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Show report
Global Appeal

Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) events inspire attractions professionals across the world. Christine Kerr reports from both the TEA’s Summit and Thea Awards in Los Angeles, US, as well as its TEA SATE Europe conference on experience design in Paris, France.

TEA Summit & TEA Thea Awards
TEA president Michael Mercadante and former TEA president Christine Kerr were integral parts of the TEA Summit and the TEA Thea Awards

The TEA Summit organisers work to bring fresh elements, ideas and programming to the curation of the conference each year, reflecting the needs and culture of the themed entertainment industry. The two-day TEA Summit consists of a business forum (Day One) and a showcase of the current year’s TEA Thea Award recipients (Day Two).

The conference has continued to grow in attendance and receives positive feedback each year. Each day has its own co-chairs and moderators. It’s followed the next day by the annual TEA Thea Awards Gala.

The business of business
The focus of the TEA Summit’s first day was “the business of the business” and remains a private session with emphasis on the state of the industry and hot topics that are relevant to all business leaders working in the industry.

The programme began with Thea Classic Award recipient Dollywood. Pete Owens, Dollywood’s VP of Marketing and Public Relations, gave the presentation. The business partnership between Herschend Family Entertainment and Dolly Parton is an impressive shared commitment to their employees and their community.

The day closed out with the popular “Conversation with”, featuring Mark Woodbury, vice chair of Universal Parks and Resorts and President of Universal Creative, honored as this year’s recipient of the Buzz Price Thea Award for a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements. He was joined by long-time colleague Mike West, who is senior director and executive producer at Universal Creative. Woodbury began his career as an architect before joining Universal to work on the Universal Studios Park in Orlando. Over the decades, he has distinguished himself, and inspired others, with his passion for the industry, working with significant IP holders, and an open-door leadership approach.

The Summit’s education programme was focused on ‘the business of business’

Day one co-chairs were myself and the TEA Eastern North America Division Board president Melissa Ruminot of The Companies of Nassal.

Masterclassing
Day two of the TEA Summit is always an information-packed day, as each of the projects being recognised with a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement has the opportunity to take to the stage and share the story of their work.

Co-chairs Roberta Perry, TEA past president and senior vice president at Edwards Technologies, and Pat MacKay – president of Ones&ZerosMedia and a past recipient of the TEA Peter Chernack Service Award – were joined by Brian Morrow, founder of B Morrow Productions; Shawn McCoy, vice president at JRA; and TEA founder and past president Monty Lunde, president of Technifex. The projects were presented in moderated groups: theme parks and attractions (moderated by Morrow); museums (McCoy); technology (Lunde); and live shows (MacKay).

The opportunity to ask questions was available after hearing from a group of two to three projects, creating opportunities to make connections between similarities and highlighting contrasts.

Different strokes
A great example of stark contrasts was presented in three “museum-style” projects. All featured very different stories, were located in very different places and followed specific development processes.

The first, Be Washington, is an interactive, media-driven attraction located at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, which required the filming of hours of historically accurate footage. The new media for the attraction is then cleverly woven within the interactive decision-making process that allows guests to “Be Washington” and respond to crises the US’s first President faced during his time in office and then learn how he himself acted.

The story of how the Evel Knievel Museum came to be built adjacent to a Harley Davidson Dealership in Topeka, Kansas, by passionate people who had no previous experience in the museum world is a fun and fascinating one. It’s a pop culture tribute that captures the story of an iconic daredevil and uses an extensive collection of memorabilia and motorbikes.

Finally, the Lego House, designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, embraces play and the story of Lego in the centre of the toy giant’s home in Billund, Denmark. The entire project is quite remarkable but is made even more so by the fact that in addition to content, exhibits and activities designed by Lego, the facility also embraces the work of AFOLS (Adult Fans Of Lego) and includes extensive gallery space for rotating exhibits featuring their work.

Artistic endeavour
Two projects – the MORI Building Digital Art Museum from teamLab Borderless and the collaboration between the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, artist Sarah Fuller and Moment Factory – are both art installations at their core.

Working with artists to develop and curate content in order to present deep and meaningful storytelling, the immersive world created by teamLab blurs the lines of where the physical world begins and ends as guests are immersed in and interact with moving projections of vivid imagery.

