Friday, September 22, 2023

TEA Announces 2016 Thea Award Recipients

ABOVE: One World Observatory.  Courtesy Legends.

Burbank, CA, USA (Nov 17, 2015) — “This year’s international slate of projects named for TEA Thea Awards reflects the delivery of story, media, content and experience with ever more sophisticated technology and tools,” said Steve Birket (Birket Engineering), president of theThemed Entertainment Association (TEA). “It’s a safari or parade 2015-01-28 Steve Tuxof the exotic and the familiar – characters, creatures, cultures, themes – conveying the power of the moment, of story and of place. From Disney’s re-imagined Electric Light Parade (Paint the Night) to Wuyishan’s transformation of a natural water feature into a multimedia spectacle, to places where nature and environment are foremost such as the San Diego Zoo and Rory Meyers Children’s Garden… to placemaking that roots you in history such as One World Observatory and Les Amoureux de Verdun…

“With the annual Thea Awards, TEA lauds the visionary project owner and the team that helped create something never done before. The Thea Awards are when we take a moment to review where the attractions industry has come in the past year or two, and to appreciate who and what got us there, including people such as Keith James (JRA) and John Robinett (AECOM), both honored this year, and the tech breakthroughs that enhance both the project process and the guest experience. We invite everyone to discover these great achievements and join us in Anaheim on April 2, 2015 for the formal presentation of the Thea Awards.”

Tickets/more information: Follow the official Thea Awards blog.

The prestigious TEA Thea Award is considered one of the attractions industry’s greatest honors. The 22nd Annual Thea Awards Gala presented by Chimelong Group and set for April 2, 2016, is a ticketed, black-tie dinner affair at the Disneyland Resort, Anaheim USA. Tickets go on sale in December 2015, and are available to the general public as well as to the industry. The 2016 Thea Awards Gala is produced by The Hettema Group (Producer). AECOM is the Theme Index Partner.

Prior to the Thea Awards Gala, full case studies of the Thea awardees will be presented by the award recipients at the TEA Summit, a 2-day conference. Summit dates are March 31-April 1, 2016.

The Thea Awards Nominating Committee recommended the current slate of Thea Award recipients, with final approval by the TEA International Board of Directors. For more information on the Thea Awards, including past awardees, click here.

The 2016 Thea Awards Gala
is presented by Chimelong Group

The Buzz Price Thea Award – Recognizing a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements

Keith James, Owner/CEO, Jack Rouse Associates — “One of the themed entertainment industry’s most respected and trusted leaders.”

JamesKeithKeith James has become one of the themed entertainment industry’s most respected and trusted leaders. His entire professional career has been in themed entertainment. “I’ve been fortunate to have the chance to do something I love for over 40 years,” he said. “In addition to being involved with some great projects, I’ve had the chance to meet some wonderful people along the way.”

His areas of expertise include strategic development and business planning, project management, business operations, show and attraction development and implementation. Graduating from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music in 1974, Keith first teamed with Jack Rouse to found and develop Kings Productions, the entertainment production and facility design division of the Taft Broadcasting Company’s amusement park group.

In 1979, he became Director of Planning and Development for Canada’s Wonderland. He became the park’s Director of Operations in 1981. In 1983, he took the post of Vice President, Operations for Vancouver Expo 86, later rejoining Taft as Managing Director of Australia’s Wonderland in Sydney, then returning to the US in 1987 to join the newly formed Universal Studios Florida planning and design team as Vice President, Show and Ride Production. After the park opened he rejoined JRA in 1992.

Since that time, Keith has managed JRA’s design and production work for clients including The LEGO Group; Warner Bros.; Universal Studios Florida; Six Flags Theme Parks; Volkswagen Autostadt; Ocean Park Hong Kong; Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and numerous other destinations including museums, science centers and branded experiences.

Keith is dedicated to the attractions industry and has been instrumental in helping develop emerging markets in India, the Pacific Rim and Eastern Europe. He has been involved with the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) since 1993; he served as President from 2000-2002, and helped form TEA’s European & Middle East Division. Keith has also served on the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA) Board of Directors, Manufacturers & Suppliers and Nominating Committees. In November 2011, he was honored with IAAPA’s 2011 Outstanding Service Award.

He and his wife Patti have two daughters, Alexis and Chloe, two son-in-laws, Emmett and Eric, and two grandsons, Emmett and August.

