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Back with a bang: TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala return | Planet Attractions
     

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Back with a bang: TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala return

Leaders in the themed entertainment industry gathered last month for the return of TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala for the first time in two years. Christine Kerr on behalf of the TEA and Nicole Sangster from Thea Award recipients Simworx both report on the event




The TEA returned last month for the TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala for the first time in two years   Credit: Themed Entertainment Association

Following a two-year absence, the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) travelled to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, for the grand in-person return of the TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala.

Taking place over two days, the Summit is made up of a series of educational events, including presentations and panels related to the year's award recipients and the state of the themed entertainment industry.

Day one represented an opportunity to bring current, relevant topics to the forefront, and focus on the "why" behind business decisions made, and their outcomes, while day two was Thea Case Studies Day, which celebrated Thea Award recipients, while also highlighting the process that led them to pick up the prestigious awards.

The Summit concluded with the Thea Awards Gala - a black-tie dinner event celebrating the recipients of the annual Thea Awards themselves.

Traditionally run back-to-back annually, the TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala is the signature event on the association’s calendar. As a result of the global pandemic, the in-person event was cancelled in 2020 and 2021, however, the Thea Awards themselves continued in a virtual format. In 2022, both the TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala made their triumphant comebacks, returning with a bang as delegates gathered to celebrate the very best of the themed entertainment industry.

Christine Kerr reports on the event, while the Thea Award-winning team from Simworx also share their account of the gathering.





The 2022 TEA Summit and Thea Awards gala was significant and meaningful for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that it was the first time the event had been held in person since 2019.

As a co-chair for Summit Day One, it was a long planning cycle! Working with past TEA president Steve Birket and current board vice president Shannon Martin, we focused on developing a programme that was relevant and explored the trends, hot topics and challenges the themed entertainment industry has been facing and responding to around the globe.

The theme of “Are we there yet?” emerged as a recurring question: one which we got the feeling we needed to begin to answer in a day that was focused on the business of the business.



Our planned keynote for the 2020 version of Summit Day One seemed even more relevant for 2022. Matt Dunsmoor of Simon Sinek, Inc. inspired attendees with “Start with Why” - a keynote that focused on guiding individuals and businesses to find their “why”.

This thinking definitely resonated with the group as being more important than ever as we get closer to emerging from the challenges of the global pandemic. “Purpose” also emerged as a key theme that is top of mind for the industry, impacting everything from recruitment to revenue and reaching around the world. One of the most important takeaways for TEA as an industry association was the idea that when we connect on a “why” level, we develop a shared purpose and the negative competition disappears.

The State of the Industry Roundtable used a new approach to engaging industry leaders from all perspectives in an open, authentic conversation with a very loose structure so as not to restrict the discussion with prepared questions and answers. The idea was inspired by a series of dinners previously organised by Steve Birket, in which he invited 6-8 business executives to dinner to discuss whatever was top of mind. People were flying across the US to participate in these roundtables until travel stopped.



For Summit Day One, we expanded this idea to include a wider range of voices. We engaged TEA master and president Adam Bezark, also creative director of The Bezark Company, to host and moderate the conversation.

Engaged in the discussion was a group that included leadership from a number of areas.

In terms of owners and operators, Tom Mehrmann, president, Pacific Rim, Universal Parks & Resorts and Barbara Bouza, president, Walt Disney Imagineering, were involved.

From the economics and feasibility perspectives, Yael Coifman, senior partner, Leisure Development Partners and TEA EME board president and Ben Martin, also principal and hospitality leader for Advisory Services, HKS joined the conversation.

A number of leaders from industry associations also spoke, including Jakob Wahl, COO, IAAPA and Chuck Fawcett, chairman, MediciXD and TEA International Board president.

From the consultant and vendor community, Quan Gan, founder and president of Gantom Lighting and Controls, and Oksana Wall, director of Themed Entertainment, AOA, participated.

The group represented geographically diverse regions and the topics explored were wide-ranging and included the tourism impacts of the pandemic, supply chain challenges, workforce shifts and upheaval.

Interestingly, purpose once again emerged as a priority for many, but especially an important requirement in the recruitment of the future workforce.

