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).
As an illustrator and concept artist Alex has worked on animated films, theme parks, and various experiential projects. Alex’s skill set includes concept rendering, concept ideation, background design, and background painting.
Alex has worked as a background painter, concept designer, colorist, and illustrator for multiple studios including Universal, Thinkwell, Rethink Leisure and Entertainment, and Rough Draft Studios.
B.A., Illustration/Entertainment Arts, Art Center College of Design
Warner Brothers Theme Park, Dubai
Twentieth Century Fox, Dubai
Season 7, Futurama
How Murray Saved Christmas
Carol is a self-taught artist who has worked in the entertainment biz since her early twenties. She grew up in a small town in Kentucky and left home at a young age to conquer the world. Her first stop along the way was New York City, where she landed a job with a comic book company as a colorist. She was mentored by many talented artists and soon began her design career, first by hand-painting the pages. When technology entered the world of design, Carol quickly moved into digital paint. Her love of the digital world presented several opportunities and she soon found herself in Hollywood working on movies, television series and commercials as a visual effects artist. She eventually became a supervisor and artist for Stereoscopic Conversion. Carol’s love for and involvement with creating fantasy worlds became a natural transition into the themed entertainment industry. She has been working for the last several years in various design roles in themed entertainment, including color and color concept, interior design, scenic design and dimensional design.
Bloodshot, Turok, Solar, Shadow Man, Rocky Horror Picture Show
Daredevil, I Robot, The Simpsons, Harry Potter
Bollywood Park, Dubai
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.
B.A., East New Mexico University
M.F.A., Carnegie Mellon University
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, 5 global installations
Indiana Jones Adventure, Disneyland, Anaheim
Tower of Terror, Tokyo Disneyland
Connor is a graphic designer from Westport, Connecticut. As the son of two creative parents he discovered a love for art and design at an early age. After receiving a BFA from The Savannah College of Art and Design, Connor left the East Coast to pursue a career in location based entertainment. Five years later, as a member of The Hettema Group graphic design team, he helps to create marquee signage, environmental graphics, and marketing presentations for some of most unique and innovative experiences worldwide. Connor’s interests include hand typography, model building, customizing cars, and snuggling with his cat.
B.F.A., Graphic Design, Savannah College of Art and Design
As an entertainment industry veteran, Danny Hartigan has over 34 years of experience as a producer, creative director, writer, and consultant for a myriad of entertainment genres from theme parks, animation, film, live theatre, museums, attractions, and experience design. Proficient in all aspects of the storytelling process including idea generation, treatment and scriptwriting, casting, live show direction, exhibit design, art direction, producing and creative leadership.
As a part of the SAK entertainment company in Orlando Danny was initially hired to develop and perform live comedy shows in the Italian pavilion at EPCOT. Throughout the 80s, Disney used SAK as a creative think tank and worked closely with creative park services to develop and produce numerous and distinct shows for EPCOT, Disney World and MGM Studios, (now Hollywood Studios).
Bollywood and Motiongate Parks, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Universal Studios Hollywood Special Effects Show
Cinemagique at Walt Disney Studios Park, Paris
Animation Celebration, Universal Studios Japan
Heineken Experience, Amsterdam
David has been working in 3 D (as in 3d modeling/animation) for well over a decade. In his years at Technicolor and Walt Disney Imagineering he created elaborate 3D worlds touching on all elements from modeling, texturing, lighting, animating and particle FX. The majority of his current focus has been working on pre-viz for Disney theme park rides and attractions.
When looking to free his brain from the detailed world of 3Dcreation, David can usually be found with guitar in hand. A graduate of the Atlanta Institute of Music and creator of GuitarBreakdown.com, music is not only his original passion, but is a huge asset when it comes to understanding the timing beats, rhythms and flow when animating and editing.
Atlanta Institute of Music
Gnomon School of Visual Effects
Voted “best guitarist Orlando, FL” 1992
With experience in the world of theatre and a background in art, David feels right at home in the themed entertainment industry. Whether concept design, color work, or illustration, David strives for quality, beauty, and consistency.
