George Wiktor, president of The GW Group, has been named the new president of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), taking the gavel from immediate past president Keith James. The TEA announced its new president and several new board members at the 2002 IAAPA (International Association of Theme Parks) trade show and conference that was held in Orlando, FL, November 18-23, 2003.

Many TEA members were exhibitors at IAAPA, neatly centralized in a themed and technology area (rather than mixed in with the teddy bears and cotton candy vendors as in past years). With birds of a feather flocking together, as it were, the design and technology companies made a strong showing. While there are no major theme park projects gearing up at the moment, everybody seems to be busy with smaller projects, many in retail, museums, and smaller themed attractions. There are a few attractions at Universal on the drawing boards but they are still referred to by their "code" names. One of this is reportedly replacing the Kongfrontation attraction at Universal Studios Orlando. Stay tuned for specifics.

Gina Yates (who many of us remember fondly from her days at Vari-Lite) was on duty at Pyrotex, Randy Beckham's Texas-based pyro company. Pyrotex won an IAAPA Brass Ring Award for one of its nicely-designed print ads. The company focuses on pyrotechnics for special events, theme parks, and corporate presentations.

One surprise among the exhibitors was Visual Terrain, the LA-based lighting design firm. Many LDs attend IAAPA to network with clients, but this seems to be the first lighting design firm to actually take a booth. "It was a tough decision," says firm principal Dawn Hollingsworth, who thinks it was worth it in the long run. "We have to find strategic new ways to get new business." It will be interesting to see if other firms follow suit in the future.

Other news from IAAPA:
- Alcorn McBride provided show control and animation control at Legoland, Germany, working with Edwards Technologies;
- Electrosonic provided a projection system for the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, England, and served as the Audio Visual supplier for Thinktank, an exciting new science center in Birmingham, England, Electrosonics also reports that 2001 was a great year, and as their entertainment projects were a bit soft, they increased their video systems work in the military and intelligence communities;
- Edwards Technologies provided audio/video systems to the International Spy Musuem in Washington, D.C.;
- France's ECA2 produced "Magical Sentosa," a large-scale multi-media spectacular in Singapore in September 2002, and has a new show planned for March 2003 in Veracruz, Mexcico;
- Mark Nichols of ITEC recently completed the lighting design for The Scriptorium, a new attraction at the Holyland Experience in Orlando;
- Technifex has a lot of new projects, including a glass and steel donor wall for the new Center for Possibility Thinking at the Crystal Cathedral, the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas, and special effects for two theatres at the Chisholm Trail Museum and Heritage Center in conjunction with Jack Rouse.

IAAPA is also a place to see products for various themed attractions, with fog machines by Le Maitre, Rosco, Mee Fog and MDG on the floor, as well as LED lighting from OpiLed and Pixeon, and the Tiki Torch, which burns natural gas,from Sigma Services.

Next year, IAAPA and LDI will be held at the same time in Orlando, with IAAPA in the same location as this year and LDI across the street in the new wing of the Orange County Convention Center. That ought to be one wild party for everybody involved in entertainment design and technology for themed attractions and beyond!