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Simex-Iwerks Entertainment
FounderMichael Needham, Shiori Sudo and Moses Znaimer
Key people
Michael Needham, Shiori Sudo, Mike Frueh, Mark Cornell, Brian Ferguson, David Needham and Richard Needham[2]
Products3-D, 4-D and VR Attractions; Motion Simulation Rides; and Flying Theaters.

SimEx-Iwerks Entertainment specializes in high-tech entertainment systems, films, film technologies, film-based software, Simulation Hardware Systems and services around the world. The company is a leading innovator of immersive 3-D and 4-D attractions, special effects, and cinematic experiences; including Large Format (870 Projection Systems) and 360 Degree Theatres. It is the first to employ motion simulators and 4D seat technologies and today it is pioneer in the use of flying seats, unique special effects, projection mapping, VR, AI, animation and Interactive technologies.[3][4] The company has partnerships with various institutions, parks, and destinations.

The company has been serving the amusement industry for 30 years, through three operating divisions: Attractions Development; Content Licensing, Production & Distribution; and Technology/Engineering.[5]

SimEx Inc. is the parent company of SimEx-Iwerks Entertainment. The company is based in Toronto, Canada with additional locations in Baltimore, Maryland; and Santa Clarita, California.[6]


Since the merger of SimEx Inc. and Iwerks Entertainment Inc. in 2002, the company traded under the name “SimEx-Iwerks Entertainment” with its Head Office in Toronto and Iwerks offices in Baltimore and Los Angeles.

SimEx origins lie with the creation by Michael Needham, Shiori Sudo and Moses Znaimer of Tour of the Universe™(1984) at the CN Tower, Toronto. Tour of the Universe was the world’s first major Simulator Attraction, which inspired many motion ride Attractions. In the 1980s SimEx and Iwerks developed their own separate visions for Motion Ride Attractions.[7]

Toronto based SimEx developed a series of Attraction products using innovative and patented motion systems provided by Moog Inc. of East Aurora, NY. Moog’s technology integrated novel electromechanical actuators with solid-state control systems to create a variety of attraction platforms.

In 1996, SimEx launched SimEx Virtual Voyages™, a 15-minute Attraction that follows a 3-stage storyline: Introduction (pre-show); Plot Development (story theater); and Climax (The Ride). Over 40 SimEx Virtual Voyages™ Attractions were built worldwide.

Los Angeles based Iwerks developed innovative 8/70 projection technologies for Extreme Screen™ Theaters and two-seat motion systems (TurboRide™). In 1998, Iwerks Co-founder Don Iwerks was awarded the prestigious Gordon E. Sawyer Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in recognition of his lifetime of contribution to the science and technology of motion pictures.[8]

In 2000, Iwerks launched its Iwerks Extreme Screen™ Brand that became the leading Brand for 8/70 Screen Theaters. In the same year, the Iwerks 8/70 Linear Loop® projection system was recognized for its industry leading technology with an Academy Award® for Scientific and Technical Achievement.

In 2001, SimEx acquired assets from the RideFilm™ Division of Imax® Corporation and in 2002, SimEx merged with Iwerks Entertainment.

In 2003, SimEx-Iwerks designed the first full-motion 4-D seat for Universal Studio’s Shrek 4-D Attractions in Hollywood, Orlando and Osaka.

SimEx-Iwerks continues to be an innovator in digital systems, film creation, 3-D projection, 4-D special effects and as a partner provides ongoing operating and marketing support to numerous attractions.

Iwerks Entertainment Inc.[edit]


Iwerks Entertainment Inc. is an American film studio founded in 1985 in Burbank, California, by Oscar winner and Disney Legend Don Iwerks and Stan Kinsey, both former Disney Executives. The company was named to honor Don's father, Ub Iwerks, who was Walt Disney's first business partner and co-creator of Mickey Mouse.[9]

In the 1980s, Iwerks Entertainment became well known as a leading developer of special venues and films, and virtual reality theatres throughout the world.

In late 1999, Iwerks Entertainment acquired the assets of McFadden Systems. In 1992, Warner Bros. Movie World approached McFadden to develop a motion simulator for Batman Adventure – The Ride.[10] Later motion systems were built for Star Trek: The Experience, London Trocadero.

As of Dec 2017, Iwerks Entertainment, Inc. is a dominant force in 4D and special effects film production and distribution, operates from offices in Santa Clarita CA as a subsidiary of SimEx Inc., and trades under its own name and as SimEx-Iwerks.

Academy Awards

Iwerks Entertainment has received two Academy Awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Scientific and Technical Achievement.

The first occurred in 1998 at the 70th Academy Awards show, where founder Don Iwerks was awarded the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, given each year to "an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry."[11][12]

The second occurred in 1999 at the 71st Academy Awards show, where the company was awarded an Academy Award for a technical innovation called the Iwerks 8/70 Linear Loop projection system.

Key Personnel (2018)[edit]

  • Michael Needham, President and CEO; Founder
  • Shiori Sudo, Executive Vice President; Founder
  • Mike Frueh, Senior Vice President, Licensing and Distribution;
  • Mark Cornell, Senior Vice President, Attractions Development;
  • Brian Ferguson, Senior Vice President, Technology, Operations and Engineering;
  • David Needham, Senior Vice President Sales;
  • Richard Needham, Creative Director.[13]

Product Range[edit]

SimEx-Iwerks designs and builds family attractions that feature charismatic characters and exciting stories often licensed from the world’s great media companies. SimEx-Iwerks Experiences include 3-D, 4-D and VR Attractions; Motion Simulation Rides; and Flying Theaters. Over 350 Attractions have been built by the SimEx-Iwerks group in over 40 countries.[14]

Film library[edit]

SimEx-Iwerks active film library consists of over 125 films and include the most popular Attraction quality content available.[15] (


  1. ^ SimEx-Iwerks Inc. Company Profile
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  10. ^ Huffstutter, P.J. (4 August 1997). "Virtual Rides Take Off". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  11. ^ NNDB. "Oscar, Gordon E. Sawyer Award". Soylent Communications.
  12. ^ Fact for the Day. "This Day in Disney History". The Walt Disney Company.
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External links[edit]