Peter Weishar, director of UCF’s themed experience graduate programs, received a Peter Chernak Distinguished Service Award from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) for his educational and volunteer service to the themed experience industry. Weishar is one of 20 recipients from around the world to receive a 29th annual award from the TEA, announced on Nov. 15 at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo in Orlando. This is the first time the organization has recognized an academic with a TEA award.

The TEA is an international nonprofit association representing the world’s leading creators of compelling places and experiences. Receiving this award from the TEA is considered one of the highest honors in the themed experience industry. Hundreds of international companies, individuals and attractions are judged each year against the industry’s highest standards of achievement.

The Peter Chernak Distinguished Service Award honors exceptional volunteer service to the TEA. According to an announcement from the TEA, Weishar was given the award for “his exceptional promotion of our themed entertainment industry through education, program development and support of our TEA NextGen members.”

Apart from his many years of service to the TEA, Weishar believes the award affirms the impact of UCF’s themed experience programs on the industry.

“I share this recognition with all of the individuals at UCF that have partnered and supported the Themed Experience programs and our students,” Weishar says. “While the award is for many years of service, I believe it was given now due to the tremendous impact being made on industry by the programs at UCF.”

Since 2018, Weishar has helped to establish UCF’s themed experience MS and MFA degrees as the first  program of its kind at a public university. The themed experience program focuses on giving students hands-on industry experience through partnerships with industry leaders like Universal Creative and Meow Wolf. Through involvement with TEA’s NextGen Initiative, students also connect with industry recruiters and professional development programs.

“The TEA is an incredible organization that brings a great deal of value to my students and me. Through its NextGen initiative, events, conferences and Summit, the TEA connects our aspiring professionals with industry leaders,” Weishar says. “It is quite an honor to be recognized by industry for the work we do at UCF.”

Weishar continues to pave the way for the next generation of leaders in the themed experience industry. On Tuesday, Nov. 22, Weishar will host a themed experience graduate program info session for those interested in enrolling in the program.