Owner & Chief Executive Officer, JRA
Due to his diverse background, considerable experience and practical approach, Keith James has become one of the themed entertainment industry’s most respected leaders.
In November 2011, his distinguished career was honored at annual IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) conference in Orlando, where he was presented with IAAPA’s 2011 Outstanding Service Award. According to IAAPA, the award “is presented in recognition of a member individual that works to foster the spirit of goodwill, professionalism, and higher levels of performance within the industry regionally, nationally, or internationally.
Keith’s entire professional career has been in themed entertainment, and his passion for the industry is evident to all those who know him. Says Keith, “I’ve been fortunate to have the chance to do something I love for over 35 years. In addition to being involved with some great projects, I’ve had the chance to meet some wonderful people along the way.”
His areas of expertise include formal planning, project management, park operations, show production and general management.
Graduating from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music in 1974, Keith first teamed with Jack Rouse to found and develop Kings Productions, the entertainment production and facility design division of the Taft Broadcasting Company’s amusement park group. There he was exposed to all of the disciplines involved in designing and constructing a modern theme park. In 1979, he became Director of Planning and Development for Canada’s Wonderland, Taft’s $120 million (Canadian) theme park. He became the park’s Director of Operations in 1981, having overall responsibility for all facets of day-to-day operations. In 1983, Keith took the post of Vice President, Operations for the 1986 World’s Fair in Vancouver, where he was responsible for the initial planning and staffing. He then returned to Taft as Managing Director of Australia’s Wonderland in Sydney. In 1987, Keith returned to the United States as Vice President, Show Production at Universal Studios Florida. He was promoted in 1990 to Senior Vice President, Planning and Development, taking responsibility for the production side of the rides, shows and art departments for the state-of-the-art park. Keith concluded his involvement with Universal in August 1991 and rejoined Jack in January 1992 at Jack Rouse Associates.
Since that time, Keith has managed JRA’s design and production work for such clients as The LEGO Group; Warner Bros.; Universal Studios Florida; Six Flags Theme Parks; Volkswagen’s Autostadt; Ocean Park, Hong Kong and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. Keith has also been instrumental in opening new markets in India, the Pacific Rim and Eastern Europe.
Keith also takes a personal interest in the growth and direction of the industry. He has been heavily involved with the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) since 1993 and served as President from 2000–2002. As a member of the TEA’s board of directors, he helped form the European Division of the organization and has been instrumental in establishing the TEA as a leading force in the entertainment industry.
Keith currently serves on the IAAPA Space Allocation committee, and recently served on the organization’s Board of Directors, Manufacturers & Suppliers and Nominating committees. This experience, along with his extensive travel and work worldwide, has given Keith a unique global perspective, which has strengthened his reputation as a true industry leader.
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