Sunday, May 16, 2021

The French connection: Meet Michel Linet-Frion

by Julien Causeret

Michel Linet-Frion, Creative & Innovation Director , Pierre & Vacances / Center Parcs, is being honored with the Peter Chernack Distinguished Service Award by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). He will formally receive the award on April 13, 2019, during the 25th Annual TEA Thea Awards Gala presented by Chimelong, at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. Julien talked to Michel about his career, accomplishments and his TEA Distinguished Service recognition.

I first met Michel during a 2013 TEA mixer event in Paris.

Then, during a three-day TEA Europe & Middle East Division behind-the-scenes excursion that Michel helped to organize in 2016 at Futuroscope (Poitiers) and Center Parcs Bois aux Daims, I had the chance to really get to know Michel over the course of the one-hour drive between the venues. I learned about his career and his fascinating involvement in the industry. That conversation gave me a glimpse of Michel’s creative soul, his vision and his passionate involvement in all the projects he works on. I really enjoyed this specific moment of our friendship.

Michel has been instrumental in developing TEA’s European presence and more recently helped expand into the Middle East market. Through my conversation with him, I hope to share with you the many facets of Michel Linet-Frion and what earned him this honor. Michel- we are all proud of you. Bravo! — J.C.

How did you get started in the industry?

I am a licensed architect but very quickly I started deviating from conventional architecture as I was lucky to find opportunities as a student in exhibition design, events and leisure parks during the 1980s. When Disney decided to come to France, I set my sights on working for them…and I did, because I was an architect but also because I spoke English. Interestingly, I met Walt Disney himself when he came to the Calgary Stampede festivities. My class (I must have been about eight years old) was chosen to be around him in the parade as he was riding his big white horse!

Sadly, I seem to have lost the one photograph I had of us together.

How did you get involved in the TEA?

For this I must blame Nick Farmer! He was always talking about TEA, and I was frequently hiring his company to design and build our attractions in Parc Astérix. We joined the organization somewhere around the year 2000. Another connection is that I have been involved in several Thea Award recognized projects, including:

Space Mountain, Disneyland Paris (1996)

L’Oxygénarium in Parc Astérix (2001)

Center Parcs Bois aux Daims eco resort (2017)

Why do you find TEA to be an important organization for you and our industry?
Michel Linet-Frion

TEA is unparalleled in its representation of our industry and as a creative director, TEA provides a way to meet other creative people and discuss our projects, our “recipes,” etc. This is done without needing a formal approach, only needing to say “Hi! I am part of the TEA like you…” and the conversation starts.

Since I left Disney, I’ve found opportunities within large companies that operate various leisure sites where my role (currently Creative & Innovation Director at Centre Parcs) is to develop both existing and new sites, to keep them as attractive and innovative as possible. Since I typically rely on contracted expertise and talent for each project so as to create the best project team tailored for each project, TEA has been extremely valuable in helping me find ideal project partners.

What achievement are you most proud of in your career?

For me, every new project ends up frequently as “my best one so far.” I don’t really like looking at the past, because there are always things you would change in retrospect. Instead I like to focus on looking forward to the next one.

Who or what inspires you?

Can I say “everything?” Usually I am guided by trying to find the best “product” that will create a positive emotion for our guests. I always make choices and decisions with this in mind…that’s why I have never been able to design anything for myself!

What do people in the industry not know about you?

I always carry my camera with me, and I really enjoy shooting photographs of what I see, whatever the context. Then I spend time looking at these, sorting them by themes; every once and a while I publish a Blurb book (go on blurb.com and you can find them under my name). My latest one was called “details” and is a collection of details that have no unifying thread, only details of daily life that have caught my eye and triggered some kind of emotion. I would be pleased to share this passion of mine with whomever is interested!

What are your future plans?

I plan to continue my endeavors to create wonderful attractions and experiences. Every day is a new day for me with high hopes.• • •

Julien Causeret ([email protected]) is a French professional from the leisure and tourism industry who has worked for 6+ years for the internationally known show production company ECA2. As Business Development Executive, Julien is in charge of building new relationships with location-based entertainment destinations. He brings to the team his knowledge of the attraction and themed entertainment industry in order to connect and inspire creative and technical minds. He has worked on two Thea-awarded multimedia shows: “Wings of Time” (Sentosa, Singapore) and “Fountain of Dreams” (Wuyishan, China). Other projects include “Lake of Illusions” (Shanghai, China),
“Eastern Sunrise” (Rizhao, China) and more recently the multi-awarded Opening Ceremony of the 17th FINA World Aquatics Championships (Budapest, Hungary). In addition to his work at ECA2, Julien is a foodie and budding chef, hand-carves wood spoons and practices his golf game.

FROM INPARK MAGAZINE ISSUE #71, 2018:

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