Illuminations: human/nature was developed as a Canada 150 initiative – a year of activities focused on engaging and inspiring youth; celebrating diversity and encouraging inclusion; establishing a spirit of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, discovering Canada’s natural beauty and strengthening environmental awareness.

The TEA Thea Awards Gala brings together some of the biggest names in the industry

Described as “a magical, nighttime, digital discovery experience”, two shows were presented for a limited run. One was held in the country’s oldest National Park in Banff, Alberta, and the other in the newest National Park in Rouge Valley, Toronto. The interactive, media-based presentations came with constraints – outdoor venues, a unique interactive audience dynamic and battery powered gear. Groups of 15 were dispatched, carrying all they would need with them: a sound system, projector, lighting, a map and other materials to present the show for themselves. All groups left no trace or environmental impact.

Attendance at both days of the Summit set new records with a high level of interest and demand for the content being shared.

The TEA Thea Awards Gala brings together some of the biggest names in the industry
TEA Summit & TEA Thea Awards

The Summit concluded with the 25th Annual TEA Thea Awards Gala, an elegant, black-tie evening of fine dining and awards presentations.

The international prestige of the Thea Awards, combined with the quality of the event and its benefits in professional development and networking, make it a must-attend event that sells to capacity year after year.

A few simple moments of acknowledgment for 25 years of Thea Awards and the familiar faces of friends, colleagues and industry leaders onstage as presenters, is certainly the right formula for a high-impact and memorable evening.

TEA Summit & TEA Thea Awards

The TEA’s SATE Europe conference has established itself as a unique experience with a strong sense of place, influencing the spirit of the overall programme. This year’s event at Parc Asterix, north of Paris was no exception.

Compagnie des Alpes and the host park outdid themselves with accommodation at their new hotel – Cité Suspendu and evening entertainment in the park that immersed attendees in the fun and spirit of Asterix and Obelisk and their stories.

The conference began with keynote speaker Yves Pépin – the 2005 recipient of TEA Thea lifetime honors – in conversation with Margreet Papamichael, principal of CLEAR Associates. The discussion was wide-ranging and included Yves’ early study of music and its influence on his life.

An inspiring start to the day, the discussion included the early work of ECA2 and Yves’ eventual sale of the company so he could move on to new projects that allowed him to further explore his passions.

TEA added SATE to its slate of industry events in 2007, to foster dialog in the business community about the methodology of Experience Design.’

Moving people
The other keynote session featured Phillip van Stratum of P&P Projects, and one of the newly-named TEA Masters – a member of the TEA who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the growth and development of the industry through their innovation, design, craftsmanship and artistry. In conversation with TEA past president David Willrich of DJ Willrich, Phillip was recognised for his skill as a creative director as part of the inaugural Masters of their Craft programme. The story of Phillip’s journey as a model rocket maker to creative director for projects for the biggest names in the business served as a reminder to everyone that anything is possible.

The SATE conference structure encourages presenters to speak as thought leaders and share ideas rather than simply deliver a series of case studies. The most successful presentations are thought-provoking and challenge the attendees to think differently about their work and the way they consider the various aspects of a “themed entertainment” project. The 2019 theme of “Moving People” provided a great basis for exploring the idea of movement in both the physical and the emotional senses.

Educational networking
A new networking session explored the idea of “Who Does What?” as a foundation for getting attendees to talk to each other and to consider what skills and roles are involved in the different project phases. It was a practical and well-received way to lay the groundwork for the more creative discussions that would follow. There were also many conversations around the role of the operator in the development of a project and the importance of ensuring that those ultimately responsible for delivering and maintaining the guest experience have a voice throughout the development of all projects.

Effective communication among project team members was also a recurring theme which was summed up very effectively in the final presentation by Paul Osterhout: “Talk Nerdy to Me”. He translated conversation points between creatives and engineers through a humorous series of examples that had everyone nodding.

