Saturday, April 20, 2024

Announcement of 2022 TEA Thea Award recipients highlights international nature of attractions

BURBANK, California USA, Nov 16, 2021 — “The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) congratulates the new TEA Thea Awards recipients, representing excellence, innovation and leadership in the creation of compelling places and experiences,” said TEA International Board President Chuck Fawcett.

The prestigious TEA Thea Award is considered one of the greatest honors in the themed experience industry. TEA announced the new slate of TEA Thea Awards recipients to an international crowd at a press conference during the annual IAAPA Expo in Orlando.

TEA’s big weekend for the industry at Disneyland Resort

“We invite our community to join us in Anaheim at Disneyland Resort for TEA’s big weekend of events April 21-23, 2022, to celebrate these achievements at the annual TEA Summit and Thea Case Studies, crowned by the TEA Thea Awards Gala presented by Chimelong,” said Chuck Fawcett.

Tickets for the 2022 TEA Summit and TEA Thea Awards Gala will be available for purchase via the TEA website at

The Thea Awards were founded by TEA in 1994. A Thea Award may be given to individuals, projects and technologies. Special categories include the Buzz Price Thea Award honoring lifetime achievement, the Thea Classic Award celebrating a guest experience that has stood the test of time, and the new Thea Catalyst Award, recognizing individual contributions to the advancement of the industry. A key part of the process is that each recipient must produce a comprehensive credits list which is published in the official Thea Awards Program.

A return to meeting in person

Traditionally, hundreds of themed entertainment professionals have converged on the Los Angeles area every year for the TEA Thea Awards Gala – an elegant, black-tie dinner event – preceded by the two-day TEA Summit conference, which includes the Thea Awards Case Studies to explore the new slate of recipients. The 2022 programming at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim – with the TEA Summit April 21-22 and the Thea Awards Gala April 23 – marks a return to gathering in person for TEA’s Summit and Thea Awards weekend.

(In 2020 and 2021, TEA maintained the Thea Awards cycle and the community gathered online to honor the recipients with a series of Thea Awards Digital Case Studies, accompanied by publication of the official Thea Awards Program.)

International prestige

The themed entertainment industry touches all genres of visitor attractions, internationally – including destination theme parks and waterparks, regional theme parks, museums and museum exhibits, visitor centers, resorts, parades, immersive experiences, and spectaculars. The industry has exploded globally in the last decade and is significant to international business in terms of travel, tourism, land development, hospitality, retail, entertainment, education, IP and branding, design, architecture and technology.

While the TEA Thea Awards recipients are announced each November, they are formally awarded the following spring. To produce the official slate of recipients from hundreds of nominations received each year, the Thea Awards Judging Committee deliberates at length and then submits its recommended slate to the TEA International Board of Directors for final approval. Chair of the Thea Awards Judging Committee for the 28th annual cycle is Luc Mayrand of Walt Disney Imagineering.


Descriptions provided by the TEA Thea Awards Judging Committee

Doris Hardoon, Themed Entertainment Leader, Executive Creative Director and Producer

Doris Hardoon began her illustrative career in 1975 as a graphic designer at Marine World Africa USA. This invaluable experience introduced her to the world of entertainment design.

In 1979 Doris was hired by now Disney Legends Marty Sklar, John Hench and Rolly Crump as a junior designer at WED Enterprises (now called Walt Disney Imagineering), quickly evolving into lead designer, creative director and producer on projects that included the Land Pavilion, seven World Showcase galleries at EPCOT Center, Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney Cruise Line, and Disney urban entertainment centers, nationwide.

Doris went on to become a senior executive creative director, producer, and creative portfolio lead for several theme parks and resorts, such as the designed-but-never-built WESTCOT Center in Anaheim and Long Beach DisneySea projects. Doris is one of the few creative executives to have contributed her design and leadership skills to all six of Disney’s Magic Kingdom-style theme parks in the world. During her career at Walt Disney Imagineering, Doris was also one of a few creative executives responsible for the design and implementation of large-scale, non-Disney installations such as Autry Museum of the American West and Port Discovery – the Baltimore Children’s Museum.

