Phil Hettema President - Creative Executive

Phil Hettema is the President and Creative Executive of The Hettema Group (THG).  With a distinguished 30- year legacy in themed entertainment, Phil leads a world class team of experience designers, architects, and media producers known for creating uniquely compelling guest experiences with great emotional resonance.  Notable projects include One World Observatory at One World Trade Center; the High Roller Observation Wheel at The LINQ, Las Vegas; and Beyond All Boundaries at the National World War II Museum, New Orleans.

Prior to forming his own company, Phil Hettema was Senior Vice President, Attraction Development for Universal Studios Theme Parks Worldwide for 14 years. He was responsible for the creative development of all major attractions and shows, including Terminator 2: 3D, Jurassic Park, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Backdraft and many more.  He oversaw master planning for all five Universal parks, including domestic and international expansion for Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s PortAventura (Spain), and Universal Studios Japan, and, most notably, the conception and delivery of Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Florida.

Phil is an alumni of ArtCenter College of Design, instructed courses at the institution and endowed a scholarship for Enivronmental Design.  He has been a guest lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University, USITT, IAAPA, KIN, ICOM, SIGGRAPH, and at the TED Conference. Phil holds four patents for entertainment technology solutions and has been honored with numerous Thea awards from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) including Theas for One World Observatory (2016), Beyond All Boundaries (2010), FiestAventura (2000), The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (2000), Universal’s Islands of Adventure (2000), and Terminator 2:3D (1997).

Barbara Nelson Art Director

For three decades, Barbara has been an art director for theme parks, museums, animation, and hospitality industries worldwide.  She apprenticed under artists including Eric Larson and Ollie Johnson and learned the traditions of character art and background design.  She has worked with Walt Disney Consumer Products and The Disney Stores creating toy concepts, store environments and displays.

Barbara joined Walt Disney Imagineering as show set designer for projects including Tokyo Disney Seas, ESPN Store, Anaheim Disneyland and Shanghai Disney. She worked with Busch Entertainment and PGAV to create the first water ride attraction at Sea World in Orlando, Florida.

EDUCATION:

B.F.A., Art Center College

B.F.A., Cal State University, Northridge

INSTRUCTOR:

Art Center College, Columbus College of Art and Design, Ryman Arts Foundation

Chuck Ballew Art Director

In Chuck’s 26-year career at Walt Disney Imagineering, he worked in many different roles on a wide variety of projects. He contributed designs for multiple attractions in Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom and was the Lead Designer for five different installations of the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters attraction. He has served as Creative Director for projects in Tokyo Disney Sea and worked on the design for Toy Story Land in Disney Hollywood Studios. His artwork has been featured in numerous Disney publications including Poster Art of the Disney Parks and most recently The Art of Disney’s Dragons.

EDUCATION:

B.A., East New Mexico University

M.F.A., Carnegie Mellon University

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, 5 global installations

Indiana Jones Adventure, Disneyland, Anaheim

Tower of Terror, Tokyo Disneyland

Don Carson Senior Art Director

Don is a legend in the theme park world for his exceptional work as concept illustrator and designer. He is known for bringing focus on design principles unique to environmental storytelling to projects all over the world.

Don has applied his long career in theme park design to computer games, theater, and other media.  He strives to show the potential of using the principles of environmental storytelling to influence an audience’s experience, whether they are exploring a physical or virtual world.

EDUCATION:

University of Art College

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Splash Mountain

Blizzard Beach

Mickey’s ToonTown

Gwen Ballantyne Art Director

Gwen has leant her imagination and creativity to movies, theme parks, video games, museum exhibits, theatrical experiences, and architectural design projects worldwide for over 23 years.  She has worked as an Art Director, Concept Designer, Illustrator, Sculptor, and Costume Designer.  And each time, she transforms her design sense to suit the unique parameters of the projects, which run the spectrum from “Sesame Street to “Delta Force-Black Hawk Down.  For Walt Disney Imagineering she served as Art Director for “Journey to the Center of the Earth” at Tokyo DisneySea.

Her project client list has included Disney Imagineering, Universal Creative, Warner Bros., Paramount Parks, Henson Studios, Nickelodeon, Lionsgate, National Geographic, Sesame Street, HBO, The Hettema Group, Thinkwell Group, BRC Imagination Arts, and Novalogic.

