THEA Awards honors creative leaders of theme parks while upsetting 9/11 victims’ families


The annual THEA Awards is a crowning achievement for those in the themed entertainment industry, including museums, zoos and other attractions that serve, and entertain visitors. Over the weekend, members from various theme parks traveled to Anaheim to accept the awards, and also showcase some of the biggest highlights in the industry over the past year. The 21st annual awards also received a bit of backlash for honoring the 9/11 museum for their outstanding achievements. The awards were announced in November of 2014, so there are no secrets, no hidden ballots, just the chance for the themed entertainment industry to honor some of their own.



The winners were originally announced at the annual IAAPA Expo in Orlando, in November of 2014. The awards span the globe, and honor attractions of all sizes, budgets and technical innovation. The biggest awards were the “Classic Award” which was given to “It’s a Small World” at Disneyland. The attraction recently celebrated 60 years, and has become a theme park institution, creating a standard in entertainment that is still looked upon to this day.

The Buzz Price Award honors an individual who has achieved so much in their lifetime towards the themed entertainment industry. This years’ recipient was Ron Miziker, from the Miziker Entertainment group.

Individual awards include categories for Best attraction on a limited budget, New park or land on a limited budget, and extraordinary cultural achievements. New this year is the “Paragon Award” which was created specifically to honor Universal Orlando’s massive Diagon Alley expansion at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.


Here’s a list of the winners:


THE BUZZ PRICE THEA AWARD – Recognizing a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements
Ron Miziker, Miziker Entertainment Group

“it’s a small world,” Disneyland (Anaheim, Calif. USA)

The Time Machine, Parc du Futuroscope (Poitiers, France) – Attraction Rehab on a Limited Budget

Chimelong Ocean Kingdom (Zhuhai, China) – Theme Park

Gratassland “The Land of the Little Grey Tractor,” Kongeparken (Norway) – New Park Land, Limited Budget

Wilderness Explorers, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World (Orlando) – Attraction, Limited Budget

National September 11 Memorial Museum (New York City, USA) – Extraordinary Cultural Achievement

Wonder Rooms at Gemeentemuseum (The Hague) – Museum Exhibit

Nature Lab, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County – Museum Exhibition, Limited Budget

The Legend of Lady White Snake (Zhenjiang, China) – Event Spectacular

The Grand Hall Experience at Saint Louis Union Station (Saint Louis, USA) – Live Show, Limited Budget

Wings of Time (Sentosa Island, Singapore) – Event Spectacular

Bistrot Chéz Remy, Walt Disney Studios Park (Disneyland Paris) – Themed Restaurant

The StoryGarden at The Amorepacific Beauty Campus (Gyeonggi-do, South Korea) – Corporate Brand-Land

Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Florida (Orlando) – Paragon Award
(specifically honoring Diagon Alley, Hogwarts Express and Diagon Alley Retail/Dining)

Harry Potter & The Escape from Gringotts, Universal Studios Florida (Orlando) – Attraction

Interactive Wands – Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Florida – Technical Excellence


While most celebrated the awards, one award was booed and even offended some. The 9/11 museum in New York City is one of the most emotional attractions in the city. It tells stories of the victims, along with audio recordings and items found among the debris at Ground Zero.
It has exceeded projected attendance with over 2 million visitors annually, but it’s the receiving of the award that has many upset.
According to the New York Post, many families of the victims are upset at the award, because they feel it is turning their memory into a “freak show”. The award was the “Extraordinary Cultural Achievement Award” which is usually bestowed on museums and other culturally enriching exhibits. The fact that the museum won an award given by leaders in the themed amusement industry seems to be the point of contention.

Still, the awards recognize excellence in a variety of fields, and to win the award is a huge honor, one that can also effect attendance.

Congratulations to all the winners. The next round of awards will be announced at IAAPA in November.

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