TEA Thea Awards Nomination Tip Sheet, updated April 2018

TEA Thea Awards Nomination Tip Sheet

How to Improve Your Chances of Being a Thea Awards Recipient

from the Thea Awards Committee of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA)


How to Nominate

How is the Judging Done?

How is the Technical Judging Done?

Who Can Nominate?

Can Writing Improve My Chances?

Writing Mistakes to Avoid

How Can the Right Video Improve My Chances?

Good video vs Bad video

What Still Photos Make a Difference?

Do I Qualify as Excellence on a Limited Budget?

What if it is Outside the USA?

Got Questions?



First Step – Completing the Nomination Form @ www.teaconnect.org  answering EVERY question.

  • Name of Project
  • Location
  • Project Description (600 words or less)
  • Opening Date
  • Name of Owner
  • Category
  • Budget (if under $10m)


Second Step – Submitting Supporting Materials

  • After your nomination is received, you will receive instructions on how to upload images, video or other materials you feel will help describe the project.
  • Additional information may be required for specialized categories, such as limited budget or technical achievement.



Whenever possible, the Thea Awards Nominating Committee will try to personally visit the achievement under consideration, during their regular business travel.  Personal visits are not always possible, but this is not a barrier.  Every year Thea Awards are given to several projects that were not personally visited by the judges.


How is the Technical Judging Done?

The Thea Technology sub-committee is charged with reviewing and ranking the various technologies submitted to the Thea Committee each year.   In order to fairly judge very differing technologies, the Technology sub-committee has developed a scoring matrix.  The technologies reviewed by the sub-committee receive a score in each of four categories, with the final score being the total of the scores in each category.  The categories used to judge each technology are:

Benefit to Industry – This relates to how available the technology is to others in the industry relative to improving the guest experiences, rather than a technology that is closely held by a single group for a specific purpose.

Benefit to Guests – How much does the technology improve and/or heighten the guest experience?

Evolution vs Revolution – Is the technology truly revolutionary, or is it the next step in a progression of existing technologies?

Design & Presentation – Is the product or technology professionally designed and produced?

Within each of the above categories, each technology is scored from 1-5, with 5 points being the best score.  The technologies with the 3 highest scores are submitted to the Thea Committee for final discussion and selection of the technology to be acknowledged at the Thea Gala.



The Thea Awards are open to everyone.

  • You do not have to be a member of the TEA in order to nominate a project. 
  • The owner of the project does not have to be a member of the TEA to be nominated.
  • You can nominate your own project!  Please do!
  • You can nominate someone else’s project.



Tell us …

  • How is this achievement different?  It may be unique to you or to your region.  But to receive a Thea Award, a project must represent excellence on an international basis.  So please communicate what is truly new, unique and/or unusually excellent about the achievement.
  • If this is a new technology, don’t present the entire idea as new if only one aspect is new.  What part of it is new?  What existed before?  What are the new benefits?  What can be done now that could not be done before and what does that mean to the creators and consumers of themed entertainment?
  • If this is a re-purposing of an attraction building and/or ride system, please be sure to explain what elements of the original attraction remained but were re-purposed as well as what is new.



Sometimes the Thea Awards Nominating Committee cannot give an award because very important information is missing. Be sure to explain:

  • If you are submitting an “action theater” or “4-D Theater” concept, be sure to describe or show any in-theater effects. Otherwise the committee will have to assume it is only a movie and that there are no theatrical effects in the audience.
  • Read the Nomination Candidate form carefully. Each year the Committee receives forms from people who did not read the instructions.  For example:
  • The Buzz Price Thea Award Recognizing a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements is for a person. Do not nominate a technology, an attraction or a theme park in this category.
  • All project budgets are limited. The Thea category for Achievement on a Limited Budget covers projects produced for under $10 million.  See HOW DO I QUALIFY FOR EXCELLENCE ON A LIMITED BUDGET section below for what is/is not included in that $10 million.



A video is not required, but it is highly recommended. It is important that the Awards Committee gets a strong sense of the typical guest experience in order to understand why a nomination represents an outstanding achievement. Committee members always prefer to visit a nominated project, but in cases where they cannot or have not, a short video that highlights the entire key show elements in sequence is an effective way to communicate the visitor experience?


