratch, and it’s interesting to reflect on International Women’s Day on what we have learnt from the telling of these stories.
Whether it’s 17th century businesswoman and landowner Mary King, namesake of The Real Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh, or 18th century Mary Tuke, recognised as the ‘mother of York’s chocolate industry’, whose tale is told at York’s Chocolate Story, we learn that these women worked to be the very best that they could be. There’s little discussion or documentation of them competing to be better than their male counterparts, despite living and functioning in what were male-dominant societies. They went about their daily lives and built their fruitful careers by concentrating on their own best choices and decisions.
Move to current day, and a similar comparison can be made at Continuum Attractions, a company led by women in senior posts, all striving to do their very own best – a successful group of women in an industry which allows room for gender neutrality, thus attracting purposeful women to thrive. Collectively, the females leading Continuum credit the tourism and hospitality industry for allowing them, and women in general, a nurtured and supported space in which to do well. It’s an industry where gender has largely gone under the radar and where competition between male and female is less of a focus. Perhaps that is the very lesson to learn, that if we all just focused on being the best we can be, like those women before us, there might be less of a conversation around the need for gender equality.
Juliana Delaney responds to big numbers for tourism in Britain in 2020
Crunching the numbers
“It has been a big month of big numbers from our national tourism agencies, VisitBritain and Visit England, not only highlighting that Britons ‘staycationing’ this year is on the rise and will add £27bn to the UK economy, but also that visitors spent £951m in Britain last year and that this is expected to also increase.
“These figures and their projected positive impact make me feel excited, encouraged, energised…and ever-more focused on the importance of staying relevant. It’s certainly not the moment for attractions to rest on their laurels with the security that visitors will come. We are operating in an increasingly broad competitive field, where screens big and small compete for people’s time, and where even a trip to the cinema is referred to as ‘light exercise’ (University College London research).
“With climate change and weather disruption top of the news agenda, there is added insecurity of what the weather will do, in addition to the unknown real impact of Brexit, which undoubtedly will affect us negatively from the European visitor.”
Investing for the future
“The only matter we can be assured about is that we need to continue to invest in our offering and in our people. And we need to work collaboratively with others, such as our local tourism bodies, other attractions, accommodation providers and national organisations, to ensure that we can create the biggest impact possible not just for ourselves, but for our regions and all those who live, work and visit them.”
Already this year, we confirmed £100k investment in new interpretation of The Plague and Queen Mary exhibitions in Edinburgh, significant investment in York’s Chocolate Story to enhance the guest experience and increase our fresh chocolate production, and the unveiling of a new ‘Giant’ attraction at the sustainability focused Greenwood Family Park in Wales.
“We’ve set aside substantial budget for staff training, building on the mental health awareness campaign from 2019, where we worked together with St John’s Ambulance to train personnel at each of our eight sites as mental health first aiders. We’re prepped to embrace the challenges of 2020, we’re also braced for the highs and lows that will naturally come as part of the ride.”
That was Juliana Delaney, our Chief Executive commenting on the latest tourism news.
In 1995 Forrest Gump won 6 Oscars, Microsoft launched Windows 95 and Alan Shearer won the Premier League’s ‘Golden Boot’ award. But over at Continuum Attractions (or Heritage Projects as we were known then) far more important things were afoot, as a determined, creative cat-lover called Monique stepped through our doors for her first day in her new admin assistant role.
Fast forward to 2019 and Monique, now Marketing Services Manager, is celebrating her 24th anniversary with the company. As part of the dynamic central marketing team, Monique works closely with the marketeers across our UK-wide attractions, liaising with designers, co-ordinating print needs (what she doesn’t know about leaflets isn’t worth knowing!) and using her extensive skills and experience to lead diverse projects.
“Monique is a vital member of the marketing team”
Head of Marketing Jules Ozbek explains.
“It’s a real pleasure to work with her. Super reliable and great in a crisis, we don’t know what we’d do without her 24 years of knowledge and experience – or her outstanding organisational skills”
Having found a few minutes to talk to me whilst co-ordinating a major office refurbishment at our York support office, Monique tells us why she enjoys working for Continuum:
“No one day is the same. You’re like Dr Who with your very own TARDIS – one minute you could be dealing with the team down on the South Coast before flying up to 17th century Edinburgh!”
But what’s the best thing about her job?
“I get to work with an amazing group of people day in day out – from all corners of the country – now what’s not to like about that?”
New starters to the company often see Monique several times before meeting her, due to her model-like status, regularly stepping up and jumping in front of the camera when the photo-shoot she’s running needs an extra body.
“I’ve been an extra in so many TV ads and photoshoots – from a Medieval Maid for The Canterbury Tales to the face of our latest campaign for Spinnaker Tower – my inner diva comes to the fore!”
Over 24 years, Monique has seen many changes to her role, the company and the team, including being involved in the launch of lots of new attractions:
“There’s been some really exciting projects over the last 24 years – every project is exciting but particular highlights include opening The Real Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh. Being one of the very first visitors to walk down on to the Close… I can still feel my reaction of amazement – real people lived, breathed and walked on these streets – how amazing to be part of that!
“More recently, Coronation Street The Tour – everyone loves a bit of ‘Corrie’ and I got the opportunity to be part of the team that gave visitors the chance to walk down the famous cobbles on the original Granada Studios set before it was sadly demolished. Who wouldn’t want to get behind the scenes and have a sneaky try on of Deidre Barlow’s actual glasses – but shush that’s a secret!”
Monique is currently beavering away on our annual Attraction of the Year award ceremony event – pulling together the last minute table plans, name cards and menus. Every year, the event showcases one of our attractions from the portfolio, and this year it’s York’s Chocolate Story complete with beautiful Black Magic themed invitations.
“Some other projects I’m working on at the moment include working with the wonderful team in Wales at our newest attraction GreenWood Family Park on producing some amazing, fun and creative collateral – everything from signage and site maps to leaflets and labelling”
Monique also ran (and starred in) the new WOW campaign we have at Emirates Spinnaker Tower, pushing that out to our audiences in online ads, print and signage. In her own words:
“It’s a good job I’m good at spinning plates…and eating scones!”
We hope she continues spinning plates and ‘WOW’ing our teams for a long time to come!
Here at Continuum Attractions, we pride ourselves on putting our team first.
With an impressive benefit package, competitive pay, a focus on team wellbeing- and as part of one of the most exciting and challenging industries – we’re delighted that so many of our team choose to stay with us for many years. But when our team are ready for pastures new, we wish them well (and sometimes shed a few tears!) and are delighted to welcome fresh new faces into the Continuum family.
If you want to be part of our culture, having fun and making money (in that order!) check out our latest job vacancies.
Who knows, in 24 years’ time, maybe YOU could be the star of your own anniversary blog post… or whichever futuristic format we prefer in 2043!
Ollie works at Emmerdale Studio Experience as Guest Experience Manager (yes, cuddling up on the Dingle’s sofa with ex-cast member Alfie really is part of his job)! It’s not all about canine cuddles though, Ollie works hard to create a fantastic experience that fans of Emmerdale will love, by understanding exactly what they want, and making that happen…
“It’s 10am and I’m in the pub.
Not just any pub, either. It’s only Yorkshire’s favourite pub – The Woolpack, at The Emmerdale Studio Experience in Leeds.
I’ve actually just got off the phone with a top-secret special guest and confirmed their appearance for a special Halloween event we’re planning. Just your standard morning.
It’s safe to say however, that no two days are alike in my job. And that’s what I love about doing what I do.
The very heart of what I do is always the guest, and the memories they create when they’re with us. Having previously worked for Disney, I learnt that creating a great visitor attraction is understanding and knowing what the people want, and creating it just for them.
The Emmerdale Studio Experience gives guests a unique insight into the entire production process of the nation’s favourite soap (I can say that, because it is – Emmerdale won Best Soap at this year’s National Television Awards!). When I stepped into the role of Guest Experience Manager here, my personal goal was to deliver a more immersive and authentic tour for the fans, getting them that little bit closer to the characters, places and stories they know and love.
Let’s be clear, you won’t meet Cain Dingle when you come to The Emmerdale Studio Experience (soz!), BUT you can see (and touch – if that’s your thing) his actual costume taken straight from his clothes rail, along with the costumes of other fan favourites, such as Robert, Aaron (#RobRon), Val Pollard and the dearly departed Edna Birch.
I want to deliver fresh and exciting new content as well as remain true to the show’s roots, and ultimately that has been about building and nurturing a strong relationship with the teams at ITV who deliver six episodes of Emmerdale each and every week.
Working directly with the show’s producers, art directors, costume, makeup and props teams has not only been crucial in delivering the authentic elements from Emmerdale into the Studio Experience, but has also been incredibly rewarding on a personal level. What never ceases to amaze me is the passion and dedication that every member of the team working on Emmerdale demonstrates, day in and day out. And it really shows!
Within the past few weeks, we created two pop-up exhibits showcasing the costumes and props from two of this year’s biggest storylines – RobRon’s second wedding, and the masquerade ball during which super ‘soap bitch’ Kim Tate made a comeback.
Running for a limited time only, each of these exhibits offers Emmerdale fans a unique opportunity to immerse themselves further into their favourite soap and get up close to actual costumes and props used during these popular episodes.
For me, it’s not enough to simply have our guides talk about the storylines and characters – I want our guests to be able to see the dress worn by Kim Tate as she was pushed from the balcony in Home Farm, the suit that Joe Tate was wearing during his final moments on screen, and to clock the details in the props that were created just for Robert & Aaron’s wedding episode. All the while, learning about how all the different departments work together to create some of TV’s most incredible drama.
And it’s working alongside the team on Emmerdale that I’m able to bring our guests closer than ever to their favourite soap.
I’m confident that even non-fans leave the attraction in awe of all the work that’s done behind the scenes to bring Emmerdale onto the nation’s screens six times a week. It’s sometimes so easy to forget that behind the camera is an entire production team made up of close to 400 people working across departments such as costume, make-up, lighting, sound, editing, props, press, and digital.
And once you’ve had your fill of masquerade balls, helicopter crashes and cellar floods, guests finally get to give their feet a rest in our incredibly detailed replica set of The Woolpack.
Emmerdale recently celebrated its 46th anniversary, and it really is going from strength to strength, leading the way in serial drama. If I can do it any justice in giving the fans what they want from their visit to The Emmerdale Studio Experience, then I reckon I’ve done a decent job!”
The story doesn’t end here…
At Continuum Attractions, we employ passionate, dedicated team members who understand the importance of the guest experience and go above and beyond to make that happen. Want to be part of that? Take a look at our latest job vacancies.
Erica has worked at Continuum Attractions as Group Retail Manager for the last five years, heading up the retail experiences across all our attractions. With sites as far apart as Edinburgh and Portsmouth, the job involves a fair amount of travelling, though Erica still gets time to pursue varied interests including gardening, pottery and baking – her Christmas gingerbread houses are legendary!
Read on for top tips and insights into the world of retail, plus find out what Erica thinks is the most important factor in creating an outstanding retail experience…
So Erica, what does your job of Group Retail Manager entail?
“Part of working across the group is standardising policies and processes, and providing a level of consistency across our operation. I spend a lot of my time looking for efficiencies, cost savings, and opportunities to share best practice and great ideas across the attractions. But hand in hand with this consistency, is the importance of making sure that each of our nine shops has a distinct identity and is an integral part of each brand’s experience.
How do you go about making that happen?
“Well, it all starts with product selection. Before a new product comes through our doors, we ask two questions; Who is it for? Is it on brand? This can mean tough decisions about our product mix. It means we say no a lot. It might be popular, even a potential best seller, but if it’s not right for our brand, it’s not right for us. This pushes us to innovate, to be creative, and to find great products that delight, inspire, and have that all important ‘ooh factor’.
What are your favourite products across the attractions?
Unicorn soft toys at The Real Mary King’s Close. Unicorns are Scotland’s national creature and its great when we can find a way to make retail trends work with our brand stories.
Our salted caramel chocolate bar at York’s Chocolate Story – its made in house and is soooo yummy!
Mead at The Canterbury Tales because we can use it to interact with our guests by sampling it. It’s also made by a great local Kentish supplier.
But finding the right product is just the start of it?
“Exactly. At Continuum, storytelling is at the heart of everything we do, and the retail experience is an integral part of this. When our guests emerge from one of our tours, views or experiences, the transition to the shop should be seamless. The retail space, often the final part of our guest’s journey with us, is so much more than just a shop. It’s the final room, the lasting memory, a space to experience just a little bit more, and to transition back to the real world. It’s an opportunity for our guests to take away a piece of the story they’ve just lived, something to remind them of their time with us, something with a story of its own that our guests can treasure and share.
How do you make a retail space into part of the experience?
“The theming, layout and presentation of the shop have a crucial part to play, in both showcasing our products in the best possible way, and in giving our guests a place to experience and interact with our brand. We love shops that our guests want to stay in, explore, take photos of, and point of sale that speaks to them with the right tone of voice, and tells them that brilliant fact about why they should buy the product.
So what’s the most important thing – is it the product selection or the retail space itself?
“Actually, neither. The final and most important part of the puzzle is the team. At The Canterbury Tales, our guests exit the final show room, and are greeted in the market place by our costumed shop team with samples of traditional mead to refresh those that are weary from their pilgrimage! What better way to ease them from Chaucer’s Medieval England into a retail space where they want to stay, sample our product range, and engage with our brilliant team who are only too happy to share their knowledge. Whether it leads to a sale or not, our guests continue their learning here, and that’s down to a team that live and breathe their brand.”
Finally, what are your top tips for attractions wanting to enhance their retail offering?
Engage your team – they should be your product experts
Understand your brand – involve your marketing teams in all relevant aspects
Look through your guest’s eyes – walk the full attraction journey regularly to check the transition into the shop space, not just the shop itself.
The story doesn’t end here…
Look out for a future post where we talk to Chris Peel, Group Food and Beverage Manager, about food and drink across the attractions. Follow us on Twitter @Continuum_Group to stay up to date with our latest news and blog posts.
At Continuum Attractions, we’ve really enjoyed operating Star Wars™: Secrets of the Empire at The VOID in London, which comes to and end on June 19th. We talked to Kev Smith, Attractions Director for Continuum Attractions to find out more about the start of the journey…
So Kev, how did it all start?
We were first approached by The VOID in August 2017. A relatively new virtual reality start up business in the USA, they were already developing two projects at Disney Springs and Disney Anaheim in North America but wanted to deliver a ‘pop up’ experience based around Star Wars™, in conjunction with Disney and ILMxKLAB. The VOID wanted to open an experience in London before Christmas, to coincide with the release of the new Star Wars™ film, The Last Jedi. However, they needed an experienced and successful operator in the UK to make this a reality.
What happened after the initial call?
The VOID took the time to come over to the UK and look at potential venues, as well as visiting our offices in York to gain a greater understanding of how our business was structured. We were also able to show them one of our experiences, York’s Chocolate Story and demonstrate the quality and care that we put in to our operations.
It was… but then September came and went. These things take a lot of time and The VOID were clearly looking at all potential opportunities to ensure they had the right partner on board to meet their requirements and shoulder a high degree of responsibility.
Two further weeks passed and we were getting towards the end of October when I received a call stating that The VOIDhad been very impressed with our business and our operations and would like to work with us to get the experience based at Westfield shopping centre in London opened by mid-December.
We were delighted, but the date came as a slight surprise as we had assumed that there had been delays and that an opening would have been pushed back, but no, mid-December was the deadline.
So it was a quick turnaround?
Very… we had just 8 weeks left until opening! We booked some flights and went for a visit to The VOID’s head office in Lindon, Salt Lake City – a necessity to gain a full insight in to the development of the experience, its technology, its functionality and their people.
Was that quite time consuming when you were working to such a tight deadline?
It takes time to get to Utah, of course, but that first week visiting the offices proved pivotal in the development of the project as we were able to come back to the UK with as full an understanding of the experience as possible. Approximately six weeks remained for us to get the facility open!
What else needed doing in those 6 weeks?
Well, luckily all of the design work for the structure had been done but everything else associated with opening an attraction had to be delivered. Setting up the business and banking arrangements, recruitment and training, marketing and PR, sales and bookings system development, health and safety planning, retail and photo development, technical systems development, administrative systems development and more! It’s fair to say that a lot had to be done in a very small space of time.
How did you get it all done in time?
Thanks to the people involved. We worked closely with The VOID’s operating team to refine their plans to fit with the timescale. Our attraction management, admissions and guest services team started in early December with an intensive training schedule leading up to the opening on 16th December. Only three of the team had seen the experience, in Salt Lake City, until 5 days prior to the opening. It’s fair to say that they were all blown away by the sheer ‘awesomeness’ that the experience delivers… and we were blown away by their determination and hard work!
The crucial question: did you open on time?
Of course! Opening day came on the 16th December with the London operation being the first to open in the world – beating Disney Springs by seven hours.
It felt like the eyes of the world was on the operation The VOID, Disney, ILMXLAB as well as a host of technical publications and the attractions industry – all interested in how the experience performed. However, we were confident in what our team could deliver.
So it went well?
Day one was a roaring success … in fact all the days following have been too!
Were there any learnings from the experience?
It’s fair to say that we have all learned a lot very quickly (including The VOID). Being the first truly ‘Hyper Reality’ experience in the world and setting the bench mark for others to follow our collaborative working methods have been critical to the success of the project.
Do you have any advice to someone wanting to open an attraction within 8 weeks?
Although we did manage to successfully meet this timeline and we look forward to continuing our relationship with The VOID, attraction developers reading this article take heed – don’t expect that your experience can open in 6-8 weeks! Ideally, an operator such as ourselves needs to be involved 12-24 months in advance of the opening to be able to contribute to and influence a whole host of aspects including design and layout, and to programme in marketing activities to build the market way in advance of any potential opening.
Great advice, thank you Kev! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the partners associated with the project: The VOID, Disney, ILMxLAB, Westfield and finally to Charlie Gooch at Blooloop for linking us to The VOID in the first instant.
As a leading attraction and leisure brand, Continuum Attractions have over 30 years of experience operating a wide range of operating story-led experiences across the UK and around the world. From eco-friendly family parks like GreenWood in North Wales, to cutting-edge technology like Star Wars™: Secrets of The Empire at The VOID, we use our expertise to work alongside our partners, or on our own, to create outstanding experiences.
“It’s about more than just chocolate. It’s about how things were and how things are; it’s about looking at how far we’ve come, and how much further we have to go.”
Its March 8th, 2018 and as we celebrate International Women’s Day, Ben Rosenfield from York’s Chocolate Story is talking to us about the attraction’s new 2018 exhibition, Times of Change: Women and Confectionery
“Chocolate is a universally-beloved product that crosses cultural and economic boundaries. We’re here to celebrate York’s unique chocolate stories and confectionery heritage. Our annually-rotating exhibition celebrates this, picking a topic that highlights original areas of the city’s past. This year, we wanted to ‘widen the remit’, so to speak. As 2018 marks 100 years since women first got the vote*, and York has a rich history of female confectionery icons, women and confectionery seemed like the ideal topic.”
The exhibition looks into the lives of the women that shaped confectionery, but has wider implications. There are plenty of artefacts that people will recognise, such as the infamous Pink Yorkie and Vintage Quality Street tins. Nestled amongst the well-known brands are some rare and unusual gems…
“…like Terry’s Nutcracker promotional mirror – finding information on this brand proved to be the biggest challenge of all! My personal highlight in putting it all together has been interviewing former factory workers. The richness, diversity and content of their stories has been both eye-opening and humbling. We learned some incredibly interesting facts about life in the factories, not just as a women, but also as part of the wider York community. Key quotes from their testimonies have been placed along our chocolate river, making them a prominent feature”
York’s Chocolate Story were adamant that the exhibition would launch on International Women’s Day (8th March), a challenging deadline, but the team worked hard to get everything ready, including planning an evening event showcasing both the displays and a couple of new installations within the rest of the attraction too.
“We’ve transformed part of the attraction, creating more of a multi-sensory immersive experience to certain rooms, and it looks awesome! The event itself was a grand success. Speeches were made by 4 powerful women: Continuum Attraction’s CEO Juliana Delaney; York Central MP Rachael Maskell; Lord Mayor of York Barbara Boyce and our very own chocolatier, Chelsea Taylor.”
From Mary Tuke – known locally as “the mother of confectionery”- to Mary Ann Craven and her pioneering boiled sweets, York has some of the most wonderful unsung heroes in sweets treats. Their tenacity and perseverance turned them into sheer forces of nature; something that we should all aspire to be.
Times are still changing, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.
Today is International Day of Forests so we wanted to re-post our announcement about our involvement with one of the UK’s finest: Sherwood Forest.
We’re delighted to announce our involvement in the consortium led by the RSPB – the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds – which has been named as the preferred bidder to design, build and operate a new visitor centre and to manage the stunning natural habitats within Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest Country Park.
One of the UK’s leading nature conservation charities – the RSPB – has come out on top in a procurement process organised by Nottinghamshire County Council for a new visitor centre and to take on the conservation management of Sherwood Forest Country Park, which forms part of Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve.
Our Group Attractions Director Kevin Smith said: “Continuum Attractions is delighted to be part of the RSPB-led consortium which will breathe new life into Sherwood Forest Country Park and develop a new visitor centre. The shared expertise across the consortium will deliver a sustainable future for the Sherwood Forest visitor experience.”
The RSPB led consortium will also feature The Sherwood Forest Trust and Thoresby Estate as part of a £5.3m investment programme.
