Steve Birket PE, president elect of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) was interviewed for InPark by Morgan Richardson following TEA’s annual design conference, SATE ’14, Oct 2-3 in Sarasota, Florida USA. The Director of Birket Engineering talked about his industry background, some of the thinking behind SATE (Storytelling, Architecture, Technology, Experience) and offered a few words of advice for those who want to start careers in visitor attractions.
How did you become involved in the themed entertainment industry and what got you involved in the TEA?
I started working in the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Entertainment Department three months after my 16th birthday. It was fantastic fun and would eventually pay for my Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. My involvement with TEA came very early on: Around the time the association was beginning to form [TEA was officially founded in 1991] which was also during the development of Universal Studios Florida and (then) Disney-MGM Studios, Birket was asked to provide potential TEA member contacts from our database to TEA.
What are the things TEA looks for when choosing a location for SATE?
We look for a site that might complement the rich SATE experience. The 2014 location at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, with its connection to Florida State University and the wonderful art and circus history, is a perfect example.
What are some of the most exciting trends you see happening in the industry right now?
We are seeing the explosive expansion and acceptance of what might have been in the past considered ‘Western-style’ themed entertainment to China and beyond. We are seeing the layering of new experiences on top of and within existing facilities. Anything can be realized, the technology exists, and the guest expects it.
What are the benefits of coming to an event like SATE?
SATE is a one-of-a-kind gathering of the creators of the world’s finest themed entertainment experiences, where you can hear the stories, explore the possibilities, and meet the designers, producers and operators.
Do you have a message for anyone out there who might be interested in themed entertainment but doesn’t know where to start?
Go to IAAPA. Invest in industry relationships. Attend TEA events. The industry is robust and the opportunities exist. Have fun!