Freedom Theater


Freedom Theater Museum Theater Show Recently opened at the end of 2023, the THG team is proud to have collaborated with repeat client National World War II Museum in New Orleans on the Freedom Theater at the Liberation Pavilion. The museum wanted to add a more intimate attraction within a new building on their campus. The new show focuses on the Four Freedoms FDR laid out (Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear) and the expanding global role the United States was destined to play in the post-WWII era.   As a ticketed attraction, the need to handle sufficient audience flow directly conflicted with the available space within a new building filled with exhibits and displays. The inspiration came to seat the audience on a turntable, which managed both requirements.   The installation comprises a pre-show area and a three-act show, which presents significant and unique challenges, including a significant amount of lighting, electromechanical and scenic elements packed around the audience.   The 44-foot diameter turntable is split in half, allowing 64 guests seated on one half to view the first of three acts before rotating at the start of Act 2. The show settles into act 3 after rotating 180 degrees. Once there, the other side of the table is loaded with 64 more guests for Act 1. Throughout the entire 20-minute show, moving scenery, shattered buildings, video screens appear and disappear; projection mapping covers walls and ceilings, and rich sound fills each half of the theater. An inflatable, acoustic gasket and double thick walls had to be designed to prevent sound bleed between the two audience groups. Location New Orleans, Louisianna, USA CLIENT National World War II Museum Industry Museums — Theater Show More Projects

American Heartland Theme Park and Resort


American Heartland Theme Park and Resort Theme Park Working in collaboration with Mansion Entertainment Group’s Executive Producer of Project Development, Steve Hedrick, THG crafted the initial concept master plan for the American Heartland theme park, part of a 1,000 acre development in northeastern Oklahoma. Currently the team is engaged in show design of the park's primary attractions.   American Heartland Theme Park will feature an Americana-themed environment with a variety of entertaining rides, live shows, family attractions, and waterways as well as restaurant-quality food and beverage offerings. Combining the nostalgic charm of a traditional amusement park with modern elements, the park will feature a collection of six distinctly American lands to welcome guests on a journey through the best of the American story. Families will find thrilling rides and heartwarming shows as they discover Great Plains, Bayou Bay, Big Timber Falls, Stony Point Harbor, Liberty Village and Electropolis.  Location Vinita, Oklahoma, USA Industry Theme Parks Client Mansion Entertainment Group Open Date 2026 More Projects

Phil Hettema


William Alton Founder and Chief Executive Officer Phil Hettema, Buzz Price Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, is THG Creative's Founder and Chief Executive Officer. With a distinguished legacy of over 40 years 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 in Las Vegas, and Beyond All Boundaries at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Prior to forming his own company, Phil 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 in Spain, Universal Studios Japan, and, most notably, the conception and delivery of Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Florida. He also served as Senior Creative Executive for Location Based Entertainment at Dreamworks. Phil is an alumnus of ArtCenter College of Design, instructed courses at the institution, and endowed a scholarship for environmental 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). In 2017, Phil was honored to receive the Buzz Price Award for Lifetime Achievement from the TEA. Back to team

One World Observatory


One World Observatory Observation Deck Experience a state-of-the-art guest experience that elevates the observation deck from spectacular sightseeing opportunity to inspirational journey. THG, in partnership with Legends, designed and produced this Thea Award-winning attraction after winning an international design competition. THG, in partnership with Legends, participated in an international design competition before being ultimately selected to design and produce the One World Observatory experience at One World Trade Center. For New Yorkers and people around the globe, One World Trade Center has proven to be much more than a beautiful new skyscraper. It stands as a beacon of hope—a monumental icon of rebirth and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. THG looked to build upon that uplifting story by creating an observatory experience that celebrated the achievement that One World Trade Center represented while also providing an inspirational experience all its own. The One World Observatory is actually multiple attractions in one, with each attraction building upon the next before leading to the ultimate reveal of the main attraction – spectacular views of the New York skyline. Featured attractions include a time-traveling media elevator, a media tribute to the spirit of New York City, and a ground-breaking gesture-driven media sculpture that allows NYC experts to help guests discover the very best of the city. The entire experience is designed in an impeccably executed contemporary style which complements the modern, sleek architecture of One World Trade Center. One World Observatory was designated LEED Platinum Certified for Commercial Interiors by the USGBC. It won a 2016 Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement and was an Outstanding Achievement winner in the 2015 HOW International Design. Location New York, New York, USA Client Legends Industry Museums — Observation Deck Awards 2016 Elevator World Project of the Year 2016 Thea Outstanding Achievement More Projects