Upon successfully leading her team to complete the original Hong Kong Disneyland concept and actively participating in the signing agreement with the Hong Kong Government, Doris left Imagineering for nine years to spend time with her family while continuing her design career in the entertainment industry as the co-founder and owner of Taft Design + Associates. In 2009, she was invited by Bob Weis to rejoin Imagineering as one of the designers and creative leadership team members on the Shanghai Disney Resort project.

In her role as executive creative director and producer for Shanghai Disney Resort, Doris provided overall creative direction and team guidance which included designers, artists, writers, architects, operators, and consulting partners in developing the overarching concepts for specific areas within the theme park and overall resort. Her oversight included the realization of the design philosophy “Authentically Disney and Distinctly Chinese” throughout the resort. Once the concepts had been defined, she followed through with internal talent and valued consulting production teams in developing the ideas into reality, while always maintaining the vision of the original concepts throughout the process.

Upon recently retiring from Walt Disney Imagineering after 31 years, Doris launched her global connections and design consultancy company, DDesign, so she can continue to offer her creative artistry with emphasis on fostering innovative spirit for present and future generations in the entertainment industry. Doris builds upon the relationships and connections with various industries and academic institutions to reach professionals and inspire emerging talent to new heights.

Doris is of Eurasian descent, born and raised in Hong Kong with family roots in Shanghai, China. She graduated from California College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design with Distinction. She is fluent in Shanghainese, Cantonese, and English.


Honoring a noteworthy visitor attraction that has stood the test of time

Night Safari, Singapore

Night Safari, operated by Wildlife Reserves Singapore, is ranked among the top-visited tourist attractions in Singapore, with more than 1 million annual visits. Night Safari was a breakthrough approach offering guests something completely distinct from the traditional daytime zoo experience, offering a deeper understanding of the habitats and activities of nocturnal wildlife. When it opened in 1994 Night Safari was unique as the world’s first nocturnal wildlife park, and it has since influenced the creation of nocturnal zoos in other parts of the world. Night Safari features over 900 animals representing over 100 species. Visitors board a rubber-tire tram to see nocturnal wildlife function in the after-dark hours when their behavior is substantially different than in daytime. The 30-minute tram ride travels through 35 hectares and six distinct habitats. Walking trails connect with the Safari ride, allowing guests to explore specific environments on foot. The design presents the illusion that there are no barriers between guests and wildlife. In addition to the tram tour, there are multimedia night walks, experiential dining and Rainforest Lumina. The park also focuses on breeding of threatened species including tigers, elephants, lions, and others.


Recipient name, location, (AOA category)

Indigenous Peoples Experience, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (Heritage Center)

Located along the North Saskatchewan River and adjacent to the 1846 Fort Edmonton, the Indigenous Peoples Experience focuses on a 30,000 square foot, cultural center set within seven acres of native plant discovery trails, animal sculptures, tipi camps, and gathering places.The Experience delves deeply into wisdom traditions and history, using the best of contemporary storytelling techniques and technology to give authentic voice to the original people of Beaver Hill House, Edmonton, and Alberta. The park worked in partnership with the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations and the Metis Nation of Alberta.

This immersive attraction 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. Entering into a 360-degree view of the Saskatchewan River (Cree: kisiskāciwanisīpiy, “swift flowing river”), a lighted media path leads from roaming buffalo and migratory First Nations, then to the Metis river lots, and on to the modern Edmonton landscape. The media finale brought together indigenous artists in a collective storytelling process and exploration of what’s next. The Thea Awards committee celebrates this project for timely relevance, broad inclusivity and excellence in presentation – all while navigating daily pandemic requirements and challenges.

