A Different View: The 2020 TEA Summit Digital Case Study

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10 years in the making. A veritable army of people had been a part of creating it. Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi has been a part of Thinkwell, in one form or another, for half of the company’s history. We were thrilled to celebrate its recognition with a Thea for Outstanding Achievement – Theme Park and eagerly honed our presentation to share at Case Study day at the TEA Summit 2020 with friends, peers, colleagues, and collaborators from around the world.

Needless to say, 2020 had other plans. We are eternally grateful to the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) for figuring out a way to bring the case studies online, but as we prepared, it was natural to worry that it would feel more remote, that it would lose the collegiality that being in the room brings. Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi creative director and former Thinkwellian Dave Cobb and Miral’s Glenn Davidson led a candid discussion about the park, highlighted by videos narrated by Craig Hanna, Thinkwell co-founder and Chief Creative Officer. The online platform made the Q&A more vibrant and participatory – strangely akin to a Netflix watch party with distant friends. Separate, in our homes and offices, we all got to eavesdrop as Glenn and Dave nattered with the four WDI presenters for Galaxy’s Edge and Smuggler’s Run, a masterclass in what goes into these megascale projects.TEA Summit 2020 Dave Cobb

This banter reinforced that no matter the disparate nature of our projects, we all do ridiculous, incredible things in the service of making amazing experiences for people. Typically, when presenting at case studies, you cannot see the audience reaction – here, we were all hanging out in a virtual family room, reveling in the oohs and ahhs of peers and colleagues, watching them geek out, have their minds blown, talk about what they loved about this massive undertaking we’d labored on for so long. It was an unexpected bright spot for so many of us who’d been involved in this amazing project.

We don’t know what Summit will look like next year, if the promising vaccines in development will make it possible for us to be together in Anaheim in the spring, or if the case studies will be virtual again. Whatever form it takes, we’re excited to share our latest project to be honored with a 2020 Thea Award: Midnight Ride at Lionsgate Entertainment World.