The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) today announced the recipients of its annual Thea Awards during the IAAPA Attractions Expo. The prestigious Thea Awards recognize and celebrate excellence in the creation of compelling experiences and places. TEA serves the global attractions industry, including theme parks, museums, world expos, heritage centers and resorts.
Among the named recipients is a triple-threat from the newly revamped Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort. In addition to the Cars Land themed area itself, Radiator Springs Racers and the Carthay Circle Restaurant located on Buena Vista Street are recipients of TEA’s Awards for Outstanding Achievement.
Radiator Springs Racers is being recognized for demonstrating ‘true excellence in design, technical innovation and in execution… the animated figures break new ground in creating the illusion of live animation, and the technical elements, including special effects, sophisticated, in-vehicle sound, and a sophisticated ride system, have all been transparently integrated into the highly enjoyable story and experience. In addition, the design team incorporated an extremely large attraction footprint into the plan of the overall Cars Land footprint in a way that creates multiple notable scenic vistas, and overlooks and seamlessly intertwines the environment and attraction into a total experience greater than the sum of its parts.’ TEA refers to RSR’s home, Cars Land, as ‘a destination attraction in and of itself. The sensitive layout, sophisticated use of scale, extension of character details and the high quality of execution combine to make this an outstanding example of experiential design.’ TEA also hails Carthay Circle Restaurant as ‘a truly outstanding achievement in a theme park,’ citing its ambiance and quality of food.
Also being recognized is Disney’s Aulani Resort, which the TEA defines as ‘an exceptionally cohesive, immersive and entertaining resort experience. Interlaced throughout the entire resort are many layers and references to native Hawaiian culture, both traditional and contemporary, including murals and music commissioned for the resort that successfully unites families in a shared experience of pure Hawaii. Mickey himself is seen on site as only another of many tourists enjoying the educational and entertaining offerings at Aulani.’
The Buzz Price Award, formerly known as the lifetime achievement reward, also underscores Disney’s history as it is being awarded to Frank Stanek. Stanek’s career reaches back into the 1960s when he served as part of the team that brought “it’s a small world” to life at the 1964-65 World’s Fair. His most notable project for the company would be the development of the Tokyo Disneyland Resort, but his hands reached much further inside and outside of Disney, notably also at Universal. Marty Sklar has this to say about Stanek: ‘Frank is one of those “unsung talents” who make our projects happen – much as Buzz Price did from the beginning of the industry. Perhaps no one has had more impact on the two biggest players in our business – Disney and Universal – than Frank Stanek has had – especially in the growth and development of the industry in the international marketplace.’
The Thea Awards will be formally presented on April 6, 2013 at the 19th Annual Thea Awards Gala, a ticketed, black-tie dinner affair, open to the public, at the Disneyland Resort. For more information on these and other recipients, see TEA’s full list here.
The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) today named its recipients of its 18th annual Thea Awards, for which Disney Parks and Resorts received a number of accolades for its contributions ot the industry over the past year. According to TEA president (and former Walt Disney Imagineer) Rick Rothschild, the award sets out to ‘recognize and honor excellence in the creation of extraordinary visitor experiences, attractions, exhibits and places. As this year we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the founding of TEA, we can reflect on how much has changed: the tools and techniques our industry employs, the use of digital media and interactivity, the sophistication of themed environments and the international expansion of the business, especially into Asia. At the same time, storytelling and teamwork remain the bedrock of the Experience Design Industry and its projects.’ He adds, ‘the Thea Awards honor teamwork at its very best — the creative handshake between the visionary project owner and the multidisciplinary collective of designers, artisans and technicians who realize the vision. TEA’s Thea Awards celebrate storytelling across the globe — educational and entertaining stories of heritage, history, fiction, fantasy, magic and even hard science — delivered with artistry and the appropriate use of technology at museums, theme parks, world expos, special events and other settings. TEA looks forward to the next 20 years of leading the visitor attractions industry.’