The Roads to Freedom, Bastogne, Belgium (Live Show Spectacular on a Limited Budget)

“The Roads to Freedom” (“Les Routes de la Liberté”) nighttime spectacular was held Dec 14, 2019 at the Mardasson Memorial in Bastogne – Belgium. This deeply emotional spectacle was created for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, where American and Belgian soldiers fought side by side against Nazi forces. It paid tribute to the anonymous people who were plunged into the maelstrom of this historic battle. “The Roads to Freedom” took place in freezing weather conditions similar to the historic battle of 75 years earlier and was designed to emotionally evoke the glory and sacrifice of the Allied armies in this key battle against the Nazis. It also represented the freedom and joy that resulted from this heroic engagement, and the hope generated by this continuing alliance. Authenticity was a hallmark of this production involving 20 key performers (actors, aerialists and pole acrobats) supported by 100 additional actors, 150 local volunteers, 270 costumes, and six vehicles. The show was produced with a sophisticated array of techniques, including 180° video mapping projection over monuments, lighting, inflatables, fire and pyrotechnics. Two performances were offered to an audience of 30,000. The show was the grand public part of the official celebrations, which also involved participation from Belgian and American officials. Beyond all quantitative measures, “The Roads to Freedom” conveyed, in a very spectacular way, a deep message of peace and friendship.

Mario Kart Augmented Reality Themed Ride Technology, Osaka, Japan (Technical Innovation)

This innovative design and engineering solution integrates an in-house prototyped AR (augmented reality) headmounted-display solution and head tracking system with facility-side media control and cloud gaming. It was developed to fulfill the vision of immersing guests into the world of the MarioKart game at Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan.

This breakthrough AR technology enables a novel, guest-immersive, game playing experience to come to life within the practical realm of themed ride entertainment. It allows for video game world characters to be seen moving at terrific speeds through dimensional, scenic environments and to interact with projection-mapped video media. In addition, each four-passenger ride KART allows for individual guest interaction with the characters.

More than 20 patents have already been granted to numerous components. The Universal Advanced Technology Group had to innovate multiple technological and operational solutions in-house and to coordinate the efforts of numerous global vendors. Principal in this effort was the design and prototyping of a robust headset and game engine solution that would stand up to and satisfy the rigors of high-capacity, theme park operation. A two-piece design was developed to facilitate cleaning, while also providing the tethered Electro-Optical packaged “Racing Goggles” central to the AR experience. With head tracking technology, cloud gaming service for interaction with players’ mobile phones to check their scores, specialized software to support player interactions, and enlarged field-of-view and image resolution, all elements combine to puts guests in the middle of the race to compete with classic Nintendo characters.

Elephant Springs, Fort Worth Zoo, Texas, USA (Zoo Expansion)

Guests entering Fort Worth Zoo will notice a branch off the main path offering to take them into the foothills of the Himalayas and the forests and grasslands of Asia. There, an authentically designed fishing village floats on a 400,000-gallon river; multiple waterfalls cascade over rockscapes and water pours from the bamboo water tower.

This lush, immersive habitat is Elephant Springs, a newly improved and expanded home built for the Zoo’s Asian Elephant herd. The three-generation family now has triple the space including multiple expanded yards, pools, tropical landscape and other amenities.

Other features include 15 individual elephant stalls to give each their own space, connected to a larger, group space; climate-controlled environment; indoor and outdoor training areas and state-of-the-art water filtration. The endangered Greater One-Horned Rhino also lives in the area, upstream from the elephant herd as befits the natural geographic relationship. The main pool includes water sprayers for guests to cool off the elephants – an activity enjoyed by both. Observation areas within the village safely bring guests in proximity without disturbing the elephants’ activities and habitat.

Elephant Springs is a real upgrade experience for the elephants, mimicking closely their natural habitat and activity areas, while enhancing their social interactions and opportunities for enrichment. This improves their comfort, care, health, and breeding and is consistent with the Zoo’s conservation and education mission.