Thea Classic

San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park (San Diego, CA, USA) — “Marking their 100th anniversary, the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Safari Park have consistently been on the forefront of innovations in contemporary zoo keeping and most active in conservation and preservation efforts.”

Cart Safari at the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkShortly following the close of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego’s Balboa Park, and upon hearing the roar of the lions that had been abandoned in the Park after the Expo, Dr. Harry M. Wegeforth founded the Zoological Society of San Diego, and started the San Diego Zoo a century ago, in 1916.

What began in a moment of inspiration has resulted in a century of amazing animals and extraordinary people coming together to pursue a dedicated vision. The 100-acre San Diego Zoo is primarily a cage-less facility for more than 3,700 rare and endangered animals and a renowned botanical collection. Annual attendance: 3.75 million. Sister facility San Diego Zoo Safari Park opened May 10, 1972 and receives some 2 million annual visits. Its 1,800 acres are home to more than 2,600 animals and 1.5 million botanical specimens.

Consistently, both have been on the forefront of innovations in contemporary zoo keeping and most active in conservation and preservation efforts. San Diego Zoo Global is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving species from extinction. Over the last century conservationists with San Diego Zoo Global have worked to preserve and reintroduce more than 30 endangered species to managed habitats in their natural habitat. Looking towards the next 100 years, the well-known conservation organization is looking to new technologies and community supported efforts to turn the tide of extinction and create a world zoo where all species are protected in their native habitats as they are in accredited zoos.

In July 2015, Travelers’ Choice Awards recognized The San Diego Zoo as the best in the US and best in the world.


Thea Awards for Outstanding Achievement (AOA)

One World Observatory (New York, NY, USA) – AOA, Attraction — “…arrestingly unique and unexpected, and overcoming the challenges presented by an emotionally charged location.”

OneWorldObservatory_2_webresOne World Observatory, operated by Legends and built on the site of the former World Trade Center, is a collection of experiences that celebrate the dynamics of Manhattan, its surroundings, and the resilient vitality of New York City.

The attraction begins at ground level, where a series of preshow queues focus first on the people who constructed the new building, seen in the multi-screen “Voices.” This is followed by an informative themed re-creation of the bedrock beneath the structure in an area called “Foundations.”

Visitors then ascend to the top in a 47-second elevator ride that includes an ascending panorama of Manhattan, covering more than 500 years of geographic and architectural change during the trip to the 102nd floor, where a row of kaleidoscopic screens and theatrics prepare visitors to “see forever.”

This is followed by a dramatic reveal of the city itself through expansive glass walls, and unique exhibits and interactive attractions such as “City Pulse” and “Sky Portal.” The return elevator trip to the ground floor uses the on board screens in a very different manner, virtually transporting riders out of the elevator shaft for a helicopter-like flight around neighboring structures.

One World Observatory had to find a comfort zone within a location inevitably tied to devastating recent history. The creators have succeeded in bringing this experience to life by contrasting the solemn nature of the memorial (the adjacent 911 Memorial & Museum) with a celebration of the rebirth of physical space. The design uses familiar and state-of-the-art tools to weave together what are usually the “blank spaces” of rooftop vistas (queuing, elevators, gift shops and viewing decks). The result is something arrestingly unique and unexpected and overcoming the challenges presented by an emotionally charged location.


SpongeBob SubPants Adventure, Moody Gardens (Galveston, TX, USA) – AOA, Attraction — “The different elements (stereoscopic 3D film, 4D in-theater effects, real-time animation and multiple story paths) are all used to evoke the world of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob Square Pants to quirky and comical effect, all in perfect sync with the characters and sensibility of the franchise.”

6D05607E-C474-52C0-8B6F1450750A1CC4The SpongeBob SubPants Adventure at Moody Gardens combines 3D film, 4D effects, a live performer, and a real-time animated character who interacts with guests – all in an attraction which allows the audience to choose their destination on a delightful undersea journey.

Beginning with a preshow which features touch tanks and educational interactive exhibits, guests soon enter “Le Plunger,” the submarine (4D theater) to experience a simulated descent to Bikini Bottom, where an animated Patrick Starr from the SpongeBob Square Pants series helps them decide where they want to travel.

The different elements combine to evoke the world of SpongeBob Square Pants to quirky and comical effect, all in perfect sync with the characters and sensibility of the franchise. The attraction uses the new Geppetto Animation programming system to achieve the seamless integration of the real time animated character in the show.


