Sentinel Staff Writer
Universal Orlando has landed four Thea Awards for its Wizarding World of Harry Potter area and the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride that opened earlier this year at its Islands of Adventure theme park. The awards, established by the Themed Entertainment Association, were announced during the gathering of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) in Orlando.
Wizarding World was recognized for outstanding achievement in the "new theme park land" and "thematic integration of retail, food and beverage experiences" categories. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey received notice for outstanding achievement for "featured attraction" and "technical achievement."
The nominating committee made reference to the "jaw-dropping grand overview of Hogsmeade Village and the imposing edifice of Hogwarts Castle." In Forbidden Journey, committee members were taken with the level of detail and made specific mention of Dumbledore's Office, the Portrait Gallery, the animatronic Sorting Hat and "convincing images of key film characters."
For the retail award, the committee made note of the folks waiting an hour to enter the wand shop, and said it was amazing not to see a cola or churro there. "This could be an eye-opener for operators that are buried by the usual trinkets and fast food on exhibit at IAAPA," the committee wrote.
Disney-related Thea Award winners included World of Color at Disney's California Adventure for "nighttime spectacular" and the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco in the museum category.
Kim Irwin, art director at Disneyland, recerived the Buzz Peterson Award for a lifetime of distinguished achievements. Irwin, daughter of Imagineer Leota Toombs, also had a hand in Disney World projects, including "it's a small world," interiors for the Contemporary and the Germany, Mexico, Universe of Energy and The Land areas of Epcot.
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