Business development was the focus of a presentation by Michael Blau, principal and president at Adirondack Studios and the TEA International Board's immediate past president.

Blau used Sherlock Holmes’ seemingly unusual behaviours to illustrate how effectively he leveraged resources at hand to solve challenging cases. The connection to using the parallel resources in our working lives to support our business development efforts was fun and very effective.



I then had the opportunity to moderate a panel focused on “Successful Succession” and to consider the question “What IS Next” with two groups who both represented parties that had recently been involved in major acquisitions.

Ryan Stana, CEO, RWS Entertainment Group, and Keith James, president of JRA, now a part of RWS Entertainment Group, joined me on stage, as did Allen Boerger, founder and COO of the Roto Group and CEO of Brilliant Fabrication, and Leo English, VP of customer experience and principal at Brilliant Fabrication. The four then discussed the process they all went through to accomplish transitions related to their recent acquisitions.

During the discussion, we looked at the merging of two thriving businesses through the lens of process, people, culture, brand, integration/alignment, and opportunity.

We've been hearing conversations around succession planning for probably the last 10 years – something which is certainly tied to ageing business owners who, having built successful businesses, are ready to secure a future for that business. But there are many motivations for mergers and acquisitions. They are also driven by new ways to increase capacity, diversify, and to respond to new client demands or new business opportunities.

In the past 5 years, we've seen movement and the list is growing daily. In fact, on the day of this session, there were two announcements made related to mergers and acquisitions including RWS’s acquisition of The Experience Department (Ted) and Summit presenting sponsor The Hettema Group merging with Themespace to create THG. These major moves within the industry made the conversation extremely timely and topical.



In 2021 the Theas Committee introduced a new category - the Thea Catalyst Award.

Recognising individuals who have recently made an important impact benefitting the industry, the two inaugural recipients of this award were welcomed during Summit Day One as part of our 2022 programme.

Interviewed by Thea Awards Judging Committee vice-chair, Fri Forjindam, the recipients - Carmen Smith, SVP, creative Development Product/Content & Inclusive Strategies at Disney Parks, Experiences and Products; and Sina Barham, founder of Prime Access Consulting - exemplified the idea of living a life and forging a career full of purpose.

The pair’s openness, pragmatism and sense of humour provided an amazing foundation for a conversation that truly could have gone on all day. Congratulations to both recipients and to the Thea Awards Judging Committee for developing a recognition that is future thinking for our industry.



The finale of our first day was a conversation with Doris Hardoon, the 2021 Buzz Price Thea Award honouree, recognising a lifetime of distinguished achievements. Making this discussion even more meaningful was Bob Weis, who in 2020 was recognised with the same award and was the interviewer for this talk.

Doris is a true legend of themed entertainment. With a career that spans more than four decades, she started at WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) as a junior designer, with Disney legends Marty Sklar, Rolly Crump and John Hench hiring her.

Hardoon’s career rapidly evolved, with Dors soon being named lead designer, creative director and producer on projects at Epcot, Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the Disney Cruise Line and Disney’s urban entertainment centres nationwide.

As a senior executive creative director, producer and creative portfolio lead for several theme parks and resorts, she is one of the few creative executives to have contributed her design and leadership skills to all six of Disney’s Magic Kingdom-style parks worldwide.

Born and raised in Hong Kong and with family roots in China, it was wonderful to hear of the working relationship Doris and Bob Weis shared and of her contributions to the Shanghai Disney Resort. Her oversight included the realisation of the design philosophy “authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese” throughout the resort.

Doris recently retired from Walt Disney Imagineering and has launched her global connections and design consultancy company – DDesign – to continue to offer her creative artistry with an emphasis on fostering an innovative spirit for present and future generations of the entertainment industry.





Summit Day Two featured a programme presenting case studies of each of the Thea Award-winning projects.

Brian Morrow, owner, BMorrow Productions, hosted the day and provided important context and throughlines for the amazing projects that picked up Thea Awards for Outstanding Achievement.

The ongoing evolution of the format for this day has resulted in a well-paced and thematically-connected series of presentations, each with a different moderator who draws links and themes between the projects and the stories they tell.

Grouped under the themes of Nature, Inspiration, Culture, Play, Surprise and The Impossible, “Projects with purpose” was a connection for the award recipients, providing a great ongoing theme for the Summit and Thea Awards.