EDUCATION:

B.F.A. in Fine Art and Anthropology, University of California at Santa Cruz

M.F.A in Production Design and Technology from California Institute of the Arts

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

World Fair Dubai 2020, Concept Designer

Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, Art Director/Show Designer

Tokyo DisneySea, Art Director/Show Designer of Journey to the Center of the Earth

Disney California Adventure, Concept designer/illustrator

Sanrio Hello Kitty Theme Park, Show Designer

NatureQuest, Fernbank Museum of Natural History GA, Art Director

Sesame Street Presents the Body Museum Tour, Art Director

 

Joe Lanzisero Senior Creative Director

Joe spent over 3 decades with the Walt Disney company starting in Feature Animation where he learned directly from Walt Disney’s “9 Old Men.” From Animation he moved to Walt Disney Imagineering where he rose to be the Senior Vice President Creative in charge of the design for the Tokyo Disney Resort, Hong Kong Resort and the Disney Cruise Lines. He led the design for many unique and iconic projects around the world including Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland, Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland and the latest state of the art cruise ships The Disney Dream and Fantasy. His artwork and designs have been featured in numerous publication, is often quoted, and speaks on design around the world.

EDUCATION:

B.A., Character Animation, Cal Arts

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney Cruise Lines

Tokyo Disney Resort

Mickey’s Toontown

Keith Kaminski Art Director

Keith experienced numerous creative careers over his past 33 years in the entertainment industry before joining The Hettema Group in 2015. He worked with Disney legend, Bob Gurr at Sequoia Creative, Entertainment Design International and spent seven years at Universal Studios where he served as Production Designer for multiple areas within the parks. His work at Universal included, The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Ride, Sneech Beach, Mayor’s Grandstand, Truffula Forest and ‘If I Ran the Zoo’ Children’s play area. Keith was also lead designer for the Universal Studios backlot tram tour ‘Mummy Experience’ and The Flying Unicorn coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida.

EDUCATION:

BFA, Art Center College of Design (Illustration ‘83)

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

White House Halloween 2010

Busch Gardens Tampa “Howl-O-Scream” Designer/Art Director 2005 to Present

Eli Roth’s “Goretorium” Year-round haunted experience, Las Vegas

On screen artwork for Frasier, Saved by the Bell, Love and War etc.

Laura Garrett Design Manager

Laura’s first experience visiting Las Vegas, at age 8, forever changed her by showcasing the endless possibilities of spatial experience, the magic that can be generated in highly themed spaces and how that transforms our perception. After receiving a BFA in Interior Design from the California College of Arts, she left San Francisco to head to Los Angeles for a chance to create highly unique and distinctive spaces. Eight years later with The Hettema Group, Laura is now a design manager, providing overall direction of the graphic design department and creating presentations to reflect the creative stories THG tells and the experiences they create.

EDUCATION:

B.A., California College of the Arts

A.A., Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising

Notable Project:

One World Observatory at One World Trade Center, New York City

High Roller Observation Wheel, Las Vegas

 

Mark Shumate Art Director

Mark Shumate has created dozens of dynamic attractions, environments and events in America and Europe, over a battle-hardened career spanning somewhat more than 20 years. He has left his design fingerprints on presentations ranging in scope from kiosks to major attractions to full theme parks for a list of companies that include Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Creative, Busch Gardens and Paramount Parks. 

In addition, he has designed and executed stadium-wide spectacles including events for Olympic Ceremonies.  Mark has a BFA in Theatre Design from California State University, Sacramento and did graduate work in the Theatre Design Program at UCLA. He also studied at The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California where he currently teaches Entertainment Design. He holds 2 patents for attraction innovations and is a LEED accredited designer. 

EDUCATION:

BFA, Theatre Design, California State University, Sacramento

 

Martina Kostkas Marketing and Business Development Manager

Martina joined The Hettema Group’s Business Development department in 2015 after working for a Los Angeles-based private lender for almost nine years. Her background is in Marketing, Fine Art and Education.  Martina has taught developmental skills and Fine Art to children ages 3 to 12, and continues to advocate for the arts by volunteering her time to schools and local education programs.  In her free time, you can find Martina enjoying a walk in the Angeles Mountains with her pup, Maya.