The design and execution of Elephant Springs brings theme park quality environmental and architectural theming, landscape, rockwork, props, sets, and dressings, for a top-notch, delightful, and highly immersive visitor experience

Symphony: A Virtual Journey Into The Heart Of Music, Barcelona, Spain (Immersive Experience, Limited Budget)

“Symphony” is an immersive, audiovisual experience of classical music. Following the lead of the conductor Gustavo Dudamel and more than 100 members of the prestigious Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the guest is able to experience the music in a most sophisticated way. This permanent installation at the Caixa forum in Barcelona is also a touring experience through Spain, delivering a 45-minute experience to groups of 30-35 people. In the first of two rooms, the pre-show sets the tone with a short film featuring three young musicians performing around the world. In the second room, the seats are 180-degree, pivoting chairs, positioned orchestra-style. Visitors don VR and headphone headsets for the virtual experience in which they first are sitting among the musicians and then travel inside the instruments. This helps convey an understanding of the vibrations, tones and textures of music; how the simplicity of a piece of wood or the roughness of a piece of metal can construct such a sophisticated and beautiful universe as a symphony orchestra.

“Symphony” is a pure example of how technology can be at the service of creativity. The experience demonstrates excellence in the overall quality of its execution and a refined balance of all the audiovisual elements. Creators have been able to encapsulate the sensibility of classical music in a way that is entertaining and truly emotional. The experience encourages audiences of all ages and cultures to connect through music and learn more about classical music while experiencing novel technologies.

Gideon’s Bakehouse, Disney Springs, Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, USA (Themed Retail, Limited Budget)

In addition to being an insanely popular dessert shop famous for its cookies, Gideon’s Bakehouse has an elaborate backstory with consistent art direction done to perfection in virtually every square inch of its new flagship location at Disney Springs. It has an aura both mysterious and supernatural, rendered in Victorian and Gothic styles with a touch of folklore and the occult. Loyal fans have been known to endure virtual wait times of up to 12 hours to acquire the delicious baked goodies.

Gideon’s Bakehouse is praiseworthy for its ambitious atmosphere and storytelling that plays out on multiple levels. Its meticulous social media platform provides provocative story clues, mouthwatering photos, and ordering options. The owner personally runs the venue’s Instagram, ensuring brand cohesion and the personal touch. A constantly adapting menu with limited-edition and timed-release offerings promotes a sense of exclusivity and garners a healthy sense of FOMO (fear of missing out). Interactions with the warm and knowledgeable staff while enhance in-person visits, and the whimsical backstory is richly manifest in the interior design. The vibe is both evocative and foreboding, moody and whimsical. There is so much to look at, read, and contemplate inside that it begs for return visits to explore further.

Opening in Orlando in a year of global tourism at an all-time low, the success of Gideon’s Bakehouse is all the more outstanding. It is recognized for excellence in an immersive experience of the highest execution quality, and commitment to the personal touch.

AniMakerspace, USA (Inspirational Learning Experience, Limited Budget)

A team of educators and themed entertainment professionals came together to create an innovative and highly engaging program called AniMakerspace for teaching STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) at the K-12 levels. AniMakerspace is a permanent educational, hands-on laboratory module available to schools. It enables students to create, build (from raw materials) and program theme park animatronics.

It feels like play. Yet in the process they are learning and practicing physics, engineering, mechanics, electronics, robotics, math, art, costuming, biology, history, teamwork, critical thinking, storytelling and more. AniMakerspace operates on the idea that knowledge/skill sets become more meaningful as part of an activity the student finds personally engaging, and that the learning has more impact when the subjects come tangled together, just as in real life.

Results have shown a spiral of indirect benefits from AniMakerspace. After enrollment, students previously at risk usually see their performance in other subjects go up, making them more likely to finish high school and subsequently more likely to go on to college. Moreover, anything that sparks students’ interest in the imaginative use of STEAM subjects helps steer them toward future career success.

By using the arts and sciences of themed entertainment to arouse and arm the next generation of dreamers and doers in all fields, AniMakerspace exemplifies the highest standards of excellence, achievement and community service that we want the public to associate with all of us who create compelling places and experiences.