Les Amoureux de Verdun, Puy du Fou (Les Espesses, France) – AOA, Attraction, Limited Budget — “Puy du Fou’s creative team blend historical accuracy with theatrical intensity in this moving, poetic walk-through historical journey through one of the most poignant moments of World War I.”

Verdun_3_webresPuy du Fou, France’s beloved historical theme park, has taken a daring subject and turned it into a beautiful study in love and sorrow. Focusing their unique artistic vision for the first time on events of the twentieth century, Les Amoureux de Verdun takes visitors into the terrifying battlefields of winter 1916. We follow the love letters between a soldier and his fiancée, as they endure the pains of war; and we witness the miraculous Christmas Truce between the French and German soldiers.

It’s not a ride… it’s not a stage show… it’s not a haunted maze, but incorporates elements of each. Visitors are surrounded by the sights and sounds of the snowy trenches of Verdun, snaking through trenches and foxholes, as cannon fire shakes the earth. Theatrical sets and lighting, live actors, animated props and projected media integrate perfectly to capture the atmosphere and draw us into the story.

Puy du Fou’s creative team achieved a rare blend of historical accuracy and theatrical intensity. The team compiled over 7500 authentic world WWI artifacts, which serve as scenic dressing and props in the attraction. Fifteen live actors blend seamlessly with 80 animatronics and static figures to populate the story, while multiple projection screens enlarge the canvas.

This is the second Thea Award for Puy du Fou – the entire park was honored in 2012 with the Thea Classic award.


Foresta Lumina, Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook (Coaticook, QC, Canada) — AOA, Interactive Attraction, Limited Budget — “…the unique forest setting and local folklore combined with the subtle adaptation of multimedia makes Foresta Lumina stand out.”

VCOT6924The natural state of a dense forest, known for its hiking trails and and beautiful surroundings, is the canvas for Foresta Lumina. This immersive and multisensory nighttime experience along a 1.5 mile stretch was inspired by forest mythology and local legends.

The adventure begins by crossing the Gorge on one of the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridges. Visitors carry a map of the trail and will first encounter a mysterious, misty portal that is located on the bridge itself. Passing this portal takes visitors to the Garden of Wishes. Here, seven beautifully illuminated manuscripts introduce the cast of fictional characters that inhabit the park’s nocturnal landscape.

Mysterious runes tie the interactive storyline together. Each character is carefully designed and presented with sophisticated lighting, audio, mist and a variety of theatrical effects that create a moody but magical setting.

Experiences with mapped media and lighting effects gain popularity every year. The creators of Foresta Lumina were tasked to adapt these modern technologies to a living environment that calls for nuance in its scale and execution. It is the unique forest setting and local folklore, balanced with the subtle adaptation of multimedia that makes the project stand out.


Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden, Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden (Dallas, TX, USA) – AOA, Science/Discovery Garden — “This museum without walls, with 17 themed outdoor galleries over 8 acres, is a simply irresistible banquet of exciting play and discovery, with exciting surprises around every corner!”


This imaginative and interactive garden for children is a museum without walls, designed specifically to address state and national education standards in life, earth and environmental science. Each of its 17 galleries or “learning rooms” has a specific theme, to teach and demonstrate science concepts. Themes include Science and Natural Phenomena, Botany and Agriculture, Nature and the Biosphere, Astronomy and Space, and Energy. Spanning an area of eight acres, with more than 150 interactive exhibits covering a wide spectrum of science, play and imagination, the sheer scale of the project sets it apart.

Storytelling and engagement are highlighted throughout, both through the design of the exhibits and through interaction with live docents and staff. In addition, physical activities like mazes, climbing structures and observation towers and decks are found throughout the site. Throughout, there is a sense of play, whimsy and discovery, with all exhibits directly targeting specific demographic age groups and learning levels.

From an adult designer’s point of view, this is an extremely sophisticated and well thought out master plan, offering multiple levels of play, and beautifully designed and fabricated exhibits with a built in sense of discovery and surprise – seamlessly integrated into an elegant park environment with a wide variety of moods, textures, and vistas.

From a child’s point of view, it’s a simply irresistible banquet of exciting play and discovery, with exciting surprises around every corner.


Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK) – AOA, Museum Exhibit — “From McQueen’s famous Kate Moss ‘hologram’ to the presentational wow of the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities,’ the exhibit was an astonishing display of one person’s work presented in an artfully restrained immersive environment. It was reported to be the V&A’s most visited exhibition with 493,043 attendance.”

main_imageFrom the famous Kate Moss “hologram” to the presentational wow of the “Cabinet of Curiosities,” Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, where Alexander McQueen (1969-2010) was born, is an astonishing display of one man’s work – as if one were touring through the galleries of the controversial fashion designer’s own mind. The exhibition ran March-August 2015. Featuring dozens of McQueen’s groundbreaking fashion works in a custom-built, custom-themed environment, it drew attendance of nearly half a million over its 21-week run. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York ran a separately curated McQueen exhibition of the same name in 2011.)

McQueen’s innovative and often bizarre fashion was imaginatively presented in ways that illuminated and framed the clothing on display. The V&A team constructed rooms within rooms to protect the museum’s historical architecture. Each gallery became both a frame for the art as well as an environment that immersed visitors into the style, look and feel of the fashion. Clever use of mirrors, reflective surfaces, angled walls and half-mirrored glass allowed visitors to explore in depth. Exemplary lighting and sound design added unique atmosphere from one room to the next, and integrated media contributed to the storytelling.

The culmination was the “Cabinet of Curiosities,” lined with boxes filled with hats, shoes, mannequins, media, turntables and more. It was a breathtaking display both in presentation and in the immense collection that delightfully overwhelmed the senses. Although the subject matter was haute couture, the provocative designs and craftsmanship were engrossing for all.

Savage Beauty at the V&A was the first retrospective of McQueen’s work in Europe and the largest McQueen showcase to date. The exhibition was originally curated by Andrew Bolton for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC) in 2011. Following this collaboration, the V&A exhibition saw some areas re-focused, a new section looking at McQueen’s early career in London added with loans of rare early pieces, and an overall redesign of the exhibition.


Inspector Training Course, Discovery Cube Los Angeles (Sylvan, CA, USA) – AOA, Science/Discovery Experience, Limited Budget — “This technologically advanced scavenger hunt teaches kids about conservation and sustainability, furthers the museum’s overall STEM education goals, and hides a whole lot of learning behind a whole lot of fun.”

IMG_2414-1024x682One of the flagship exhibits at Discovery Cube Los Angeles, Inspector Training Course gives visitors a new understanding of safety and environmental protection in the home. The exhibit takes the form of a charming California Craftsman Bungalow, with interactive elements and activities woven throughout the bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and back yard. Visitors become “home inspectors”; each person receives a special digital tablet that senses their precise location in the home and offers up a personalized series of challenges and puzzles. The activities are a mix of digital questions, physical and visual tests, and integrated media in the space. If they solve enough challenges correctly, they achieve “Super Inspector” status: the tablet takes their photo and displays it on a “champions” video wall in front of the exhibit.

The Inspector Training Course hides a whole lot of learning behind a whole lot of fun. This high-tech scavenger hunt teaches kids about conservation, sustainability and environmental stewardship, furthering the museum’s overall STEM education goals. The experience seamlessly integrates the physical space and objects with the individual tablet experience. The recipe?  Make it tactile, real and fun. Make it a game, and allow for experimentation and social interaction. Use high-tech tools, and then make those tools disappear.

The tablet is part teacher, part scorekeeper and part guide. The tracking technology allows the game engine to know the exact location of each player within 12-inches, and uses the information to guide visitors exhibit and provide location-specific content and challenges.


Fountain of Dreams (Wuyishan, China) 梦之泉,武夷山 – AOA, Event Spectacular — “In this unique nighttime spectacular, technology innovation meets ancient storytelling, and breaks the barrier between audience and performance.”

Wuyishan-Pro-2-e1432838374190Located in the town of Wuyishan, one of China’s scenic, world-heritage regions, ‘Fountain of Dreams’ is the story of Wuyishan’s fabled waters. At its core are the simple beauty and power of Nature: the generous waters that sculpted the region’s emblematic mountains and the nine twists and turns of its famous river. These are evoked in the show as live performers work multiple levels of the stage as the story unfolds through water curtains, fire, 3D video mapping, LED, lasers, cascading waters, musical score and ghostly characters from China’s traditional past. Through 12 compelling scenes, the story unfolds of Wuyishan’s fabled waters.


