FAQ for collegiate student organizations

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The Basics

What is themed entertainment?

Themed Entertainment refers to the vast industry of Attractions, Live Entertainment, Theme Parks and Amusement Parks. Everything from your local movie theater to Walt Disney World covering planning, engineering, customer service, food and beverage, and much more. A great way to see the scale and diversity of this industry is by checking out the IAAPA International Attractions Expo!

I am still in school and interested in working in this themed entertainment industry, what can I do to get there?

Everyone has their own path that leads to the industry. Your journey will be up to you, but being on this wiki is a good start! Two key actions you can take are gaining real world experience in your field through competitions, projects, and internships, and Networking with industry professionals at events like the IAAPA Expo and ASTM F24 Committee Meetings

What is the TEA?

“The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) is the international non-profit association representing the world’s leading creators, developers, designers and producers of compelling places and experiences - worldwide.” source

What is TEA NextGen?

“The NextGen Initiative of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) helps students and recent graduates find their way into the themed entertainment/visitor attractions industry and facilitates TEA member companies’ ability to recruit from this fresh talent pool.” source

Conferences & Events

What is IAAPA?

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) is an international trade organization dedicated to connecting members of the themed entertainment industry. The IAAPA mission statement is “to serve the membership by promoting safe operations, global development, professional growth, and commercial success of the amusement parks and attractions industry”. source

What is the IAAPA Expo?

IAAPA holds several expos yearly: IAAPA Expo Asia, IAAPA Expo Europe, and IAAPA Expo, which takes place in Orlando, FL. IAAPA Expo is the largest global conference and trade show for the themed entertainment industry. It provides attendees the opportunity to join attractions industry leaders and see the latest and greatest from the attractions industry.

What is ASTM? What is F24?

ASTM stands for the American Society for Testing and Materials, and is the international organization that develops and publishes technical standards for all sorts of materials, processes and industries. F24 is a subcommittee of ASTM that produces standards that “play a preeminent role in all aspects important to amusement rides and devices” (source). They usually meet twice a year to discuss these matters.

Where do I go to sign up for any of these events?

IAAPA Expo: iaapa.org/expos/iaapa-expo/attend ASTM: Signups don’t open until a few months before the event [1] Look at this page for a comprehensive list of all events.

Getting involved at a University

What major should I study to work in themed entertainment?

Any and all majors have a place in this industry! Take whatever it is that you’re passionate about and look for ways to study that! If STEM interests you, study engineering. There is a place in the industry for every engineering discipline. If you love arts and creativity, study design or any arts major. Whatever it is that you study, there is a way for you to enter this industry and impact experiences with your background!

What are these University Theme Park Organizations I've heard of?

Many Universities around the United States (and a few in other countries) have groups of students that form an organization amongst students studying at that college who are interested in this industry. They do things ranging from design projects, to competitions, to group trips and tours.

Does my school have an organization?

Check out our list of all known University clubs/organizations here! If your University student organization is missing from this list, please contact your leadership board to have them create their page. If your school doesn’t have an organization, you can always create one of your own! New groups form every year.

What is the difference between one of these Theme Park Organizations and a Disney Club?

Disney Clubs are dedicated to enjoying disney as a company through appreciation of its films, tv shows, theme parks, and other media. Theme Park Organizations relate more to introducing students to the themed entertainment industry.

What else can I do at school to gain industry experience?

There are all sorts of activities you can do! Try to find an activity that allows you to be creative. Think about what you want to do post graduation and try to do that. The most important organization that you can join is the one that lets you get hands on experience now.

Finding Opportunities

Wait, there is more than just Disney?

There are over 6000 member companies in IAAPA. Most of the work done on your favorite attractions is by contracted companies that specialize in certain processes and technologies. If there is a specific method you are passionate about sometimes the contractor will have opportunities that the park or operator does not have!

What are some other companies in the industry?

There is a list of themed entertainment companies that can be found on the TEA website. Link This is not an exhaustive list since there are so many companies out there, but it can be a great start to find companies near you and in your specialty.

What should I know when approaching an industry professional?

Talking with them

It is beneficial to have an elevator pitch which is a short introduction of who you are and what you are about. These pitches can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. This is only good for a first interaction or if you haven't seen them in a long time. You don't want this pitch to feel canned or artificial. The goal is to make the professional interested in you and want to have another meeting with you.

What should I have?

The context will determine what you will have on you. If you are going to IAAPA or a GibGab, it is nice to have an organized folder that holds copies of your resume you give out, a copy of your portfolio/device that can show off a virtual portfolio, your business cards, and a pen and paper to take notes on. It is important to have a well organized and presentable folder that you are well acquainted with so you can confidently navigate it while talking to professionals.

Background Research

It is good to do a little bit of background research on the person you are going to be talking to. Don't be a stalker, but it is good to know the company they work for and what their position is.