Each year at the start of the IAAPA Convention the Themed Entertainment Association announces their list of Thea Award recipients, a coveted award that celebrates excellence and breakthrough innovation within the themed entertainment industry.
This year's list of winners is as impressive as ever, since 2012 was a mighty year for new themed experiences to debut.
Mr Stanek's long list of parks he has been involved with include Epcot Center, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and Universal Studios Japan.
The Thea Classic award went to Germany's Europa Park, which is owned and operated by the minds behind Mack Rides. The park started as a showcase for the company's attractions, "but over the decades, by alternating innovation and adaptation, applying the world’s best practices together with their own brand of creativity, Europa-Park has grown into one of the most important theme parks in the world."
While I have never had the pleasure of visiting Europa Park I've never heard a bad thing about it, and it is regarded in our community as one of the best out there. A deserving award, indeed.
The Thea Awards also recognize individual attractions with their Outstanding Achievement Awards. Among them this year are three different awards for projects that were part of the new Disney California Adventure theme park.
Near the entrance of Disney California Adventure, the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge also picked up an Outstanding Achievement award.
Another attraction that was recognized is Transformers: The Ride at both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Singapore. Delighting guests at both parks, Transformers is an immersive, next-generation thrill ride that blurs the line between fiction and reality, and puts guests in the middle of the ultimate war zone."
The Outstanding Achievement awards are not only for single attractions, however, as even and entire resort may be a winner. Such is the case with Disney's Aulani, a full resort and hotel located in beautiful Hawaii.
Other Outstanding Achievement awards went to Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, Calgary, Canada, Aquanura at Efteling Park in the Netherlands, Tait Pixel Tablets for their use in the London Olypmic Games, and the Making of Harry Potter studio tour in England.
For more information on all the outstanding winners of this year's Thea Awards, check out this feature story.