Friday, September 22, 2023

#77 – The best in themed entertainment

COVER: A production at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts helps students learn about entertainment and engineering. The school’s partnership with Wärtsilä provides real-world experience in the artistry of themed entertainment. Insets, top to bottom: Sean Reish, Michael Kelley, and a Wärtsilä AV project from a cruise ship theater Cover photo: Andy Tennille


School daze

Martin Palicki, IPM Publisher

At one of my first IAAPA Expos, I distinctly remember being invited by the creative powerhouse that is Bob Rogers to sit with him in his company’s booth for a good 30 minutes and talk about myself, InPark and what I thought about the industry. Later, at an IAAPA party, I met Barry Upson as he shared stories from his Universal days and inquired, like Bob, about me and InPark.

I was star-struck to be sure, but I appreciated how these two pillars of the industry actually took the time to get to know me and share some of their advice and ideas.

Now, I enjoy attending events where I get to meet the new batch of aspiring themed entertainment designers, engineers, artists and entrepreneurs. I get a kick out of hearing their plans for breaking into the industry, or switching up their current position, and seeing their eyes light up when they talk about their encounters with industry legends and helpful leaders.

One advantage these students have over the more tenured industry folks is that they enjoy schools and curricula designed for them to learn about themed entertainment, and how to excel at creating  it. It’s a subject we’ve covered for the past several years within InPark and it’s a segment that is expanding. If you think about it, arts schools are particularly well suited to help mix together the elements of design, engineering, storytelling and technology and pour this potent mixture into the open minds of their students.

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a perfect example of how one such  program  developed.  Furthermore, the school has developed a strong industry partner with Wärtsilä (largely through alumn Sean Reish). It creates an ideal pipeline of talent into the industry and helps provide real-world experience for tomorrow’s graduates.

These connections we make, either during industry events or between academic and private institutions, are so vital to the future growth of the industry as well as to our individual development.

More than a red carpet

Judith Rubin, IPM Editor

There’s a good chance you picked up this issue of InPark in print form, at the 2019 TEA Summit during TEA’s annual, big weekend at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim that starts with the Two-day Summit conference/Thea Case Studies presented by The Hettema Group and culminates in the TEA Thea Awards Gala presented by Chimelong (April 11-13 this year).

TEA starts building anticipation for the big weekend in November of the prior year, when the new slate of Thea Awards recipients is announced from TEA’s booth at IAAPA Orlando. Perhaps you’ve been at that announcement, or seen pictures of it. The TEA booth at this event is fairly spacious, being geared to networking, and it’s jammed full of people – a cross-section of the global attractions industry and members of the press – eagerly awaiting the 2pm announcement by the TEA president, which is met with applause, excitement and congratulations. Several months later, the international industry comes together again around the Theas.

We have highlighted a number of the projects and people in this issue, and we hope that you were able to participate in person at this amazing weekend, all three days of it, because it brings together all facets of the community to learn, discover, discuss, network and celebrate. It’s a grand, global handshake that reflects the industry’s best as well as its current status, and continues a cycle set up by TEA to help our industry continue to grow and improve.


Download a PDF of the issue

Lisa Passamonte Green

Founder of a top lighting design firm chairs the Thea Awards Committee • by Martin Palicki

Monster hunting in Poland

Basyliszek dark ride helps write a new chapter for Legendia park • by Anja D’Hondt

Great Wolf Lodge’s great lobby spectacle

LA ProPoint uses advanced PC control tech to save time on design and install of a new children’s show • by Shane Novacek

Heart of the Smokies

Dollywood earns a Thea Classic award • by Freddy Martin


UNCSA and Wärtsilä partner to train the next generation of themed entertainment professionals • by Joe Kleiman

Universal appeal

The magical career of Mark Woodbury • by Mark Eades

Planet Playology

Infinite Kingdoms invites the Earth to play • by Martin Palicki

Screens to fill, markets to disrupt

Christie rolls out new RGB laser products for entertainment venues • by Judith Rubin

The French connection

Meet Michel Linet-Frion • by Julien Causeret

Serving justice

JUSTICE LEAGUE: Battle for Metropolis honored with a Thea Award • by InPark editors

Andrew O’Rourke

CMU grad joins Google to help shape the LBE marketplace • by Martin Palicki

An eruption of accolades

Volcano Bay recognized for being a pioneering waterpark • by Rick West

Global gaze

Asian attractions dominate the 2019 Thea Awards • by Philip Hernandez

Relaxation, adventure, education

InPark returns to Discovery Cove • by Judith Rubin

Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleiman
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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