EDUCATION:

B.A., California State University Los Angeles

Nina Rae Vaughn Art Director

For more than three decades, Nina has been a major creative force in theme park attractions, fountains,

museums and hospitality venues worldwide. During her 20 years at Walt Disney Imagineering she started as a Special Effects Designer during the development of EPCOT to Director of Design on Pooh’s HunnyHunt, Tokyo Disneyland. She has contributed to countless Disney projects and created many of the park “Fun Maps”.

Early in Nina’s career she was a fountain designer at WET Design, responsible for design, presentation and field installation. Projects prior to joining THG include Paramount Park Spain, Harry Potter, Universal Orlando, Shanghai Disneyland and creating the design for “The Disneyland of Walt’s Imagination Model” at the Walt Disney Family Museum, San Francisco.

EDUCATION:

Art Center College of Design

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Pooh’s Hunnyhunt, Tokyo Disneyland

Main Street, Disneyland Paris

Disney Hollywood Studios, Orlando

Indiana Jones Adventure, Disneyland

Los Angeles Music Center Fountain

Fountain Place, Dallas

FEATURED GUEST SPEAKER and CONTRIBUTING ARTIST:

Disney Cruise Line, Art Center College of Design, Ryman Foundation Living Master’s Program

Scott Chase Art Director

For more than 25 years, Scott has worked with leading worldwide entertainment companies and museums to bring a wide variety of projects to the public.   

With more than a decade of experience at Walt Disney Imagineering, Scott served in key design roles on numerous Disney theme park projects, including extended assignments on the Shanghai Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea design teams.

Other projects include The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, “Top of the Rock” Observation Decks and Visitor Center at Rockefeller Center, and exhibits for The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.

Education:

B.A. Art/Graphic Design, San Diego State University

Notable Projects:

Shanghai Disneyland, Tomorrowland

Tokyo DisneySea, Port Discovery and Fortress Explorations

“CSI: The Experience”, Traveling Science Center Exhibit

Scott Sinclair Senior Creative Director

Scott has played key roles in concept and design on numerous high profile projects including Lotte World interactive dark ride, the Hello Kitty Theme Park in Anji, China, Tokyo DisneySea, Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland, Disneyland Marketing and Entertainment Division live stage shows and parades, Sony’s retail entertainment center, Metreon in San Francisco and Mediage in Tokyo.

Scott has been lead designer on a number of ambitious projects, including Paul Allen’s Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle, The National Ag Science Center in Modesto, California,  Ski Dubai for Thinkwell, and Paul Allen’s “Flying Heritage Collection,” a WWII fighter plane display in Seattle.

EDUCATION:

B.A., California State Long Beach

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Tokyo DisneySea

Dollywood

Dubai Media Center

Ski Dubai

Abbey Road Studios

Chicago Museum of Science & Industry

Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Seattle

Tim Kirk Show Designer

Tim was an Imagineer at the Walt Disney Company for 22 years and still consults for Disney Theme Parks worldwide.  Tim is a designer and illustrator with wide experience in a broad media spectrum — from theme park and museum exhibit design to book illustration and greeting cards. Other projects include the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the University of Notre Dame, Ghiradelli Chocolate, and the Mini Time Machine of Miniatures in Tucson, Arizona.

AWARDS:

5-time winner of the Hugo Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy Illustration

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Tokyo DisneySea

Disney-MGM Studio Tour,  Walt Disney World

First American artist to illustrate the J.R.R. Tolkien Calendar for Ballantine Books

Tolkien work is featured in the Greisinger Museum in Switzerland

Tom Vannucci Creative Director

Tom’s 25 years of experience in entertainment crosses multiple genres including film, television, theme parks, large scale spectaculars, sports and special events.  He has served as creative director, director, writer and choreographer for companies such as Paramount, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, The NBA and PAC 12 Properties.  Tom’s long relationship with Halloween allowed him to collaborate and direct multiple projects with the unflappble Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.  His directorial, conceptual and choreographic theatricality has garnished him awards from The Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios and the NBA, to name a few. Since joining The Hettema Group, Tom has had the honor of being a part of the One World Observatory, Union Station 360 and Thea Awards creative teams.

Education:

M.F.A., United States International University

 

Notable Projects

Mystic Rhythms, Tokyo Disney Sea

C’est Magique, Disney Cruise Lines

Universal 360 A Cinesphere Spectacular, Universal Studios Orlando

Marvel Superhero Stunt Show, Universal Studios Hollywood

All for One, Three Musketeers Stunt Show, Busch Gardens Williamsburg

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