By Melissa Ruggieri
Among the parade of generic office parks lining Fulton Industrial Boulevard in Atlanta resides a unit stocked with contents that are anything but ordinary.
Painted fiberglass mushrooms the size of a Mazda lean against the floor. Candy cane-striped poles are tucked tightly together as if sharing bunk beds. Triple stacks of green and yellow picnic tables look like flattened turtles.
If Disney World and Home Depot mated, the result would look something like the innards of this 50,000-plus-square-foot warehouse housing a chunk of the decorations and supplies for TomorrowWorld.
The massive electronic dance music festival, which has boasted an annual parade of 300 DJs/producers including David Guetta, Afrojack and Steve Aoki, will be back in Georgia's Chattahoochee Hills Sept. 25-27 and is expected to bring another windfall of spending in the state.
Last year’s TomorrowWorld spurred $93.9 million in economic activity across Georgia, including $71.8 million in the Atlanta area, during the three-day event, according to a study paid for by the event’s producers.
The 2014 numbers represent an increase from the 2013 festival, which generated economic impact calculated at $85.1 million for Georgia, with $70 million of it in Atlanta and neighboring areas, according to an earlier study.
The average TomorrowWorld visitor stayed 3.5 days in the Atlanta area, indicating that attendees from all 50 states, as well as Canada, Mexico and Europe, are viewing the festival — a 21-and-older gathering — as a travel destination.
TomorrowWorld producers commissioned the economic impact report from Virginia-based research firm ICF International.
In 2013, the inaugural year that TomorrowWorld branched off from its parent festival in Belgium, TomorrowLand, which celebrates its 11th year in July, and staked out the 8,000 acres of farmland in south Fulton County, about 120,000 fans attended over the three-day period.
That fell short of the projected goal of 50,000 per day. But last year, the number bounced to 160,000 attendees for the duration of the festival, according to the report.
For 2015, organizers are optimistic about a 20 percent increase.
“We really want to become the pillar in the state of Georgia,” said Jamie Reilly, project director for TomorrowWorld and a decadelong veteran of Cirque du Soleil, while in the storage warehouse. “TomorrowWorld is not just a festival, it’s an experience and that’s what makes it so unique. We put the emphasis on the experience from the moment (attendees) buy a ticket to how they receive the ticket to how they camp with us.”
The land at Chattahoochee Hills — which TomorrowWorld has contracted for eight more years — can accommodate up to 200,000. But while a sell-out would be celebrated, producers are cautious about the growth rate.
“We want to ensure that we don’t compromise the fan experience due to the quantity of the people at the venue,” Reilly said.
This year’s festival, which will operate under the theme of “The Key to Happiness,” will feature more than 300 marquee names including Guetta, Tiësto, Steve Angello, Martin Garrix, Afrojack, Hardwell, Armin van Buuren, Adventure Club and Ferry Corsten.
TomorrowWorld will grow to nine stages in 2015 — an increase of one — including a live music stage. Last year’s popular “Atlanta Stage,” which spotlighted local acts, will return.
In a continued effort to infuse TomorrowWorld with local flavor to differentiate it from its counterparts in Belgium and the newest version of the festival in Brazil — which took place in May — organizers will hold a vendor fair as well as a job fair.
“TomorrowWorld is part of the TomorrowLand brand, and we now have three festivals yearly,” Reilly said. “But each has a unique taste to them, a unique lineup and differences and intricacies.”
Here are some other statistics from the economic growth report:
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