The Themed Entertainment Association’s (TEA) SATE Europe conference enjoyed a successful two-day stint recently at Europa-Park in Germany.

Among the 120 international participants at the event on May 2/3 were managing directors of amusement parks and waterparks, designers, architects, consultants and engineers from 17 countries in Europe and beyond.

Emotion beats technology, even in the future! This was the conclusion of the industry insiders gathered for the event at Europa-Park’s Bell Rock Hotel. Whilst theme parks will inevitably see increased use of VR and projection technology in the coming years, the feelings associated with each guest’s visit remain the most significant factor. “People love contact with each other” and “Technology is simply a tool” were some of the session topics and buzz phrases heard during the conference.

In a keynote interview, host and Europa-Park owner Roland Mack discussed the challenges of establishing what is now a highly successful business for his family. “The risk of founding the park was high,” said Mack. “We had no experience and had to use all our equity to get everything going. It was certainly a mix of courage, enthusiasm, passion, joy, and optimism that drove us. At that time, we did not expect such a sensational development. Looking into the future, I think being close to visitors is extremely important. We need to take in [their] moods, preferences and wishes in order to always have a sense of what we still have to work on.”

“When you enter Europa-Park, you immediately realise that the Mack family has brought to life a vision with heart and soul,” noted TEA international president David Willrich.

As for the TEA’s own members, Willrich revealed what gives them their creative spirit. “Our secret for great ideas?” he said. “We are a group of people who will never grow up.”

As well as the two-day conference programme, SATE Europe attendees also enjoyed networking opportunities including a Steampunk gala, as well as a tour of Europa-Park’s Atlantic waterpark construction site (as pictured).

SATE Europe is one of three SATE (Storytelling + Architecture + Technology = Experience) events staged annually by the TEA around the world. It was recently confirmed that the US edition of the conference will take place this October (4/5) at SeaWorld Orlando.

Main image, left to right: Chris Lange (Europa-Park Creative Director), David Willrich (TEA President), Keith James (TEA), Christine Kerr (TEA), Cliff Warner ‎(‎Mycotoo Director), Tracy Eck (Disneyland Paris Art Director), Michael Mack (Europa-Park Managing Partner), Roland Mack (Europa-Park Owner)