There were also wonderful stories of new and creative ways to accomplish work around the globe given the restrictions and constraints that the global pandemic introduced to the project development process. Such challenges resulted in the extremely creative use of resources and technology – it will be interesting to see which of these new approaches live beyond their usefulness for the 2020/2021 project cycle.



Among all the very worthy accomplishments, a few stood out as projects with purpose.

The Indigenous Peoples Experience, located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, “exhibits all the best outcomes of inclusive community creation and is intended to be an important step in Canada’s nascent Truth and Reconciliation movement.” The experience was created as the result of a true community partnership with local indigenous peoples. During the project’s planning and design, their involvement included daily operations to share their stories with authentic voices.

Symphony: A Virtual Journey Into the Heart of Music, is an immersive audiovisual experience into the heart of classical music. This permanent installation at the Caixa Forum in Barcelona is also a touring experience throughout Spain, bringing the 45-minute experience to groups of up to 35 people. The presentation features conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the prestigious Mahler Chamber Orchestra. VR and headphone headsets help take guests on a virtual experience – moving from sitting next to the musicians to travelling inside their instruments. Symphony is a pure experience of how technology can be used at the service of creativity, encapsulating the sensibility of classical in a way that is entertaining and truly emotional.

AniMakerspace - a project recognised with an Award for Outstanding Achievement for Inspirational Learning Experience, Limited Budget - is the result of a team of educators and themed entertainment professionals coming together to create an innovative and highly engaging programme for teaching STEM subjects at the K-12 levels with this permanent, educational, hands-on laboratory module available to schools.

In total, 15 projects were recognised with Thea Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the 2021 Theas judging cycle, with projects and accomplishments coming from Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Belgium, Spain, Canada, and the US.





The grand finale of the TEA Summit week comes in the form of the Thea Awards Gala - a glittering gathering of award recipients and those who helped make the projects possible.

After a two-year hiatus, the industry was so happy to gather again in person to celebrate our collective accomplishments. The joy in the room was palpable and the show provided a perfect opportunity to recognise the people and projects receiving Thea Awards.

Long-time TEA volunteer Lynn Allmandinger was presented with the TEA Peter Chernack Distinguished Service Award, recognising her exceptional volunteer service to the TEA. Lynne received a standing ovation as she finally took centre stage instead of her usual behind-the-scenes role. Congratulations to her on this well-deserved recognition.

In 2022, the three days of events – TEA Summit Day One and Day Two and the Thea Awards Gala – demonstrated that the industry is alive and thriving as we all emerge from the global pandemic and embrace the opportunity to collaborate and celebrate in person with our Themed Entertainment Industry friends and colleagues. Congratulations to the TEA and its members.





The Simworx Team were among the attendees at this year’s TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala. Picking up a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement for its Hyperakselerator attraction at Hunderfossen Eventyrpark. Nicole Sangster shares their experience of the event.



A first time experience for us at the Thea Awards, the Simworx sales team made the trip to California this past weekend along with the rest of the ‘Hyper-team’ (Hunderfossen, Qvisten Animation and Farmer Attractions Development) to officially receive the award for Reodor Felgen’s Hyperakselerator in the category Attraction on a Limited-budget. There was also cause for further celebration, as this was the first time the whole project team had met in person as a result of the global pandemic making it previously impossible.

Our award-winning attraction is based around the characters from the famous Norwegian author and illustrator, Kjell Aukrust’s, Flåklypa Universe, and features characters Solan and Ludvig, as they test out, Reodor – a crazy Norwegian inventor’s solution to major climate challenges, related to sustainability in the automotive and transportation industry.

We arrived in time for Day Two of the Summit, elated as our Case Study took the stage alongside the likes of Universal Creative and Level 99 during the ‘Play’ Section of the line-up.

Hogne Høstmælingen (Hunderfossen) and Rasmus Sivertsen (Qvisten Animation) were given the limelight as they divulged how in a group effort we managed to dream up the concept of the Hyperakselerator, and how we managed to bring it to life during the height of the pandemic, all whilst sticking to the set budget.

