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Creative Leaders Come Together for the Annual TEA Summit and Thea Awards

March 22, 2015, 8:18 PM · The Themed Entertainment Association honored and celebrated the industry over the weekend at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, with the annual TEA Summit and Thea Awards.

Creative artists from Disney, Universal, and other themed entertainment firms from around the world — large and small — came together for the three-day event, which wrapped up last night with the presentation of the previously-announced Thea Awards, honoring the best of the best in the themed entertainment industry over the past year.

Bob Gurr at TEA
With a wave of his magic wand, Disney Legend Bob Gurr presents a Thea Award to Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Photos by Christopher Chien for TEA

Day One of the TEA Summit focused on economic issues in industry. While presentations from TEA's partners at AECOM and other analysts were closed to the press, the Orange County Register spoke with some of them about industry trends:

Summit highlights growing theme park popularity:

Amusement parks are a $3 billion industry in China, and revenue has increased 11percent over the past five years, according to IBISWorld, a Los Angeles publisher of industry research and analysis.

Worldwide, theme parks revenue grew 4percent over five years to $16billion. That rapid pace is fueled by the growing middle class in China and Southeast Asia, and the Middle East’s desire to be a world-class tourist destination, several experts said.

The Register also looked at Disney's honorees in the Thea Awards, which included an award honoring the 50th anniversary of It's a Small World.

Disney theme parks win three industry awards:

The Themed Entertainment Association... awarded the iconic attraction’s longevity the industry’s highest honor, the Thea Classic Award, which recognizes an attraction that has stood the test of time.

“I think it stands test of time because it’s the hope of the world that we have peace and get along,” [Disney Imagineer Kim] Irvine said. “It is very innocent [and] that is something that people are not tired of hoping for.”

On Day Two of the summit, attendees heard "case stories' detailing the work behind some of this hear's Thea Award winners, including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida.

THEME PARKS: Summit celebrates creativity and teases Harry Potter:

Universal sent a large delegation sent a large delegation to accept the awards, and members were momentarily stumped for a diplomatic response during a Q&A about Diagon Alley on Friday evening. The first question was how much of it would appear at Universal Studios Hollywood when it opens its own Harry Potter attraction in 2016.

“You will see some of it,” said Thierry Coup, senior vice president of Universal Creative. “You’ll probably start seeing a castle as we speak.”

Richard Sherman at TEA
Disney Legend Richard Sherman performed his 'Small World' theme song.

Remy at TEA
Remy arrives to accept the Thea Award for his restaurant at Walt Disney Studios Paris.

Tony Baxter and Mark Woodbury at TEA
Disney Legend and former Imagineer Tony Baxter, left, presented the Paragon Award to Universal Creative's Mark Woodbury, for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley.

Universal Creative at TEA
Accepting a Thea award for Universal were Mark Woodbury, Joe Casey, Katy Pacitti, Dale Mason, and Justin Schwartz. And yes, that's Tony Baxter's head just behind Mark's shoulder!

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Replies (3)

March 23, 2015 at 6:54 AM · Congrats to the winners!!!!
March 23, 2015 at 3:27 PM · Well done Joe Casey! UC's engineering genius behind Hulk, Mummy and Gringotts!
March 25, 2015 at 8:34 PM · Although I loved Diagon Alley, I do think they should have made the tricks easier to perform. We saw a lot of kids struggling to make them work, and we were glad that we hadn't spent $40 for one ourselves.
P.S.: I would have given the technical excellence award to the great new AAs in the 7DMT ride.

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