Spring is one of my favorite times of the year because I get to head down to Anaheim for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) Summit Conference and Awards Gala. This annual event not only recognizes the best work in the world but it also gives those of us in the industry a chance to catch up with one another and explore the magic behind the scenes of these award winning attractions. We also get to step back from our own projects for a couple of days to learn more about how our work in themed entertainment intersects with travel, tourism, land development, hospitality, retail, entertainment, education, IP and branding, design, architecture, and technology around the globe. Over the last 15 years this industry has become a major player on the world stage and keeping an eye on the big picture is vital for the health of not only our company, but the industry as a whole.
After the Summit Conference, TEA will host their annual black tie THEA Awards Gala to recognize 17 different projects with Awards for Outstanding Achievement (AOA). Though all the winners have spectacular projects and incredibly innovative teams, we want to share two of our favorites.
The first is Pandora – The World of Avatar, Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. For this attraction, the Disney Imagineers have re-created the Na’vi world from AVATAR, James Cameron’s 2009 epic science fiction film set in the mid-22nd century. The immersive experience covers 12 acres and truly feels like another world. TEA calls it “a tour de force of placemaking: designed and built to be about the people, environment, culture, animals, and beauty of the Na’vi world.”
We also have a great affinity the Jameson brand experience in Dublin, Ireland, produced by our friends at BRC. Like a fine whiskey, this project delivers a perfectly blended guided tour that hits all the right notes for taste, touch, smell and audience engagement. The resulting brand story utilizes state of the art digital elements and interactivity to captivate and delight visitors.
The TEA will also recognize an icon in the themed entertainment world: Phil Hettema, President and Creative Executive at The Hettema Group. He’ll be honored in April with the Buzz Price Thea Award recognizing a lifetime of distinguished achievements. Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Phil and his team on a number of projects such as One World Observatory at the World Trade Center in New York and the Dragons Wild Shooting attraction at Lotte World, in Seoul, Korea. We would like to extend our congratulations on this well-deserved accolade.
Our team is looking forward to soaking up the learning, celebrating our peers in Anaheim, and returning to work with a hearty dose of inspiration and ideas to bring to all our upcoming projects. Will we see you and your team there?