Denise Chapman Weston Personal Interview


About Denise Chapman Weston

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  • Psychologist for families and for the Deaf/special needs
  • Published 4 books on play and parenting
  • Playologist for Hasbro, Disney Imagineering, Children’s play centers
  • Location based entertainment and IP developer for 30 years partnering in 4 businesses 
  • Co-founder of  3 businesses/CEO
  • 18 awards with 3 industry “Oscars” for technology in the theme park industry (THEA awards)
  • Top ten female inventors globally/Top 3 inventors from a private company and most prolific patent holder in the entertainment/technology industry
  • Speaker, Inventor, Mother, Gee Gee and muse to the next generation of creators

Recommendation Letters

Sir Richard Taylor

To whom it may concern

I would like to add my voice to supporting Denise Weston's bid to be recognized and embraced by the EHF. 

I am confident that Denise's personal application will do a very thorough job of telling you about her extensive industry accolades, her comprehensive career and her accomplishments as an inventor, innovator, entrepreneur, theming industry maverick and trend instigator so I would like to focus on offering my endorsement of her personal attributes for you.

I have had the huge pleasure of calling Denise a friend for the past three years and I feel very fortunate to have this extraordinary person in the lives of my colleagues at Weta Workshop and in the friendship of my Wife and Children. 

Denise Weston has a gift – it is a gift of a generous spirit. She commits herself to all her undertakings with the distinct intent of making her efforts rewarding for all involved.
Denise Weston is passionate - She is passionate for anything she engages in. Whether that be a simple interaction with a young child or the complex evaluation of a potential future business opportunity, Denise tackles every endeavor with passionate purpose.

Denise Weston is a believer - because with positive intent and considered action by those that have the  ability to influence change they can work together and work to make a difference.

I had the great pleasure of spending some time with Ed Hillary. He visited me many years ago at our workshop and kindly spent time with our team and shared his inspirations and some of his concerns and thoughts with me. I have a certainty that should Ed have had the pleasure of meeting Denise Weston – he would have enjoyed her dynamic spirit and her ‘can do anything’ attitude.
I hope you consider Denise for the Edmund Hillary Foundation. She will gift you her generous spirit, believe in the intent of the foundation and all involved  and bring you her passionate commitment and love of life.

Yours respectfully

Sir Richard Taylor
Weta Workshop
Pukeko Pictures



Rick Briggs & Jonathan Barney

To whom it may concern,

As 25 year partners with Denise Chapman Weston, we collaborated on our reference letter in hope that our continued relationship as business developers is brought across the globe to New Zealand and beyond. Both of us have accompanied Denise to New Zealand on her latest partnership with Weta Workshop to create our next venture. We love the team at Weta and even more so, we are in love with New Zealand and its creative talent.

Denise is one of the most creative visionaries we have had the pleasure of being partners with. Her inventive thinking has earned her over a hundred patents, many of which she had leadership positions to bring them to life.  She has won numerous awards, asked to do presentations to “next gen” creators and skillful in developing experiences for many cultures around the world including Japan, China and UAE. She is a rare, passionate creator who truly cares about the experiences and people she works with and invents for. Denise seeks and finds fantastic people to support our vision and brings them under her wing so they can grow and make their own ideas reality. Her love of play and inspiring families to interact, laugh, feel magical and make memories is very heart felt.

Most of her inventions rely on her soul as a mother not just her training in play design. She can see the origins of what drives people to connect and develops and creates experiences that engage others in very meaningful experiences that create lifelong memories.

One of our favorite stories of Denise’s pure passion to bring out the best in others was at our MagiQuest attraction in Myrtle Beach, SC.  A school of Autistic children came to MagiQuest with low expectations of engagement. However, given Denise’s insights into how differently-abled people play, the entire group transformed into active, social, smiling players engaging in every quest, magically waving wands and interacting in ways they had never done before. Many of the teachers and parents were amazed at what had happened. But Denise was confident that she could entertain, educate and communicate through this inventive play style. At one point, Denise took out her own wand and started playing with one child whose only mode of communication was sign language. She is fluent herself, and Denise spent the afternoon adventuring with this young adult who normally doesn't “speak” with others.  She also took the time to interview the Autistic students before they left…learning as much as she can to improve the experience in the future.

The reason we are sharing this story with you is it is our favorite attribute of Denise that shows her authentic ability and her genuine love of bringing magic to other’s lives. She certainly has the business skills, inventive creativity and teambuilding capability that EHF is looking for—but we are confident you will find her love of bringing the world together through play-- no matter what their limits or challenges are  as her most valuable skill.

We also respect the fact that she is one of the most prolific female inventors (private sector) in the world.  Her strength and voice as a woman comes through in her visionary approach to attraction design, technology and interactive retail.