BOOM! Britannia Mine Museum, Britannia Beach, British Columbia, Canada (Museum Experience, Limited Budget)

BOOM! tells the story of Mill No. 3 – an emotional story of heritage, groundbreaking innovation, and engineering, dramatizing the historic mill’s use in its heyday as the premier producer of copper during WWII.

It was important to the Museum that in housing BOOM! the designers preserve the 1920s infrastructure and maintain the authenticity of the 20-story space. Modern technology and storytelling devices were seamlessly integrated and concealed until their reveal in the story.

Guests first enter the apparently abandoned structure, and next are welcomed into a 40-seat space with found artifacts and built-in effects synched with multi-sensory media and show action equipment. A replica of the original 3-ton, 100-year-old skip car used to haul ore in the mill is used in the show to haul props and other thematic elements, using modern custom rail technology.

The climactic scene simulates the mill operating at its zenith, choreographed to a dramatic soundtrack of welding, crushing rocks and pneumatic pipes. Discreet channels of sound from weather-resistant speakers, mock dust plumes, flickering antique lights and pine oil scents were just a few of the multi-sensory elements employed to achieve this 13-minute experience.

The layering and world-class execution of the show action elements and scenic environments was emotionally evocative as well as technically impressive. The achievement of BOOM! demonstrates the power of multi-disciplinary collaboration where experts in their respective fields all come together towards one common goal – to re-enact the spirit of the Mill, authentically and with a sprinkle of theatricality.

Stuntronics – Aerial Robotics Technology, Anaheim, California, USA (Technical Innovation)

Superheroes don’t travel like average people. They have fantastic vehicles, innovative equipment and innate super-capabilities. Sometimes they might choose to walk from point A to point B, but other times, they fly. When heroes fly, they do so with both style and expertise and Disney’s “Stuntronics” figure exemplifies that.

Three major attributes of the pioneering, patent pending Stuntronics robotic platform technology, developed by the WDI R&D team, are: 1) innovative design and engineering solution that allows a humanoid robot to fly, do acrobatics and stick the landing every time; 2) development of an onboard sensing system that allows a Stuntronics robot to self-correct positioning in mid-flight; and 3) the creation of a robotic technology that looks humanoid and can be the basis for an entirely new type of attraction genre.

The Stuntronics Spider-Man is a 95-lb robot that swings up to 85 feet in the air and performs up to nine shows per day, flawlessly. This is achieved through the innovative application of advanced robotics and untethered dynamic motion which creates realistic aerial stunts that would be impossible for humans to perform.

Stuntronics is advanced humanoid robotics that utilize onboard controls and a built-in inertial measurement device that analyzes position, allowing a robot to make real-time, mid-flight motion adjustments to achieve incredible stunts. This technology allows a robotic figure to determine exactly when to tuck, somersault and slow down its spin. The technology is exemplified in the figure of Spider-Man at the Avengers Campus of Disney California Adventure Park. The character performs a variety of gravity-defying combinations of flips, twists and poses, all with repeatability and precision and the ability to soar 85 feet in the air. Realistic body movements and careful choreography make the transition from live performer to Stuntonic comic character seamless. Stuntronics technology has achieved the unique ability to launch a humanoid character and have it self-correct its trajectory to perform perfect stunts and land without damage, every time. The platform provides new possibilities for realizing a wide range of dynamic characters, and the creation of high-action stunts that would be impossible for humans to safely perform. As the Stuntronics technology progresses, the possibilities will become even more expansive and compelling.

Wētā Workshop Unleashed, Auckland, New Zealand (Brand Experience)

“Part film set. Part creative workshop. But all is not what it seems,” reads the promotion. Wētā Workshop Unleashed takes guests into the fantastical world of the iconic, five-time Academy Award winning movie studio to learn, participate and be thoroughly entertained. Visitors find themselves behind the scenes at Wētā Workshop, where they select a genre: Horror, Fantasy or Science Fiction. They then enter dedicated “workshop” environments where the tricks of cinematic special effects in each genre are presented with imagination and clever humor. Ultimately, they see how all the various elements come together in the final product.