Every aspect of the show – from theatrical décor to seating – is designed as if on one unified stage. To create the signature show, the waterfall depicts the neighboring mountains with the terraces reminiscent of the still active tea-growing terraces in the region in a truly unique theater design. The roof has a contemporary cantilever design so that it appears to float above the audience, allowing a full field of vision of all the effects for the entire audience with a sweeping design without any supporting columns at the front. In order to achieve an immersive effect for the audience in the story of the waters of Wuyishan, the roof contains not just lighting but also pipework for water columns. Many effects happen throughout the audience seating area. The 3-D mapping uses the entire canvas to achieve seamless imagery. The facility also houses what is said to be the world’s biggest outdoor water screen – 30 meters high.


‘Fountain of Dreams’ has been described as where technology innovation meets ancient storytelling.  This is true and more: this unique nighttime spectacular breaks the barrier between audience and performance, immersing the audience into the world and experience of the story with an extremely well-crafted execution of both existing and innovative technology in a custom built show facility.



Disney Paint the Night, Hong Kong Disneyland & Disneyland (Hong Kong & Anaheim) – AOA, Parade Spectacular — “…a marvel of lighting technology, creative artistry, storytelling, showmanship, live performance, and interactivity centered around beloved Disney characters.”

Mack-Truck-in-Paint-the-Night-1_15_DLR_9507-742x634This is an electrical parade lit entirely of LED lights (a first of its kind) …except these LED lights are really Pixie dust from Tinker Bell and Mickey Mouse’s magic paintbrush, pulsing with colors and sparkle. Tinker Bell’s Fiber Fairies wear costumes adorned with fiberoptic strands that can be touched by guests with special interactive wands that change their color. Pixar properties brought to life include Monsters, Inc., Cars and Toy Story.  The Monsters, Inc. float features Sulley and Mike and a series of spinning peek-a-boo doors with hidden video screens that reveal scary monsters. Lightning McQueen leads the Cars contingent with the 25,000-light Mack truck followed by the glow-in-the-dark Cars Crew dancers. The Toy Story float, dubbed Electric Rodeo, features a 20-foot-long Slinky Dog with Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear sitting precariously atop the illuminated coils. The Lasso Dancers, each spinning a lighted ball on a string designed to look like a neon lasso, are joined by Jessie the cowgirl.

No Disney parade would be complete without a procession of princesses. Belle from Beauty and the Beast commands the lead float dominated by a massive red rose with Cinderella and Rapunzel on trailing candelabra mini-floats. The Court Dancer performers wear color-changing costumes while the Dove Dancers look like winged ballerinas. The 25-foot-tall Little Mermaid float features a massive King Triton figure with a rear-projection face. A large troupe of performers tags behind, including the electroluminescent coral fish as well as the Nemo and Marlin characters.

The finale is truly spectacular, with Mickey Mouse wielding a giant paint brush to control a wild kinetic sculpture that creates an optical illusion with an array of disco balls. As the lights and geometry move, the optical illusion is truly magical to see. Technology advancement is a good thing, especially when it comes to re-imagining the Main Street Electrical Parade.  The new Disney Paint the Night is a marvel of lighting technology, creative artistry, storytelling, showmanship, live performance, and interactivity centered around beloved Disney characters, both recent and classic. The parade opened at Hong Kong Disneyland in October 2014 and opened at Disneyland with several added elements in May 2015 as part of the park’s 60th Diamond Celebration – a show of massive scale, mounted twice within 12 months on two different continents. The parade has over 1.5 million lights on floats, costumes and video screens.  Special guest merchandise was developed that synchronizes to the parade as it moves down the street. Along the way, homage is paid to the original Electric Light Parade – including a drum float and some of the original music score.


Gantom Torch Technology – AOA, Technology, Limited Budget — “Gantom’s fully show-controllable flashlight-type device makes a show experience very personal for each guest, and adds another programmable element to the creative toolbox.”

Torch_webresThe Gantom Torch is a fully controllable flashlight capable of receiving input from small, programmable infrared transmitters. The IR transmitters can be hidden anywhere in an entertainment space and programmed using an iOS app or a standard DMX controller. Each IR transmitter can be independently programmed to make the receivers (Torches) in the area respond in a particular way. Each Torch can blink, flash, strobe, or hold a constant color that has been preselected for a particular scene (i.e. blue for a frozen space).  As guests move through particular scenes, their Torches can also vibrate at different pre-programmed frequencies (force feedback), based upon the action occurring in the show space. The Torch is a unique handheld, outdoor rated, programmable device that can access up to 16 million different color options and is affordable enough to be utilized within limited budget attractions.

