Happy 1st Birthday, Pacific Explorer! We brought the cake!

Who doesn’t love a birthday celebration? Especially if it’s to commemorate P&O’s Pacific Explorer, who turned one recently.  They needed a cake as part of the fabulous event on Sydney Harbour, and the BKI team cooked up a treat.

Here’s how we added the icing on top of a spectacular party.

Sending out the invites

When we heard that the new flagship of the P&O cruise liner fleet was about to turn one, we were thrilled to get our invite. However, there was a catch- we had to bring the cake!

Creative Agency, Fleishman-Hillard, on behalf of P&O Cruises, were throwing a party which would involve a gallery of entertainment for the invitees to showcase all of the wonderful shows that guests experience onboard- and they wanted a cake as the centrepiece.

But not just any cake. They wanted it to involve the ship’s acrobats, jugglers and dancers from their highly successful cabaret-style act, Love Riot, so they could pop out from the cake and perform a show in front of everyone.

Gathering the ingredients

So how do you bake five performers into a massive cake, provide them with a practical way which allowed them to emerge, and still be able to transport it onboard?

Sounds like a job for the BKI team! So, it was all-hands-on-deck to cater this party using a bit of our signature imagineering to craft the ideal solution.

Taste-testing our concept

We began by proposing a few different concepts for the brief, starting with several 3D models drawn up on the computer. This allowed us to spec out the job and perform all of the mathematics before we finalised the design into a hand-drawn classy illustrated picture.

This gave our clients a quality pre-visualisation of what we had in mind. They loved the final design that we served up to them, and from there, we got to work.

Into the creative kitchen to bake

From here, we started manufacturing our multi-tiered cake which included a hydraulic stage lift mechanism inside, to be used to get the performers through a central shaft and out on top of the icing.

This was no mean feat! The mechanism needed to be of high mechanical advantage, travelling from a base around 235mm off ground level, and able to elevate the live load platform to the third tier which was around 1.85m in height – in around 2.5 seconds AND SAFELY! From there, the costumed-up Love Riot girls could step out and surprise the party guests to start the show.











It was all a piece of cake…

… well, somewhat! The engineering that was involved in designing and building this elevator was quite significant and it was essential that we got this right, as it was the core component to pulling off this stunt correctly for our clients – oh, and one could chop pieces off a human with a hydraulic ram quite easily, if done wrong!

In conjunction with this was the sheer size and height of the final cake which stood more than three metres tall. The outer shell also required meticulous planning to ensure that it could safely house all 5 performers and a safety officer inside.

The final challenge was that the whole structure had to be transported onto the top deck of the 2000-guest cruise ship! This meant that the cake had to be constructed modular. The 200 or so components had to be transported via truck and vans in pieces, then configured onto palettes for the forklift crew to load (the only way something gets on a cruise ship, BTW – and only once the sniffer dogs and security checks and balances were in order).

The parts then were re-configured, separated enough to fit the smallest aperture lift and be navigated around corners, through doors to arrive at its final destination. Needless to say, it took a crew of 8 people and took a total of two and a half hours simply getting to the site (which included BKI crew being all-but cavity searched by the terminal’s customs en-route – so there were some highlights to the ordeal!).

This was quite the complex, one-of-a-kind project! In the end, it was worth it.

Plating up


The final outcome was a success!

Placing our just two and a half week creation in the ideal poolside position on deck, with Sydney’s iconic signature souvenir trinket backdrop set the scene perfectly for the once-ever live performance that would punctuate the postcard!

The fantastic Love Riot performers were so professional and talented. They were briefed on the internal mechanisms of the cake only an hour before and pulled off the stunt flawlessly as if they had practised with the cake for weeks.

After they emerged to the music, much to the delight of the guests, the show was well received to a great round of applause.

Another job well done for the Big Kahuna Imagineering team.

Love Riot’s troupe director, internationally acclaimed Scott Maidment, who has worked with major acts including Madonna, was thrilled.

Our clients, both FleishmanHillard and P&O Cruises themselves, were also equally pleased with the final result and the cake was a real hit at the party.

This project was a very tall order, but through our Imagineering, we crafted something wonderful, and it was an honour to be involved.

At Big Kahuna Imagineering (BKI), we love to be challenged and want to hear what big idea you have for your business or brand.

As you’ll see from our previous work, no project is too complicated, too strange or extraordinary. Our team of Imagineers use creativity and innovation to turn any idea into a reality.

Have an idea or project you would like to discuss? Get in touch!

Tel: 02 9810 6299
Email: bki@bki.com.au

Call us or drop us an email and we will get back to you pronto!

At Big Kahuna, you imagine. We Imagineer.