Overflowing with fantastic props, animatronics, and environments, it’s a richly engaging and educational experience. Presented with tremendous creativity and imagination, Wētā Workshop Unleashed is also unforgettably entertaining. It brilliantly straddles the line between a traditional behind-the-scenes tour and a full-on theme park attraction, offering as much creativity and imagination in the way it tells its story as is contained in the content itself.

Wētā created a tremendous amount of impressive, original themed content, placemaking and character creation to explain how they create movie magic. On top of that, the workshop environments themselves are full of unexpected gags and surprises…. the visitor never knows what’s going to happen next. In celebrating the 30-year anniversary of Wētā Workshop’s founding, the creative team has applied their considerable talents to present this immersive and compelling experience which celebrates imagination, storytelling, and the creative use of cinematic technology, all to the highest standards.

Level99, Natick, Massachusetts, USA (Attraction)

Level99 is a 48,000 square foot, indoor challenge-based experience that transformed a vacant department store into a 480,000 square-foot entertainment venue drawing a broad audience. It blends concepts from escape rooms, challenge courses, social competitive games, and digital gaming into a ground-breaking social experience of impressive scale, full of surprises.

Forty-three themed challenge rooms and seven arenas test teams of 2-6 players in physical and mental tasks to collect digital assets that unlock additional challenges and rewards as they progress through the meta-game that connects all 40+ rooms. The entertainment venue can host up to 450 players at a time while offering more than 100 challenges. RFID bracelets uniquely identify guests, providing data for leaderboards and real-time highlights.

Each zone is distinctly themed and provides unexpected discoveries however one chooses to navigate the space. Experiences are engaging for both spectators and players. Physical game play is seamlessly blended with digital game technology. Fully 50% of activities are completely accessible to the physically challenged. Some 60 pieces of original art and sculpture by local artists adorn the venue and create social media opportunities. Night Shift Brewing, a full-service kitchen supporting a 140-seat Beer Hall and high-end tap room where players can watch the arena games, brings Level99 into the realm of a potential multi-hour stay.

Level99 represents a new paradigm in the ‘social entertainment’ category. Its diverse and well-executed design, wide range of physical and cognitive challenges, seamless integration with digital scoring, and high-quality food and beverage offering redefine adult and family entertainment centers.

Super Nintendo World, Universal Studios Japan, Osaka (Theme Park Land)

With the opening of the world’s first Super Nintendo World theme park land at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, Universal Creative has raised the bar for high-capacity interactivity, immersing guests in the wildly unique and colorful worlds of Nintendo while also honoring the “gold standard” legacy of gameplay pioneered by Mario’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto.

Rides and experiences are based on key Nintendo properties. This new world-class theme park land checks all the boxes: incredible scale, bright colors, and lots of kinetic energy. It does all this on an astoundingly compact footprint, with a multi-level, vertical masterplan that feels intimate and charming – like the games – but has hidden depths and levels inside to explore, to maintain high capacity and accommodate substantial show, food and retail facilities.

From the high vantage point of toddler-friendly “Yoshi’s Adventure” ride, guests take in a magical vista filled with detailed scenery, animated characters and special effects. Underneath this scenic attraction, “Kinopio’s Cafe” offers clever themed food and beverage that looks and feels (and tastes) just like you’d imagine the colorful mushroom kingdom to be. Exclusive merchandise is next door at the “1-Up Factory.”

Guests can purchase Power-Up Bands that transform the entire land into a life-sized, live-action video game, using multiple game mechanics, physical and media effects, multi-player interaction, achievements and leaderboards, and even a “boss battle,” the “Bowser Jr. Shadow Showdown” – a marquee experience that can only be experienced by first completing a series of quests. This is a unique theme-park first that can’t be understated – a headline attraction that is literally gated by accomplishment.

Guests’ unique player IDs are kept in the system, allowing them to revisit games and quests and play at higher and more difficult levels with each visit, or play in teams, winning collectible achievements in the mobile app.

