Thursday, April 11, 2013
Casting a Magical Spell at the Thea Awards

It was a magical night at the Thea Awards this past Saturday as 550 guests gathered in the Grand Disney Ballroom at The Disneyland Hotel for the annual Thea Awards presented by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA).

“The awards recognize and honor excellence and breakthrough innovation within our industry, wherever it is to be found,” says TEA president Christine Kerr of BaAM Productions. “From Harry Potter to Cars Land, from Transformers to Canadian sports, from the brief run of a world expo to the sustained success of a classic theme park, this year’s Thea Awards are helping define the next generation of Experience Design while staying firmly rooted in the core tradition of storytelling.”

It was storytelling, combined with hard work, creativity and an amazing tour experience that earned the team of Warner Bros. Studio Tour London — The Making of Harry Potter the Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement!

The award was the last of the evening and was one that truly cast a magical spell over the finale. As a newly “sorted” Gryffindor at Hogwarts, the young student (portrayed by actor Valin Shinyei, who donned an authentic costume flown in from Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden) came on stage to present the award for Outstanding Achievement, eight Death Eaters (also dressed in costumes from the films), crept on stage, ready to surround him. In danger, the boy wizard called out to the audience for help. The crowd was ready and armed with wands that had been given to them earlier. Prompted by the young boy, they recited the spell “Petrificus Totalus” in an effort to vanquish the Death Eaters. A flurry of choreographed special effects — fog, strobe lights and indoor pyro — signaled the demise of the Death Eaters much to the pleasure of the audience, who gave a cheer and a rousing round of applause.

Jon Gilbert, President of Worldwide Studio Facilities, Warner Bros. Entertainment, accepted the award for Outstanding Achievement for Warner Bros. Studio Tour London — The Making of Harry Potter. Gilbert was joined on stage by Craig Hanna, Chief Creative Officer of Thinkwell Group, who created and produced the tour.

Thea awardees on the main stage included the team from Thinkwell Group, Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, and Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank.

Following the show, guests were invited to an interactive photo opportunity with the Death Eaters against a 10-foot, branded back drop featuring an image of the cobbled wizards’ shopping area, Diagon Alley, from the Warner Bros. Tour London — The Making of Harry Potter.

Making peace with the Death Eaters. From L – R: Lisa Janney, Vice President Corporate Archives, Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank, Nicole Elliott, Producer, Warner Bros. Studios Special Events, Burbank, Jon Gilbert, and me, Hillary Harris!

An interesting side note for you Potter fans — we actually flew in Mason Kayne, a stuntman from London, to play the part of one of the Death Eaters. Kayne was a Death Eater in five of the films and was on hand to train the cast in wand wizardry.

L – R: Jon Gilbert, Sarah Roots,  Vice President and General Manager, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London — The Making of Harry Potter; and Dominic Wong, Marketing and Communications Director, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London — The Making of Harry Potter.

Actor Valin Shinyei with Death Eaters.

L – R: Craig Hanna and his team from Thinkwell Group with Jon Gilbert, Sarah Roots and Dominic Wong.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London — The Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros Studio Tour London provides an amazing new opportunity to explore the magic of the Harry Potter™ films — the most successful film series of all time. This unique walking tour takes you behind-the-scenes and showcases a huge array of beautiful sets, costumes and props. It also reveals some closely guarded secrets, including facts about the special effects and animatronics that made these films so hugely popular all over the world.

http://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/

Congratulations to all!

All photos from the Thea Awards by ImageGroupLA