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The 23rd Thea Awards: This Year’s Most Innovative Entertainment Design Projects

Posted by Elizabeth Alton on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

The Themed Entertainment Affiliation (TEA) announced the 23rd annual Thea Award recipients on the annual IAAPA event in Orlando. The award is among the business’s most prestigious honors, and acknowledges achievements in know-how, design, theming and immersive experience. “As TEA heads into its 25th anniversary year, our annual Thea Awards reflect an industry that is increasingly global and technically sophisticated. Entertainment is ever more immersive and interactive and audiences place ever more value on storytelling and the quality of the guest experience. Themed entertainment is and will always be on the cutting edge, because it simply must – that’s what brings people back year after year,” noted International Board President Steve Birket. The 2017 award recipients can be recognized at a Gala in Anaheim later this yr, as a part of April’s annual TEA Summit. Here’s a better take a look at this yr’s excellent tasks.

A New Award Class

For business followers that monitor the protection yr to yr, there’s an thrilling new improvement in the Thea Award lineups. TEA has added a brand new award class to the Thea Awards: Related Immersion. The Thea Awards Committee writes, “Tremendous advances in technology, social behavior and connectivity are reinventing our notion of storytelling and immersion. Connected Immersion mixes digitally-led interactivity with the real world to create rich, high-touch, high-context experiences that seamlessly connect to the broader themed entertainment space. These immersive experiences extend beyond the established borders to allow audiences to ‘live’ the story in unforgettable ways. Visitors can now be the heroes in their own story, discover hidden depths, solve mysteries and go beyond the box.” The new class of Thea Award offers a chance to recognize excellence at the intersection of creativity, storytelling, and interactivity.

The Buzz Worth Thea Award – A Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements

The Buzz Worth Thea Award is this system’s lifetime achievement award. This yr’s recipient is Jeremy Railton, Founder and Chairman of the Entertainment Design Corporation (EDC). His work has been acknowledged with a number of Thea Awards, Emmys, and Artwork Directors Guild Awards. EDC levels reside productions, points of interest, and daring experiences across the globe for shoppers and has been the artistic pressure behind tasks starting from Las Vegas’ Freemont Road Experience to the Olympics. TEA founder Monty Lunde stated, “Jeremy is individually imaginative while also being uniquely inclusive, supportive and mentoring to all who help make his creative visions real. He is constantly testing the boundaries of how to create ‘wow,’ but is conscious of real-world budgets and schedules. Jeremy represents the best of what our industry stands for and has elevated many others through his efforts and support.”


The Thea Basic Award – Waterworld: A Stay Sea World Spectacular, Universal Studios Hollywood, Common City, CA

Large explosions, crashing planes, and leaping jet-skiers are just a few of the stunts on the Waterworld present in Universal Metropolis, CA. The attraction was launched in 1995, when the movie by the same title hit the display. With distinctive stage craft, design and scale, Waterworld: A Reside Sea World Spectacular has entertained tons of of tens of millions of friends. Universal has constantly upgraded the attraction to maintain it state-of-the-art, and this yr Waterworld is being recognized with a Thea Basic Award.



WhiteWater’s Slideboarding – Know-how on a Limited Finances

WhiteWater has been acknowledged for Slideboarding, a pioneering adaptation of video gaming to the waterpark context. Slideboarding integrates a video game expertise into a water journey. Riders compete by hitting colored targets with buttons on their raft, and a leaderboard displays their last scores. The TEA judges word, “It amps up audience engagement, bringing in-park interactivity together with an extended-experience, smart app that remembers guests’ in-home practice sessions and drives repeat park visitation. Slideboarding is an outstanding new technology and an affordable game-changer that will benefit waterparks and the industry as a whole.” Slideboarding is progressive as a result of it brings an entire new degree of immersion and interactivity to waterparks.


Mack Journey Techniques’ Suspended Energy Coaster

Mack’s Suspended Energy Coaster system has been recognized for an revolutionary experience system. Initially developed by Mack, and put in at Europa-Park as part of the Arthur in the Kingdom of the Minimoys attraction, the journey combines advanced engineering and high-intensity experiences. Visitors take pleasure in 360-degree spins, variable speeds, dark-ride environments, and configurable audio. The Thea judges famous, “It combines the showmanship of a sophisticated dark ride vehicle with the visceral thrills of a roller coaster. It dissolves the boundaries of traditional ride and attraction categories and offers designers unprecedented flexibility to create new types of guest experiences, and new genres in storytelling thrill rides.”