We felt incredibly humbled, appreciating the calibre of the company we were in, having the opportunity to explain our process as the audience listened intently. Our Stargazer ride has evolved over the years to become more heavily themed so that the vehicle can be tailored specifically to the park’s media/story. However, we really went above and beyond to theme this version like Reodor’s Hyperakselerator from the story, and combine old and traditional elements to resemble something of a snow sleigh with a high-tech upgrade to make it not only feel totally unique but also put guests right in the centre of the action as if they’re riding along with the main characters in their very own Hyperakselerator.

On the attraction, the ride vehicles sit in front of a large, curved 16m (52ft) screen. Each Stargazer is fitted with onboard special effects including water spray, wind and leg ticklers. We are really proud that one of our existing systems could be incorporated with the right theming and storyline to create what is a truly stand-out attraction.

Gathering again for the Awards Gala, suitably suited and booted, the team were nervous but incredibly excited as we took our seats encircling the lavishly decorated stage. We couldn’t wait to get up there and experience all our hard work come to fruition.

It was clear that Reodor Felgen’s Hyperakselerator was a hit among the audience, referenced throughout the night for its whacky concept of a ride powered by “burps and farts”. Our project overview video was warmly received with laughter and claps as the concept was described to the audience.

Accepting the award was a proud and satisfied Høstmælingen, CEO of Hunderfossen Fairytale Park along with Sivertsen, director of Qvisten Animation, who spoke passionately about the project and its aim to give children hope for the future before being presented with our stunning (and heavy) Thea Award trophy.

We were truly in awe watching our project recognised with such honour up on stage, a momentous event that we couldn’t wait to share back in the office with everybody else involved in the Simworx team. To receive a Thea Award for a project where we were met with so many challenges from the Pandemic, and isolation requirements to Brexit, it really feels like we accomplished the impossible, proving our team’s perseverance and our ability to go the extra mile to ensure that our attractions are always finished to the highest possible standard. It not only elevates Simworx’s reputation but also acts as a brilliant case study for us to promote our Stargazer to other parks looking to incorporate the ride system, showing off how it can be customised to fit their desired story.



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© Kazoo 5 Limited 2022
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Back with a bang: TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala return | Planet Attractions

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Back with a bang: TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala return

Leaders in the themed entertainment industry gathered last month for the return of TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala for the first time in two years. Christine Kerr on behalf of the TEA and Nicole Sangster from Thea Award recipients Simworx both report on the event




The TEA returned last month for the TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala for the first time in two years   Credit: Themed Entertainment Association

Following a two-year absence, the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) travelled to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, for the grand in-person return of the TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala.

Taking place over two days, the Summit is made up of a series of educational events, including presentations and panels related to the year's award recipients and the state of the themed entertainment industry.

Day one represented an opportunity to bring current, relevant topics to the forefront, and focus on the "why" behind business decisions made, and their outcomes, while day two was Thea Case Studies Day, which celebrated Thea Award recipients, while also highlighting the process that led them to pick up the prestigious awards.

The Summit concluded with the Thea Awards Gala - a black-tie dinner event celebrating the recipients of the annual Thea Awards themselves.

Traditionally run back-to-back annually, the TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala is the signature event on the association’s calendar. As a result of the global pandemic, the in-person event was cancelled in 2020 and 2021, however, the Thea Awards themselves continued in a virtual format. In 2022, both the TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala made their triumphant comebacks, returning with a bang as delegates gathered to celebrate the very best of the themed entertainment industry.

Christine Kerr reports on the event, while the Thea Award-winning team from Simworx also share their account of the gathering.





The 2022 TEA Summit and Thea Awards gala was significant and meaningful for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that it was the first time the event had been held in person since 2019.

As a co-chair for Summit Day One, it was a long planning cycle! Working with past TEA president Steve Birket and current board vice president Shannon Martin, we focused on developing a programme that was relevant and explored the trends, hot topics and challenges the themed entertainment industry has been facing and responding to around the globe.

The theme of “Are we there yet?” emerged as a recurring question: one which we got the feeling we needed to begin to answer in a day that was focused on the business of the business.



Our planned keynote for the 2020 version of Summit Day One seemed even more relevant for 2022. Matt Dunsmoor of Simon Sinek, Inc. inspired attendees with “Start with Why” - a keynote that focused on guiding individuals and businesses to find their “why”.