The lifetime achievement award, now named after Disney Legend Harrison ‘Buzz’ Price, will be bestowed upon Joe Rohde, Executive Designer and Vice President, Creative for Walt Disney Imagineering, in recognition for his 30 years with The Walt Disney Company. Beginning his career as a model designer for EPCOT Center, Rohde has been influential and an integral part of Disney Parks and Resorts projects worldwide. Notably Rohde led the team that conceptualized, designed and built Disney’s Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort and, most recently, he was responsible for the creative design and content of Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa, at Ko Olina, O’ahu, Hawai’i, which debuted in August 2011.
Star Tours [2.0] at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort won the Thea Award for the category of ‘Attraction Refresh. According to the nomination committee, tThe refreshed attraction has succeeded both operationally and with the extremely loyal Star Wars fan base. For the guests, the most compelling feature is the variable content that affords multiple storylines, locations and characters. This element of surprise is driving multi-generational audiences to return again and again to get a shot at exploring different vistas into many realms of the Star Wars Galaxy. Today’s audience expectations for a high tech science-fantasy world as renowned as Star Wars far surpass the analogue entertainment world that existed back in1987 when Disney originated this granddaddy of simulators that became an industry template. To achieve a breakthrough experience, all new ‘state of the art’ 3D digital media systems were a given, but what really brings Star Tours: The Adventures Continue to life is a unique branching story structure employing multiple destinations and characters. This non-traditional storytelling device evokes curiosity by providing 54 potential show experiences resulting in a dramatic increase in attraction repeatability. To bring a layer of personalization and relevance, image capture systems are used to integrate riders into the varied story branches. All of this is fed into multiple motion programs designed for each random sequence, creating a multiplicity of kinetics for the 54 distinct profiles and unique real-time guest integrations. While the major components create the guest ‘wows’ every nook and cranny along the pre-show queue likewise received new story elements and advanced special effects. This has extended the experience of this ‘galaxy far, far away’ way beyond the doors of the Starspeeder 1000 and repositions the total experience firmly in a new century.
‘The Magic, The Memory and You’ at the Magic Kingdom has also been recognized by TEA, earning the award for ‘Show Spectacular.’ According to the TEA, this show demonstrates excellence for the artistic and creative way that technology was utilized to create a memorable and compelling experience. Impressive as the technology is, the show is ultimately successful because it uses that technology, along with visual creativity, adept directorial pacing and showmanship together with a stirring musical score in an innovative and compelling way to create a most memorable, unique and emotionally fulfilling experience for its audience.
And although it won’t be seen by guests until 2012 (save for a demonstration at the 2011 Disney D23 Expo), the Animator’s Palate restaurant aboard Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Fantasy took the honors for ‘Ingenious use of Technology,’ a major understatement if there ever was one, in this site’s opinion. TEA notes that delightful image capturing and video magic have made it possible for a guest’s sketch to come to life moments after being drawn. The amazing animation, from a simple face expression to a complicated dance step, is made possible in this ingenious use of technology. Every one from Grandpa to a child can be an ‘animator’ and see their drawings come alive. A refreshing new take on ‘interactive’ without the typical monitor screen.
All of the award recipients have been recommended by the Thea Awards Nominating Committee and were finalized by the the TEA International Board of Directors. The Awards will be formally presented March 17, 2012 at the 18th Annual Thea Awards Gala, a black-tie dinner affair, open to the public, at the Disneyland Hotel at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA. Visit http://www.teaconnect.org for more information.
Themed Entertainment Assocation Recognizes Imagineer Kim Irvine, ‘World of Color,’ TRON ARG and More
The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) today announced the fifteen recipients of its 17th Annual Thea Awards with nearly a quarter of the coveted awards going to The Walt Disney Company and the Disney family.
