This morning, The Hettema group and Thematic areatwo internationally renowned experiential design leaders, announced a merger joining forces to create Thematic area Hettema Group, known as THG. This new independent creative agency is dedicated to creating awe-inspiring attractions around the world for theme parks, museums and major brands. The company has worked closely with leading clients including Universal Creative, Walt Disney Imagineering, DreamWorks, Sony, Paramount, Nickelodeon, Los Angeles Dodgers, Galaxy Entertainment Group, Cedar Fair, McKinsey & Company, and the Science Museum and of Chicago industry, including others. More information about THG can be found at THGcreative.com.
Based in Pasadena, Calif., the new THG will build on Hettema Group and Themespace’s decades of designing unique experiences, turning ideas into reality into partnerships with clients spanning a myriad of industries, including parks theme parks, tourist attractions, rides, resorts, museums, casinos, sporting events and branded experiences. Experts in immersive storytelling, these industry leaders are paving the way for a new entertainment paradigm, redefining the boundaries of thematic experience.
Phil Hettema from Hettema Group and Erik Neergaard from Themespace unveiled this partnership today at 2022 Thematic Animation Association (TEA) Summit in Anaheim, California at the Disneyland Resort. Hettema will now serve as THG’s CEO, while Neergaard will serve as THG’s Chief Creative Officer and COO.
“I am delighted to partner with Themespace,” said Phil Hettema. “I have long been inspired by Erik’s creativity and innovative spirit, and I believe he will be the perfect partner as we embark on this new chapter. As an independent agency, we will specialize in close partnerships with our clients, to help them realize their goals and turn their dreams into destinations.Thanks to our holistic approach combining both the creative and commercial aspects of a project, we have the ability to create incredible experiences from concept through to execution.
According to Erik Neergaard, “It’s incredible to work alongside a revered titan of the experiential entertainment industry like Phil. Together, we’ve assembled an even more comprehensive team of talent, combining our veteran industry experts to offer a wider range of world-class services.This will provide spectacular options for imagining and delivering customer-centric projects that touch, move and amaze.
With a distinguished heritage of nearly 40 years in the field of themed entertainment, Phil Hettema leads a world-class team of experience designers, architects and media producers known to create unique and compelling experiences with great resonance. emotional. With the Hettema Group, his notable projects include A global observatory at One World Trade Center, a spectacular sightseeing opportunity transformed into an inspiring personal journey through New York’s history; the High Roller Observation Wheel at the LINQ, Las Vegas, the tallest observation wheel in the world; DreamWorks Water Park, America’s largest indoor water park with multiple records; Beyond all borders, an epic, multi-sensory cinematic experience produced by Tom Hanks for the National WWII Museum; and the Crystal Hall Show at Galaxy Macau, a breathtaking kinetic pavilion made of over 380,000 crystals, which dazzles in a spectacular spectacle of light, color and sound. Prior to starting his own company, Phil Hettema was Senior Vice President of Attractions Development for Universal Studios Theme Parks Worldwide. 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 the master planning of the five Universal parks, including the national and international expansion of Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s PortAventura (Spain) and Universal Studios Japan, and, more specifically, the design and delivery of ‘Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Florida. Phil is an alumnus of the ArtCenter College of Design, where he served as an instructor and scholarship holder for environmental design. He has been a guest lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University, USITT, IAAPA, KIN, ICOM, SIGGRAPH and others. Hettema holds four patents for entertainment technology solutions. In 2018, the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) presented him with the prestigious Buzz Price Thea Award – Recognizing a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievement, and a number of his projects have received TEA Thea Awards for Outstanding Achievement, including 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).
Creative Director and Founder of Themespace, Erik Neergaard has held numerous creative leadership and advisory roles for iconic parks and attractions for some of the world’s most beloved brands, IPs and developers such as Universal Studios, 20th Century Fox , DreamWorks. , Sony Studios, Paramount Studios, Hasbro, Meow Wolf, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Nickelodeon, London Paramount and McKinsey & Co. Praised for elevating an experience for audience enjoyment and developer success, Neergaard is recognized as a dynamic and creative visionary with a long history of developing innovative and award-winning experiences around the world. Major projects include NEOM: cultural configuration; the Los Angeles Dodger Stadium: Centerfield project; rides such as The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash, Jurassic World – The Ride, The DreamWorks Theatre: Kung Fu Panda Adventure and The Simpsons Ride for Universal Studios and The Beatles Yellow Submarine Adventure for Sony and Apple; and theme parks including Dubai Parks, London Paramount Entertainment Resort, Paramount Studios Park and Wanda Wuhan Movie Park. Erik has been a guest speaker at the Art Center of Design in Pasadena, Calif., futurist for McKinsey and Co., and regularly acts as an expert advisor in the area of experiences for culture and entertainment for major consulting companies on many large giga-projects. Erik holds patents for entertainment technology solutions and has served on the creative team for numerous projects that have received TEA Thea awards, including The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash (2022); Heineken Experience, Amsterdam (2010); Forces of Nature at the Arizona Science Center (2009); The Simpsons Ride (2009) and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (2000).