TEA Connect Blog

14 May 2015

TEA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Joanna Del Moral, SVP business development, VOA Associates

"It’s fun to dream up ways to make children and adults smile by making a magical place become reality."

Joanna Del Moral is a very familiar face at TEA - a dedicated and active volunteer for several years in numerous leadership positions, and an upbeat presence at the many events she attends and helps organize with her company, VOA Associates Inc. in Orlando. She is Second Vice President of the International Board of the Themed Entertainment Association.  

How did you get your start in the industry?  

I fell into the architectural (architecture/engineering/construction - which insiders refer to as a/e/c) industry when I moved to Orlando in 1998. I soon began working with EDAW, a firm known for designing Centennial Park for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. EDAW, an international landscape architecture and planning firm, first opened my eyes to the world of the built environment. At the time they were designing exciting projects for Walt Disney World Resort, the entire master planned development for the Town of Celebration, and Universal Studios Florida. 

When I started my career there, EDAW was in the final six months or so of finishing Universal Islands of Adventure, which opened in fall 1998 - and that's what first brought me into contact with VOA. During that time, we coordinated drawings with other design team members that were working on that project including VOA Associates for the Port of Entry. At that time I thought to myself, "Wow, VOA is such a cool design firm, I would love to work for them one day!" Little did I know that would come to pass six years later.

Tell us about what you and your company specialize in and what markets you serve.

I specialize in positioning VOA for the next great design opportunity in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, branding, and planning services in the entertainment cultural and hospitality industry.

VOA, established in 1969, provides architecture, planning, interior design, and landscape architecture services. VOA has extensive experience in the planning and design of exciting theme park attractions and venues throughout the U.S. and internationally. We work closely with owners to identify and understand their vision including key messages and desired theming elements to enhance the guest experience. VOA has completed the planning and design of attractions, entertainment venues, hotels, resorts, museums, retail, dining, and entertainment destinations, and mixed-use development worldwide. Projects include all types of themed spaces: restaurants, attractions, waterparks, ride, show, retail, exhibits, and gaming facilities.

What do you find is unique about working in our industry? What’s special about Themed Entertainment? 

Themed Entertainment gives us the opportunity to engage with creative clients and work alongside an array of consultants and fellow designers in an ever changing industry. It’s fun, unique and exciting to discover the endless possibilities to create environments for castles and fairytales, and dream up ways to make children and adults smile by making a magical place become reality. 

Name an important change you have seen in the course of your career. 

One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is the incorporation and momentum of social media into all of our daily lives, personal and professional. It’s a race to see what the next big social communication trend will be, who is following, and should we be there first or next. It’s definitely an interesting dynamic on what people perceive as necessary, or not, for communication. 

How did you find out about TEA

Back in 2006, a very good friend of mine encouraged me to attend a TEA Mixer in Orlando at the Hard Rock Hotel Lounge. Next thing you know I was having an informal conversation with Universal Creative that soon led to a project. That was the day I had VOA join TEA and became an active member myself.

You have served on TEA Boards and Committees, and your company has sponsored TEA events. How would you describe the rewards of doing so? 

I have had the great pleasure of being an active member of the Eastern Board for six years including two as Secretary, and two as Eastern Division President. I currently sit on the International Board (2nd year) and am a participating member of the Marketing & Communications Committee. 

The rewards are immeasurable. I’ve worked closely with talented people across different and similar disciplines, and my TEA involvement has allowed me to meet and develop even more relationships all around the world. Leading and participating in TEA events and programs has also led to relationships that have developed into more project work for VOA. 

Over the years, VOA has supported TEA in numerous ways, from sponsoring and hosting local events, including TEA's presence at IAAPA (the annual TEA party, and the TEA booth). Sponsorships are an important strategy for VOA, and TEA has represented frequent opportunities to reinforce the message that we care about this industry and have an active presence within the Themed Entertainment design community.

Posted by Judith Rubin

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