“The annual Thea Awards, presented by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) recognize and honor excellence in the creation of extraordinary visitor experiences, attractions, exhibits and places,” says incoming TEA president Rick Rothschild of FAR Out! Creative Direction. “Storytelling and teamwork are the heart of the Experience Design Industry and its projects. TEA’s Thea Awards celebrate storytelling across the globe – educational and entertaining stories of heritage, history, fiction, fantasy, magic and even hard science – delivered with artistry and the appropriate use of technology at museums, theme parks, world expos, special events and other settings. The Thea Awards also honor teamwork at its very best – the creative handshake between the visionary project owner and the multidisciplinary collective of designers, artisans and technicians who realize the vision. Also, this year we commemorate the late Harrison “Buzz” Price, who at the very first Thea Awards in 1994 was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award. In his honor, we’ve renamed it the ‘Buzz Price Award, recognizing a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements.’
This year, the newly renamed “Buzz Price Award” went to Walt Disney Imagineer and Art Director Kim Irvine who began her career at WDI in 1970. Working alongside her mother Leota Toombs (recent Disney Legend for her Imagineering contributions) Kim was able to learn her skills under such greats as Mary Blair, John Hench, Mark Davis, and Claude Coats. John Hench would become Kim’s mentor, as he relied on her more and more for her color expertise, a skill for which John was the undisputed master. This skill would serve Kim well over the ensuing decades that she would lead the art direction at Disneyland, always finding new pallets of color and emotion to keep the Park appealing to the ever evolving demographic. Kim contributed to many of the early attractions at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Epcot including: Small World, interiors for the Contemporary Resort, The Land, Universe of Energy, Germany and Mexico pavilions. In 1980, Kim joined the Disneyland Design Studio and pioneered the development and evolution of that team as a model for the branches that exist in Disney’s resort locations around the world.
In her long held role as Art Director for Disneyland, Kim has been responsible for such projects as the Disneyland 50th celebration, most notably Sleeping Beauty Castle itself, and color schemes and symbolic designs representing each of Disneyland’s five decades. Kim was entrusted with the redesign of John Hench’s classic Plaza Inn Restaurant, the creation of Rancho Del Zocalo Restaurant in Frontierland and most recently, the complete concept for the magical Disneyland Dream Suite in New Orleans Square. While Disneyland has kept Kim busy, she can always squeeze in time for projects elsewhere when her expertise is keenly needed. As an example, the Disneyland Paris Castle interior and its Carrousel benefited from the loan of Kim’s talent. During the last year, Kim led the effort to reimagine “it’s a small world,” bringing new life to the 45-year-old classic, design of the new Disney Gallery and interiors for the new Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln exhibit on Main Street U.S.A., along with a variety of highly themed merchandise experiences.
Disney California Adventure’s “World of Color” took the Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement (Nighttime Spectacular). This nighttime fountain spectacular is a visual and technical marvel, and an important focal point in the reimagining of Disney California Adventure theme park. World of Color comes in the form of nearly 1,200 fountains, some shooting higher than 200 feet. Mist screens that can become 380 feet wide; as wide as the 15 million gallon Paradise Bay Lagoon itself, are the background palette of the show. A wide range of other elements includes Disney and Pixar animated film scene projections, lighting, lasers, fog, fire and music – adding up to some 18,000 points of show control. Five years in the making, the 26-minute show takes its name from the 1960s television series “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.” A sense of the size and scope of this attraction can be further conveyed through a short list of the eight types of fountain attachments used: Four butterfly fountains, six dancer nozzles with intertwining dual nozzles, ten 200-foot geysers and 12 flower spouts, 76 water whips with heads that can turn in any direction, 400 chasers and 600 grid fountains at eight foot intervals complete the list.