The groundbreaking, immersive ride experience: “Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge” is a richly detailed, dual-track dark ride that lets guests play Mario Kart in real life aboard an interactive ride vehicle, using AR headsets themed as Mario’s hat. As in the Mario Kart game, guests have agency to throw shells at a physical targets and virtual opponents. A steering wheel for each passenger creates a secondary game mechanic and scoring option, where visual AR prompts tell guests when to turn left or right. This blending and synchronization of physical sets and augmented, real-time graphics is a staggering and novel feat of engineering – each rider having their own unique game experience, each vehicle also working as a team, and each set of two vehicles competing against each other and against virtual and physical ride/game characters.

The idea of theme park interactivity has been completely changed and elevated with Super Nintendo World, redefining what it means to give guests agency and immersion within their own, unique story experience.

The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! Universal Studios Hollywood, USA (Attraction)

The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash perfectly balances classic environmental storytelling with new and engaging technologies to deliver an adorable, heartwarming, and evergreen storyline about our most beloved companions. This new family dark ride invites guests into a heart-warming, humorous, and fabulously furry world, based on Illumination Entertainment’s blockbuster “The Secret Life of Pets.”

Through the corridors of a New York City apartment building, guests are offered a peek into the day-to-day, private lives of beloved “Pets” characters Max, Duke, and Snowball. Lacking the proper collar and tags, guests quickly discover their role in the attraction is that of stray puppies, bound for a madcap adventure with Max and four-legged friends. They ride through the NYC streets, via cardboard box ride vehicles, encountering alley cats, pet washing machines, and exploding fireworks factories among other obstacles on their way to the ultimate puppy happy ending: finding a forever family.

The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash exemplifies the very best qualities of a classic, story-driven dark ride experience, while integrating new technology that heightens the storytelling. The rich layering and world-class execution of the ride’s immersive queue experience, scenic show environments, lovable and engaging animatronic characters, and technological gags all exemplify excellence. The ride’s inventive use of digital, gesture-tracking technology enhances its storytelling capability as guests see themselves as stray puppy avatars. The attraction’s 64 animatronic figures bring the fuzzy and furry “Pets” characters out of their digital world with warmth, humor, and charming realism.

Reodor Felgen’s Hyperakselerator, Hunderfossen Adventure Park, Faberg, Norway (Attraction on a Limited Budget)

Reodor Felgen’s Hyperakselerator transports guests into the fantasy world of the famous Norwegian author and illustrator, Kjell Aukrust. The attraction takes families on an exhilarating media-based motion simulator journey with the well-known storybook characters of the movie Flaklypa Grand Prix, the Norwegian blockbuster that sold more than 5.5 million tickets in a country of 4.5 million inhabitants.

The story begins inside the workshop of Norwegian inventor Reodor Felgen as he formulates a most novel solution to climate change with a totally green hydrogen fuel, made by harvesting the burps and farts of farm animals. Along with Solan and Ludvig, Reodor’s assistants, families are invited to test-pilot this new green gaseous fuel source in the Hyperakselerator: A traditional Norwegian kicksled given a high-tech Hyperakselerator engine upgrade. When Ludvig pulls the wrong lever during testing, the vehicle careens out of control and flies off the test track, crashing through the walls of the workshop. What ensues is a wild sledding adventure over the snow-covered mountains and down the rivers and waterfalls of Flaklypa. The guests save the day.

Reodor Felgen’s Hyperakselerator delivers rich characters, an engaging storyline, a thrilling ride experience, impactful special effects, and high-quality 3D media content in a small space and on a frugal budget, effectively leveraging the existing Flaklypa IP onto an attraction platform with thoughtful and focused theming and a whimsical air. Reodor Felgen’s Hyperakselerator delivers the perfect balance of story, thrill, and old-fashioned humor.