This thinking definitely resonated with the group as being more important than ever as we get closer to emerging from the challenges of the global pandemic. “Purpose” also emerged as a key theme that is top of mind for the industry, impacting everything from recruitment to revenue and reaching around the world. One of the most important takeaways for TEA as an industry association was the idea that when we connect on a “why” level, we develop a shared purpose and the negative competition disappears.

The State of the Industry Roundtable used a new approach to engaging industry leaders from all perspectives in an open, authentic conversation with a very loose structure so as not to restrict the discussion with prepared questions and answers. The idea was inspired by a series of dinners previously organised by Steve Birket, in which he invited 6-8 business executives to dinner to discuss whatever was top of mind. People were flying across the US to participate in these roundtables until travel stopped.



For Summit Day One, we expanded this idea to include a wider range of voices. We engaged TEA master and president Adam Bezark, also creative director of The Bezark Company, to host and moderate the conversation.

Engaged in the discussion was a group that included leadership from a number of areas.

In terms of owners and operators, Tom Mehrmann, president, Pacific Rim, Universal Parks & Resorts and Barbara Bouza, president, Walt Disney Imagineering, were involved.

From the economics and feasibility perspectives, Yael Coifman, senior partner, Leisure Development Partners and TEA EME board president and Ben Martin, also principal and hospitality leader for Advisory Services, HKS joined the conversation.

A number of leaders from industry associations also spoke, including Jakob Wahl, COO, IAAPA and Chuck Fawcett, chairman, MediciXD and TEA International Board president.

From the consultant and vendor community, Quan Gan, founder and president of Gantom Lighting and Controls, and Oksana Wall, director of Themed Entertainment, AOA, participated.

The group represented geographically diverse regions and the topics explored were wide-ranging and included the tourism impacts of the pandemic, supply chain challenges, workforce shifts and upheaval.

Interestingly, purpose once again emerged as a priority for many, but especially an important requirement in the recruitment of the future workforce.

Business development was the focus of a presentation by Michael Blau, principal and president at Adirondack Studios and the TEA International Board's immediate past president.

Blau used Sherlock Holmes’ seemingly unusual behaviours to illustrate how effectively he leveraged resources at hand to solve challenging cases. The connection to using the parallel resources in our working lives to support our business development efforts was fun and very effective.



I then had the opportunity to moderate a panel focused on “Successful Succession” and to consider the question “What IS Next” with two groups who both represented parties that had recently been involved in major acquisitions.

Ryan Stana, CEO, RWS Entertainment Group, and Keith James, president of JRA, now a part of RWS Entertainment Group, joined me on stage, as did Allen Boerger, founder and COO of the Roto Group and CEO of Brilliant Fabrication, and Leo English, VP of customer experience and principal at Brilliant Fabrication. The four then discussed the process they all went through to accomplish transitions related to their recent acquisitions.

During the discussion, we looked at the merging of two thriving businesses through the lens of process, people, culture, brand, integration/alignment, and opportunity.

We've been hearing conversations around succession planning for probably the last 10 years – something which is certainly tied to ageing business owners who, having built successful businesses, are ready to secure a future for that business. But there are many motivations for mergers and acquisitions. They are also driven by new ways to increase capacity, diversify, and to respond to new client demands or new business opportunities.

In the past 5 years, we've seen movement and the list is growing daily. In fact, on the day of this session, there were two announcements made related to mergers and acquisitions including RWS’s acquisition of The Experience Department (Ted) and Summit presenting sponsor The Hettema Group merging with Themespace to create THG. These major moves within the industry made the conversation extremely timely and topical.



In 2021 the Theas Committee introduced a new category - the Thea Catalyst Award.

Recognising individuals who have recently made an important impact benefitting the industry, the two inaugural recipients of this award were welcomed during Summit Day One as part of our 2022 programme.

Interviewed by Thea Awards Judging Committee vice-chair, Fri Forjindam, the recipients - Carmen Smith, SVP, creative Development Product/Content & Inclusive Strategies at Disney Parks, Experiences and Products; and Sina Barham, founder of Prime Access Consulting - exemplified the idea of living a life and forging a career full of purpose.