The Walt Disney Family Museum was awarded the Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement (Museum). Celebrating its first anniversary on October 1, this museum was built, owned and operated by Walt Disney’s own family, with no direct connection to The Walt Disney Company. It is located in a series of historical buildings at The Presidio of San Francisco, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area of the National Park Service. The Museum is easily a half-day experience even for casual visitors, because it houses so much original material — drawings, artifacts, models, photos, three dimensional objects, etc. – created by Disney staff under Walt’s direction for films, television and the Disney theme parks for over 40 years. There are one-of-a-kind presentations (i.e., a model of Disneyland, supervised by Tony Baxter, that includes ideas Walt imagined but never built in the Anaheim park), audio and video recordings on over 200 video monitors exploring the Disney creative process during the Walt years, inclusion of many Disney creators that make clear Walt did not do it alone, and a balanced explanation of Walt’s darkest time: the Studio strike in 1941. There are artifacts unique to the Museum; for example, a brand new Multi-plane Camera rig, two stories tall, built for the Museum by Thea Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Don Iwerks. Also on display are the 32 Academy Awards presented to Walt Disney. The Walt Disney Family Foundation regularly presents special programs including screenings of films made during Walt’s time and has embarked on an ambitious program to engage school children in weekend creative activities.
Finally, the “Flynn Lives” Alternate Reality Game (ARG) took the honor of Outstanding Achievement for a promotional event during San Diego ComicCon 2010. The ARG combined elements of promotion, puzzles, game play, scavenger hunting and location-based entertainment into a completely new kind of guest experience. To promote the upcoming TRON LEGACY (a sequel/reboot of the groundbreaking original TRON film), this ARG created an experiential groundswell of interest in the film over nearly two years, leveraging social media and online connectivity to tell a compelling, immersive story that feels inherently part of the digital world of the film, filled with labyrinthine computer networks and competitive video games.
Starting with influential online bloggers and fans, the game created a “resistance movement” themed to the film’s mysterious digital-world storyline, told through numerous interconnected websites and real-world puzzles. This created a parallel story to the film, both online and within the real world – the characters from the movies would affect the player’s real lives with media, events, and rewards. All of the game’s events encouraged global collaboration – many puzzles could not be solved by a single player, and were played by people all over the world. Each step of the game would result in a real-world event; players were often rewarded with game “swag” mailed to them from the resistance movement, keeping them engaged. Certain puzzles led to secret real-world “drops” or phone calls with clandestine clues. Each step of the ARG progressed in scope and scale to include more and more of the real world. In particular, major real-world events like ComicCon included giant location-based attractions as part of the ARG, such as a full-size arcade recreated from the film at ComicCon 2009, and the futuristic “End Of Line” nightclub at ComicCon 2010 – a themed environment with wrap-around HD projection to create the feeling of flying inside the computer world.
Recommended by the Thea Awards Nominating Committee, the current slate of 15 Thea recipients were approved by the TEA International Board of Directors and will be honored at the 17th Annual Thea Awards Gala on March 12, 2011. Sponsored by Economics at AECOM, the event will be held at the Globe Theatre, Universal Studios Hollywood. The Awards Gala is an elegant, black-tie dinner event and is open to the public. Tickets/more information are available via the TEA website.
On August 19, the International Board of the TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) selected 40-year attractions industry veteran Rick Rothschild, founder and chief creative officer of FAR OUT! Creative Direction and creative director at Global Immersion, as its next President. Rothschild, best known for his three decades as creative executive with Walt Disney Imagineering, will formally commence his term in November.
“I welcome the opportunity that the International Board of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) has extended in selecting me as President for the upcoming year,” said Rothschild. “For TEA, serving the global community of those who create compelling guest experiences and places, this next year is significant as it leads up to the 20th anniversary of TEA’s founding. I look forward to leading the TEA International Board in its efforts, to building on the legacy of the past two decades, and to helping plan the next 20 years – as we look towards continued growth and improvement of benefits for the members of this important and unique association.”
A former creative executive with and current consultant to Walt Disney Imagineering, Rothschild’s projects include directing the creation of Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and bringing back the Captain EO attraction. Blending a unique set of entertainment skills developed over 40 years of experience in the world of theater, Disney theme parks, media and museums, Rick Rothschild brings a deep technical knowledge together with a strong creative perspective to provide both vision and direction to any project.
