March 16, 2017: Theme Parks Are Using Food Festivals to Raise Attendance, U.S. Women's Hockey Team Threatens World Championship Boycott Over Equal Pay, How a Mattress Company Has Become the Talk of SXSW

By Ian Zelaya March 16, 2017, 8:37 AM EDT

1. THEME PARKS ARE USING FOOD FESTIVALS TO RAISE ATTENDANCE: Theme parks including Walt Disney World and SeaWorld Orlando are using food-based festivals to drive seasonal attendance. Huffington Post: “Ever since WDW managers first learned 20+ years that they could boost Epcot attendance levels every Fall by staging a food & wine festival around World Showcase Lagoon, theme parks have been using seasonal cuisine-driven events as a way to bring in customers. Of course, in some cases – like Knott’s Boysenberry Festival (which runs at this Buena Park favorite from April 1st – 23rd)—this seasonal food-based event actually honors that theme park’s past. Conversely — when it comes to the Seven Seas Food Festival (which SeaWorld Orlando will be staging on Saturdays now through May 13th) – this was more about adding something new to that theme park’s menu. The thinking here is that the more-than-60 unique Asian, European, Polynesian, Latin & North Atlantic dishes which are being served up at this seasonal cuisine-driven event won’t just appeal to people who are vacationing in Central Florida but also to Orlando-area foodies. … What’s kind of intriguing is that Walt Disney World – because Epcot now presents four festivals each year that feature a cuisine-driven component … Well, they then had to come with a number of different names to describe these 'global marketplaces' / temporary kiosks. When it comes to Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival (which is running now through May 29th), food is dispensed from that seasonal event’s 15 outdoors kitchens. Whereas if you wanted to purchase a snack at Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts (which—having just completed its inaugural run back on February 20th—will be returning to WDW’s science & discovery park in early 2018), you had to go to one of the eight food studios that were set up around World Showcase Lagoon.”

2. U.S. WOMEN'S HOCKEY TEAM THREATENS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BOYCOTT OVER EQUAL PAY: The U.S. women's hockey team has announced it will boycott the upcoming world championship tournament unless progress is made in a wage dispute with USA Hockey. Associated Press: “After players threatened Wednesday to boycott the upcoming tournament as defending champions on home ice, USA Hockey said it will 'field a competitive team' for the International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Hockey Championship that begins March 31 in in Plymouth, Michigan. Negotiations between players and USA Hockey going nowhere over 14 months led to this development, and players lawyer John Langel characterized the negotiating gap as a chasm. Players have said they won't attend training camp next week or play in the tournament unless there are clear steps toward what they hope is a four-year contract. ... USA Hockey said each player participating in the Olympics in South Korea next February could receive up to $85,000, which also includes medal incentives. Neither USA Hockey nor the players would reveal details of the wages in dispute or how the men's team is compensated. The U.S. men's team is comprised of highly paid NHL players, as are most established men's national teams. Players pointed to the $3.5 million USA Hockey spends annually on its National Team Development Program with no comparable setup for women's development and the fact that those men's under-17 and under-18 teams play 60 games a season compared to just nine for the women's national team in a non-Olympic year."

3. HOW A MATTRESS COMPANY HAS BECOME THE TALK OF SXSW: In the past, apps such as Twitter and Foursquare have taken off at South by Southwest. This year, online mattress delivery company Casper has made a big impression on attendees. CNBC: “During the event, tech and advertising executives were lauding the e-commerce mattress company for its smart business practices, including clever marketing campaigns and ease of purchase. But mostly, Casper became a status symbol of sorts. People who owned one kept humble-bragging about having it at home. Casper's rep this year was cemented when the company found a clever way to market itself — and in the process save the day for attendees stranded in Austin. One of the biggest challenges of the South by Southwest Festival is getting a place to stay in downtown Austin. Hotels and Airbnb listings are often sold out months in advance. But when you add an unexpected winter snowstorm that cancelled most Northeast flights, it turned into a downright nightmare this year. Casper partnered with the Standard Hotel's One:Night app for a promotion in downtown Austin. Every day at 3 p.m., One:Night released 20 hotel rooms for $99 each, far below the going rate of $250–$1,200 a night. But it wasn't just about a cheap place to stay. The rooms were outfitted with Casper mattresses and pillows, slippers and car service from Tesla. If you didn't want to leave, there were unofficial SXSW events at the property, plus virtual reality experiences and cocktails. You could even call the front desk to request a real mom to come read you a bedtime story and tuck you in. Casper also hosted free 45-minute ”refresh rooms,” complete with Casper mattresses, milk and cookies, a place to charge your devices and a warm shower."


BOSTON:  Equinox and the Boston Athletic Association have announced a multiyear sponsorship of the Boston Marathon.

CHICAGO:  The 16th annual NICE Awards, which recognize Chicago-area members of ILEA and NACE, will take place April 16 at the Geraghty.

LOS ANGELES:  The inaugural East L.A. Comic Con will take place May 20 at El Gallo Plaza. The pop culture event is headed by Nostalgic Books and Comics owner Peter J. Mellini.

For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner:

MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA:  The National YoungArts Foundation's Salon Series: Women and Words will take place April 18 in collaboration with O, Miami Poetry Festival. The event will honor women in the literary arts and feature a conversation with activist Natalie Diaz and poet Delali Ayivor.

NEW YORK:  The 2017 Whitney Biennial opens Friday. The 78th installment will showcase work from 63 artists and collectives.

The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA will host its 10th annual A Celebration of Scotland's Treasures gala on March 29 at the Metropolitan Club. The event will feature a whiskey tasting by the Macallan and honor filmmaker Ken Burns with the Great Scot award.

East Side House Settlement will host the 18th annual Gala Preview of the New York International Auto Show on April 13 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The show runs April 14-23.

Studio in a School, which provides visual arts education to underserved public school students, will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a fund-raising gala on May 3 at Seagram Building Plaza.

For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner:

SAN FRANCISCO:  The 60th annual San Francisco International Film Festival has rebranded as the SFFilm Festival, with its umbrella organization—formerly the San Francisco Film Society—rebranding as SFFilm. The event runs April 5-19 at various Bay Area venues. SFGate:

TORONTO:  The inaugural Breakin' Convention, a hip-hop dance theater festival, will take place March 20 at the Sony Centre.

WASHINGTON, D.C.:  Washington Marriott Georgetown will celebrate its new redesign by hosting the inaugural Marriott Hotels' Bourbon Battle on March 29. Hosted by the Food Network's Rossi Morreale, the event will feature a bourbon cocktail competition featuring four D.C. bartenders, a Media Bourbon Battle exhibition, and a bourbon tasting for attendees.

Washington City Paper's Best of D.C. event will take place April 6 at the Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square. Participating restaurants and bars include District Doughnut, Rural Society, and Hank's Oyster Bar.

YOUR NEWS: What are you doing? Tell us:

JOB BOARD: Post a job or find a job:

With contributions from Alesandra Dubin and Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles, Mitra Sorrells in Orlando, and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, Jill Menze, and Ian Zelaya in New York.

BizBash Daily is the must-read digest of event industry news from

Feed the Sheet:


Advertise with BizBash:


Your email inquiry will be sent to 3 venue