The pair’s openness, pragmatism and sense of humour provided an amazing foundation for a conversation that truly could have gone on all day. Congratulations to both recipients and to the Thea Awards Judging Committee for developing a recognition that is future thinking for our industry.



The finale of our first day was a conversation with Doris Hardoon, the 2021 Buzz Price Thea Award honouree, recognising a lifetime of distinguished achievements. Making this discussion even more meaningful was Bob Weis, who in 2020 was recognised with the same award and was the interviewer for this talk.

Doris is a true legend of themed entertainment. With a career that spans more than four decades, she started at WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) as a junior designer, with Disney legends Marty Sklar, Rolly Crump and John Hench hiring her.

Hardoon’s career rapidly evolved, with Dors soon being named lead designer, creative director and producer on projects at Epcot, Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the Disney Cruise Line and Disney’s urban entertainment centres nationwide.

As a senior executive creative director, producer and creative portfolio lead for several theme parks and resorts, she is one of the few creative executives to have contributed her design and leadership skills to all six of Disney’s Magic Kingdom-style parks worldwide.

Born and raised in Hong Kong and with family roots in China, it was wonderful to hear of the working relationship Doris and Bob Weis shared and of her contributions to the Shanghai Disney Resort. Her oversight included the realisation of the design philosophy “authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese” throughout the resort.

Doris recently retired from Walt Disney Imagineering and has launched her global connections and design consultancy company – DDesign – to continue to offer her creative artistry with an emphasis on fostering an innovative spirit for present and future generations of the entertainment industry.





Summit Day Two featured a programme presenting case studies of each of the Thea Award-winning projects.

Brian Morrow, owner, BMorrow Productions, hosted the day and provided important context and throughlines for the amazing projects that picked up Thea Awards for Outstanding Achievement.

The ongoing evolution of the format for this day has resulted in a well-paced and thematically-connected series of presentations, each with a different moderator who draws links and themes between the projects and the stories they tell.

Grouped under the themes of Nature, Inspiration, Culture, Play, Surprise and The Impossible, “Projects with purpose” was a connection for the award recipients, providing a great ongoing theme for the Summit and Thea Awards.

There were also wonderful stories of new and creative ways to accomplish work around the globe given the restrictions and constraints that the global pandemic introduced to the project development process. Such challenges resulted in the extremely creative use of resources and technology – it will be interesting to see which of these new approaches live beyond their usefulness for the 2020/2021 project cycle.



Among all the very worthy accomplishments, a few stood out as projects with purpose.

The Indigenous Peoples Experience, located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, “exhibits all the best outcomes of inclusive community creation and is intended to be an important step in Canada’s nascent Truth and Reconciliation movement.” The experience was created as the result of a true community partnership with local indigenous peoples. During the project’s planning and design, their involvement included daily operations to share their stories with authentic voices.

Symphony: A Virtual Journey Into the Heart of Music, is an immersive audiovisual experience into the heart of classical music. This permanent installation at the Caixa Forum in Barcelona is also a touring experience throughout Spain, bringing the 45-minute experience to groups of up to 35 people. The presentation features conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the prestigious Mahler Chamber Orchestra. VR and headphone headsets help take guests on a virtual experience – moving from sitting next to the musicians to travelling inside their instruments. Symphony is a pure experience of how technology can be used at the service of creativity, encapsulating the sensibility of classical in a way that is entertaining and truly emotional.

AniMakerspace - a project recognised with an Award for Outstanding Achievement for Inspirational Learning Experience, Limited Budget - is the result of a team of educators and themed entertainment professionals coming together to create an innovative and highly engaging programme for teaching STEM subjects at the K-12 levels with this permanent, educational, hands-on laboratory module available to schools.

In total, 15 projects were recognised with Thea Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the 2021 Theas judging cycle, with projects and accomplishments coming from Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Belgium, Spain, Canada, and the US.





The grand finale of the TEA Summit week comes in the form of the Thea Awards Gala - a glittering gathering of award recipients and those who helped make the projects possible.

After a two-year hiatus, the industry was so happy to gather again in person to celebrate our collective accomplishments. The joy in the room was palpable and the show provided a perfect opportunity to recognise the people and projects receiving Thea Awards.

