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Themed Entertainment on both sides of the brain


by Steve Thorburn, TEA president

Don Winton talked about the left and right halves of the brain in his opening presentation about storytelling, and the brain’s hemispheres and their roles became an impromptu and recurring theme throughout today’s discussions (Mike West had a lot of fun with it in the panel discussion “Getting Inside the Head of the Visitor, ” distinguishing himself as one whose brain runs front to back and zigzag).

SATE (Storytelling-Architecture-Technology-Experience) furnishes a unique opportunity for members of the Experience industry to share and examine the creative process in a non-confrontational way, for different specialties to have dialogue and start to understand one another’s perspectives, and put it all together into a collective big picture. The conversations each year continue to bring our members closer together through education and methods of collaboration. Shmoozing happens and deals might even get made, or started. Will contracts be signed this week between SATE delegates? Probably not. Will relationships be forged or fortified that lead to contracts? Undoubtedly.

Storytelling is the main thrust of SATE – what storytelling is, how great stories are made into great guest experiences, and the creative disciplines and technological tools and teamwork that facilitate the process are somewhat demystified.

Naturally we heard a lot about social networking and digital tools and devices, and discussion of how to utilize these tools for better storytelling and better and richer guest experiences from the queueline to the post-show “deprogramming” (as one delegate termed it). Phil Hettema‘s presentation about designing experiences for the iPhone generation put it all into good context.

Jeff Mayer and Jumana Brodersen‘s presentation about placemaking and iconic buildings, the role of architecture in themed entertainment and the architectural process gave us all the benefit of both speakers’ extensive experience in the field. This was a useful contribution to the ongoing dialogue between design, technology and architectural specialties in our industry.

The exit queue from the conference room led more or less directly to Epcot, where we were given the opportunity to experience the Kim Possible Adventure in the World Showcase, a breakthrough application of technology distinguished by a Thea Award not long ago.

Today’s sessions laid the mental foundation for what we will do tomorrow, now that our left and right brains have been thoroughly warmed up and rewired: the Blue Sky Adventure, where we will have a series of charrette-type sessions in which we will design a hypothetical architectural icon and guest experience on the Central California coast.

Thanks are due to many, but to mention a few names: SATE organizers Larry Tuch, Jeff Mayer and Lenny Larsen have done a fine job this year. Below is today’s program and speaker list.

9:15 – 10:15  The Magic begins with story  Don Winton
10:15 – 11:15  Story as a Strategic driver  Dave and Linda Smith, Smithink 
11:30 – 12:30 Panel DiscussionGetting inside the Head of the Visitor
Moderator: Matthew Solari, BRC Imagination Arts
Panelists: Mike West, Universal Creative
Steve Snyder, The Franklin Institute
Margaret King, Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis


1:30 – 2:30 Panel Discussion – Architecture & Placemaking
Jeff Mayer, Jeff Mayer & Partners, LLC
Jumana Brodersen, J Co, LLC


2:30 – 3:30 Interactivity & Immersion for the IPhone Generation 
Phil Hettema, The Hettema Group
3:45 – 4:45 Panel Discussion – Technology forTomorrow’s guest
Moderator: Lenny Larsen, Next Generation Creative
Panelists: Rick Rothschild, FAR Out! Creative Direction
Chris Stapleton, International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality
Michael Epstein, Untravel Media

Image: Walt Disney World

See also:
Reconciling Architecture and Acoustics in the LEED Era
Themed Design: Modern Building Design Demands Partnership between Tech Designers and Architects
Themed Design: Seven Steps of Tech Design Success
Theme Parks: Fun For Mom at Manta
InfoComm’s Audiovisual Marketplace: The floor according to Steve
Themed Entertainment: TEA Hosts 3rd Annual SATE Conference

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Rachel Reed

Rachel Read

Rachel is Finance Director. She has a degree in engineering from Cambridge University and qualified as a Chartered Accountant at Deloittes in London. She worked in finance in industry for twenty years. She oversees our news and also manages our events.

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