TEA past president Nick Farmer, director of Farmer Attraction Development, spoke as a champion of “Why the little room is the most important experience”. The room he was referring to was, of course, the bathroom. He said that the careful and practical design of these rooms can have a major impact on the overall guest experience and if they are forgotten, not kept clean or too sterile, they destroy the impact of everything you have done throughout the rest of the experience. Attendees to SATE Europe will see every “little room” they visit through new eyes.

TEA SATE Europe 2019 looked at “Moving People”, exploring how we take people on journeys within the themed entertainment industry

Perceptions and challenges
The presentation by Manuel Faria, CEO Indigo Sound, called “Sound Bites” will probably have a similar impact on the way attendees listen to and perceive the world around them. Manuel reminded us about the importance of sound and how it can evoke emotional reactions in unexpected and surprising ways, often contradicting what we actually see.

Other speakers who challenged the attendees included economist Lesley Morisetti, director of Morisetti Associates, who shared new trends, highlighting immersive experiences that have the potential to impact traditional visitor attractions. Her examples demonstrated a divide of awareness among the attendees and provided many “aha” moments.

Fundamental to the conversation is the definition of “immersive” and whether technology and/or media are necessary ingredients for immersion. Fri Forjindam, chief development officer from Mycotoo shared the impact of immersive, theatrical experiences where audiences become willing participants in a carefully planned and executed show, set in a themed environment and interacting with live performers. The impact of these experiences is consistently and overwhelmingly positive and effective.

The Summit’s education programme was focused on ‘the business of business’

Universal truths
The SATE conference series also convenes in Asia and North America, and we are inspired to draw a connection between SATE Europe 2019 and SATE LA 2017. With a theme of “Beyond the Screen,” it explored immersion in its many forms, with attendees sharing their favourite experiences.

The result was a tie between Diagon Alley at Universal Studios and Sleep No More, the immersive theatre production. This was a conclusion echoed in 2019 at SATE Europe. Moving people still requires the essential ingredient of human connection in the real world to create the most impactful emotional connections. This is what our guests are looking for all over the world.

More: attractionsmanagement.com/SATE

Yves Pépin is one of the great innovators and artists of themed entertainment’
SATE Europe offers both educational and networking opportunities to visiting delegates
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Show report
Global Appeal

Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) events inspire attractions professionals across the world. Christine Kerr reports from both the TEA’s Summit and Thea Awards in Los Angeles, US, as well as its TEA SATE Europe conference on experience design in Paris, France.

TEA Summit & TEA Thea Awards
TEA president Michael Mercadante and former TEA president Christine Kerr were integral parts of the TEA Summit and the TEA Thea Awards

The TEA Summit organisers work to bring fresh elements, ideas and programming to the curation of the conference each year, reflecting the needs and culture of the themed entertainment industry. The two-day TEA Summit consists of a business forum (Day One) and a showcase of the current year’s TEA Thea Award recipients (Day Two).

The conference has continued to grow in attendance and receives positive feedback each year. Each day has its own co-chairs and moderators. It’s followed the next day by the annual TEA Thea Awards Gala.

The business of business
The focus of the TEA Summit’s first day was “the business of the business” and remains a private session with emphasis on the state of the industry and hot topics that are relevant to all business leaders working in the industry.

The programme began with Thea Classic Award recipient Dollywood. Pete Owens, Dollywood’s VP of Marketing and Public Relations, gave the presentation. The business partnership between Herschend Family Entertainment and Dolly Parton is an impressive shared commitment to their employees and their community.

The day closed out with the popular “Conversation with”, featuring Mark Woodbury, vice chair of Universal Parks and Resorts and President of Universal Creative, honored as this year’s recipient of the Buzz Price Thea Award for a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements. He was joined by long-time colleague Mike West, who is senior director and executive producer at Universal Creative. Woodbury began his career as an architect before joining Universal to work on the Universal Studios Park in Orlando. Over the decades, he has distinguished himself, and inspired others, with his passion for the industry, working with significant IP holders, and an open-door leadership approach.

The Summit’s education programme was focused on ‘the business of business’

Day one co-chairs were myself and the TEA Eastern North America Division Board president Melissa Ruminot of The Companies of Nassal.

Masterclassing
Day two of the TEA Summit is always an information-packed day, as each of the projects being recognised with a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement has the opportunity to take to the stage and share the story of their work.

