L3DFX Reaches for New Heights at O’Hare

It’s 412 day in Pittsburgh today, and while residents proudly celebrate the Iron City, L3DFX is preparing them for an invasion, alien-style. Earlier this year, Kennywood announced the mystery and lore of Area 51 would be moving east with the debut of Area 412.

Just in time for its new season, the park is adding a new thrill ride as the area’s centerpiece. A first of its kind in the United States, the Zamperla-designed ride crisscrosses sideways, and even parallel with the ground. An immersive colorful light display completes the interstellar experience.

While Spinvasion is sure to lead guests to Area 412, they will also linger longer and enjoy a refurbished Cosmic Chaos and shop for intergalactic apparel in a brand-new gift shop.

Of course, a new park area also means new park inhabitants, and the L3DFX team looked to the stars to find the right residents to call Kennywood home. Size, imagination, and an air of whimsy came together to help ensure Area 412 would be terrifically terrestrial.

Before we could do anything, we had to be sure we had space – room – to park. Area 412’s new residents are arriving by spaceship – specifically one that is, yes, OVER 16 feet tall. To be parked permanently at the entrance of the Spinvasion queue, we created something that is both welcoming and ready for action.

“This truly is an out-of-this-world project for us,” shared Emily Popovich, Chief of Business Development for L3DFX. “2023 is Kennywood’s 125th season, and we wanted to celebrate in true fashion alongside the park’s team. We are excited to have helped bring their vision of an alien invasion to life while remaining true to the family fun Kennywood is known for.”

The design team recognized the best way to bring it all together was to go big – or send the aliens home! And along with a giant spaceship, they needed a big, friendly alien. Enter Gary. As Gary came to life, the team gave him a friendly, whimsical look to warmly welcome families into Area 412. His spaceship is a mix of both traditional iconography, like images of UFOs from the 1950s, but with fresh, unique touches the L3DFX team creatively crafted. The mix of classic nostalgia with modern design made Kennywood the perfect place for Gary and his spaceship to touchdown.

“Working on this project with Kennywood sparked everyone’s imagination,” added Paul Ciesiun, president and creator of L3DFX. “Any time we can take a theme and stretch and mold it to create an immersive experience that’s beyond what our client has envisioned, we get extremely excited. For this particular opportunity with the Kennywood team, we used their baseline ideas – cotton-candy-loving aliens, a battle with invading bots – and extended it so much further, bringing personality to the storyline. You could say the results are over the moon and beyond.”

While today is 412 Day, the Spinvasion attraction and new section of the park will open at Kennywood on Memorial Day weekend.

Take a peek behind the scenes as Gary and his spaceship emerged from the L3DFX offices for landing in Pittsburgh here.

Oh – and how did an otherworldly creature end up with the name Gary?

“Out of the mouths of children, of course,” laughed Emily. “My daughter looked at an early draft of the alien and declared he looked like a ‘Gary’. As if the stars were aligning, it coincidentally turns out Kennywood’s head project manager is – you guessed it – Gary. And so, an intergalactic star was born.”