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Conference
Creativity Cocktail

This year’s SATE conference came to the global epicentre for themed entertainment – Orlando – as the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) searched for the secrets to “The Experience Recipe”. Christine Kerr reports

By Christine Kerr | Published in Attractions Management 2018 issue 4

The Experience Recipe was the theme of SATE Orlando – SeaWorld, held in early October 2018 and organised by the TEA.

SATE is the TEA’s signature conference on experience design.

The first took place in 2007 and reflecting growth and demand within the industry, events are now also held in Europe and Asia.

With more than 500 delegates, the Orlando conference set an attendance record for the TEA’s SATE events. Attendees also made the most of the event’s location and hospitality, exploring Seaworld’s rides and attractions.

A PINCH OF CREATIVITY
In Orlando, the approach of SATE co-chairs Bettina Buckley – vice president, Disney Parks Live Entertainment, Walt Disney World – and John Paul Geurts – founder of Funopoly – was driven by the understanding that each themed entertainment project represents a unique blend of the ‘ingredients’ in the SATE formula – Storytelling + Architecture + Technology = Experience.

The Experience Recipe considered the different aspects of projects and explored them through the lens of SATE.

In presentations curated by the conference’s ‘mixologists,’ different areas were explored, including; the Fusion of Digital and Practical Storytelling; Animals/Environment/Education; Production and Experience Design; Connecting Nature, Community and Culture; and Designing in Uncharted Waters; Finding Your North Star. There were also more straightforward titles such as; What Developers Really Want from a Design Partner; Costume Design and Development; Retail; and Leadership.

Each speaker went below the surface, exploring ideas relevant to our industry.

Deanna Siller of The Strategy+Design Shop and Tom Ito from Gensler started things off with a thought-provoking and inspiring presentation on experience Trends titled ‘The Why? Behind the Experience: Driving People to Explore’.

The session, which included findings from Gensler Institute’s research project, The Experience Index, shared many useful insights into the nature of experience. The research began with defining the nature of experience – clearly a challenge, as there are so many different definitions and it means different things to different people.

The report suggests that ultimately, the definition of experience is rooted in the intention behind the experience being sought: task, social, discovery, entertainment, aspiration. This defines what “experience mode” the participant will be in. Clearly, guests, fans, customers, attendees, followers (or whatever we call our users) participating in the themed entertainment experiences we all create share these intentions. They’re sharing time with family and/or friends, they’re open to new discoveries along the way, they definitely want to be entertained and taken away from their everyday life, they’re open to being inspired or connected to a larger purpose and the transactional part of the entire experience must be easy, efficient and not take away from any of the other aspects.

The perspectives on experience shared by Deanna and Tom provided a solid foundation for the sessions and discussions that were to follow.

CREATIVE SCIENCE
The Animals/Environment/Education panel – brought together by mixologist Scott Gass, director of Zoological Communications and Interpretation at SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment – took attendees through a series of presentations that all considered the question: With real life as our starting point, how do we incite wonder in the lives of our guests?

Dr Dave Gallo from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute shared footage of exploring the wreck of the Titanic and other significant, deep undersea discoveries, revealing a fascinating world that’s inaccessible to most and, therefore, a very fertile storytelling opportunity.

Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games, shared a “Transformational Game Design Model” for creating games by thinking first about the “change” desired as the end outcome.

Dr Tierney Thys shared her work at the California Academy of Sciences, expressing concern over the fact that as the world becomes more and more urbanised, we need more exposure to nature to counteract this. She demonstrated the powerful positive effect that simple images of nature can have – and shared a hilarious, satirical video that encouraged viewers to imagine what actually being in nature could do for all of us.

The group concluded that the scientific community needs the creativity of the themed entertainment industry. We’re the portal for curiosity and discovery that ensures their stories don’t remain internal but are shared. It’s certainly a rich and never-ending source for ideas and content.

IN MEMORY
‘Beyond a Title: The Ingredient of Leadership’ featured three strong and inspiring female leaders brought together by mixologist Melissa Ruminot of The Companies of Nassal and also serving as TEA Eastern North America Division Board president.

Of particular impact was Barbara Poma, CEO/executive director of onePULSE Foundation and owner of Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub. Barbara spoke about what has happened since the tragic events of 12 June 2016 – when a mass shooting and hate crime took place at the nightclub – and the plans being developed to create an appropriate, educational memorial to remember the victims of the tragedy. This includes those who were killed and injured, their families, loved ones, and the first responders and healthcare professionals who treated them.

