TEA Connect Blog

01 February 2015

Phil Hettema and The Hettema Group to produce 21st annual Thea Awards Gala, March 21 at Disneyland Resort

Phil Hettema

"Phil Hettema and his colleagues at The Hettema Group (THG) will produce the Thea Awards Gala (March 21 at Disneyland Resort, Anaheim) for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), and we're thrilled," said TEA president Steve Birket of Birket Engineering. "We know that we're in good hands and can expect a show of the highest caliber, in keeping with TGH and TEA standards of excellence and creativity. Not only is Phil one of the top creative figures in themed entertainment, he's also been an active and valued leader within the Themed Entertainment Association for many years, including TEA's annual Summit and SATE conference, and service on the Thea Awards Committee. There's no one better to create the themed entertainment industry's most magical night of the year."

The annual Thea Awards recognize excellence in the international attractions industry, and the Thea Awards Gala is an elegant, black-tie dinner affair bringing together owners, creatives and suppliers of the business that creates some of the world's top travel destinations: theme parks, museums, spectaculars, attractions, exhibits, integrated resorts, world's fair pavilions and more. Among the 16 Thea honorees for 2015 are Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Florida (Thea Paragon Award); "it's a small world," Disneyland (Thea Classic Award); Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, Zhuhai, China; the National 911 Memorial Museum, New York; and Wings of Time, Sentosa Island. Tickets/more info: www.teaconnect.org.

MORE DETAILS - Click here for 2015 TEA Summit & Thea Awards overview

Thea Awards

The THG production team for the Thea Awards Gala includes Hettema (show producer/creative director), Tom Vanucci (show director) and Jeff Kurtti (script writer). The Hettema Group is a world-class team of experience designers who have led a myriad of projects from initial concept to grand opening all over the globe. Phil Hettema, with his lauded 30-year legacy in themed entertainment, leads this award-winning team of artists, technicians and production experts. Projects include the High Roller Observation Wheel at The LINQ, Las Vegas; Dragons Wild Shooting at Lotte World, Beyond All Boundaries at the National World War II Museum, New Orleans; the USA Pavilion at Yeosu Expo 2012, and The One World Observatory in New York City.

Phil Hettema - President & Creative Director, THG

Phil Hettema has directed the design and production of numerous theme park rides and shows, cultural attractions and museum exhibits for more than 35 years. The team at The Hettema Group, led by Phil’s creative vision and extensive experience, is known for creating attractions that focus on maximizing the guest experience through innovative storytelling, compelling technology and a commitment to emotional resonance.

Founded in 2002, The Hettema Group (THG) provides full-service design and production capabilities, from initial ‘blue sky’ concept designs through delivery and installation. The highly collaborative team of veteran designers, creative artists and production specialists at THG are constantly striving to create the next great attraction.

The One World Observatory, currently under construction at the new World Trade Center building in New York City, was designed and produced by the THG team. An hour long experience including underground exhibits, special effects elevator rides and interactive elements on levels 100, 101 and 102 will provide visitors to the WTC an unparalleled experience.

In 2011, Caesars Entertainment contracted THG to design the guest experience for the High Roller, the world’s largest observation wheel, now open in Las Vegas.  Recently completed projects include"Dragons Wild Shooting" at Lotte World in South Korea, an interactive, game-based dark ride with entirely new and funny dragon characters that delight guests of all ages; development of the USA pavilion at Expo 2012 in Korea; and design and master planning of Sanrio’s Hello Kitty theme park in Anji, China. “Beyond All Boundaries,” a 45-minute, large format, immersive theatrical attraction for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans opened in 2009 and has won numerous awards for its powerful message and impactful delivery.

Prior to forming his own company, Phil Hettema was Senior Vice President, Attraction Development for Universal Studios Theme Parks Worldwide for 14 years. He was responsible for the creative development of all major attractions and shows, including Terminator 2: 3D, Jurassic Park, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Backdraft and many more.  He oversaw master planning for all five Universal parks, including domestic and international expansion for Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s PortAventura (Spain), and Universal Studios Japan, and, most notably, the conception and delivery of Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Florida.

Phil began his career as a designer at Disneyland and Walt Disney World before going on to play a key role as production supervisor for major worldwide events such as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games and the Liberty Weekend Statue of Liberty Centennial Celebration in New York City.

His credits also include projects for Steven Spielberg, the Walt Disney Company, Dreamworks SKG, Sid and Marty Krofft, and David L. Wolper. He has been a guest lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University, USITT, IAAPA, KIN, and SIGGRAPH. Phil holds four patents for entertainment technology solutions and has been honored with numerous Thea awards from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) including Theas for Beyond All Boundaries (2010), FiestAventura (2000), The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (2000), Universal’s Islands of Adventure (2000), and Terminator 2:3D (1997).