As an illustrator on Motiongate Dubai, David developed the visual design for a wide mix of dark rides, flat rides, play areas, retail spaces, and restaurants. He has additional experience in interiors, art direction, production design, and model making.
While not working on theme parks, David spends time designing sets and props for regional theatre productions.
Bachelor of Science, Graphic Design & Illustration, Communications Minor – Grace College, Winona Lake, IN
Master of Fine Arts, Scenic Design – University of California, Irvine
Bollywood Parks Dubai
Devin is a creative director and writer with 15 years of experience in themed entertainment, film, and television. He has conceived and created theme parks, shows, and attractions for world-class clients like Walt Disney Imagineering, Warner Bros., Sony, Lionsgate, Nickelodeon, Sea World, LEGO, DC Comics, the NFL, the NBA, and the Smithsonian Institution.
As Area Creative Director for Motiongate Dubai, he created seven major attractions for the park’s Sony Pictures Studios zone. Devin developed all attractions for the indoor Eon Time World park in Harbin. His television and film credits include R.I.P.D., Lie to Me, and The Chicago Code.
B.A., College of William & Mary
M.F.A., University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts
Warner Bros. Park Abu Dhabi
The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort
Sea World Australia, Storm Coaster
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.
University of Art College
With professional experience in the entertainment business, Estephan provided art and creative direction in TV production for a major network in Brazil. In the US, he has designed sets for corporate businesses, exhibits, sports and music events. His work includes global theme park development, facility and attraction design, food & beverage and retail development, rock work, landscaping and ride vehicle design. With the use of 3D models, realistic renderings, animations, scale models and drawings, he serves as the bridge between the concept stage and the project production.
F.A.A.P.Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado, Sao Paulo, Brazil
B.A., Industrial Design
M.F.A., Interior, Set & Exhibition Design
X Games Mega Ramp
Red Bull Extreme Cliff Diving – ICA, Boston
2016 Desert Trip Animatics for Stage; Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan
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.
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
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
For 10 years Jeremy has worked as an illustrator doing character design, concept art, and storyboards for comics, games, animation, and theme parks. He has worked on a variety of projects with companies including Inkle, Boom! Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm, Zoic, Petrol Advertising and Olympus Flag and Banner.
He started drawing in Colorado, at a small kitchen table with a box of crayons. Alongside his brother, they would draw comics and epic Ninja Turtle battles. While drawing, background noise of shows like Batman, Mask, and Knight Rider filled the air. At 12 years old, he hitchhiked to LA where he now resides.
B.F.A. – Colorado State University
Semester Abroad – Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy
Voyage to the Iron Reef Storyboards, Knott’s Berry Farm
Background Painting, Fringe TV Series
Transformers Game Cover, Petrol Advertising
Jerry’s design experience in the themed entertainment and exhibit industries spans thirty-five years, including the creation of show spaces and environments around the world. Jerry has served as production designer and illustrator on attractions for the Shanghai Disney Resort. He was Art Director and Senior Designer on signature attractions for Universal Studios, including Super Hero Island, Amazing Spiderman Adventure, and Revenge of the Mummy.
Jerry’s design credits include two Dubai theme parks and two Sanrio parks in Japan, concept design and art direction for exhibits in the Children’s Museum of the Upstate, Condor Discovery Center, and the Los Angeles Zoo.
B.A., Industrial Design, California State University, Northridge
Shanghai Disney, Production Design/Concept Illustration
Pirates of the Caribbean
Universal Islands of Adventure, Art Director
Revenge of the Mummy, Hollywood, Universal, Show Set Lead
Jesse Vargas is graphic designer with over 4 years of experience, with at least 3 in themed entertainment. His background as a print designer brings a fresh modern take to the already established THG aesthetic.
He specializes in branding, print media, UI/UX design, environmental design and illustration.
B.F.A., Graphic Design, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Bollywood Parks, Dubai
Motiongate Movie Park, Dubai
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.
