Thursday, November 30, 2023

TEA SATE – Seattle will examine experience design in the context of diversity

The creative industry that conceives and builds the world’s theme parks, world expos and cultural attractions will gather in Seattle 26-27 September 2019 for TEA SATE, the signature experience design conference of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA).

“Best and brightest in the industry, amazing city, tons of networking, education, perspective and opportunities you can’t get anywhere else. That’s TEA SATE — Seattle,” summarizes Shannon Martin of Color Reflections Las Vegas, who is co-chairing the conference with Ian Klein of Vizir Productions and Nathan Jones of WhiteWater.

The TEA SATE — Seattle program was built around the theme of Diversity. Conference co-chair (and Seattle native) Ian Klein says, “From trending technologies to cultural consultants, our industry holds the keys to create spaces and experiences that unite rather than divide. It is vital to create experiences that speak to everyone; to do that, you have to let everyone speak.” 

Since TEA was founded in 1991, its programs and products have helped call attention to the attractions industry as a global cultural force and economic driver. The TEA/AECOM Theme Index (published annually by TEA since 2007) reports that in 2018, attendance at themed attractions at the major operators exceeded a half-billion visits for the first time in history – equivalent to nearly 7% of the world population. Five years ago, this market capture statistic was only 5% of the global population.

The message of TEA SATE – Seattle is that cultural awareness and authenticity are key to creating meaningful guest experiences and remaining competitive as the space continues to expand and emerge. This includes sectors such as theme parks, waterparks, brand experiences, museums, immersive attractions, dark rides, world expos, master planning, feasibility, mixed use and others. 

“TEA SATE is a conference that broadens the perspective for anyone in the industry or who is looking to actively get involved in the industry,” says Vancouver-based conference co-chair Nathan Jones.

“This emphasis on diversity is a way to discuss the many different resources we have at our disposal to create inclusive experiences,” says Ian Klein. 

“TEA represents an extraordinary, creative community that never runs out of ideas,” says TEA COO Jennie Nevin. “This community of businesses, artisans and specialists has nurtured themed entertainment into the recognized, thriving industry it is today. It is essential to be bold and curious, to foster innovation and fresh perspectives – to really know your audience – to recognize opportunity. TEA SATE brings people together for provocative discussion.”

Some highlights of what TEA SATE – Seattle delegates can look forward to [click here for full program and speaker details]:

Keynote conversation with Neiha Arora, Senior Recruiter, Starbucks. Neiha will share her unique personal and professional journey as a “third-culture child” born in India and spending her early years in Bangladesh and Nairobi before emigrating to the US, attending college and finding her path as a connector and advocate for women of color. “We all have a responsibility to uplift one another in the workplace, and within our communities – to listen, and to be a voice,” says Arora.

TEA Masters. Creating a theme park or visitor attraction is a collaborative process calling on multiple creative disciplines. The credits lists of TEA Thea Awards recipients exemplify this. Introduced in 2018, the TEA Masters program broadens awareness of those disciplines, honors master practitioners and supports professional development and education for TEA members and TEA NextGen. The five new TEA Masters named for 2019 – Adam Bezark (writer/creative director), Lisa Passamonte Green (lighting designer), Zsolt Hormay (rockwork/sculptor/painter), Wayne Hunt (graphic designer) and Philip Vaughan (artist/creative designer) – will be formally honored at TEA SATE – Seattle, and sit together on a panel. As conference co-chair Nathan Jones says, “TEA SATE looks in depth at how successful people and companies are carving out their own identities in unique and exciting ways.”

World Expos and Observation Experiences. TEA SATE – Seattle will also explore the city’s world’s fair legacy. Structures of the 1962 Century 21 Exposition operate as thriving destination attractions today, including Seattle Center (the conference venue) and the classic Space Needle. Today, observation experiences and world expos continue to furnish opportunity to members of the attractions industry. The top 20 observation experiences worldwide had aggregate attendance of 53 million in 2018. Sessions will include “When the World Came to Seattle: The Impact and Inspiration of World’s Fairs,” moderated by Gary Wichansky of Hotopp, and “Spotlight on Observation Experiences” with Linda Cheu of AECOM. Local experts will be part of the discussion, including Knute Berger (Crosscut), Alan Stein (HistoryLink) and Randy Coté (Space Needle + Chihuly Garden and Glass).

Creative and business voices from the region. Lindsay Holladay Van Damme (Seattle Aquarium),Jess K Smith (ARTBARN), Philip Chavira (Intiman Theatre), Troy Coalman (FareStart), Eric Moss (Greater Seattle Business Association; Washington’s LGBTQ and Allied Chamber of Commerce) and others. 

Following Her Lead: A Conversation with Female Industry Leaders – moderated by Linda Hung of FORREC

Come to Your Senses: Improving Access for Guests with Vision or Hearing Disabilities – panel discussion moderated by Clara Rice of JRA

Leaders in design, technology, international development and economics – TEA SATE – Seattle presenters represent many of the industry’s top specialists, such as Blue Telescope, Creative Principals, C&G Partners, Thinkwell Group, Mycotoo, China Leisure, Electrosonic, First Person XPerience, Ultrahaptics, JRA, FORREC, AECOM, Walt Disney Imagineering, The Companies of Nassal, Visual Terrain, The Bezark Company, EXP, Second Story Interactive Studios, Beaudry Interactive, Leisure Development Partners, Wayne Hunt Design, Vertex Productions, Iconic Sound & Music, Century Culture & Tourism Co. Ltd. and more.

Networking opportunities and behind-the-scenes events including tours of the recently renovated Space Needle and of the Seattle Underground

TEA SATE was created in 2007 to foster professional dialog about the methodology of Experience Design, reaching across a broad range of creative disciplines and market sectors. The TEA SATE conferences take place in Europe, Asia and North America. The SATE acronym stands for Storytelling + Architecture + Technology = Experience. SATE also alludes to a collaborative culture of production, in which designers, technologists, producers, developers and operators work closely together from the early stages of a project, in a team structure often more horizontal than hierarchical. 

As a global, nonprofit membership association headquartered near Los Angeles, in the course of nearly 30 years TEA has grown to be a leading voice and influence within the industry it serves. TEA is best known for the annual TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index – a widely referenced study of attendance trends – and for the prestigious, annual TEA Thea Awards, internationally recognized as a marker of excellence and innovation in visitor attractions. Networking is core to TEA community culture and the association produces about 100 events each year around the world, TEA events from mixers and open houses, to seminars and webinars, to participation in key trade events and tentpole events such as the Thea Awards and TEA SATE and TEA Summit conferences.

TEA International Board President Michael Mercadante says, “TEA has built a strong position within the industry. We have influenced and improved the conversation between the creative/vendor community and the owner/operators. TEA SATE is one of the ways that TEA helps the industry keeps its innovative, competitive edge. The curation of TEA SATE conferences reflect the continual creative development that distinguishes this creative community.”

Shannon Martin says, “TEA SATE delegates consume a vast amount of information in a few days. The best way to experience this conference is to keep an open mind to all ideas and thoughts. It just might lead to new opportunities that you never considered.”

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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