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A Journey From Disneyland’s Stage Door Café To The Global Stage – How Taylor Jeffs Aims To Reinvent Experiential Entertainment

3 min read

The 21st century has seen a seismic shift in the global entertainment landscape. From live theater to immersive entertainment, the business has never been better. With both the emergence of new technological platforms and the number of mature markets around the globe, content creators have been busier than ever.  However, one Hollywood-based creator is especially notable in that his influence and reach have not been limited to any one creative medium, but instead has spanned a wide gamut of disciplines and genres.

Since 2002, Hollywood-based Writer, Director, and Producer Taylor Jeffs has been part of over 50 large-scale destinations, events, and attractions all around the planet, with a resume that ranges from Off-Broadway magic shows to multi-billion dollar casinos. Overall, Jeffs has directly supervised over seven billion dollars of investment in his less than two decades in the business.

IT ALL STARTED WITH A MOUSE

Born and raised in Orange County, California, Jeffs was had been drawn to entertainment from an early age. Spending his formative years at local staples, including Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Universal Studios, Jeffs grew up immersed in the medium that he would soon become his livelihood. Hyper-focused on breaking into the industry, Jeffs identified a loophole in Disneyland’s hiring guidelines, and at the age of 15, began flipping burgers at the park’s Stage Door Café in exchange for High School credits in lieu of pay. Rising through the ranks at the Anaheim park, Jeffs also spent time as a VIP Tour Guide and a Research Specialist in the resort’s Marketing department.

ON THE JOB TRAINING

Unlike many entertainment mediums, location-based entertainment has generally lacked a path of formal education or training, though Jeffs notes that this has been changing in recent years. Historically, those who have found success in the medium have learned by cutting their teeth on the frontlines of major domestic and international developments. This was certainly the case for Jeffs, who first enlisted as an intern at Gary Goddard Entertainment (GGE) in 2003, answering the phones at the company, which had drastically scaled back in the tourism downturn resulting from the September 11th, 2001 attacks. From this ground floor vantage point, Jeffs had a front-row seat to all of the company’s dealings and quickly took an active role in the firm’s creative operations.

Within a few years, Jeffs was promoted to the role of Director of Design, and in this capacity, led the creative efforts of many of the firm’s most notable projects, including Studio City Macau, Lotte World, and Electric Daisy Carnival. Around this time, Jeffs began consulting with global entertainment giant Cirque du Soleil, helping the beloved brand expand into new sectors and markets.

Over the ensuing years, Jeffs made it his signature to push creative boundaries, ensuring never to repeat what’s come before. His Kinetic Field design at Las Vegas’ Electric Daisy Carnival event was the, most significant stage ever to be erected in North America, and his long-running production of Let’s Dream! At South Korea’s Lotte World was the first live show ever to feature a fleet of choreographed drones. Most recently in Indonesia, Jeffs melded elements of a traditional ‘dark ride’ together with those of a stunt show, creating the first such attraction in history where live performers perform high-octane action scenes above and around a moving vehicle.

BUILDING A LEGACY

In November 2017, GGE’s Founder and CEO stepped down from his duties amid accusations of sexual misconduct. Jeffs was appointed as the firm’s President and Chief Creative Officer, leading the company through a highly turbulent period that saw many firms in similar circumstances fold their business entirely. Under his leadership, the firm re-branded to Legacy Entertainment and changed its ownership and management structure.

Much to Jeffs’ credit, the firm emerged from the re-branding and restructuring stronger than ever, having maintained its place as the premium leader in the location-based entertainment sector. Jeffs was recognized for his leadership by industry publication Blooloop, formally being named one of the top 50 most influential individuals in the location-based and themed entertainment sectors.

TO INFINITY AND BEYOND

Jeffs insists he’s just getting started despite having enough projects under his belt to span multiple careers. Through Legacy Entertainment, Jeffs continues to design and produce genre-bending projects all around the globe, highlights of which include the world’s first theme park based on Lotus Automobiles and a ‘Floating City’ in Indonesia.

Jeffs has continued to turn his focus towards his passion for live entertainment. In addition to his collaborations with Electric Daisy Carnival and Cirque du Soleil, Jeffs was also involved in the Off-Broadway transfer of Derek Delgaudio’s In & Of Itself. Before its re-branding, Legacy Entertainment co-produced the Broadway productions of Hair, Reasons to be Pretty, and The Encounter.

It was recently announced that Jeffs and his frequent collaborator, Benoit Jutras, were developing a slate of original musical projects for both the stage and screen. Jutras, best known as the former Chief Composer of Cirque du Soleil, has been a longtime creative collaborator of Jeffs, with the pair having worked together on several popular projects, including the Six Flags. Glow in the Park parades, Lotte World’s Let’s Dream! Spectacular, at the Road Rage dark ride at Indonesia’s Trans Studio Bali theme park.

Whatever the future holds for Jeffs, he hopes that it will be surprising. He notes that emerging markets worldwide, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, will offer him and his collaborators many more opportunities to surprise and delight their audiences.

Editorial Desk Editorial team Account! Bringing you entrepreneurial stories. Flourishive views the world through the eyes of entrepreneurship—ambition, ​empathy, the ​grind. Be inspired by articles curated by Flourishive Contributors.