Team Retreat: Vegas 2022
By Damian Jennings - Friday, September 9, 2022
Every now and then I have to pinch myself that I work for the biggest magic company in the world. There are amazing perks and I have amazing coworkers. I’ve loved magic for 40 years and now I am living right in the middle of a world full of magic as Chief Marketing Officer of Vanishing Inc. But, I never dreamed the whole team would be taken to Las Vegas on an all-expenses paid trip for the most amazing three days of magic in my life.
The pandemic was particularly hard on everyone, but the VI team rallied, adapted, pivoted into virtual magic, and worked extremely hard to get you all the best magic we could during the last two years.
Josh and Andi had seen how hard everyone had worked and decided to treat us all with a company retreat. The company is—and always has been—mostly remote so many people who had worked together for years had never met. They decided it was time to finally assemble The Avengers in the magic capital of the world.
Here's a fun look back at what we got up to
Team members fly in from all over the US and UK and arrive at the hotel. We meet, there are drinks, card tricks, hugs, and jokes. It’s wonderful to finally meet people that we’d only seen over video calls or chatted with on Slack. And it's quite incredible how, despite never meeting in person, we feel like we've all known each other for years. As everyone is tired from traveling, it is not a particularly late night. Although we did go for a short walk to see the fountains at The Bellagio.
After breakfast, we’re picked up and taken to the amazing Pinball Hall of Fame. This was a nostalgia-inducing trip down memory lane. We’re all given buckets of quarters and told to have fun.
Alongside all the old and new pinball games, there are also old arcade games including the first games I ever played in the 80s, such as Asteroids, Star Wars, Space Invaders, and more. Even "Super Off Road", the game my roommates and I played until it basically broke back in the university common room. Yes, I’d played them all since on MAME set ups, but there is something deeply visceral about playing them on the real, old, cabinets.
We then had a team competition to see who can get the high score on one pinball machine. Mark Woodsford, our resident video editing and photographic whizz, mops the floor with the rest of us. At the same time exposing that, despite his baby face, he's older than he looks. Mark’s prize? An extra day off to be taken whenever he wanted to.
The transport then whisks us off for lunch to a place with a three month waiting list for a Thai feast, and it did not disappoint. Jim Krenz taught us how to ask for our food spicy in Thai, and we got exactly what we asked for! We had amazing Masaman, Green Curry, sticky rice and more.
The afternoon was free time for us to shop, explore the strip or rest. Or, for those who needed it, take an absolutely stellar nap.
We were then picked up from the hotel and taken for an incredible Hibachi Dinner. Many of our non-American team members had never had this experience before. The theater created by the chefs was such fun and we were treated to Onion volcanoes and throwing food into our mouths, the true American dream! The steak was also cooked to perfection.
Throughout the weekend, we were told very vague ideas of what we were doing. But, the big stuff was kept as surprises. It really made the weekend exciting since we didn't know what was coming next, like one long magic trick. One of those big surprises came after our Hibachi Dinner.
We knew we were going to a show, but still had no idea which show. Turns out we’d got the best seats in the house for Penn and Teller. And what a treat that was. Because Fool Us has reached an unbelievable 10th season, they needed to create a ton of new material to perform as the last trick of the show each week..
So, this show had a ton of new bits, including an incredible routine centered around a popular Vanishing Inc. Magic prop. How cool is that? It was so awesome to see how they work through new material and you're going to love the stuff they're working on. All we'll say is you may need to brush up on your Spanish.
We were also treated to classics such as Silverfish and the Needles, which is like watching poetry in motion. Penn even gave us a shout out during one routine where he talked about magic stores. After the show, Penn, Teller, and even Moxy came to say hi, chat about the new material and pose for pictures. We all got gifted some merch too, which was generous of them.
Then, after all that, everyone was tired and ready for bed.
But we soon woke up when it was announced that we were going to do something that every single magician and every single one of you reading this dreams of doing: a private tour of David Copperfield’s museum led by Chris Kenner and the man himself.
Yup, after doing two shows that evening, David Copperfield turned up and led us through his incredible collection. The tour lasted over three hours and the time flew by because it was so much more than a tour—it's a true spectacle filled with lights, music and David even performed some magic for us.
We saw things we never dreamed we’d see, and it was just incredible being led through this Aladdin's cave by David. His delight for honoring the history of magic and sharing his incredible collection with us was clear. He was so generous with his time. We’re all eternally grateful to Chris Kenner and David Copperfield for allowing us into their world for a few hours. David then gifted us with a poster that was limited to just 25 copies - and our team now each have one!
We all woke up and double-checked the night before wasn't a dream. Then, we were treated to a buffet lunch, since you can't go to Vegas without having a buffet. We ate until we couldn’t move, as is customary and as a surprise, Nick Diffatte showed up to say hi to the team.
Full to bursting, we waddled over to the theater to catch Mac King’s afternoon show. This was really a masterclass in performing, engaging an audience, structuring a show and being downright fun. Mac came out to say hi (or howdy) to us all after and pose for pictures too.
Then we had a mystery journey for about thirty minutes. All we knew was there was going to be a pool and it was a magician’s house.
The stretched limos stopped and Jason England and Derek Delgaudio came out waving. Jason let us all into his home, which he shares with his partner, and four adorable Golden Retrievers he rescued. They all love swimming. So, naturally, we swam with his dogs, did card tricks, and played pool. Everything was topped off with a captivating tour of his collection of books, gambling ephemera and magic. Jason, Mac King, and Derek DelGuadio hung out with the team, pizza was eaten and jokes were shared.
Some companies will take their team paintballing, or out for free drinks or some other fairly lame activity intended to make the team “bond”. Josh and Andi pulled every favor, and planned three days full of bucket list activities that none of us will ever, ever forget.
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