Co-chairs Roberta Perry, TEA past president and senior vice president at Edwards Technologies, and Pat MacKay – president of Ones&ZerosMedia and a past recipient of the TEA Peter Chernack Service Award – were joined by Brian Morrow, founder of B Morrow Productions; Shawn McCoy, vice president at JRA; and TEA founder and past president Monty Lunde, president of Technifex. The projects were presented in moderated groups: theme parks and attractions (moderated by Morrow); museums (McCoy); technology (Lunde); and live shows (MacKay).

The opportunity to ask questions was available after hearing from a group of two to three projects, creating opportunities to make connections between similarities and highlighting contrasts.

Different strokes
A great example of stark contrasts was presented in three “museum-style” projects. All featured very different stories, were located in very different places and followed specific development processes.

The first, Be Washington, is an interactive, media-driven attraction located at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, which required the filming of hours of historically accurate footage. The new media for the attraction is then cleverly woven within the interactive decision-making process that allows guests to “Be Washington” and respond to crises the US’s first President faced during his time in office and then learn how he himself acted.

The story of how the Evel Knievel Museum came to be built adjacent to a Harley Davidson Dealership in Topeka, Kansas, by passionate people who had no previous experience in the museum world is a fun and fascinating one. It’s a pop culture tribute that captures the story of an iconic daredevil and uses an extensive collection of memorabilia and motorbikes.

Finally, the Lego House, designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, embraces play and the story of Lego in the centre of the toy giant’s home in Billund, Denmark. The entire project is quite remarkable but is made even more so by the fact that in addition to content, exhibits and activities designed by Lego, the facility also embraces the work of AFOLS (Adult Fans Of Lego) and includes extensive gallery space for rotating exhibits featuring their work.

Artistic endeavour
Two projects – the MORI Building Digital Art Museum from teamLab Borderless and the collaboration between the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, artist Sarah Fuller and Moment Factory – are both art installations at their core.

Working with artists to develop and curate content in order to present deep and meaningful storytelling, the immersive world created by teamLab blurs the lines of where the physical world begins and ends as guests are immersed in and interact with moving projections of vivid imagery.

Illuminations: human/nature was developed as a Canada 150 initiative – a year of activities focused on engaging and inspiring youth; celebrating diversity and encouraging inclusion; establishing a spirit of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, discovering Canada’s natural beauty and strengthening environmental awareness.

The TEA Thea Awards Gala brings together some of the biggest names in the industry

Described as “a magical, nighttime, digital discovery experience”, two shows were presented for a limited run. One was held in the country’s oldest National Park in Banff, Alberta, and the other in the newest National Park in Rouge Valley, Toronto. The interactive, media-based presentations came with constraints – outdoor venues, a unique interactive audience dynamic and battery powered gear. Groups of 15 were dispatched, carrying all they would need with them: a sound system, projector, lighting, a map and other materials to present the show for themselves. All groups left no trace or environmental impact.

Attendance at both days of the Summit set new records with a high level of interest and demand for the content being shared.

The TEA Thea Awards Gala brings together some of the biggest names in the industry
TEA Summit & TEA Thea Awards

The Summit concluded with the 25th Annual TEA Thea Awards Gala, an elegant, black-tie evening of fine dining and awards presentations.

The international prestige of the Thea Awards, combined with the quality of the event and its benefits in professional development and networking, make it a must-attend event that sells to capacity year after year.

A few simple moments of acknowledgment for 25 years of Thea Awards and the familiar faces of friends, colleagues and industry leaders onstage as presenters, is certainly the right formula for a high-impact and memorable evening.

TEA Summit & TEA Thea Awards

The TEA’s SATE Europe conference has established itself as a unique experience with a strong sense of place, influencing the spirit of the overall programme. This year’s event at Parc Asterix, north of Paris was no exception.

Compagnie des Alpes and the host park outdid themselves with accommodation at their new hotel – Cité Suspendu and evening entertainment in the park that immersed attendees in the fun and spirit of Asterix and Obelisk and their stories.