B.A., Character Animation, Cal Arts
Hong Kong Disneyland
Disney Cruise Lines
Tokyo Disney Resort
For over 15 years, John has worked in architecture, entertainment, advertising, industrial design, and fashion. He has designed and illustrated architecture for high end hospitality, industrial products and prototypes for new technologies, illustrated and developed brand identity in advertising, worked on visual development for entertainment projects, and illustrated for the fashion industry.
B.A., Graphic Communication, California Polytechnic State University
B.A., Industrial Design & Illustration, Art Center College of Design
Disney Shanghai Hotel
The Venetian, Las Vegas
Northrop Grumman Research Lab
L3 training facility
Costume designs for Cher & Dita Von T
Karen has more than 25 years in the themed entertainment and visual effects industries. Her focus has been color design and special effects. Karen was on the creative projections team for “Standard Time” at the Getty Museum, LACMA, and Tom Bradley Terminal. She served as Field Art Director on Little Mermaid, Clarke Quay Adventure, and Knott’s Kingdom of the Dinosaurs rehab. She was lead special effects painter at Digital Domain on Apollo 13, and Terminator 2-‐3D and at Disney Animation
Universal Studios projects included Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure, King Kong at USF, and Jurassic Park at USJ. Karen was lead special effects painter at Digital Domain on Apollo 13 and Terminator 2-3D.
Karen teaches Matte Painting at Art Center College of Design.
Keith has had numerous creative careers over the past 33 years. Entertainment leaders including Sequoia Creative, Entertainment Design International and Universal Studios where he served as Production Designer for multiple areas within the parks, including The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride, Sneech Beach, Mayor’s Grandstand, Truffula Forest and “If I Ran the Zoo” children’s play area. He was also the lead designer for the Universal Hollywood backlot tram tour ‘Mummy Experience’ and The Flying Unicorn at UIOA.
B.A., Art Center College of Design
Universal Hollywood backlot tram tour ‘Mummy Experience’
The Flying Unicorn at UIOA
With over ten years of international design and concept art experience, Leo has contributed his multiple skills to many production phases of projects, including governmental, museums, entertainment, and theme parks. He is able to apply his proficiency in the most current technologies to contribute to the design development of any project.
Federal University of Paraíba, Brazil
Masters in Architecture and Urban Planning
How to Train Your Dragon Land, Motiongate, Dubai, UAE
Dragon Age- Flight of the Wardens, Hub Zero, Dubai, UAE
Azura’s Warth, Hub Zero, Dubai, UAE
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.
BFA, Theatre Design, California State University, Sacramento
For over a decade Mike has led design, art directed and installed numerous attractions and themed spaces for Walt Disney Imagineering, domestically and internationally. His work has gone from blue sky creation to project completion. He has collaborated and worked with multiple studios and business partners, such as General Motors in re-visioning Test Track in Epcot, Florida as well as Marvel Studios, delivering the first ever Marvel attraction on property for the Walt Disney Company in Hong Kong. Recently, Mike lived and worked in Shanghai, China as an Art Director on Adventure Isle for the Shanghai Disneyland Resort project, which recently opened in June 2016.
B.F.A., Illustration/ Entertainment Design emphasis, Art Center College of Design
Pirates Lair, Tom Sawyers Island, Disneyland CA
Test Track presented by Chevrolet, Walt Disney World, Epcot FL
Iron Man Experience, Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong
Adventure Isle, Shanghai Disney Resort, China
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 included 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.
Art Center College of Design
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
Paul’s illustration work creates lively, clear, and communicative artwork for projects. Paul has a great sense of structure which is reflected in quick idea sketches, concept sketches, elevations, POVs, core characters, to colorful marketing illustrations.
Paul has worked as a Concept Artist, Art Director, Assistant Character Designer, Prop Designer, Icon Designer, Storyboard Artist, and Illustrator for multiple companies. He has experience in Mobile Gaming, TV Animation, and Theme Park Industries. Most recently, Paul worked as a freelance Assistant Character Designer for Cartoon Network as well as Titmouse Inc, Netherfire Games, ZQGame, and Riot Games.