The visitor centre will be designed and built over the coming years and will provide a completely new facility and visitor experience for the people of Nottinghamshire and beyond to enjoy and celebrate the woodland, wildlife and heritage of the site. Around 350,000 visitors visit Nottinghamshire’s world-famous Sherwood Forest country park each year and the hugely successful Robin Hood Festival will again take place next year. The County Council’s management contract also requires the preferred bidder to deliver on effective conservation of the country park within the wider NNR, which features England’s Tree of the Year, the Major Oak.
Our General Managers are the exceptional individuals in charge of each attraction. They have busy but rewarding jobs making sure everything and everyone in our attractions is working smoothly and ensuring our guests leave with the best memories of their visit.
To find out more about what the role entails, we talked to the latest addition to the General Management team, Andrew Turner, who joined York’s Chocolate Story in October.
“I think I have joined Continuum at a very exciting time. I think the business has a great future. The company is certainly in growth and its partnerships with iconic partners such as ITV shows that the business is a major player in the attraction industry. I am excited to be working within one of the attractions and I am already looking forward to what may be the next acquisition to the portfolio.
“Before working at York’s Chocolate Story I was working as Head of Operations for Merlin Entertainments. During this time I worked at various sites including Scarborough SEALIFE Centre, The National SEALIFE Centre and most recently The York Dungeon. My working career actually started just down the road at Flamingo Land Theme Park where I undertook the role of Food and Beverage Manager.
“The biggest difference about working at York’s Chocolate Story is seeing daylight! The Dungeon was a challenging place to work as the lighting is dark and there is no natural light within the actual attraction. The fact that at York’s Chocolate Story I have the opportunity to walk around the attraction and engage with guests is something that I have missed. Another big difference is taking the role of GM, having the responsibility to develop the vision for success and drive this through the team is a huge responsibility and very challenging.
“My ambition for York’s Chocolate Story is simple, to make it the number one paid for visitor attraction in York. A big statement for a business that is not even five years old, however the growth seen year on year proves that over the next three years this is achievable. York has an amazing history and its heritage proves this is the City of Chocolate, I want York’s Chocolate Story to be the driving force behind telling this unique and exceptional story to the people of York and tourists to the city.
“I think the fact that our offering fits so well with the City is one of the best things about working at York’s Chocolate Story. When we have guests visiting the attraction who then go on to tell us about their work history in one of the factories – that’s amazing. Every week there is someone willing to share a story or tell a tale of their experience, we have even re-worked our scripts to incorporate some of the stories as they have been so interesting.
“It hasn’t all been plain sailing though… my most embarrassing moment so far happened when I tried to perform the chocolate demonstration to a group of guests, I thought it would be easy for me to hand temper some chocolate and “assist” in the demonstration. There is a good reason why people attend patisserie and chocolate making courses – it is a skill! While I didn’t help in any way, shape or form the group had a good giggle at my expense.
“Whilst I’m not sick of chocolate yet, I am sick of my family sending me in to work with a shopping list every week, high street chocolate just does not compare in my house anymore!”
Andy is proving to be an excellent addition to the Continuum family and we look forward to seeing where York’s Chocolate Story will go under his leadership.
Seven Continuum Attractions colleagues put their best feet forward on Saturday, taking part in the Yorkshire Three Peaks for our company charity, Alzheimer’s Society.
Following the 25-mile trek over Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent, our determined team of walkers raised almost £2,000 for the charity, adding to our overall fundraising total of over £4,000 so far.
Becky Romans, our Charity Champion commented:
“We decided to take on the arduous challenge of the Yorkshire Three Peaks for our friends and family members who have been affected by this life-changing disease. We’re thrilled to have raised a substantial amount of money for a worthy cause close to our hearts.”
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
“We are delighted that Continuum Attractions gave their time to support Alzheimer’s Society. 225,000 will develop dementia this year, that’s one every three minutes. As a charity, we rely on the generosity of individuals like the team at Continuum to help us continue our vital work.”
Keep following our blog to hear more about our fundraising efforts.
Call: 01904 527700
Continuum Group Ltd, St. Edmund's House, Margaret Street, York, YO10 4UX Registered in England No: 1969044
Continuum Attractions is committed to achieving the highest standards of Health & Safety to all its visitors and employees. We are proud of the processes, systems and procedures we have in place across our business. Health & Safety is much a part of our company culture as our dedication to delivering unique experiences in memorable locations.
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