The conference began with keynote speaker Yves Pépin – the 2005 recipient of TEA Thea lifetime honors – in conversation with Margreet Papamichael, principal of CLEAR Associates. The discussion was wide-ranging and included Yves’ early study of music and its influence on his life.

An inspiring start to the day, the discussion included the early work of ECA2 and Yves’ eventual sale of the company so he could move on to new projects that allowed him to further explore his passions.

TEA added SATE to its slate of industry events in 2007, to foster dialog in the business community about the methodology of Experience Design.’

Moving people
The other keynote session featured Phillip van Stratum of P&P Projects, and one of the newly-named TEA Masters – a member of the TEA who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the growth and development of the industry through their innovation, design, craftsmanship and artistry. In conversation with TEA past president David Willrich of DJ Willrich, Phillip was recognised for his skill as a creative director as part of the inaugural Masters of their Craft programme. The story of Phillip’s journey as a model rocket maker to creative director for projects for the biggest names in the business served as a reminder to everyone that anything is possible.

The SATE conference structure encourages presenters to speak as thought leaders and share ideas rather than simply deliver a series of case studies. The most successful presentations are thought-provoking and challenge the attendees to think differently about their work and the way they consider the various aspects of a “themed entertainment” project. The 2019 theme of “Moving People” provided a great basis for exploring the idea of movement in both the physical and the emotional senses.

Educational networking
A new networking session explored the idea of “Who Does What?” as a foundation for getting attendees to talk to each other and to consider what skills and roles are involved in the different project phases. It was a practical and well-received way to lay the groundwork for the more creative discussions that would follow. There were also many conversations around the role of the operator in the development of a project and the importance of ensuring that those ultimately responsible for delivering and maintaining the guest experience have a voice throughout the development of all projects.

Effective communication among project team members was also a recurring theme which was summed up very effectively in the final presentation by Paul Osterhout: “Talk Nerdy to Me”. He translated conversation points between creatives and engineers through a humorous series of examples that had everyone nodding.

TEA past president Nick Farmer, director of Farmer Attraction Development, spoke as a champion of “Why the little room is the most important experience”. The room he was referring to was, of course, the bathroom. He said that the careful and practical design of these rooms can have a major impact on the overall guest experience and if they are forgotten, not kept clean or too sterile, they destroy the impact of everything you have done throughout the rest of the experience. Attendees to SATE Europe will see every “little room” they visit through new eyes.

TEA SATE Europe 2019 looked at “Moving People”, exploring how we take people on journeys within the themed entertainment industry

Perceptions and challenges
The presentation by Manuel Faria, CEO Indigo Sound, called “Sound Bites” will probably have a similar impact on the way attendees listen to and perceive the world around them. Manuel reminded us about the importance of sound and how it can evoke emotional reactions in unexpected and surprising ways, often contradicting what we actually see.

Other speakers who challenged the attendees included economist Lesley Morisetti, director of Morisetti Associates, who shared new trends, highlighting immersive experiences that have the potential to impact traditional visitor attractions. Her examples demonstrated a divide of awareness among the attendees and provided many “aha” moments.

Fundamental to the conversation is the definition of “immersive” and whether technology and/or media are necessary ingredients for immersion. Fri Forjindam, chief development officer from Mycotoo shared the impact of immersive, theatrical experiences where audiences become willing participants in a carefully planned and executed show, set in a themed environment and interacting with live performers. The impact of these experiences is consistently and overwhelmingly positive and effective.

The Summit’s education programme was focused on ‘the business of business’

Universal truths
The SATE conference series also convenes in Asia and North America, and we are inspired to draw a connection between SATE Europe 2019 and SATE LA 2017. With a theme of “Beyond the Screen,” it explored immersion in its many forms, with attendees sharing their favourite experiences.

The result was a tie between Diagon Alley at Universal Studios and Sleep No More, the immersive theatre production. This was a conclusion echoed in 2019 at SATE Europe. Moving people still requires the essential ingredient of human connection in the real world to create the most impactful emotional connections. This is what our guests are looking for all over the world.

More: attractionsmanagement.com/SATE

Yves Pépin is one of the great innovators and artists of themed entertainment’
SATE Europe offers both educational and networking opportunities to visiting delegates
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

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

©Cybertrek 2019

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
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