B.F.A., Art Center College of Design
SELECT PROJECT EXPERIENCE:
League of Legends (MOBA Game)
Black Dynamite (Adult Swim TV Animation)
After graduating from Art Center College of Design in 2003 with a degree in Entertainment Design, Ron has worked at most of the top companies in the theme park industry, including Thinkwell and Walt Disney Imagineering. Previous projects include The Harry Potter Experience at Leavesden Studios, The Bollywood Theme Park for Riva Group, as well as Treasure Cove and Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure at Shanghai Disneyland.
Ron brings over seventeen years of experience to his current job at The Hettema Group as a Dimensional Designer. His combined education in architecture and industrial design gives him a unique understanding of three-dimensional space, including how to represent it on paper and in model form, which is valuable in the production of entertainment projects both virtually and in the theme park industry.
B.A., Art Center College of Design
Harry Potter Experience at Leavesden Studios
Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure, Shanghai Disneyland
Scott has worked with leading entertainment companies for over 20 years creating museums, historical landmarks, theme parks, exhibits and traveling exhibitions.
Recent work includes a long-term assignment with Walt Disney Imagineering, where Scott was part of a team developing the company’s newest theme park and resort; Shanghai, Disneyland, which opened in June 2016.
B.A., Art/Graphic Design, San Diego State University
“Top of the Rock” Observation Deck and Visitor Center at Rockefeller Center
The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame
Scott is a Technical Associate and THG 3D printing professional. He is responsible for the technical and ride system management of projects and produces 3D prints in collaboration with artists and designers. He has worked in an engineering and technical capacity for over 5 years. His career began at Walt Disney Imagineering, helping install Cars Land and the Red Car Trolley at Disney California Adventure. Prior to joining The Hettema Group, he was the Rides Manager for Motiongate Park Dubai and Bollywood Park Dubai. He continues to develop his love of roller coasters, ride systems and 3D printing at The Hettema Group.
B.S., Mechanical Engineering – San Diego State University
Cars Land & Red Car Trolley, Disney California Adventure, Installation
Motiongate Park, Dubai, U.A.E., Rides Manager
Bollywood Park, Dubai, U.A.E., Rides Manager
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.
B.A., California State Long Beach
Dubai Media Center
Abbey Road Studios
Chicago Museum of Science & Industry
Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Seattle
Sue is originally from Beijing, China, working as a character designer/visual designer for 3 years after college. She came to the United States in 2010 to obtain her Master’s Degree in Animation. After graduating, she began working on a variety of assignments in all aspects of graphics and creative arts for Disney Parks worldwide. She is responsible for the development of designs treatments, logos, graphics and creative arts for live shows including parades, stage shows and special events on and off the Disney property and onboard the Disney Cruise Line. She loves design, including computer graphics, digital painting, and character creation.
B.A., Animation, Jilin College of Arts, China
M.F.A., Animation, Savannah College of Art and Design
26th Shanghai Tourism Festival: Shanghai Disneyland Resort “Igniting the Dream” Parade
Disneyland 60th anniversary: Paint the Night Parade
Disney Cruise Line: Tangled: The Musical
25th Disneyland Tourism Festival: Shanghai Disneyland Resort “Happy Dream” Parade
Tokyo DisneySea: Into the Shadow show
Disneyland Resort: Frozen Fun
Susan has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and content developer for museums, visitor centers and theme park attractions. She produces written materials for all phases of THG projects—from research outlines and concept narratives to multimedia scripts and exhibit copy.
With an academic background in anthropology, Susan brings a unique cultural sensitivity to her projects. She has completed additional coursework in documentary and fiction film history and production. Susan’s ability to translate complex topics into entertaining visitor experiences has earned her the privilege of working on projects for high-profile clients around the world.
B.A., Anthropology, University of Florida
M.A., Anthropology, The American University
One World Observatory, World Trade Center, NYC
Museum of Liverpool, Liverpool, England
Above and Beyond Traveling Exhibition, Boeing
Apollo/Saturn V Center, NASA Kennedy Space Center
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.
5-time winner of the Hugo Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy Illustration
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