Denise has been a wonderful partner for us. We are proud to have co-owned three successful businesses with her and have our names next to hers on patents, awards and thank you notes from very happy families who have played with us around the world.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Rick Briggs
Jonathan Barney

Grant Bensley

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing this reference letter at the request of Denise Weston who is applying to join the inaugural cohort as part of the Edmund Hillary Fellowship. I have known Denise for about 2.5 years, we were introduced through a mutual third party and we have been building a business relationship and friendship ever since. What became clear soon after meeting Denise was how well connected within the industry Denise is. The reason she is so well connected is that she has achieved so much within the industry, winning a number of awards for her inventions for combining technology with entertainment and developing attractions within some of the largest theme and amusements parks in the US.

Denise’s industry knowledge, skills and connections opened up a number of opportunities that we at Weta Workshop couldn’t have imagined doing by ourselves.

Over the last 8 months we have partnered up to work on a large project together. The project was instigated by Denise and she managed the client and the specific outcomes.  The combination of Denise and Weta Workshop’s skills has eventuated in an unprecedented success for the project but also within the industry. Unfortunately due to the confidentiality of the project I am unable to elaborate further.

I think Denise would be a great candidate for the Edmund Hillary Fellowship because not only does Denise have significant industry experience to offer but I have supports and mentors a new generation of designers and developers within the theme park and location based entertainment industry.

I thoroughly endorse Denise applying for this programme.


Grant Bensley

Head of Production
DDI +64 4 909 4030



Roberta Perry

To whom it may concern,

Denise Weston is highly regarded in the global leisure entertainment business as an author, speaker, inventor (winning three Thea Awards), and Playologist. I have had the pleasure to work with her over the past 25 years in various markets from ground up projects to digital play.

Over and above her credentials is her unique ability to create new business opportunities for an ever changing family audience.

I would highly recommend Denise for all of the above reasons plus her personal desire to mentor new businesses and to mentor our Next Gen young talent!

Please feel free to contact me with any additional questions.

Roberta Perry
Past president themed entertainment association
Sr. Vice President Edwards technologies and Fresh Juice Global

Rik Athorne

Denise’s inspiring skillsets have allowed us to grow our creative aspirations and capabilities.  We first met Denise in 2015 and have enjoyed growing our professional relationship and friendship through our common interests of creating and inventing “cool stuff”.

Over the past two years, we have had the opportunity to work with Denise conjuring new innovative story world inventions and production techniques for location based experiences.

Denise has also spent the time introducing Weta Workshop to her vast network of industry leaders, inventors and creators.  We have also had the opportunity to be hosted by Denise at international conventions such as IAPPA.

No doubt Denise is a true entrepreneur and inventor, to which I have seen first-hand as a guest of Denise’s at the 23rd ANNUAL THEA AWARDS (Themed Entertainment Association), where I had the privilege to see Denise pick up her third THEA AWARD for “Outstanding Achievement in  Technology”.  This award was for her invention around gamification within a water park for the attraction “slideboarding”.

Through our collaborations of working together we have mutually benefitted greatly by combining our strengths of creativity and invention that has led to us building plans around working together as partners.

We greatly value our relationship with Denise and look forward to collaborating, creating and inventing together long into the future to inspire generations to come.

Rik Athorne
Weta Workshop
Head of Design



David Ruzicka

Denise Weston has built her career on seeking out not just future innovations and technology – but also future talent. She has made cultivating up-and-coming professionals a guiding principle of each global venture. Whether the subject is interactive design or developing new story concepts, Denise is committed to embedding young talent in her project teams. It starts with a look behind the curtain at decades worth of proprietary processes and creative methodologies. She tirelessly mentors these individuals, helping their promising imaginations to flourish in new and exciting ways. She listens carefully to their perspectives, coaching their collaboration and presentation skills. And when it comes to that big executive pitch, she’s not afraid to let a new generation take the spotlight.

David Ruzicka
Creative Writer & Director
Gryffon Creations LLC

Alison Norrington

To whom it may concern

I am CEO and Founder of storycentral Ltd – a storytelling and incubation studio based in London, with global clients. I work with studios, networks, theme parks, publishers, filmmakers and storytellers and met Denise 7 years ago.

Denise is one of the most passionate and exciting people that I have ever worked with. We have collaborated on a few projects over the last 7 years, but constantly brainstorm and find ways to create new opportunities for projects with a feel-good factor and that are fun.

Denise is an entrepreneur that blends creative flair with an experience and deep understanding of business models, pipelines and structure. Denise is one of the brightest sparks in the creative industries; solution-focused through blue sky thinking with a passion and energy for change.

Denise is a strong and fun lady that seamlessly and effortlessly seems to turn her hand to public speaking, writing, creating and producing and is a thought change leader, an innovator and an exciting disrupter.

I have seen Denise invest her time equally in start ups through to global companies, always bringing her creative vision and passion for impact projects, pushing boundaries to attain, most often, a solution that may not have been deemed possible simply hours before.

I can’t recommend Denise enough for the Edmund Hillary Foundation and I truly believe EHF would benefit from welcoming this bold, passionate and energetic, fun-focused entrepreneur, excited to instigate positive global impact.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.

Yours sincerely

Alison Norrington