The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) Summit is a gathering of theme park and experience design industry professionals, which takes place every year at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.
It’s a three day event which culminates in a gala celebration of those projects honored with a TEA Thea Award, considered the industry’s highest honor.
TEA Summit Day 1 – Industry Presentations
Day one is closed to the press, which allows for more open discussion of trade secrets and developments which are better served as surprises to theme park guests.
The day opened with a case study on Dollywood, the park honored with The Thea Classic Award. Morning discussions included subjects such as the global economy, trends and their effect on the industry. Afternoon sessions included focuses on live entertainment, the future of zoos and aquariums, safety and parenting issues in parks. Guests were treated to a special discussion from Disney Imagineers about how storytelling is changing in the theme park medium.
The day ended with a “fireside chat” with Mark Woodbury, the Universal Parks and Resorts executive being honored with The Buzz Price Lifetime Achievement Thea Award, where he shared wisdom gained from a career in creating incredible places for people to engage their imaginations and have fun.
TEA Summit Day 2 – Case Studies
Day two, however, is open to press so we jumped at the invitation to cover it. The day is packed full of case studies showcasing the stories behind the creation of the attractions nominated for Thea Awards. Here they are, one by one:
Volcano Bay: Thea for Water Theme Park – Universal Orlando Resort
A grand and inspiring polynesian-inspired water park surrounding a 200-foot-tall volcano known as Krakatau.
“We have impossible ideas, and give ourselves impossible schedules, and then we set out to do it.” – Justin Schwartz, Universal Creative
Fantawild Oriental Heritage: Thea For Theme Park – Xiamen, China
A beautiful park with 9 thematic areas & 12 major attractions that presents thousands of years of Chinese history, culture, and folktales.
“Cumulative experience is the foundation for success” – Daisy Shang, Fantawild Oriental Heritage
Be Washington: It’s Your Turn to Lead: Thea for Museum Experience on a Limited Budget – George Washington’s Mount Vernon
A first-person, interactive experience where guests face crises that Washington faced during his presidency.
“We didn’t need to invent any heroic stories. We just needed new ways to tell them.” – Rob Shenk, George Washington’s Mt. Vernon.
The Evel Knievel Museum: Thea for Museum on a Limited Budget – Topeka, KS
Tribute to the motorcycle stuntman’s life and achievements featuring exhibits of memorabilia, vehicles, costumes, and a VR stunt experience.
“We’re not museum people, so we put out for design quotes, then we quickly realized we were going to build this museum ourselves.” – Michael Patterson, The Evel Knievel Museum
LEGO® House A/S: Thea for Brand Center – Billund, Denmark
Immersive brand center for children and adults to engage their creativity while pushing the limits of their learning through play.
LEGO House is… “A physical manifestation of a vision to stimulate life and creativity.” – Jesper Vilstrup, LEGO House
MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless – Thea for Connected Immersion in Digital Art – Tokyo, Japan
Collaborative experience by Japan’s famed art collective, teamLab, and urban landscape developer featuring dozens of interactive digital works of art.
“The artworks communicate and fuse with the other artworks.” – Takashi Kudo, teamLab
ILLUMINATIONS: human/nature: Thea for Connected Immersion in Digital Overlay Experience, Limited Budget – Canada
Magical, nighttime, digital spectacular which highlights the rich history and ecological interests in two of Canada’s national parks.
“No matter what marks we make, the marks frame the landscape of the future.” – Sarah Fuller, Co-Creator, Illuminations: Human Nature
Bazyliszek, Park Legendia, Chorzow, Poland: Thea for Attraction on a Limited Budget
Interactive dark ride about one of the most famous stories in all of Polish fairy tales about a snake with a chicken head.
“We had to build the best attraction possible on our limited budget, so that’s why we partnered with the best.” – Pawel Cebula, Park Legendia
Story-driven dark-ride that blends multiple effects (3D, dimensional sets, animatronics, projection mapping, and interactive gaming.
Why does the ride start with all the heroes imprisoned by the villains? “We want the guests to be the heroes.” – Rich Hill, Sally Corporation
Nemo & Friends SeaRider: Thea for Repurposed Attraction – Tokyo Disney Sea
Charming and exciting 3D simulator ride based on the Pixar property taking the place of its predecessor, StormRider.
“We never know exactly what we’re doing until we’re done. Only then can we say, ‘we can do that!’” – Roger Gould, Pixar Animation Studios
SlideWheel: Thea for Attraction – Chimelong Water Park
A unique mashup of waterslide and Ferris wheel, it is a visually appealing experience for riders and spectators alike.
“When we think about buying a ride, we think about 2 major factors. One is the product itself, and the other is the people.” – Chris Ho, Chimelong Group
A live musical concert spectacular featuring high-tech projection mapping, immersive audio, lighting design, and drone show all on board a cruise ship.
“We asked what would be detrimental factors to a flying drone show inside a theater. They said a venue with a lot of metal in it.” – Bob Bonniol
Legend of Camel Bells: Thea for Live Show Spectacular – Huaxia Cultural Tourism Resort, Xi’an, Shanxi Province, China
Stage show telling the story of the legendary Silk Road travelers utilizing massive props, huge cast, animal actors, all presented on a stadium-sized circular stage surrounding a 3,000 person audience on a rotating platform.
“The audience experiences a journey like no other.” – Bingo Tso, ACE International
Universal Spectacle Night Parade: Thea for Live Show Spectacular – Universal Studios Japan
Lighted, musical nighttime parade that brings to life memorable movie moments that surround and immerse guests in the story.
At some point in the development process… “we have to stop talking about the creativity and start talking about the practical application of design (PAD).” – Mike Davis, Universal Parks & Resorts
Intel Shooting Star Drone System: Technology Showcase
Ultra lightweight drones provide brilliant moving light points with billions of color combinations creating automated animation in the night sky.
“It’s only a tool, so we need creative people to create something amazing that people want to come and see.” – Daniel Gurdan, Intel
Read about the 2018 TEA Thea Awards Gala HERE.