The Torch is a device that makes a show experience very personal for each guest. Whether the Torch is used in a haunt attraction, nighttime zoo safari, museum exhibit or any of a number of other guest experiences, the Torch reacts to each person’s specific movement through an environment.  The Torch is unique in its ability to transform scenes via color shifts, flashing and strobing. With the addition of programmable vibrations, major climactic moments are further enhanced.  The Torch adds yet another programmable element to an Art Director or Producer’s palette of interactive options.

The Gantom Torch is recognized as an exemplary show technology due to the unique and personal show experiences it can create, the device’s versatility, ease of programming and accessibility to most show designers due to its low cost.


Geppetto Animation Control System – AOA, Technology Breakthrough — “Super 78’s comprehensive 3D character, environment, and 4D effects show control system to advance guest experiences, easily programmed and unbelievably fast and simple for a single, offstage operator.”

Geppetto_webresThe Geppetto Animation Control System is Super 78’s proprietary “living animated character” technology. Puppetry is one of the oldest live entertainment art forms. Geppetto ACS is a way to keep the art of puppetry alive, bring it to new generations and make it state-of-the art. Geppetto ACS has the capability to incorporate multiple characters and all kinds of different environments.  It also handles branching storytelling, 3D imagery, multiple screens and multiple in-theater effects.

The Geppetto Animation Control System is currently in use at the SpongeBob SubPants attraction at Moody Gardens and is controlled by an off-stage operator who wears a microphone headset and operates a simple hand controller for the character’s basic moves and expressions, along with character voicing. Much more involved animation motions and all of the 4D effects are additionally controlled from a large touch screen fully programmable for creating an unlimited variety of story line, characters, and 4D effects. The entire presentation, while following a specific story flow line, can be interactively modified by a single operator. The response time is near instant and changes can be made as fast as fingers can fly across the control screen.

The Geppetto Animation Control System is a comprehensive 3D character, environment, and 4D effects show control system. The System can be easily programmed to create any animated audience interactive experience while being unbelievably fast and simple for a single off-stage operator to create completely different shows for every audience. The Geppetto Animation Control System has raised the bar to new heights in the quest to provide show producers with a fully proven and openly available tool to advance guest experiences for any venue, whether Theme Park, Museum, or future environments yet to be developed.


Manufacturing Innovation, Ford Rouge Factory Tour, The Henry Ford (Dearborn, MI, USA) – AOA, Brand Experience, Limited Budget — “…a corporate media presentation becomes a multimedia spectacular that leaves guests excited about manufacturing innovation; great music, theatrical lighting, carefully choreographed projection and robotics.”

Manufacturing_Innovation_webresManufacturing Innovation is a multimedia experience located at the Ford Rouge Factory Tour in the Henry Ford. This 10-minute show combines multiple screens with projection mapping and factory automation robots to create an impressive and dimensional story that follows the creation of an F150 truck from initial design through manufacturing and on to testing and finally customer delivery. The show utilizes seven screens that wrap around the audience with a lift at the front of the theater to surprise guests with a white form F150 truck that rises up and is subsequently “built,” “welded” and “painted” by combining mapped projections in synchronization with industrial robot arms that appear to be affecting the white form of the truck. It is a clever and excellent way to use the mapped projection technique in a brand experience story of manufacturing all for $4.1m.

The exceptional combination of custom produced media synchronized and choreographed across seven screens with the technique of mapped projection integrated with industrial robots turns a corporate media presentation into a multimedia spectacular that leaves guests excited about manufacturing innovation. With great music, theatrical lighting, carefully choreographed projection and robotics, guests get an up-close view as a pickup truck seemingly comes together right before their eyes and is a real “wow.”


Moments of Happiness at World of Coca-Cola (Atlanta, GA, USA) – AOA,Corporate Visitor Center Rehab, Limited Budget — “This 6-minute film provides a new and memorable preshow experience to a leading corporate visitor attraction in the US receiving more than 1 million visits annually.”