The most helpful videos tend to have these characteristics:

  • They are short: four minutes to six minutes long.
  • They often (but not always) start with a brief overall description, providing a context for the achievement, where is it located, what were the objectives, etc.
  • They clearly show what a typical visitor experience would be like from the guests’ point-of-view.   For example:
  • Show the building exterior with guests arriving
  • Show the attraction entrance with people going in
  • Provide a view of each space inside, with people entering, leaving, etc. boarding a ride, moving on it, exiting, etc.
  • Show what the audience sees, hears and experiences in each space.  Tell the story.  You can summarize what happens or verbally narrate effects that don’t play on the video.
  • It is okay to abridge as long as you communicate the basic experience.
  • Summarize what the experience was about.
  • Showing happy, enthusiastic guests is a big plus.
  • Some Electronic Press Kits, or air-checks from local TV news coverage, can be helpful, but only if they show the things listed above.



The less helpful videos typically make these mistakes:

  • Lots of fast cuts of project highlights that fail to show a clear view of the guest experience.
  • Videos limited to shots of the show on stage, which provide no views of the guests in the presentation space.  This kind of video is often received for simulator attractions – showing only the film.  This is fine if only the film is being considered, but if the entire attraction is nominated, it is more effective to show the overall guest experience.
  • Television commercials tend to be visual teasers and don’t truly convey the guest experience.  This is particularly challenging when they sometimes use images that are not part of the actual attraction or achievement.
  • Behind-the-scenes or “making of” footage is not helpful unless it explains some unique aspect of the guest experience.
  • Do not show one-time events such as a grand opening, unless the nominated achievement is a Grand Opening.  Instead, communicate the everyday guest experience.
  • Limit guest testimonials: “Our family loved the show, it was the greatest thing we ever saw,” etc.  These can be effective if used in very short bursts.  The risk is, of course, every nominee has videos of guests saying pretty much the same things.  As a result, the judges sometimes tune out if the bursts go on longer than 5-10 seconds.



Illustrate the achievement from the point-of-view of the guest.  It does not have to be lavishly prepared.  Show:

  • The outside of the attraction
  • The entrance with people coming in
  • Each area with people moving through, experiencing the attraction
  • What do the visitors see and experience?  How do they experience it?

Not helpful:

  • A portfolio of “catalog" pictures of artifacts or scenic elements.  Instead, show how the objects were displayed or scenery was installed, and how guests experienced them.
  • A portfolio with too many behind-the-scenes shots of the exhibit or attraction creative process. Remember to mainly show the guest experience.



The Thea Award for Excellence on a Limited Budget is reserved for projects created for budgets totaling less than US$10 million.  That budget does not have to include the base building, land acquisition costs or financing, but it does have to include just about everything else, including the following costs:

  • Concept Development
  • Design (show, architectural and all other design)
  • Engineering (all types)
  • Fabrication (sets, props, figures, casework, facades, etc.)
  • Systems (lights, computers, dimmers, special effects, projectors, animatronics, etc.)
  • Ride Systems
  • Media Production (including media systems)
  • Installation
  • Programming
  • Rehearsal
  • Creative Leadership and Direction
  • Production Management
  • Reimbursables (such as printing, travel, etc.)
  • Etc.

Whenever possible, candidates are encouraged to submit a one or at most two page budget summary for the project, showing actual costs.  You do not have to use the above categories as your breakdown, but you should convey that these areas are included in your total cost summary.

In cases where the achievement is a rehab or remodel of a pre-existing attraction, it is especially important to explain what existed before (and therefore not included in the budget) and what is new (and therefore part of the US$10 million).



The Thea Awards are a symbol of international excellence. The Thea Awards Nominating Committee is especially interested in soliciting and encouraging achievements located outside the USA. We try to make allowances for the distance, time and language barriers in order to give all nominations fair consideration.

  • You do not have to be a member of the TEA in order to be eligible. 
  • Nominations outside the U.S. are encouraged
  • Involving vendors or creative contributors who are outside the U.S. is encouraged
  • Have interviewed participants and guests speak in their own language but provide English translations.
  • On the video, voice translation is the best. Subtitles are almost as effective. 



Questions?  Please feel free to contact the TEA at +1 818-843-8497 or email theaawards@teaconnect.org.