Calling All Young Theme Park Enthusiasts! Check out the 2013 TEA Summit and Thea Awards

Posted by Andrea Shockling on Monday, April 1st, 2013

TEA Summit 2013 logoAre you looking to turn your love of theme parks into a career but not sure how to get started? The 2013 TEA Summit and Thea Awards this weekend are the place to go. The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) will hold its tenth annual professional conference on April 4-6 at Disneyland Resorts. A major highlight of the weekend will be the Thea Awards, the “Oscars of the attraction industry,” honoring twelve recipients for their contributions to creative entertainment design around the globe. In addition to the awards, the TEA Summit features master classes for professionals and opportunities to network for the next generation of themed entertainment movers and shakers. Said Christine Kerr, President of TEA, “We’re really focused on teaching that NextGen group…as we look around at the tables at industry events, we’re missing the NextGen folks.” We think these NextGen activities are an especially exciting addition to the weekend. If you are a college student or young professional with a strong interest in entertainment design, the TEA initiative to get students involved with established industry leaders could be a great first step to pursuing your passion of entertainment and experience design.

The NextGen members we’ve talked to are really looking forward to the events as well. Paola Soriano, a master’s student at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) told us, “For me, the Thea Awards and TEA Summit mean being able to meet the people behind the work that inspired me as child to pursue my dreams of working in entertainment.” That’s the goal from TEA’s perspective as well. The NextGen program brings students “into the proverbial fold,” said Kile Ozier, chair of the NextGen committee for TEA. The committee worked to provide a “context of casual intimacy with people from across the spectrum of themed entertainment industries” so students could see that being a designer is not the only way of getting involved in entertainment design. The TEA Summit brings together professionals from all aspects of the industry – including design, marketing, and strategic planning, among many others – for a variety of programs and panel discussions.

The Summit kicks off on April 4 with a day of brainstorming and conversation with top themed entertainment executives. Presented to a limited audience of peers and colleagues, these master classes offer off-the-record discussion of worldwide theme park trends for industry leaders. For example, Ray Braun, Matt Earnest and Ed Shaw of Entertainment + Culture will be presenting on what they view as new entertainment design hotspots: Moscow, Dubai, Singapore and China. The keynote, presented by Cedar Faire Entertainment Company Chief Executive Officer Matt Ouimet will focus on cultivating innovative leadership in the entertainment design industry.

Matt Ouimet

During the TEA Case Studies Day on April 5, attention shifts to the Thea Awards honorees as they present insight into their process and projects.  TEA NextGen members are encouraged to attend the Summit beginning this day, and Andrew Hansen, a student at Southern Polytechnic State University, is looking forward to this part of the weekend the most: “It should be great to learn about the various projects that were awarded a Thea Award this year.”

One of the most popular case studies for both young attendees and veterans alike is sure to be the Warner Bros. Studio Tour “The Making of Harry Potter”. Consistently voted as one of the best themed entertainment experiences of 2012, “The Making of Harry Potter” in London has a cherished spot on this year’s list of Thea Awards recipients. The presentation about the attraction will be given by Sarah Roots, the VP of Warner Bros., and Craig Hanna, the Chief Creative Officer of ThinkWell Group, the creative design firm responsible for the project. Other theme park projects we have come to know and love that will be honored at the 2013 Thea Awards include Cars Land in Disney California Adventure Park and Transformers The Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa in Hawaii is also being recognized, and Joe Rohde, Senior Vice President, Creative, Walt Disney Imagineering will discuss the challenges of this resort destination project with an emphasis on native conservation.

The Making of Harry Potter studio tour

On Saturday, the main event is of course the awards gala in the evening, but before that, TEA NextGen members are invited to a special “Breakfast of TEA Champions” with some of the same industry leaders presenting during the Summit. The intimate setting will allow students and young professionals to interact directly with potential mentors, and TEA is encouraging its youngest members to take advantage of the chance to ask veterans individuals career path questions. That’s why Paola Soriano from ETC is excited about this part of the weekend: “One on one conversations with veterans of the industry are what I am most looking forward to, so that I can pick their brains with questions and get advice for the next generation of TEA.” This is a great opportunity for networking, and it’s great to hear that students see the value in the NextGen programming at this year’s TEA Summit.

Thea Awards 2013

In the evening, all eyes will be on the 19th Annual Thea Awards and Gala, directed and produced by Patrick Roberge. “From Harry Potter to Cars Land, from Transformers to Canadian sports, from the brief run of a world expo to the sustained success of a classic theme park, the Thea Awards celebrate the best of the industry from around the world,” says Christine Kerr of BaAM Productions, president of TEA. “The Thea Awards are an opportunity for us to show how sophisticated and advanced the work we do is.”

The capstone of a great weekend of celebration for entertainment design, the Thea Awards are a can’t miss event for anyone passionate about the fun and excitement themed experiences bring to our lives. And for NextGen members especially, these events are designed to give you the best possible real-world exposure to the experience industries. In addition to “scores of new contacts and [the] possibility for internships and job[s],” said TEA NextGen chair Kile Ozier, “what they will all get is a much better sense of the reality of what’s out there.” Between the Summit and the breakfast to the Thea Awards themselves, it’s a weekend of knowledge sharing for enthusiasts of all ages. We hope to see you there!

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