Celebrating the Best in Themed Entertainment at the 2016 Summit and Thea Awards

March 24, 2016

It's time to play the music and light the lights - the 2016 Thea Awards Gala is almost here

Several hundred industry professionals will gather at the Disneyland Resort for the Themed Entertainment Association’s (TEA) annual two-day Summit, March 31-April 1. The TEA Summit is part of TEA’s big Weekend of Events culminating in the TEA Thea Awards Gala April 2. Over the course of the three days, the themed entertainment community celebrates the Thea Award recipients and discusses the state of the industry.  The grand culmination is the elegant, black-tie Thea Awards Gala at the Grand Ballroom of the Disneyland Hotel.

The Thea Awards were created by the TEA to help realize a key mission of the association: bringing recognition to achievement, talent and personal excellence within the themed entertainment industry. From a modest beginning in 1994, the Thea Awards have become internationally recognized as a symbol of excellence. This year’s recipients include:

TEA Summit Day One – March 31

TEA COO Jennie Nevin with Steve Birket

TEA Summit Day One, co-chaired by Melissa Townsend of The Attraction Services Company (TASC) and Joanna del Moral of VOA Associates, addresses business trends and showcases the headline Thea Award recipients. Attendance is limited to TEA member companies, and the presentations are closed to the press.

Summit Day One Co-Chairs, Joanna del Moral and Melissa Townsend

The day begins with a keynote address from the recipient of the 2016 Buzz Price Thea Award for a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements, JRA’s Keith James. James will reflect on his career, his colleagues and the lessons he has learned throughout his 44-year journey in the industry. Following Keith, Thea Classic Award recipient San Diego Zoo & San Diego Zoo Safari Park will offer a case study on how it has become one of the most popular zoological parks in the world.

The AECOM team at last year's TEA Summit.

In the afternoon, the focus shifts from people and projects to industry issues. The core research team of AECOM Economics that collaborates with TEA on the annual TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index will present “The Industry by the Numbers,” a global outlook. They’ll also offer insights as to how the information from the Theme Index can aid in companies’ strategic planning.

The day comes to a close with a spirited discussion on “Ethics, Ethos…and the Elephant in the Room”, featuring TEA President Steve Birket of Birket Engineering, itinerant creative guy Kile Ozier, SeaWorld Chief Creative Officer Anthony Esparza, author, artist and actor, Clay Rivers, and Jeremy Schoolfield, Editor-in-Chief of IAAPA’s FUNWORLD Magazine, plus other special guests.

Thea Case Studies Day (April 1)

Thea Case Studies Day features a full day of presentations showcasing the current slate of Thea Awards recipients. Project owners and creatives share the highlights and challenges of making some of the most compelling visitor attractions in the world. Case Studies Day is open to a broad industry audience, including TEA NextGen members (students and recent graduates) and the media.

Thea Case Studies Day Co-Chairs, Roberta Perry and Pat MacKay

Once again, Thea Case Studies Day is chaired by Roberta Perry of ETI and Pat MacKay of Ones&ZerosMedia. Perry and MacKay have co-chaired various facets of the TEA Summit for several years, and both have long-term leadership roles within TEA. Perry is a past President of the Association, and MacKay is a recipient of the 2015 TEA Distinguished Service Award.

As in previous years, each will have 15 minutes to present their case study, but Perry and MacKay have thrown in a few curves to shake things up a bit: “in any given year, we take our cues for the content and direction from the slate of awards,” said Perry. “That always results in something new and different. This year, delegates can rely on TEA Summit Day Two to be a very full, enriching day.” Added MacKay, “for the first time, we are adding case study presentations of the two technical awards to the program. Each will present for the usual 15 minutes, but the Q&A will be reserved for demonstrations during the lunch break.”

JRA COO Dan Schultz poses a question during Thea Case Studies Day 2015.

The 2016 slate of Thea Award recipients is one of the most diverse in the history of the awards - in terms of geographic location, type of project, and size of budget. Excellence is being recognized in art museums and airport installations, children’s gardens and show spectaculars. This diversity speaks to the direction of the industry, and helps Perry and MacKay shape the Case Study Day programming.

“Roberta and I start working on the pacing of the presentations as soon as the awards are confirmed,” said MacKay. “We shape the day so that a big ‘wow’ of a project will be followed by perhaps a quieter, more thoughtful one. A big budget project could be followed by one with a limited budget. We like to vary the global destination and the genres. It’s all about keeping the day moving in a high energy way.”

As to what the co-chairs want attendees to walk away with at the end of the day? “Inspiration and insight are always the goal," said Perry. "The wide variety of projects, locations, and budgets are both an inspiration and a tribute to the work that we, as an industry, do. But to add something to that list for this year, I’d say we want each person to walk away with some valuable new connections as well. Thea Case Studies Day is a day of discovery and appreciation for the presenters and the delegates alike.”

For more information on the TEA Summit, and to purchase tickets, click here.

Thea Awards Gala (April 2)

On the Saturday of the big weekend, suits and skirts give way to tuxes and gowns, as the themed entertainment industry celebrates its version of the Oscars at the 22nd Annual Thea Awards Gala, presented by Chimelong Group and produced by The Hettema Group.

Industry professionals from across the US and around the world gather in celebration at the 2015 Thea Awards.

According to TEA International President Steve Birket, this year’s recipients are “a safari or parade of the exotic and the familiar - characters, creatures, cultures, themes - conveying the power of the moment, of story and of place.  With the annual Thea Awards, TEA lauds the visionary project owner and the team that helped create something never done before. The Thea Awards are when we take a moment to review where the attractions industry has come in the past year or two, and to appreciate who and what got us there…[including] the tech breakthroughs that enhance both the project process and the guest experience.”

For more information on the 2016 Thea Awards Gala, and to purchase tickets, click here.

Be sure to follow all of next week's action in real time on twitter via @TEA_connect and @JRAtweets with the hashtags #TEAsummit and #TEAtheas. Congratulations to all of the 2016 Thea Award recipients, and we’ll see you in Anaheim!




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