5D Citadel Theatre, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, China

The 5D Citadel Theatre at the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom is a super-sized experience. The cinema seats over 1,000 individuals and options one of many largest curved screens on the earth. The result is a stimulating 5D sensory engagement housed in a big citadel that takes the themed expertise to a new degree and a brand new scale. The TEA judges write, “The 5D Castle Theatre at Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, ranked the largest “5D” theater on the planet is a successful, high capability, in style attraction, technologically wonderful, with native story content. Media, theater planning and development, motion seats, and in-theater results are all wonderful and expertly integrated and add as much as a very world class attraction that additional distinguishes Chimelong and raises the business bar in China. This is a shining instance of what the worldwide themed entertainment business is capable of.”

Derocher La Lune

Décrocher la Lune, La Louviere, Belgium

Lauded as an city opera, Décrocher la Lune (Unhook the Moon) will receive the AOA for “Live Event Spectacular on a Limited Budget.” The present options big articulated puppets and a whole lot of people performing – each forged members and observers alike. Conceived by designer Franco Dragone as a “thank you” for the town the place his studio is situated, the reside, large-scale manufacturing spanned the town. As the Thea Award judges observe, “It is urban opera and immersive storytelling on a grand scale…bringing together an entire community for a one-night production that is expanded and re-staged anew every three years.”

Ghost Post

Ghost Publish, Disneyland Parks & Resorts

Disney has gained an award for Ghost Publish, an attraction being acknowledged for Related Immersion on a Limited Price range. In accordance with TEA, “This innovative extension of the guest experience suggests a model for future attractions.” Friends acquired a three-month subscription that delivered Haunted Mansion branded packages to their houses. As well as, visitors acquired puzzles and clues that led to a scavenger hunt in the park and, lastly, a experience on the Doom Buggy within the Haunted Mansion that featured a customized soundtrack. For friends, this longer-term experience that mixes storytelling, totally different mediums, and personalization to increase each the anticipation of a park visit and the payoff of the visit itself stands out for artistic design.

House of Eternal Return

Home of Eternal Return by Meow Wolf, Santa Fe, NM

Another recipient of the AOA for “Connected Immersion on a Limited Budget” is your complete art complicated generally known as the House of Everlasting Return in Santa Fe, NM. Situated within the desert, the 20,000 sq ft exhibition features an imaginative multiverse of storytelling that visitors can crawl, climb, and walk by way of. “A combination of jungle gym, haunted house, children’s museum and immersive art exhibit, House of Eternal Return is a fusion of art, 21st century technology and themed entertainment. This non-linear experience allows the audience to build their own stories. It takes the ideas of theme and immersion to new levels by creating a multi-media attraction that transports audiences through art, mystery and interactivity,” says TEA.

The Van Gogh Experience

Meet Vincent Van Gogh Expertise, Amsterdam

Awarded the AOA for probably the most “Immersive Museum Exhibit: Touring,” the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam encourages individuals to touch every part they will within the Meet Vincent Van Gogh Experience exhibit. The museum recreates the artist’s world via touchable paintings, soundscapes, and audiovisual scenes of his paintings. The traveling exhibit introduces Van Gogh’s work to an entire new audience, whereas utilizing know-how and immersion to deal with the truth that too most of the artifacts in the museum’s assortment have been too delicate to be dealt with by the public.

Springfield USA

Springfield USA, Universal Studios Hollywood, Common City, CA

The Simpsons have all the time resided in Springfield. This yr, Common Studios opened a piece of the park dedicated to the show, which has garnered them the AOA award for “Themed Food & Beverage Experience.” This class acknowledges points of interest that elevate food and beverage past mere transactions, and infuse them with storytelling and interactivity. The Springfield attraction builds on Homer Simpson’s love of food and boasts 9 places to eat, together with a reproduction of the famous “Moe’s Tavern.”  The TEA notes, “This is not your standard food and beverage offering. The attention to detail conveys deep authenticity and adds a significant level of guest immersion. Universal Studios Hollywood has raised the bar by recreating tastes and themes that previously existed only within an animated world.”


