First Look - March 2016

The Philippines’ Enchanted Kingdom Embarks on 10-Year Expansion

Enchanted Kingdom in Makati City, Philippines, is staking its claim to a portion of the rapid growth of the attractions industry in Asia-Pacific. Mario Mamon, the theme park’s chairman and president, says Enchanted Kingdom looks to evolve from a single-day park to a multi-day, integrated-attractions destination that will include not only a larger theme park, but also multiple hotels; a convention center; various retail, dining, and entertainment offerings; and a world-class water park.

Mamon says that though Enchanted Kingdom started as a 25- to 30-acre park, it’s been able to acquire adjacent land that could allow it to grow to 85-100 acres in the next decade. Regarding the investment necessary to make it happen, he says, “The capital investment quoted of P5 billion, or about US$110 million at current exchange rates, is more of the minimum as we continue to develop our expansion and redevelopment plans. We truly believe that over the next five years, and with the appropriate infrastructure in place, we can double our attendance from a little less than 2 million to 4 million.”

He says one of the challenges in making that happen involves increasing the park’s penetration into its ever-increasing domestic tourism market, while also taking advantage of increased opportunities within the Philippines’ inbound foreign tourist market.

In June 2016, Enchanted Kingdom will open an attraction that epitomizes its efforts to evolve into a destination resort. The park says the “Agila Flying Theater” will feature the largest screen in Southeast Asia and the latest in immersive 4-D motion-theater technology. It will showcase a seven-minute film simulating an interactive flying experience with 6K high-definition cinematography.

Named after the country’s national bird, the Philippine eagle, “Agila” is the first major part in the park’s expansion plan and the first permanent structure being built outside of Enchanted Kingdom’s existing boundaries. “‘Agila’ will be a game changer as far as the local amusement industry is concerned because it combines the thrills of a state-of-the-art attraction with a glimpse of the beauty of the Philippines,” says Mamon. “Being both entertaining and educational, it expands our demographics beyond our walk-ins and student groups to include foreign tourists who may not have the time to fully experience the country’s more than 7,000 islands, but can catch a glimpse of it through ‘Agila.’”

Mamon refers to Enchanted Kingdom as a “legacy business,” expressing his hope that the life of the park as a brand will transcend multiple generations. “We started it 20 years ago and we already have an Enchanted Kingdom generation—guests who were born when we were just starting and are now going into the park as young adults, if not young parents with their children.”

But as excited as he is about the park’s expansion, Mamon’s experience tells him there will be challenges in making it happen, and plans beyond “Agila” remain “fluid.” “There are things you can control and there are things that you simply cannot. But you have to make assumptions, take the risk, and move forward if you really believe in what you are doing,” he says. “For us at Enchanted Kingdom, the internal challenges include the financial requirements for such an expansion and how we phase the expansion so we can gradually grow and transform from what we are now to what we want to be. External factors will be the business and political conditions, not only domestically but also internationally.”

He also notes that in trying to tap into the Philippines’ growing domestic and international tourism, there will be increasing competition from both international and homegrown brands. But he seems undeterred by these challenges: “I will be happy to be remembered as one of the prime movers in setting up the Philippines’ first and only world-class theme park, expanding it into a destination resort, and also in uplifting and upgrading the amusement and attractions industry in the country.”

Keys to the Kingdom’s Expansion

Enchanted Kingdom Chairman and President Mario Mamon sees five elements essential to the expansion of his park over the next decade:

  • Redevelopment and expansion of the existing theme park to add more themed zones, rides, and attractions
  • A regional convention center to attract the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and expositions) market
  • A world-class themed water park that may be indoor/outdoor
  • At least two hotels for families and business clients, and a possible third themed hotel for the water park
  • A retail, dining, and entertainment component that will be open to the public and work as a lifestyle area for the growing surrounding communities, servicing an expanded Enchanted Kingdom clientele