Erik Neergaard


William Alton Chief Creative Officer Erik is the Chief Creative Officer and COO of THG, an experience design and production studio based in Pasadena, CA. He has acted in a host of creative leadership and advisory roles for signature parks and attractions for some of the world’s most high value brands, IPs and developers such as Universal, Dreamworks, Paramount, Sony, and McKinsey to list just a few. Whether cultural, entertainment or a blend of the two, Erik is able to elevate an experience to the delight of the audience and the success of the developer. Highly accomplished and well respected within his industry, Erik is recognized as a dynamic, creative visionary with a long history of developing innovative and award-winning experiences all over the globe. Back to team

High Roller


High Roller Observation Wheel THG designed and produced the High Roller, at the time of construction the world’s tallest observation wheel, from concept all the way through to opening day. The High Roller elevated the observation wheel experience by incorporating entertainment and media throughout the queue and guest cabins. THG designed and produced the High Roller, at the time of construction the world’s tallest observation wheel, from concept all the way through to opening day. Caesar’s Entertainment enlisted THG for their expertise in attractions, production, and showmanship, knowing that only a thoughtful integration of all three would result in a successful final product. THG totally reinvented the observation wheel, created an elegant spokeless design with a state-of-the-art lighting package that would create new jewel in the Las Vegas skyline. Guests climb aboard and enter custom-designed luxury cabins before rising to a height of 550 feet. Along the way, they experience a 30-minute ride, complete with hosted media and in-cabin entertainment, that delivers far more than spectacular views. However, the in-cabin experience is only part of the story.THG designed the High Roller queue and pre-show to provide the perfect complement to the main attraction, with themed areas and original artwork to set the mood. The queue culminates in a massive pre-show theater with a 270-degree screen that plays five original shows that pay tribute to the spirit, history, music, and entertainment of Las Vegas. Since opening in 2014, the High Roller has become an iconic part of the Las Vegas skyline, appearing on countless mugs, t-shirts, and merchandise. THG is proud to have  contributed this superlative addition to one of the world’s great entertainment destinations. Location Las Vegas, Nevada, USA Client Caesar's Entertainment Industry Attraction — Observation Wheel Awards 2014 Guinness World Record, The largest observation (Ferris) wheel 2015 AISC’s Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel (IDEAS2) Awards 2015 Structural Awards for the Institution of Structural Engineers, Award for Arts & Entertainment Structures More Projects

Debbie Lindquist


William Alton Vice President of Finance As Vice President of Finance for The Hettema Group (THG) Debbie Lindquist is responsible for all of THG’s financial functions, including accounting, audits, corporate and project finance. She brings a strong record of success overseeing finance and operations functions in major entertainment, and is a dynamic leader who effectively creates analytical tools to enhance strategic insights. Debbie thrives in fast-paced, creative environments and truly enjoys using the power of financial accounting to provide the foundation for creative teams to do their best work. Debbie comes to The Hettema Group after 25 years at Warner Bros. Entertainment, most recently as Warner Bros. Animation’s Vice President of Finance & Administration. There, she oversaw all finance, accounting, and studio operations as a member of the Senior Leadership Team. Working closely with Creative, Operations and Corporate teams her responsibilities included financial planning and analysis, reporting and budgeting, accounting and franchise analyses for animated properties at Warner Bros. and Blue Ribbon Content, providing valuable insights to the creative and executive teams as they determined which projects to greenlight. She also oversaw the WBA facilities team, managing the studios multiple production spaces. Debbie received her Bachelor of Science, Business Administration & Accounting from Cal State Northridge. She looks forward to guiding THG’s financial future as the company prepares to execute its slate of complicated, challenging, and multi-faceted projects. Back to team

