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).

Scott Sinclair Executive Director of Design

Scott has played leadership roles in the conceptualization and design of many high-profile themed entertainment projects, including the Dragons Wild Shooting interactive dark ride at Lotte World in Seoul, Korea; the Hello Kitty Theme Park in Anji, China; Tokyo DisneySea; Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland; Sony’s Metreon retail entertainment center in San Francisco and Mediage in Tokyo; and multiple live shows and parades for Disneyland’s Marketing and Entertainment Division. He has served as lead designer on numerous other ambitious projects, including Paul Allen’s Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle, The National Ag Science Center in Central California, Ski Dubai indoor ski resort, and Paul Allen’s “Flying Heritage Collection,” a WWII fighter plane display in Seattle.


B.A., Theater Technology/Set Design, California State University, Long Beach


Magic Kingdom, Tomorrowland

Tokyo DisneySea

Ski Dubai

Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Seattle

Abbey Road Studios

Chicago Museum of Science & Industry


Universal Studios

Shanghai Disneyland


Chimelong Ocean Kingdom


Connor Sinclair Senior Graphic Designer

Connor Sinclair is a Los Angeles-based graphic designer specializing in one-of-a-kind environmental graphics for immersive attractions, exhibitions, and brand experiences. As a senior graphic designer at The Hettema Group, he creates environmental graphics, marquee signage, marketing collateral materials, and client presentations for some of most unique and innovative guest experiences worldwide. Connor holds a B.F.A. in graphic design from Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). He is an avid fan of mecha anime, rollerblading, and his cat. 


B.F.A., Graphic Design, Savannah College of Art and Design


Dragons Wild Shooting, Lotte World, South Korea

Motiongate Dubai

Bollywood Parks Dubai

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

Galaxy Crystal Pavilion

DreamWorks Waterpark

Universal Studios, Beijing



David Lepor Illustrator

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


Motiongate Dubai

Bollywood Parks Dubai

Estephan Quass Dimensional Designer

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

Jacob Berding Designer

A versatile creative force, Jacob Berding has professional experience as both a designer and art director for live entertainment, themed environments and museums. He prides himself on discovering new processes of design by working closely with vendors and partners to push the limits of what is possible, while getting the tasks at hand completed on time and on budget.

Jacob has worked in experiential design since 2014 and has specialized in a number of disciplines including 3D modeling, illustrations, graphics and drafting. He is fortunate enough to have participated in multiple high-profile projects through to completion, such as Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome (Frozen meet & greet) at Disney California Adventure Park, How to Train Your Dragon land at Motiongate Dubai, the Ghost Post interactive special edition subscription in collaboration with Walt Disney R&D and more.

Jacob completed his Master of Fine Arts degree in Themed Entertainment Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Along with his themed entertainment background, he has formed his own software development company, which has helped him learn to manage large and small projects alike.



M.F.A., Themed Entertainment Design, Savannah College of Art and Design



Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome, Disney California Adventure Park

How To Train Your Dragon, Motiongate Dubai


Karen Thompson Colorist - Designer

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.


Pima College




Seuss Landing

King Kong

Jurassic Park

Kristin Showalter Illustrator

A master of illustration and design, and a powerhouse of creative ideas, Kristin develops concepts for THG projects and brings them to life in beautifully rendered illustrations. She first entered the design world as a set designer and scenic artist, applying her expert painting skills to projects for Universal Studios, the San Diego Zoo, The Goretorium in Las Vegas and a variety of television shows, music festivals and movie premieres.

Kristin quickly expanded her professional skill set to provide illustration, graphic design, art direction and concept design services for theme park attractions, resorts and television and film projects. She has collaborated on a myriad of projects with RGH Themed Entertainment, Granaroli Design & Entertainment, Global Entertainment Services and the Wyatt Design Group.

After working her design magic during the day at THG, Kristin works as an adjunct faculty member at California Institute of the Arts, where she teaches Art Direction II to the Applied Design students in the Theater School.


M.F.A., Design and Production, California Institute of the Arts

B.A., Fine Art and Technical Theater, California State University Stanislaus

Marlies Urbauer Illustrator

Marlies Urbauer is an illustrator and character designer with a keen sense of color and an exceptional talent for creating lively characters that are full of personality. Prior to joining THG, she designed ride vehicles and costumes—and worked as a lead painter and POV artist—during the development of the Haichang Polar Ocean World in China. Marlies also served as a lead color designer for Universal Studios Hollywood and has conceptualized stories and character designs for multiple TV show ideas related to a project called Fun Star. Marlies has a passion for color, painting and travel, along with a love for the sea and the marine life living within it.


B.F.A. Cal State University Channel Islands


Haichang Polar Ocean World

Rowan Doyle Designer

Rowan Doyle is a Set Designer and Creative Director with a special talent for dreaming up unique immersive environments and compelling new modes of audience interaction. She has applied her design imagination to a diversity of popular experiences created in collaboration with The Museum of Ice Cream, Meow Wolf, Frog Design, GES, Thinkwell Group, Indiana Repertory Theatre, The Rude Mechanicals, The Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Great Small Works, New York Theatre Workshop, and Bread and Puppet Theater.

Rowan’s academic background in theater, English literature and writing reinforced her passion for story, which has informed her work in experiential design and theatrical design, as well as in film, television and photography. She is a co-founder of the theater collective The Duplicates and has received numerous awards in the world of set design. Rowan’s favorite jobs involve paper crafting, collaboration, and anything miniature.


M.F.A., University of Texas at Austin

B.F.A, Concordia University, Montreal

B.A., Concordia University


Meow Wolf Denver

Museum of Ice Cream, NYC & Singapore

Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition

Warner Brother’s World Abu Dhabi

Susan Spence Senior Writer

As a senior writer for THG, Susan is driven by a passion for transforming content and brands into guest experiences that provoke and inspire. She is a core member of our creative teams and focuses on story strategy, concept ideation, and experience narratives. Always game for diving into our most demanding projects, she has a special knack for distilling vast amounts of unwieldy content into compelling and entertaining experiences.

Over the past 25 years, Susan has contributed to uniquely creative guest experiences for high-profile clients around the world, including Tishman Speyer, Legends Hospitality, Universal Studios, CJ Entertainment, Delaware North, Boeing, the National WWII Museum, and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Her undergraduate and graduate education in anthropology enables her to approach THG’s international projects with a deep respect and appreciation. She also has additional schooling and professional experience in documentary film production.

In her free time, Susan can often be found at the pool, training with her masters swim team, or enjoying the dog beach with her rescue pup, Gigi.



M.A., Anthropology, The American University

B.A., Anthropology, University of Florida


Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Center, NYC

One World Observatory, World Trade Center, NYC

Above & Beyond Interactive Flight Exhibition, Worldwide

Shuttle Launch Experience, NASA Kennedy Space Center


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