Poma’s journey since that night has been a thoughtful and thorough examination of how memorials of this type have been handled in many other places. She’s received strong support from the local Orlando community and around the country and has discovered the significance and power of the place – demonstrated by the visitors who come to visit even now as any formal remembrance is still in development.

Clearly her leadership is an effective catalyst to collaboration for a shared purpose. Her story highlights the challenges of a specific form of destination creation and storytelling.

TEA MASTERS
One of the significant new elements of SATE Orlando was its tie-in with the launch of the new TEA Masters programme, honouring industry veterans who are accomplished Masters of their Craft, working in various disciplines within themed entertainment.

Described as “creators, developers, designers and producers whose body of work has made a significant and sustained contribution to the growth and development of the industry through their innovation, design, craftsmanship and artistry,” the first group of TEAM Masters is made up of seven people. These include Glenn Birket (engineering and control systems), Joe Falzetta (lighting design), John Lindsay (project management), Ralph Nielsen (master craftsman, project production), Rich Procter (writer), Philipp van Stratum (creative director) and Nina Rae Vaughn (illustrator and art director).

After formal recognition and presentations, TEA founder and past president Monty Lunde sat down with the group and asked a series of questions that explored their careers and their perspectives on the industry. Advice ranged from “Embrace the happy accidents”, to “Don’t fear a blank sheet of paper, be joyful in it” leaving attendees with an understanding that this group of successful industry leaders shared a sense of optimism through all that they had achieved.

SWEET TREATS
The keynote speech featured Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna, founders of Ample Hills Creamery. Speaking to SATE co-chair Bettina Buckley, the husband and wife team opened their first ice cream shop in Brooklyn, New York, in 2011.

Brian, a former sci-fi movie writer and Jackie, a high school teacher, have based everything on story: their business locations, their brand and their products. Every flavour has a story. Every new store has to be in a place with the potential to become a community hub and gathering place. As they prepare to open their eleventh store, in Los Angeles, the pair were candid about the careful process they go through when choosing their locations and planning expansion.

They’ve recently opened an ice cream production facility where they still control all ingredients for all flavours but which will now provide them with production capacity to keep up with growing demand and other new initiatives.

Brian and Jackie credit Disney CEO Bob Iger’s discovery of their ice cream having led to opportunities for some licensing agreements and the opening of a shop at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. The connection led to a collaboration with Disney and Lucasfilm for three limited edition flavors inspired by the heroes, villains, and enduring themes of the iconic film franchise in celebration of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The relationship with Disney is set to continue, with the launch of The Disney Mickey Mouse Collection to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse. They call it a “collaboration beyond our wildest imagination” but it was clear to SATE attendees that this couple has applied the S+A+T=E formula to all that they do in the creation and operation of their business. They have great instincts for the industry and their ice cream lived up to expectations – it was the dessert on offer at the lunch taking place directly after their session!

RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
It was a great homecoming to a major hub of our international industry, having SATE in the US return to Orlando again after several years in other locations (including Pittsburgh, New York City, Savannah GA and Los Angeles). Co-chairs Bettina Buckley and John Paul Geurts were passionate about their approach to The Experience Recipe and the results were evident in the response to the programme they delivered. As an international conference, SATE is growing in scope and impact, and at pace with TEA’s growing presence around the world.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christine Kerr of BaAM Productions is a past president of the Themed Entertainment Association and chairs the TEA Education Committee.
More than 500 people attended SATE Orlando SeaWorld – a new record for the conference
Bettina Buckley and John Paul Geurts co-chaired the conference at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida
From let to right: Melissa Ruminot, Eric Cantrell, Fran Boettcher, Christopher Dold, David Willrich and Jennie Nevin
From left to right: Dr David Gallo, Jesse Schell, Dr Tierney Thys, Scott Gass, Thomas Ito, Deanna Siller, Bettina, Buckley, Brian Smith, and Jackie Cuscuna
A number of networking events took place at SeaWorld, during SATE
Presenters at the Orlando edition of SATE curated an intellectual menu to satisfy attendees’ taste for adventure, discovery and fun
Barbara Poma, owner of Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub, spoke about the tragic mass shooting of June 2016
Delegates at SATE in Orlando got a close look at some of SeaWorld’s residents
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Jobs . News . Products . Magazine
Conference
Creativity Cocktail

This year’s SATE conference came to the global epicentre for themed entertainment – Orlando – as the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) searched for the secrets to “The Experience Recipe”. Christine Kerr reports

By Christine Kerr | Published in Attractions Management 2018 issue 4

The Experience Recipe was the theme of SATE Orlando – SeaWorld, held in early October 2018 and organised by the TEA.