DreamWorks Water Park


DreamWorks Water Park Indoor Water Park THG provided concept, design and production services for the DreamWorks Water Park, the largest indoor water park in North America. THG drew on its knowledge of the IP to create immersive environments and large-scale character installations that elevate the water park experience. THG provided concept, design and production services for the DreamWorks Water Park, the largest indoor water park in North America (named #1 by USA Today). DreamWorks Water Park offers a “splashing good time” inspired by the most beloved DreamWorks Animation characters and settings, including  the Madagascar Rain Forest, Shrek’s Soggy Swamp, the Kung Fu Panda Temple of Awesomeness, the Penguins Frozen Fun Zone, and the How to Train Your Dragon hydrocoaster—the tallest and longest in the world. Floating above it all are large-scale character lanterns, more than 50 feet tall. THG drew on its long-standing relationship with and intimate knowledge of DreamWorks IP to develop its design for the ground-breaking water park. In particular, THG was asked to address design at scale – how do you create themed environments that can be both epic and budget-friendly? THG worked with fabricators to develop themed setpieces constructed from painted metal sheeting to create everything from enormous baobab trees to crashed aircraft. In addition, THG worked with a specialty tile manufacturer to install ultra-colorful murals that functioned as set extensions and backdrops to the slides. This kind of partnership thinking allowed the DreamWorks Water Park to feature impressive theming at the right budget for the project – ultimately creating an amazing environment for guests to have a great day at the park. Location East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA Client Triple Five – American Dream Mall Industry Theme Parks — Water Park Awards 2021 USA Today Best Indoor Water Park More Projects

Beyond All Boundaries


Beyond All Boundaries Immersive Theater THG designed and produced Beyond All Boundaries, a groundbreaking theatrical experience at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. The show, produced in collaboration with Executive Producer Tom Hanks, combines panoramic media, kinetic sets, and special effects to the tell the story of World War II to new audiences. The National WWII Museum in New Orleans presented THG with a monumental challenge: tell the story of America’s World War II experience in a way that captivates younger visitors learning about WWII for the first time, while equally connecting with WWII veterans and history buffs for whom the basics are second nature. THG delivered Beyond All Boundaries, a groundbreaking theatrical experience that has become the Museum’s signature attraction. In collaboration with Executive Producer Tom Hanks and the Museum, THG created an experience founded in the authentic, first-person accounts of people who were involved in the U.S.’s WWII effort. To bring those stories to life—while also conveying the nearly incomprehensible scale of the war—THG created a 4D theater event that combines epic-scale, multilayered projections, kinetic sets and props, immersive audio, atmospheric special effects and an emotional musical score. During the show, audiences feel tank treads rumbling across North Africa’s deserts, brush snow from their cheeks during the Battle of the Bulge, and recoil from enemy anti-aircraft fire as opposing forces try to bring down “their” B-17. In addition to increasing and sustaining long-term attendance figures at the Museum, Beyond All Boundaries was recognized with a 2010 Thea Award from the Themed Entertainment Association and a 2010 Gold MUSE Award from the American Alliance  of Museums. Location New Orleans, Louisiana, USA Client The National WWII Museum Industry Museums Awards 2010 Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement 2010 Gold Muse Award, Multi-Media Installation More Projects

Marc Epstein


William Alton VP, Marketing and Business Development As the Vice President of Business Development and Marketing, Epstein is responsible for managing The Hettema Group’s marketing and sales strategy as well as cultivating business relationships, identifying new opportunities and working alongside THG’s senior leadership to grow and shape the future of the innovative company.  Epstein has spent his career working throughout the media and entertainment industry, building exciting campaigns through unique collaborations. He spent the majority of his career with Nickelodeon, leading innovative marketing partnerships for non-traditional and new business partners, shaping sports marketing strategy, and crafting programs to support Nickelodeon’s recreation venues, tours, and exhibits. Epstein oversaw the creation and marketing efforts for multiplatform programs for media partners such as Nationwide Insurance, United States Postal Service, and Famous Footwear; developed Nickelodeon-themed sport’s events including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle 400; and enhanced experiential initiatives with partners including VStar, Triple Five Group, and Universal. He was most recently at Six Flags developing strategically aligned marketing programs that organically integrated clients into the theme parks. Epstein’s experience also includes roles at the Hallmark Channel, Young & Rubicam, and NBC where we started his career as an NBC Page. Back to team

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