Long-time TEA volunteer Lynn Allmandinger was presented with the TEA Peter Chernack Distinguished Service Award, recognising her exceptional volunteer service to the TEA. Lynne received a standing ovation as she finally took centre stage instead of her usual behind-the-scenes role. Congratulations to her on this well-deserved recognition.

In 2022, the three days of events – TEA Summit Day One and Day Two and the Thea Awards Gala – demonstrated that the industry is alive and thriving as we all emerge from the global pandemic and embrace the opportunity to collaborate and celebrate in person with our Themed Entertainment Industry friends and colleagues. Congratulations to the TEA and its members.





The Simworx Team were among the attendees at this year’s TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala. Picking up a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement for its Hyperakselerator attraction at Hunderfossen Eventyrpark. Nicole Sangster shares their experience of the event.



A first time experience for us at the Thea Awards, the Simworx sales team made the trip to California this past weekend along with the rest of the ‘Hyper-team’ (Hunderfossen, Qvisten Animation and Farmer Attractions Development) to officially receive the award for Reodor Felgen’s Hyperakselerator in the category Attraction on a Limited-budget. There was also cause for further celebration, as this was the first time the whole project team had met in person as a result of the global pandemic making it previously impossible.

Our award-winning attraction is based around the characters from the famous Norwegian author and illustrator, Kjell Aukrust’s, Flåklypa Universe, and features characters Solan and Ludvig, as they test out, Reodor – a crazy Norwegian inventor’s solution to major climate challenges, related to sustainability in the automotive and transportation industry.

We arrived in time for Day Two of the Summit, elated as our Case Study took the stage alongside the likes of Universal Creative and Level 99 during the ‘Play’ Section of the line-up.

Hogne Høstmælingen (Hunderfossen) and Rasmus Sivertsen (Qvisten Animation) were given the limelight as they divulged how in a group effort we managed to dream up the concept of the Hyperakselerator, and how we managed to bring it to life during the height of the pandemic, all whilst sticking to the set budget.

We felt incredibly humbled, appreciating the calibre of the company we were in, having the opportunity to explain our process as the audience listened intently. Our Stargazer ride has evolved over the years to become more heavily themed so that the vehicle can be tailored specifically to the park’s media/story. However, we really went above and beyond to theme this version like Reodor’s Hyperakselerator from the story, and combine old and traditional elements to resemble something of a snow sleigh with a high-tech upgrade to make it not only feel totally unique but also put guests right in the centre of the action as if they’re riding along with the main characters in their very own Hyperakselerator.

On the attraction, the ride vehicles sit in front of a large, curved 16m (52ft) screen. Each Stargazer is fitted with onboard special effects including water spray, wind and leg ticklers. We are really proud that one of our existing systems could be incorporated with the right theming and storyline to create what is a truly stand-out attraction.

Gathering again for the Awards Gala, suitably suited and booted, the team were nervous but incredibly excited as we took our seats encircling the lavishly decorated stage. We couldn’t wait to get up there and experience all our hard work come to fruition.

It was clear that Reodor Felgen’s Hyperakselerator was a hit among the audience, referenced throughout the night for its whacky concept of a ride powered by “burps and farts”. Our project overview video was warmly received with laughter and claps as the concept was described to the audience.

Accepting the award was a proud and satisfied Høstmælingen, CEO of Hunderfossen Fairytale Park along with Sivertsen, director of Qvisten Animation, who spoke passionately about the project and its aim to give children hope for the future before being presented with our stunning (and heavy) Thea Award trophy.

We were truly in awe watching our project recognised with such honour up on stage, a momentous event that we couldn’t wait to share back in the office with everybody else involved in the Simworx team. To receive a Thea Award for a project where we were met with so many challenges from the Pandemic, and isolation requirements to Brexit, it really feels like we accomplished the impossible, proving our team’s perseverance and our ability to go the extra mile to ensure that our attractions are always finished to the highest possible standard. It not only elevates Simworx’s reputation but also acts as a brilliant case study for us to promote our Stargazer to other parks looking to incorporate the ride system, showing off how it can be customised to fit their desired story.



 



© Kazoo 5 Limited 2022