Executive Producer Tyler Thornberg brings a wealth of theatrical, film, TV, and themed entertainment expertise to the Storyland team. He’s a pro at taking projects from concept through completion, from themed attractions to experiential marketing campaigns.
A Nashville resident, Tyler joined our team in the spring of 2022. Since then, he has embarked on several exciting, large-scale projects, including a yet-to-be-announced endeavour in the Midwestern United States.
“As an Executive Producer, it’s my job to understand the client and project needs,” Tyler says. “I build teams to execute on each project, and ultimately, I’m accountable for the project’s success on Storyland’s side.”
Embarking on a Storied Entertainment Career
Tyler studied theater at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, where he met his wife, Heidi. After graduating, he pursued a career in film and TV for eight years, working on numerous feature films, episodic scripted TV shows, and unscripted reality TV along the way. The experience was wildly different from what he’d studied.
“In film and television, I didn’t get to use much of what I learned in college,” Tyler says. “It was more like, hey, can you endure the long hours? Are you smart? Can you be on time? Can you be prepared?”
The resilience Tyler gained from film and TV prepped him for the next steps in his career. In 2009, he transitioned into themed entertainment, first at Global Experience Specialists (GES), followed by Thinkwell Group. His first themed entertainment project was a Chronicles of Narnia traveling exhibition based on the beloved feature films.
(Interestingly enough, Tyler’s first encounter with Storyland came when GES hired our fabrication team to build a large-scale HogwartsTM Express replica for Harry Potter: The Exhibition. Small world!)
In addition to the Narnia and Harry Potter projects, Tyler was involved in multiple experiential marketing activations for Walt Disney Animation, Pixar, and other entertainment giants.
“We did all sorts of things – big, morning show stunts for national and regional media outlets,” Tyler says.
How’s the Weather Up There?
One of the most memorable marketing activations Tyler contributed to was for the Pixar film Up, which involved a comfy chair, a massive cluster of helium balloons, and a morning show tour that saw TV personalities nationwide floating 165 feet into the air on an easy chair patterned after Carl Fredrickson’s favorite perch.
“We put traffic reporters, weather reporters, and morning show hosts in the chair, and it would fly 165 feet up, tethered,” he says. “Then, they’d report live from the chair.”
The carbon fiber chair replica had a five-point harness attached to it and was designed to fly its passengers up, up (but not away) for their morning reports. Tyler’s team had a custom cluster balloon rig they inflated during the wee hours of every morning on tour, adjusting balloon inflation depending on the location’s altitude.
Another of Tyler’s favorite projects was Google’s The Grove, a customer experience hub in Redwood City, California, where he was responsible for the interior design’s visual media content.
Bringing a Lifelong Love of Music Full Circle
Along with visual media, the themed entertainment industry also opened opportunities for Tyler to lean harder into his passion for audio, leading him to work on projects that needed playlists, custom compositions, and sound effects. Because orchestral film soundtracks were some of his earliest inspirations, this felt full circle to him.
“Even at a young age, music evoked mental images and feelings,” he says. “That’s what drew me to creating stories and trying to find ways to evoke emotion. It’s a little bit abstract, like, how do I bottle the lightning?”
Leveraging Creative Passions to Bring Environments to Life
Overall, the themed entertainment world had allowed Tyler to combine his love of live performance with the immersive nature of visitor attractions and themed environments–something he didn’t initially expect.
“When I got into themed entertainment, I got back into creating live experiences,” he says. “They’re not onstage theatrical experiences, but they require theatrical applications for entertainment.
“Anything you experience live is treated differently than how you can set things up on camera. The lighting is different. The audio is different. The way the speakers are set up, the scents you can put in the room–it’s all different. So I took my love of theater and combined it with what I knew of the entertainment industry, allowing me to pursue a career that felt like a hybrid of the things that I love.”
As for the future, Tyler says he’s thrilled to be a part of guiding some of Storyland’s most exciting projects from start to finish.
“The thing I’m most jazzed about with Storyland is there’s vision and ambition, both clearly expressed by the senior leadership and the company,” he says. “They’re invested in the success of that vision and seeing that ambition through, and that’s appealing to me.”
About Storyland Studios
Storyland Studios imagines, designs and creates immersive experiences and environments that lift the spirit. The firm was recently slated to design the first-ever Ubisoft Entertainment Center at France’s Studios Occitanie, the first in its ongoing partnership with Ubisoft. Storyland is also heading up master planning for the first-ever Sports Illustrated resorts, and designing for Storyville Gardens, an interactive, story-driven theme park based in Middle Tennessee, and much more.
In addition to the firm’s exciting recent projects, Storyland has worked alongside some of the world’s most well-known IPs over its twenty-year history. Some of their most notable work includes concepts, designs, scenic fabrication, and themed environments for Marvel, Star Wars, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, The Walt Disney Company, LEGO®, and Trillith Studios. For more information, visit www.storylandstudios.com.