MomentsofHappiness_Coke_webresThe World of Coca-Cola is a top corporate visitor attraction in the U.S., regularly receiving annual attendance of more than one million. The attraction, located in Atlanta, has a series of experiences and exhibitions on the history of the company and the beverage, a tasting area, and a large retail shop. Beginning this entire experience is the preshow that includes the Coca-Cola Theater. “Moments of Happiness” is the new show created to refresh the theater and deliver a contemporary brand message.

Staged in the Coca-Cola Theater, it is a six-minute film celebrating special moments in a variety of people’s lives. The film highlights inspiring and heart-warming experiences for people of all ages and many cultures. The sales pitch for Coke is very subtle, but the emotional impact is not. At the conclusion of the film, the screen rolls up to reveal the entrance to the World of Coca-Cola.

Moments of Happiness provides a new preshow experience in an outstanding and memorable way. The movie’s uplifting scenes, like a surprise visit home by a US soldier, a young boy’s first frightening approach to a girl, and a spring break impossible basketball shot by a group of college friends, combined with upbeat music, strike a deep and powerful emotional chord in guests.  There are very few dry eyes in the house, and the film combines the joy of poignant events in life with a quiet reference to the pleasures of drinking Coke. Visitors leave the theater feeling great about life. Visitor satisfaction surveys have skyrocketed and the overall attraction has a new buzz.

Integrated Environmental Media System at Tom Bradley International Terminal, LAX (Los Angeles, CA, USA) – AOA, Environmental Media Experience — “…has received global attention as the most provocative example of a fully integrated, intelligent media environment, executed with such creative and technical excellence that it has redefined the field.”

IEMS_1_webresThe Integrated Environmental Media System (IEMS) in the new international terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is an unprecedented passenger experience and a new source of non-aeronautical revenues for the facility. The IEMS includes seven media features, including Welcome and Bon Voyage Walls, a four-sided Time Tower and portals that shepherd passengers to their departure gates.  The IEMS is supported by an intelligent show control system that enables mapping content onto unique, very large-scale, multi-dimensional media surfaces.

Arriving and departing passengers are mesmerized by the beautiful content floating throughout this massive canvas. The content captures the culture of Los Angeles and, depending on the destinations of upcoming departures, will periodically change to reflect those destinations.

Since its opening, the project has received global attention as the most provocative example of a fully integrated, intelligent media environment. It’s a space where immersive media and ambient storytelling don’t demand attention – but do reward it.  It’s the perfect “hello” and “goodbye” to travelers from all over the world and that’s why the Thea Nominating Committee recommends an Award for Outstanding Achievement to the Integrated Environmental Media System at LAX.

The base concept is now under design development, or even already under construction, with the same concept in other airports, museums and themed attractions around the world. The base idea is not new, but the Integrated Environment Media System at LAX has been executed with such creative and technical excellence that it has redefined the field, and is fast becoming a widely-admired and replicated achievement. It has also improved the airport visitor experience: Studies show that travelers tend to arrive early at the terminal to enjoy the media.


TEA Distinguished Service Award

John Robinett, Senior Vice President – Economics, AECOM

John_Robinett_Feb2015John Robinett has had a 30+ year career in leisure, entertainment, and real estate. His responsibilities include oversight of AECOM’s Economics practice in the Americas, and management of a variety of global assignments in attractions, resorts, cultural, and entertainment retail. He has consulted to many of the leisure industry’s leading companies, U.S. and foreign governments, major cultural and financial institutions, and golf, hotel, and real estate developers. He has directed assignments for The Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios, Warner Bros., LEGO, J. Paul Getty Trust, American Museum of Natural History and NASA, among others.

With the Themed Entertainment Association, John Robinett has been active for many years as an International Board and Commitee member, including the Thea Awards Committee, and as a speaker and organizer of panels on markets and industry economics, for the TEA Summit. His most visible role with TEA has been in connection with the research and production of the TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index, a highly respected annual resource published by TEA. John has been instrumental in the mutually beneficial collaboration between TEA and AECOM, and his voice has been a leading voice within TEA and within the industry.

The TEA Distinguished Service Award is presented annually by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) at the Thea Awards Gala, in recognition of a TEA member’s outstanding contributions “above and beyond the call of duty” to the Association.Nominations are open to the TEA membership; the final selection of the recipient is made by majority vote of the TEA Past Presidents Committee and approved by the TEA International Board of Directors.


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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