Tom Vannucci

Tom Vannucci - Creative Director, THG

Vannucci brings with him 25 years of cross-media experience throughout the entertainment industry, including film, television, theme parks, theatre, and special events. Tom has directed, written, choreographed, and served as creative director for large-scale live productions for companies such as The Walt Disney Co., Universal Studios and Warner Bros., and the Sacramento Kings.

For Universal Studios, Vannucci directed the Marvel Super Heroes Stunt ShowConan Stunt ShowBeetlejuice Graveyard Revue, and the Halloween experience, the “Bill & Ted Adventure.”Other credits include Mystic RhythmsPorto Paradiso, and DisneyFest Asia at Tokyo Disney Sea, as well as some of the most impressive stunt shows created, including Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Stunt Show, Batman Forever Stunt Show, Marvel Super Heroes Stunt Show and numerous live shows for the Dollywood Company.

Additional clients who have repeatedly called on Vannucci for his wide array of talents include Twentieth Century Fox, MGM, Renaissance Entertainment, and Princess Cruise Lines.

Jeff Kurtti

Jeff Kurtti - Creative Manager, THG

Jeff Kurtti is an acclaimed writer and producer in the themed entertainment, motion picture, museum/exhibit, and theater industries; as well as the author of more than 25 books, a writer-director of award-winning documentaries, and a respected public speaker.

He was producer and key creative supervisor of the definitive DVD versions of such film classics as Around the World in 80 DaysTreasure of the Sierra MadreThe Adventures of Robin HoodYankee Doodle DandyThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the RingThe Sixth SenseToy Story,FantasiaSnow WhiteMonsters, Inc. and Beauty and the Beast.  His video productions have been seen on “The Academy Awards®” and Turner Classic Movies.

Kurtti was also the creative director, content consultant, and media producer for The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco over a six-year period, as well as co-producer of The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story, an acclaimed feature documentary about legendary Disney songwriters Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.

He is the author of The Great Movie Musical Trivia Book (Applause, 1996), A Bug’s Life: The Making of an Epic of Miniature Proportions (Hyperion, 1998), What the Sea Teaches Us (Disney Editions, 2008), The Art of The Princess and the Frog (Chronicle, 2009), and Disneyland Through The Decades (Disney Editions, 2010).

Prior experience included work as a production coordinator on the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, followed by two years as assistant to the president of California Institute of the Arts, and several years working for Walt Disney Imagineering and The Walt Disney Company Corporate Special Projects.

About TEA
The TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) is an international nonprofit alliance founded in 1991 and based in Burbank, Calif. Some 1,000 TEA members represent roughly 8,000 creative specialists, from architects to designers, technical specialists to master planners, scenic fabricators to artists, and builders to feasibility analysts working in 30 US states and 32 different countries. TEA presents the annual Thea Awards and the TEA Summit and hosts the annual SATE Conference (Storytelling, Architecture, Technology, Experience). TEA also produces a variety of print and electronic publications, including the TEA/AECOM Theme Index, TEA Annual Directory and Thea Awards Program magazine. Visit www.teaconnect.org


Thea Awards Gala, 2014

About the Thea Awards
The Thea Awards, sponsored by Economics at AECOM, were created by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) to help realize a key mission of the association: bringing recognition to achievement, talent and personal excellence within the themed entertainment industry. From a modest beginning in 1994, the Thea Awards have become internationally recognized as a symbol of excellence. The public is welcome to attend the black-tie 21st Annual Thea Awards Gala, which will be held March 21, 2015 at the Disneyland Hotel, Disneyland Resort, Anaheim Calif. USA. Tickets are on sale now. The name of the award is a play on three words: the first is "Thea," the Greek goddess from whom all light emanates. Thea was the mother of Helios (the sun), Eos (the dawn), and Selene (the moon). The second key word is "Theater," a word derived from the goddess Thea. The third word, of course, is TEA, for the Association. 

About Economics at AECOM (Thea Awards Gala title sponsor) 
Economics at AECOM (formerly ERA/Economics Research Associates) is an international consulting firm focused on economic analysis for the entertainment and leisure industry, real estate development, public-policy analysis, tourism, and economic development. Since its founding in 1958, Economics at AECOM has completed over 15,000 assignments yielding unmatched experience in land use economics. In the process, the firm has made important contributions to some of the world's most innovative and successful development projects. Their projects span the globe and range from repositioning single land uses to New Towns planned over 30 years. In broad terms, Economics at AECOM assists private developers and public agencies in assessing the future economics and outcomes of real estate projects and economic development plans. Economics at AECOM offers a diverse array of economic analysis and tools to answer complex problems. Website: www.aecom.com.



Posted by Judith Rubin



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