TEA is now celebrating its 20th anniversary. A natural consequence of the passage of those two decades is that some TEA members are now 20 years older than they were when this international association was founded in 1991.
When professionals have accumulated experience and knowledge in a field - particularly something as specialized, unique and rewarding as what TEA calls "the creation of compelling Experiences and Places" - they look for ways to pass along what they have learned. There's a keen desire among TEA's mature members to keep the culture of the industry and the association going while continuing to evolve and remain relevant - in other words, an inter-generational exchange is needed, with both sides listening, learning and teaching. Several programs are in place, and others in development, for outreach to recruit students and young professionals to find their way in the themed entertainment business and become active in TEA.
These programs are bearing fruit - young, creative people are finding us and showing up at TEA events. Once they are there, the time-honored practice of face-to-face networking (the technical term, borrowed from the Yiddish, is "shmoozing") comes into play. Here are five young people I interviewed at SATE's evening gathering at Discovery Cove. Four of them are looking to break into the industry and one of them is already in business.
Paul Martucci lives in New York City and grew up in New Jersey. He is a CPA and currently works as an auditor. He explained that his passion for theme parks and experiential storytelling led him to SATE - he joined the TEA group on LinkedIn and followed the SATE blog. Paul is now considering going back to school for a graduate degree related to themed entertainment. He was intrigued by the SATE session on Technology and Personalized Experience. "I'm excited about inventing new messages to deliver," he said. "We're still just skimming the surface with mobile technology." Paul's favorite attraction is Tower of Terror at Walt Disney World in Orlando. "The level of theming amazes me." His favorite theme park is Epcot. He has traveled in Europe and studied in Geneva.
Andrew Hansen is a double major (Architecture and International Studies) at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia. A year ago he discovered the Season Pass podcast series which led him to attend SATE this year and become a student member of TEA. Andrew wants to be an entertainment architect and has a strong interest in urban planning. He remarked on the contrast between his formal education and the panel discussions at SATE: "SATE is very different from school - it's more organic." His favorite theme park is Disneyland, and he also holds annual passes to SeaWorld and Universal Studios. His family has visited Disneyland regularly since he was a child, and "a day in Disneyland always starts in the Tiki Room."
SATE 2012 is now in the planning stages - it will take place in September at a location in Europe, TBD.