Industry Event

Paul Osterhout, VP Universal Parks and Resorts


his year’s European meeting took place on May 2 and 3 at Europa Park, and, as in years before, SATE celebrated a collaborative culture of production, where

Dr Alysia Sagi-Dolevfrom, Qylur Intelligent Systems and team

designers, technologists, producers, developers and operators work closely together from the early stages of a project, in a team structure often more horizontal than hierarchical. Created by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) in

2007 to promote professional dialog, SATE reaches across a broad range of creative disciplines and market sectors within the attractions industry. 120 participants from 17 countries gathered in Rust,

Germany, to discuss this year’s topic at Europa Park: “Industry Landscape: The power of the collective in creating shared experiences that are shaping themed entertainment.” The two-day conference focused on helping delegates

Koert Vermeulen, founder and managing partner ACTLD

understand how attractions are being shaped by current developments and rising innovations. Guest speakers from a range of industry disciplines shared their experiences and insights on topics such as: taking a strategic approach to IPs and branding, accessibility as a premise instead of an after- thought, the evolution of shopping centres as community gathering spaces, and more. Germany’s biggest theme park provided the stage for an

array of questions, conversations, and networking opportunities. “Europa-Park is one of the top leading parks in Europe; it is family-owned and run, and sets very high standards in every aspect of what it does.” explained Willrich. “It is a very relevant venue for SATE given that both Europa-Park and SATE represent the best our industry has to offer.” As keynote speaker, founder of Europa Park, Roland Mack, discussed the successes, challenges, and opportunities faced by the family business. Mack also addressed the difficulty of bringing existing recreational facilities into harmony with local nature and residents. “The risk of founding the park was high. We had no

Clara Rice, director of communications, Jack Rouse Associates


experience and had to use all our equity to get everything going,” Mack explained. “It was certainly a mix of courage, enthusiasm, passion, joy, and optimism that drove us. Looking into

Story, architecture, and technology equals experience – that’s what SATE stands for, and president of TEA, David Willrich, comments that, “when all four points come together, fabulous themed worlds can emerge.”

the future, I think being close to visitors is extremely important. We need to take in moods, preferences, and wishes in order to always have a new sense of what we still have to work on.” Mack, born in Freiburg and a student of mechanical engineering, created the idea for Europa Park together with his father in the 1970s. The park’s concept was developed during his time in America, and over the next years he, his father Franz and brother Jürgen turned a day-trip destination into an international icon of recreational enterprise. In 2013, Europa Park was honoured with the TEA Classic Award by the Themed Entertainment Association. SATE saw a vested interest in the expansion of the Asian

leisure market as more and more shopping malls become entertainment hotspots. Digital future technologies – such as rooms that interact with guests – also found the spotlight, with a novel sound system from America particularly interesting experts. The system could, in the future, combine different language versions of a movie within a theatre. Though media modernisations were at the fore of many of

the discussions during the conference, the conclusion drawn by the international representatives of the theme park industry was that emotion beats technology. There’s no stopping the tidal surge of VR and projection technology that’s sweeping through the industry. Digitisation looks to be a big part of the future, but human connections made in real time proved to be the most significant takeaway. ‘People love contact with each other, technology is simply a

tool,’ was a keynote from the experts. The environment of a theme park and how they successfully embed visitors within stories will continue to be what guarantees success in the future. The next time the TEA SATE conference convenes in Europe

there will be a new president as head of the association. David Willrich, whose second term as the TEA’s International President will end in November 2017, will hand the title over to Michael Mercadante, currently president and senior exhibit designer of US company Main Street Design. At this year’s event, Willrich commented: “Our secret for great ideas? We are a group of people who will never grow up.”

JUNE 2018

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