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Conference Review An international

representation of themed attraction creators, operators and consultants assemnled at Disneyland Paris Resort recently for the latest SATE (Storytelling, Architecture,

Technology and Experience) conference from the TEA (Themed Entertainment Association).

Owen Ralph reports

Holding it all together: SATE producer Kathy Oliver

gathered in Paris for the two-and-a-half day event at the Newport Bay Club Hotel from September 19 to 21. By moving the main conference to Europe for 2012, there was some acknowledgement of the efforts that have been made over the last decade in increasing TEA membership outside North America (and indeed California). Presiding over the proceedings – which had cultural diversity as their unifying theme – were acclaimed show producer Yves Pépin and senior Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde, with much assistance from SATE producer Kathy Oliver. “Joe and I are a very good example of cultural diversity,” smiled Yves, opening the event on Wednesday night alongside TEA president Rick Rothschild. “We have travelled from all over the world to be in this room for two days, “Joe observed during his Keynote Address, “but the common thread that unites us all is that we are storytellers.” Delegates than sat back and strapped themselves in for a whirlwind presentation from this philosophical, but entertaining, Imagineer, which set the tone nicely for the two days’ discussion that followed.

Differential Destinations Yves Pépin welcomes delegates

The conference programme proper began on Thursday morning as master of ceremonies Klaus Sommer Paulsen of the CNA Creative Network Agency took to the stage, followed by an Introduction from Steve Simons of Event Communications. Prestige projects, he explained, inevitably come under political scrutiny, resulting in homogenised products designed to appeal to international audiences, yet it is those things that are different about destinations that attracts people to them. Developers of ‘world-class’ attractions take note! Kicking off the session Multicultural Teams For Cross

TEA president Rick Rothschild (left) and SATE co-chair Joe Rohde Image courtesy Phil Hartley, PHA (

SATE 2012 A

TEA attracts international audience at Disneyland Paris

fter last year’s record-breaking turnout in Orlando, and a smaller Europe-only event in Amsterdam, around 150 industry professionals

Culture Projects was Patrick Stalder, responsible for various Olympic ceremonies and sport-related spectaculars including the upcoming Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. The scale and number of stakeholders in such events means, “You never really own the project,” yet they are still hugely rewarding. Emmanuelle Charotte of ECA2 was on hand to talk about The Big O Show, a multimedia spectacular that was a highlight of this summer’s Expo 2012 in Yeosu, South Korea, and has now survived as a standalone attraction complementing an aquarium. According to moderator Bart Dohmen of BRC Imagination Arts, the three speakers lined for the session From Concept To Means: How They Go Through Cultural Borders were each worthy of keynote contributions in their own right. First was Forrec executive vice-president Steve Rhys, who gave insight into two different story-driven attractions. Aesop's Village at Everland near Seoul retells many of the famous Greek fables inside a colourful English village, while Aqua Dunya in Dubai was intended to become, “one of the few waterparks you would want to jump on a plane to go and see.” Like many other projects in the Emirate, it is currently on hold.

When working abroad, it is important to, “Listen first … especially if you’re American,” noted Keith James of Jack Rouse Associates (JRA). One question you should always ask, however, is why the attraction in question is being built – as it might now always be to make money. In the case of Ferrari World, for which JRA designed the content, the developer Aldar Properties wanted to “build an icon” that would position Abu Dhabi as an international tourist destination.

Chinese Lessons Fresh from his work on Cars Land at Disney California Adventure, Imagineer Bob Weis was invited to take on the creative portfolio of the Shanghai Disney Resort, scheduled to open in late 2015. Walt Disney

Disney Dreams! Image courtesy Phil Hartley



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