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 Amusement Parks and Attractions) trade show and conference that was held in Orlando, FL, November 18-23, 2002.

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 board but they are still referred to by their code names. One of these is reportedly replacing the Kongfrontation attraction at Universal Studios Orlando. Stay tuned for specifics.

Gina Yates (whom 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.

Leter this year, IAAPA and LDI will be held at the same time in Orlando, with IAAPA in the same location as last year and LDI across the street in the new wing of the Orange County Convention Center. That ought to be one wild party.