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Thomas E. Azzari Theme Parks and Attractions Collection

Identifier: SC.109

Scope and Contents

Series I: Theme Parks, 1973-1991, Undated, materials created by Thomas E. Azzari during his time as a set designer for Sea World, Silver Springs, and Weeki Wachee. This series is divided into four subseries for each theme park he worked for including Lucky Forest, Sea World, Silver Springs, and Weeki Wachee. Each subseries is organized on the type of item that can be found for that particular theme park including construction plans, drawings, illustrations, multimedia items, and project paperwork.

Series II: Administrative files, 2018, includes a collection overview created by Thomas E. Azzari including an archival list of the collection materials, biographical information, past production projects, additional information about Sea World, and brief backgrounds on some of his theme park associates.


  • 1973-2018
  • Majority of material found in 1973-1991


Language of Materials

English .

Conditions Governing Access

The entire collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical or Historical Information

Thomas E. Azzari was born in Bronx, New York on August 30, 1940. He was the eldest son of Almo and Alein Azzari. With his father being a mechanic, Thomas learned basic mechanical skills that would be beneficial to his future career. Thomas studied industrial design at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut for only two years. In 1961, Thomas moved out to Los Angeles, California. While out in California Thomas studied at Art Center College of Design. After receiving his education, Thomas worked for over forty years in the media and entertainment industry as a production designer. Thomas began started his career in the media and entertainment industry by working for Colombia Broadcasting System (CBS) in the purchasing department and then eventually as a set designer. Some of his most notable televised works were the series "Coupling" and "That's My Bush," both of which were nominated for a Guild Award. He also worked on television series like "Fish" - which won the 1976-1977 Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Emmy Award - and "Seinfeld". Thomas also worked on films as a production designer; one of which included his 1979-1980 Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Emmy winning special, "The Stable Boy's Christmas."

Eventually, Thomas began to work in theme park design and continued for over fifteen years. Bob LaPorta and Lynn Gillman, both executive members of Sea World's staff, were looking for someone with enough film and television scenic design experience to work on their theme park show concepts. In 1973, Thomas was introduced to Bob La Porta, former Sea World Vice President of Entertainment, by his friend Dan Kibbie; this was the start of Thomas's Sea World career. Most of the projects he worked on were for Sea World's aquatic animals and different animal shows throughout the park. He helped design sets in an open-air salt-water setting. Thomas was originally hired to work on the set for "Shamu for Mayor," at the Sea World in San Diego, California. He was involved with the designs and openings of the Sea World in Orlando, Florida and the Sea World in San Antonio, Texas. Thomas also worked as a set designer for other parks such as Silver Springs and Weeki Wachee, Florida.

After his many years as a theme park set designer, Thomas retired and moved out to Taos, New Mexico with his family in 2002. While enjoying his retirement, Thomas volunteers his spare time to producing and directing archival videos for National Landmarks.


5.5 Linear Feet (3 Boxes, 32 Flat Files, and 1 Tube)


Thomas E. Azzari was a set designer for Sea World, designing open-air salt-water sets for several different aquatic animals like whales, dolphins, otters, and many more. Over his fifteen years as a theme park set designer, Thomas E. Azzari collected numerous reports, letters, photographs, drawings, construction plans, and memorabilia. Most of this collection focuses on his time as a set designer for Sea World, but it also contains some of the work he did for other theme parks, like Silver Springs and Weeki Wachee.

Arrangement Note

This collection is divided into 2 series by theme parks and administrative files. The first series has four subseries, which are arranged by theme park. The second series contains a collection overview provided by Thomas E. Azzari.

Method of Acquisition

Thomas E. Azzari donated these materials to the University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives in 2018 (CFM2018_02).

Processing Information

Processed by Sarah Ryschkewitsch; finding aid prepared by Sarah Ryschkewitsch

Materials are placed in pH neutral archival folders and boxes. Photographs and slides are housed in clear plastic sleeves.

Thomas E. Azzari Theme Parks and Attractions Collection SC.109
Sarah Ryschkewitsch
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the UCF Special Collections Repository

5th Floor - Room 501
John C. Hitt Library
Orlando FL 32816 US