Recognizing individuals who have recently made an important impact benefiting the industry

Sina Bahram, Founder of Prime Access Consulting (PAC) Inspirational accessibility consultant, researcher, speaker, and entrepreneur

Sina Bahram founded Prime Access Consulting (PAC) in 2012 to support building a more inclusive world. The company employs a holistic approach involving principles of inclusive design, standards compliance, training, and best practices. He collaborates with client teams and partners to develop solutions to exceed an organization’s goal to do work that benefits the widest possible audience, and that surpasses regulatory compliance standards.

Highlights from his extensive accolades include being recognized in 2012 as a White House Champion of Change by President Barack Obama for his work enabling users with disabilities to succeed in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields; in 2015, the international accessibility community represented by the annual Knowability Community Heroes of Accessibility Awards recognized Sina as an Emerging Leader in Digital Accessibility; and in 2017, Sina served as the invited co-chair of the Museums and the Web conference.

He is a recognized expert in accessibility as well as computer science, where he holds multiple degrees and continues to contribute to the academic field. Sina enjoys collaborating with both colleagues in the field and individuals of diverse professions to devise innovative and user-centered solutions to significant real-world problems.

Projects/clients include: Obama Presidential Center, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Cooper Hewitt SI Design Museum, Library of Parliament, Baltimore Museum of Art, New York Botanical Gardens, BC Museum of Anthropology, Compound LA, Canadian Museum of Nature, Musee nationale de la marine, Smithsonian Open Access, M+ Museum of Visual Culture and American Museum of Natural History.

Carmen Smith, Senior Vice President, Creative Development, Product/Content & Inclusive Strategies, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products

In this senior executive role, Smith supports Walt Disney Imagineering, Disney Live Entertainment, Consumer Products, Games and Publishing. She leads a holistic, global strategy and approach to offering more inclusive products and experiences, and expand Disney’s reach, relevance and impact around the world.

She advises on content to ensure that Disney’s stories, characters and products are culturally accurate, authentic and inclusive. She also cultivates external partnerships and collaborations, and ensures thoughtful representation and engagement throughout the creative development process. Additionally, she takes on the role of executive creative producer and executive creative director on select projects. 

Prior to this expended role, Smith was responsible for developing a diverse pipeline of experiences, global summits and culturally based competencies to advance equity and inclusion. Her influence has been felt across a global portfolio as she helped to elevate industry awareness and standards.

Previously, Smith served as vice president, Talent Development Programs for Disney/ABC Television Group. In this role she was honored with numerous awards for promoting diversity and raising the profile of women and minorities in the industry, including the 2004 Oneness award, the Directors Guild of American African-American Steering committee award and the 2005 AFTRA National Scene award.

She also acts as a liaison with diverse creative communities around the country, nonprofit arts institutions, entertainment industry guilds, colleges, and universities to nurture talented, emerging writers, actors and directors. Smith’s honors and accolades are extensive and reach far beyond those already noted.


Recognizing exceptional volunteer service to the Association, TEA Service Awards are recommended by the TEA Past Presidents Committee, which established the award.

Lynn Allmandinger

Lynn Allmandinger with 2021 Peter Chernack Award recipient Dale Sprague

Going back to early years of the organization, Lynn Allmandinger has been a consummate volunteer in her support of the TEA. Past Presidents of TEA have consistently stated how she was always available to assist in any way she could throughout each of their terms. Professionally, since 1995 she has specialized in addressing the insurance needs of the industry, including working with insurance providers to craft affordable and often custom packages. Outside her professional role, Allmandinger has been a “Super Volunteer” supporting TEA events of all kinds, giving support wherever and whenever she could. She has volunteered on many committees up to and including the TEA International Board where she served for six years as a director as well as on the Finance Committee and the Branding and Communication Task Force. She also served two 2-year terms as President of the TEA Western North America Division, and as a Western Division Board Member from 2006-2014. She also chaired the TEA International Membership Committee from 2006-2012. Year upon year, in perhaps her most visible role, she has been the tireless House Manager & Talent Wrangler at the annual TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala and at the TEA SATE Conference, as well as a regular volunteer at the TEA Booth at IAAPA Expo each November in Orlando.

Related Articles

Latest Articles