27 April 2019 // Thoughts

Taking Risks and Creating Heroes: Seven Lessons from the 2019 TEA Thea Awards

Recently, the JRA team joined several hundred Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) colleagues for the 16th Annual TEA Summit and 25th Annual Thea Awards. With over 1,800 company members, the TEA represents the creators of compelling experiences worldwide, and the awards recognize the outstanding projects forged by this creative community.

Thea Awards JRA

From left to right: TEA President Elect – Michael Blau, TEA COO – Jennie Nevin, TEA President – Michael Mercadante, and Chris Ho of 2019 Thea Awards Presenting Sponsor, Chimelong Group

This year, to reflect the expansion of the TEA across geographies and verticals, as well as the changing tastes of its conference attendees, the Association unveiled a shift in its Summit Case Studies Day format. Instead of a steady stream of presentations, Thea Award recipients were grouped by category and placed on panels, ranging from theme parks to connected immersion to the museum panel, which was moderated by JRA Vice President, Shawn McCoy.

Thea Awards JRA

JRA Vice President, Shawn McCoy, jokingly bestowed his museum group the Thea Award for “Largest Panel on a Limited Budget”.

Despite this segmentation of projects into verticals, the TEA Summit and Theas offered lessons that transcended categorical definition. In her feature article for online industry resource, Blooloop, JRA Director of Communications, Clara Rice, identified seven lessons learned  from this year’s Thea Award recipients:

  1. Tell new stories and re-invigorate old ones
  2. Make the guest the hero
  3. Leverage technology to invent and re-invent
  4. Use authenticity to generate impact
  5. Create a “wow”
  6. Take a risk
  7. Remember to have fun
Thea Awards JRA

Stuart and Kevin Minion crash the party to celebrate Universal Night Parade’s Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement – Live Show Spectacular.

For several of the project teams attending their first TEA Summit and Thea Awards, the weekend of events shattered their expectations. “[Vice President, New Media] Matt Briney and I were completely blown away by the experience,” reflected Rob Shenk, Senior Vice President, Visitor Engagement at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.”Not only were we humbled by the opportunity to share the story of creating our ‘Be Washington’ experience…but we left so inspired by all the other case studies that were presented at the Summit. It was so clear to both of us that this is an industry filled with creative and innovative people, striving to produce ever more impressive offerings.”

For more of Clara’s 2019 TEA Summit and Theas recap, click here.

Thea Awards JRA

JRA’s Clara Rice and Owen Zhao of Max-High International present a Thea Award to Xiamen Fantawild Oriental Heritage Park.