SATE is the TEA’s signature conference on experience design.

The first took place in 2007 and reflecting growth and demand within the industry, events are now also held in Europe and Asia.

With more than 500 delegates, the Orlando conference set an attendance record for the TEA’s SATE events. Attendees also made the most of the event’s location and hospitality, exploring Seaworld’s rides and attractions.

A PINCH OF CREATIVITY
In Orlando, the approach of SATE co-chairs Bettina Buckley – vice president, Disney Parks Live Entertainment, Walt Disney World – and John Paul Geurts – founder of Funopoly – was driven by the understanding that each themed entertainment project represents a unique blend of the ‘ingredients’ in the SATE formula – Storytelling + Architecture + Technology = Experience.

The Experience Recipe considered the different aspects of projects and explored them through the lens of SATE.

In presentations curated by the conference’s ‘mixologists,’ different areas were explored, including; the Fusion of Digital and Practical Storytelling; Animals/Environment/Education; Production and Experience Design; Connecting Nature, Community and Culture; and Designing in Uncharted Waters; Finding Your North Star. There were also more straightforward titles such as; What Developers Really Want from a Design Partner; Costume Design and Development; Retail; and Leadership.

Each speaker went below the surface, exploring ideas relevant to our industry.

Deanna Siller of The Strategy+Design Shop and Tom Ito from Gensler started things off with a thought-provoking and inspiring presentation on experience Trends titled ‘The Why? Behind the Experience: Driving People to Explore’.

The session, which included findings from Gensler Institute’s research project, The Experience Index, shared many useful insights into the nature of experience. The research began with defining the nature of experience – clearly a challenge, as there are so many different definitions and it means different things to different people.

The report suggests that ultimately, the definition of experience is rooted in the intention behind the experience being sought: task, social, discovery, entertainment, aspiration. This defines what “experience mode” the participant will be in. Clearly, guests, fans, customers, attendees, followers (or whatever we call our users) participating in the themed entertainment experiences we all create share these intentions. They’re sharing time with family and/or friends, they’re open to new discoveries along the way, they definitely want to be entertained and taken away from their everyday life, they’re open to being inspired or connected to a larger purpose and the transactional part of the entire experience must be easy, efficient and not take away from any of the other aspects.

The perspectives on experience shared by Deanna and Tom provided a solid foundation for the sessions and discussions that were to follow.

CREATIVE SCIENCE
The Animals/Environment/Education panel – brought together by mixologist Scott Gass, director of Zoological Communications and Interpretation at SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment – took attendees through a series of presentations that all considered the question: With real life as our starting point, how do we incite wonder in the lives of our guests?

Dr Dave Gallo from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute shared footage of exploring the wreck of the Titanic and other significant, deep undersea discoveries, revealing a fascinating world that’s inaccessible to most and, therefore, a very fertile storytelling opportunity.

Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games, shared a “Transformational Game Design Model” for creating games by thinking first about the “change” desired as the end outcome.

Dr Tierney Thys shared her work at the California Academy of Sciences, expressing concern over the fact that as the world becomes more and more urbanised, we need more exposure to nature to counteract this. She demonstrated the powerful positive effect that simple images of nature can have – and shared a hilarious, satirical video that encouraged viewers to imagine what actually being in nature could do for all of us.

The group concluded that the scientific community needs the creativity of the themed entertainment industry. We’re the portal for curiosity and discovery that ensures their stories don’t remain internal but are shared. It’s certainly a rich and never-ending source for ideas and content.

IN MEMORY
‘Beyond a Title: The Ingredient of Leadership’ featured three strong and inspiring female leaders brought together by mixologist Melissa Ruminot of The Companies of Nassal and also serving as TEA Eastern North America Division Board president.

Of particular impact was Barbara Poma, CEO/executive director of onePULSE Foundation and owner of Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub. Barbara spoke about what has happened since the tragic events of 12 June 2016 – when a mass shooting and hate crime took place at the nightclub – and the plans being developed to create an appropriate, educational memorial to remember the victims of the tragedy. This includes those who were killed and injured, their families, loved ones, and the first responders and healthcare professionals who treated them.

