Beneath the Trapdoor with Bronson Chadwick #9 – Disneyworld an Experiment at the TAOM Convention
Downtown Orlando, Florida certainly has a mouse problem, and nobody seems to mind! One of the Disney parks in Orlando is Downtown Disney. At night, Disney fans from all over the city mingle with Disney tourists from around the world. Each evening there is one major novelty of Disneyworld that brings out some VERY excited fans: Disney Pins. These shiny enamel pins feature characters and themes from Disney, Star Wars, Marvel and other mousy affiliates.
Wearing your pins on a lanyard at Disney allows you to connect with other fans and likeminded tourists. It also makes you something of a target in the gift shops but that’s another story. These pins help visitors to strike up conversations in the (very) long lines for restaurants and rides. There’s a reason people break out in song on the streets of the Disney parks with perfect strangers, and these pins help pave the way.
A photo from a collectable pin shop at Disney Springs. I hope you brought money!
Last year I finished my term as the 2022/2023 President of the Texas Association of Magicians. One of the key responsibilities of the TAOM President is to execute the annual convention. Our convention was in Fort Worth at a modest hotel which we packed it full of lectures, contests, shows, and a number of other activities. What I’ve learned from this experience is that, just like in a magic show, NOTHING ever goes quite according to plan. Every TAOM president I’ve spoken with has a list of accomplishments and a list of things they wish would have been done differently. For a list of funny stories and things I wish I would have done differently, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For the REALLY good stories come find me in person because those stories aren’t going into print!
Yours truly performing my Stained Glass Illusion
But for now, I want to explain to you one of the activities that seemed to go over marvelously that was inspired by my first trip to Disney many years prior.
The experiment was called the Interest Badge System. I created twelve different icons (stickers), each with a different color-coded design representing some common interests in the magic world. Conventioneers had full-color badges on a lanyard. Each badge had three blank circles at the bottom of the badge. On Friday night, conventioneers were tasked with choosing three different stickers that best represented their current interests in magic. There were also large signs printed with a legend showing the meaning behind each icon sticker. All of these publications were made possible by magician and graphic wizard Bernie Trowbridge with Maxam Graphics in Dallas.
The icons we chose were as follows:
Coins and Money
History and Collecting
Manipulation and Sleight-of-Hand
The above image was printed as a giant poster and was placed in the lobby next to rolls of stickers to be chosen by convention registrants.
A sample of a full-color name badge from TAOM 2022. No, the professor wasn't there.
This turned out to be great thing! While some magicians were hesitant to participate at first, the trend caught on after a few minutes and some very interesting conversations began to take place! “I didn’t know you enjoyed children’s magic!?” I heard one magician say to another across the room. Soon magicians were connecting with each other in new ways.
First-time visitors to TAOM were able to feel more welcome by being able to have conversations with other magicians who would have otherwise continued to be perfect strangers. Much to the relief of some stage magicians, hotel lobby finger flingers were hesitant to perform card tricks for those whose badge only had the Children’s, Stage, and Comedy icons on their badge!
Another reason for this experiment was to benefit dealers and visitors to the dealer’s room. When a convention guest approached a magic dealer with their name badge on, that dealer would immediately know when magic effects to demonstrate and which to avoid, based on the interest stickers of the visitor. For your curiosity, here is the data from our convention. Please keep in mind that there were a small handful of people who did not participate in this activity. The jerks. There were 250 magicians registered for the convention plus a few extra registrations floating around for spouses, magic assistants, etc. for non-magicians. Here is the same list as before, along with the statistics, in order by interest:
Interests in Order by Popularity:
Coins and Money - 94 people, 39% of convention registrants
Mentalism - 91 people, 38% of convention registrants
Children’s Magic - 76 people, 32% of convention registrants
Comedy Magic - 73 people, 31% of convention registrants
Cards - 70 people, 29% of convention registrants (this surprised me)
General Close-up - 58 people, 24% of convention registrants
Stage Magic and Stage Illusions - 54 people, 23% of convention registrants
Walk-around/Table-hopping Magic - 44 people, 18% of convention registrants
Manipulation and Sleight-of-Hand - 44 people, 18% of convention registrants
Gospel Magic - 41 people, 17% of convention registrants
Silk Handkerchief Magic - 37 people, 15% of registrants
History and Collecting - 36 people, 15% of registrants
718 total stickers used
239 total approximate participants of the 250 magicians
“Wow! You mean coin magic and mentalism are where it’s at these days?” Yes. These numbers surprised me by far. I expected card magic to be in first place and for history/collecting to have ranked much higher, but then again there’s a reason you won’t find me at the race track.
I encourage anyone hosting a magic convention or even a club meeting to try this experiment. I’m talking to you, Stan. Keep in mind that these numbers are going to be a little different for each group of magicians. TAOM is considered to be a general magic convention and therefore the numbers would be different at events like FFFF, the PEA conference, the SAM convention, and so-on where you have a different population and demographic of magic enthusiast.
What are your three interests? Email me that and your thoughts to email@example.com