Rothschild is also part of Global Immersion’s creative technology team supporting the development of unique planetarium and immersive theater experiences worldwide. Along with the responsibility of creatively directing and producing over 25 separate Disney attractions during a 30-year tenure as a creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, Rick led and participated in a variety of concept development teams that explored new attractions, complete theme parks and other resort, recreation and immersive experience related business lines. His work at Disney also included consulting with a number of prestigious museums and institutions around the United States.
“Rick Rothschild’s background with entertainment and education projects alike, and his understanding of both creative design and tech design enable him to effectively address the needs of museums along with theme parks and to speak to all TEA membership and market sectors,” says sitting TEA president Steven J. Thorburn PE, of Thorburn Associates Inc.. “Rick Rothschild has all the ‘right stuff’ to take the Themed Entertainment Association and the business communities it serves into the new, post-recession global commerce environment: creative dynamism, innovative spirit, leadership quality plus rich experience and a long line of successes at the epicenter of our industry. I look forward to passing Rick the gavel in established TEA tradition this November, when TEA convenes at the IAAPA Attractions Expo.”
Despite a weakened economy and virtually all other parks in North America seeing a decline in attendance in 2009, most of Disney’s 11 theme parks worldwide saw improvement in performance according to the 2009 annual TEA/AECOM theme park attendance report issued today. All totaled, approximately 119.1 million guests visited Disney Parks worldwide last year.
Ranking the top 25 parks worldwide, the top 8 spots went to Disney Parks, with number one being — with no surprise — the Magic Kingdom with an annual attendance of about 17.2 million, a relatively minor increase over 2008. Ten of Disney’s theme parks ranked in the top 25, the only absentee being the Walt Disney Studios at the Disneyland Paris Resort.
The Disneyland Resort saw the largest percentage in attendance increase with Disneyland gaining 8% to 15.9 million guests and Disney California Adventure with a whopping 9.5% increase to slightly over 6 million.
Conversely, the Tokyo Disney Resort saw a slight decrease in attendance over 2008 but as we pointed out earlier, 2008′s increase was due primarily to the Resort’s 25th anniversary and, in fact, 2009 was Tokyo Disneyland’s second best year ever in attendance.
Arguably the best news, however, comes from Hong Kong Disneyland, which — despite highly publicized troubles — is closing the gap on perennial rival Ocean Park. With only 200K visitors separating the two in 2009, Ocean Park’s attendance dipped by 4.6% while Hong Kong Disneyland’s actually grew 2%.
When further broken down into geographic regions, all six North American Disney Parks take the top spots while Disneyland Paris takes the #1 spot in Europe and Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea take the top two spots for Asia.
The report also covers water parks around the globe in which Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, both located at the Walt Disney World Resort, commanded the top two spots with virtually zero change in attendance over last year. In North America, Sea World’s Aquatica and Universal’s Wet’n'wild took the following two spots.
For more information, you can access the report directly here. Note that attendance figures are not reported directly by the theme parks and are estimated based on several factors and formulas.
GLENDALE, Calif., Nov. 17, 2009 – Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative arm of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, was honored today with the top award within the themed entertainment industry.
TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) announced that Toy Story Mania! received the Award for Outstanding Achievement for an Attraction. Toy Story Mania! is a high-energy, immersive, ride-through adventure that invites guests to test their skills at a variety of carnival midway games hosted by the characters from the Disney·Pixar Toy Story films. The attraction is located at both Disney’s California Adventure Park at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
TEA announced the 16th Annual Thea Award recipients during the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attraction’s (IAAPA) annual conference. The Thea Awards recognize achievement, talent and personal excellence within the themed entertainment industry. Recognized internationally as a symbol of excellence, the Thea Awards consider project submissions from all over the world. TEA praised Toy Story Midway Mania! as follows in their press release: