In a career that spans over 30 years, Phil Hettema has overseen the design and production of leisure destinations, live shows, global events, and themed attractions that have been experienced live by millions of people around the world. He has achieved recognition for projects ranging from museums to theme parks that combine creative design with innovative technology to tell compelling stories that entertain and inspire. Hettema’s signature brand of authentic, engaging design results in award-winning master plans, immersive environments, shows, exhibitions and attractions that focus on outstanding guests experiences. Phil Hettema and his dedicated team of talented professionals push the limits of what is possible to create places where imagination comes to life and to tell stories that you can touch.
In 2002, Phil founded The Hettema Group (THG). A full-service design firm, The Hettema Group has the power to take the spark of a single concept and drive the entire design process from destination master planning to exhibit design, media production and on site installation supervision.
As President and Creative Executive, Phil oversees a highly collaborative team of veteran designers and creative artists who are constantly striving to create the next great attraction. Most recently, The Hettema Group was selected to design and produce the One World Observatory experience at the World Trade Center, in partnership with Legends. In 2013, THG produced new attractions for both Lotte World and Samsung Everland in Korea. In 2011, Phil and John Kasperowicz formed THG of Nevada, LLC, to design the High Roller, the world's largest observation wheel for Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas, opening Spring 2014. Other recent projects include the development of the USA Pavilion at Expo 2012 in Yeosu, Korea, design and master planning of Sanrio's Hello Kitty theme park, and the award-winning “Beyond All Boundaries,” a special large format theatrical attraction for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
Prior to founding his own company, Phil Hettema was Senior Vice President, Attraction Development for Universal Studios Theme Parks Worldwide for over a decade. 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 led the overall concept design of Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Florida.
Phil began his career as a designer at Disneyland and Walt Disney World before going on to play a key role as production supervisor for major worldwide events such as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games and the Liberty Weekend Statue of Liberty Centennial Celebration. His credits also include projects for Steven Spielberg, the Walt Disney Company, Dreamworks SKG, Sid and Marty Krofft, and David L. Wolper. He has been a guest lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University, USITT, IAAPA, KIN, and SIGGRAPH. 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 Beyond All Boundaries (2010), FiestAventura (2000), The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (2000), Universal’s Islands of Adventure (2000), and Terminator 2:3D (1997).