Transformations, Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), Long Seashore, CA

Recipient of the AOA for the most effective “Museum Exhibit on a Limited Budget,” the Transformations exhibit at MOLAA showcases the life-changing tales of 5 group members by means of a collection of videos and curated objects that discover points associated to cancer, gun violence, jail and extra. Because the TEA observes, “The common thread is the support received from family and friends that led to the transformation of each participant, and the importance of their connection to art. This exhibit touches visitors on a deeply personal level and speaks to the entire socio-economic spectrum.” Visitors are invited to take part in the exhibit themselves, sharing their very own challenges in an space of artistic change and reflection.


Senate Immersion Module, Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate, Boston, MA

Awarded the AOA for “Connected Immersion in Education,” the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate has a tremendous program referred to as the Senate Immersion Module (SIM). It’s a roleplaying experience that helps members perceive how the democratic course of works. The program permits college students in grades 8-12 to make use of high-touch know-how on tablets to create a bill on a set of policies for current issues. Because the TEA notes, “This real-world and digital blend seems like a model example of an educational-connected immersion experience. It brings learning to life, impacting student behavior and retention. It shows what is possible in engaging and educating students born under the digital umbrella.”

Le Dernier Panache

Le Dernier Panache, Puy du Fou, Les Epesses, France

It’s straightforward to see why Le Dernier Panache is the recipient of the AOA for “Live Show.” Le Dernier Panache integrates reside performance and film to create beautiful visual effects. Throughout the 34-minute present, the viewers slowly rotates in a 360-degree arc on an enormous turntable. Every rotation brings the audience to a brand new scene, which includes seamless projection and reside actors.

Center Parc

Middle Parcs Le Bois Aux Daims, Les Trois-Moutiers, France

The Middle Parcs Le Bois Aux Daims, situated in Les Trois-Moutiers, France, has been recognized with an AOA. This attraction combines a woodland venue, wild and tame animals, 11 themed tree houses, and a wide range of actions and amenities. Because the TEA factors out, “Center Parcs has integrated nature, animals, placemaking and storytelling to create a sustainable, eco-friendly destination.”  Friends can keep within the unusual accommodations, watch wildlife from their cottages, and luxuriate in experiences starting from waterslides to ziplining.

Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disneyland, China

Disney has been awarded an AOA for the theme park class, to acknowledge the opening of its twelfth theme park – Shanghai Disneyland. The park is being hailed for instance of international excellence at scale. Because the TEA states, “Disney, one of the world’s biggest entertainment companies, took time to rethink its core brands in the context of the host country. Culture, technology and creative are seamlessly integrated to deliver a guest experience that is, in the words of Bob Iger, ‘authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese.’” The world-class theme park blends artistic course, cultural context, and technological innovation to create a venue that delights an entire new era of visitors.

Camp Discovery

Camp Discovery, Shanghai Disneyland, China

Disney’s Shanghai theme park has also been awarded an AOA for the “Attraction” category. Camp Discovery is situated on the Adventure Isle. In this adventurous and hands-on attraction, visitors can traverse trails situated round Roaring Mountain – collaborating in excavation websites, enjoying lush landscapes, and crossing rope bridges. As TEA describes, “Camp Discovery delivers hands-on, participatory entertainment and a variety of experiences that cater to guests of all ages and appetites for adventure, and that will continue to engage over multiple visits. Camp Discovery is ambitious in scale and complexity, rich in story, and big on adventure.” It offers an fascinating model for what’s potential with interactive attraction design.


Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure, Shanghai Disneyland, China

The TEA has additionally recognized Shanghai Disneyland’s attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure. As they state, “This attraction at Disney’s newest park embodies excellence in concept; it is a signature next-step achievement that reinvents and reimagines Pirates of the Caribbean.” It’s based mostly on the unique attraction, which opened in 1967, and takes visitors on an eight-minute journey that comes with an progressive boat journey system, storytelling, know-how, animatronics, special effects, and enormous format projection right into a single attraction. The Battle for Sunken Treasure blends these parts together seamlessly and offers a superb example of conventional Disney magic.

To study more about selected points of interest, examine back in March, once we’ll be exploring them more in-depth, leading up to the Thea Awards occasion.

Pictures and movies courtesy of the TEA press announcement, and the aforementioned points of interest