The Force was with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts recently when Star Tours -- The Adventures Continue earned one of four top Disney honors among the 18th annual Thea Awards announced by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA).
Star Tours -- The Adventures Continue, which opened at Disneyland Park and Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort this past summer, took a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement -- Attraction Refresh. Other top Thea Awards went to The Magic, The Memories, and You! at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort for Outstanding Achievement -- Show Spectacular and to Animation Magic at Animator's Palate aboard the soon-to-launch Disney Fantasy cruise ship for Ingenious use of Technology.
The awards, to be presented at a March gala at the Disneyland Hotel, pay tribute to excellence in the creation of extraordinary experiences, attractions, exhibits and places around the world. TEA International Board President Rick Rothschild says the themed entertainment industry is "producing wonderful examples of achievement in a broader and broader market." And while technology, interactivity and sophistication of themed environments are key factors in presenting the awards, storytelling is at the heart of the best themed attractions.
"It all starts with story, and that's certainly a thing well understood by Disney and by our industry," says Rothschild, adding that the themed-entertainment creative bar gets higher each year. "The proficiency and capabilities availed by technological advances do certainly play into the bar, but it's not technology alone. It's the creative ingenuity of the individuals at all levels of our industry that challenge themselves to discover new ways of storytelling."
The Thea Awards committee praised Star Tours -- The Adventures Continue for staying true to the Star Wars stories and for the attraction's "breakthrough experience" featuring new story elements, advanced special effects, guest interaction and 54 potential show scenarios.