Poma’s journey since that night has been a thoughtful and thorough examination of how memorials of this type have been handled in many other places. She’s received strong support from the local Orlando community and around the country and has discovered the significance and power of the place – demonstrated by the visitors who come to visit even now as any formal remembrance is still in development.

Clearly her leadership is an effective catalyst to collaboration for a shared purpose. Her story highlights the challenges of a specific form of destination creation and storytelling.

TEA MASTERS
One of the significant new elements of SATE Orlando was its tie-in with the launch of the new TEA Masters programme, honouring industry veterans who are accomplished Masters of their Craft, working in various disciplines within themed entertainment.

Described as “creators, developers, designers and producers whose body of work has made a significant and sustained contribution to the growth and development of the industry through their innovation, design, craftsmanship and artistry,” the first group of TEAM Masters is made up of seven people. These include Glenn Birket (engineering and control systems), Joe Falzetta (lighting design), John Lindsay (project management), Ralph Nielsen (master craftsman, project production), Rich Procter (writer), Philipp van Stratum (creative director) and Nina Rae Vaughn (illustrator and art director).

After formal recognition and presentations, TEA founder and past president Monty Lunde sat down with the group and asked a series of questions that explored their careers and their perspectives on the industry. Advice ranged from “Embrace the happy accidents”, to “Don’t fear a blank sheet of paper, be joyful in it” leaving attendees with an understanding that this group of successful industry leaders shared a sense of optimism through all that they had achieved.

SWEET TREATS
The keynote speech featured Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna, founders of Ample Hills Creamery. Speaking to SATE co-chair Bettina Buckley, the husband and wife team opened their first ice cream shop in Brooklyn, New York, in 2011.

Brian, a former sci-fi movie writer and Jackie, a high school teacher, have based everything on story: their business locations, their brand and their products. Every flavour has a story. Every new store has to be in a place with the potential to become a community hub and gathering place. As they prepare to open their eleventh store, in Los Angeles, the pair were candid about the careful process they go through when choosing their locations and planning expansion.

They’ve recently opened an ice cream production facility where they still control all ingredients for all flavours but which will now provide them with production capacity to keep up with growing demand and other new initiatives.

Brian and Jackie credit Disney CEO Bob Iger’s discovery of their ice cream having led to opportunities for some licensing agreements and the opening of a shop at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. The connection led to a collaboration with Disney and Lucasfilm for three limited edition flavors inspired by the heroes, villains, and enduring themes of the iconic film franchise in celebration of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The relationship with Disney is set to continue, with the launch of The Disney Mickey Mouse Collection to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse. They call it a “collaboration beyond our wildest imagination” but it was clear to SATE attendees that this couple has applied the S+A+T=E formula to all that they do in the creation and operation of their business. They have great instincts for the industry and their ice cream lived up to expectations – it was the dessert on offer at the lunch taking place directly after their session!

RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
It was a great homecoming to a major hub of our international industry, having SATE in the US return to Orlando again after several years in other locations (including Pittsburgh, New York City, Savannah GA and Los Angeles). Co-chairs Bettina Buckley and John Paul Geurts were passionate about their approach to The Experience Recipe and the results were evident in the response to the programme they delivered. As an international conference, SATE is growing in scope and impact, and at pace with TEA’s growing presence around the world.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christine Kerr of BaAM Productions is a past president of the Themed Entertainment Association and chairs the TEA Education Committee.
More than 500 people attended SATE Orlando SeaWorld – a new record for the conference
Bettina Buckley and John Paul Geurts co-chaired the conference at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida
From let to right: Melissa Ruminot, Eric Cantrell, Fran Boettcher, Christopher Dold, David Willrich and Jennie Nevin
From left to right: Dr David Gallo, Jesse Schell, Dr Tierney Thys, Scott Gass, Thomas Ito, Deanna Siller, Bettina, Buckley, Brian Smith, and Jackie Cuscuna
A number of networking events took place at SeaWorld, during SATE
Presenters at the Orlando edition of SATE curated an intellectual menu to satisfy attendees’ taste for adventure, discovery and fun
Barbara Poma, owner of Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub, spoke about the tragic mass shooting of June 2016
Delegates at SATE in Orlando got a close look at some of SeaWorld’s residents
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2018

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT NEWS
ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS