Launch - Regional Updates - March 2018


Maritime Museum Reopens in Singapore with High-Tech Upgrades

Visitors to Singapore’s Maritime Experiential Museum marvel at a replica of a Chinese junk that traveled the Maritime Silk Route centuries ago. Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) recently reopened the museum following a nine-month overhaul. “Just as the iconic Maritime Silk Route has fueled trade and promoted cross-cultural exchanges, modern-day exploration continues to drive business opportunities and propel growth for the region,” says RWS Senior Vice President of Attractions Jason Horkin. The museum has 15 galleries, including five new zones, featuring state-of-the-art visual projections, multimedia shows, interactive exhibits, and “Instagram-worthy displays.”

1803_qh_ap_te_papaFossils of World’s Largest Penguin Discovered in New Zealand

Alan Tennyson, a curator at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which is known as Te Papa, and other researchers discovered the fossils of what is likely the world’s largest penguin on a beach in southern New Zealand. Fossilized remains indicate the penguin was as tall as a human (about 5 feet 5 inches) and weighed about 220 pounds. 

The bird was likely a “very solid, muscly animal built to withstand frequent deep dives to catch its prey,” says Tennyson. “It would not have been the kind of bird that someone could catch alive; it would have been considerably more powerful than a person.”

The fossils were completely encased in rock when Tennyson and his colleague Paul Scofield found the rock on an Otago beach in 2004. They remained hidden for more than a decade, until Te Papa preparator Al Mannering began working on the extraction in 2015.

Separately, New Zealand’s national museum is investing NZ$11 million in a new nature and environment zone, set to open next year with hundreds of rare specimens.


Marwell Zoo Offers a Trip Through the Tropics

Marwell Zoo in Winchester, United Kingdom, is bringing summer indoors with the March 26 launch of a new £7.8 million Tropical House. The striking structure is home to an indoor rainforest, housing animals including a Linné’s two-toed sloth, a crocodile monitor lizard, and Java mouse-deer. Birds and butterflies will fly inside the 1,000-square-meter building, which also contains an aquarium. 

“This phenomenal exhibit is our largest and most ambitious project to date,” says James Cretney, chief executive at Marwell Wildlife. He sees it as “a key guest experience,” which will provide a much-needed indoor, weatherproof attraction for guests (the zoo currently attracts over half a million visitors a year).

Planning and design company Terence O’Rourke has created a contemporary Tropical House topped with a clear, curved canopy made from ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene). It allows natural light in and acts as a great insulator. Animal waste and woodchip from Marwell’s woodland management operations will be converted into energy to heat the site, while rainwater is harvested and recycled. This will reduce Marwell Zoo’s carbon footprint and is part of the zoo’s efforts to become carbon neutral by 2020.

Paris and Marrakech Museums Reveal Yves Saint Laurent Story

1803_qh_emea_yvesIconic designer Yves Saint Laurent is the inspiration behind two museums, which opened simultaneously in Paris, France, and Marrakech, Morocco, at the end of 2017. The museums celebrate the French fashion designer’s 40-year creative legacy (1962-2002), drawing on a collection that comprises 5,000 garments and 15,000 accessories, as well as thousands of sketches, collection boards, photographs, and objects.

The Parisian museum occupies Yves Saint Laurent’s original couture house, 5 avenue Marceau, near the Champs-Élysées. Visitors will have the opportunity to walk through the former haute couture salons and Yves Saint Laurent’s studio. Stage designer Nathalie Crinière and interior designer Jacques Grange have reimagined the space.

French architectural practice Studio KO designed Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech. Spanning more than 4,000 square meters, it includes a permanent display of Yves Saint Laurent’s work staged by scenographer Christophe Martin. 

“Yves Saint Laurent discovered Marrakech in 1966, and it feels perfectly natural to build a museum dedicated to his oeuvre, which was so inspired by this country,” said the late Pierre Bergé, president of Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent until he passed away on Sept. 8, 2017.


KidZania Introduces Children to Aviation

Taking its real-life simulations to the next level, KidZania will now provide children in Guadalajara—its newest location in Mexico—with the opportunity to learn firsthand about the aviation industry. To bring air travel to life, KidZania deconstructed and brought in a retired ATR 42-320 airplane to the new facility. Located within Plaza Patria in Guadalajara, KidZania’s newest location is scheduled to be open in the second half of 2018 and will offer more than 45 activities for children in which they can role-play different professions and trades, such as banking, health care, firefighting, and news gathering.


Rodrigo Constandse, CEO of Delphinus, and Oscar Constandse receive the 2017 Marine Environment Protection Award. (Credit: Delphinus)

Delphinus Receives Award for Marine Environment Protection

 Rounding out the last quarter of 2017, the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) named Mexico’s Delphinus habitat a co-recipient of the 2017 Nonprofit Marine Environment Protection Award. The award recognized Delphinus’ efforts to preserve the marine environment, specifically through its Ocean Festival of the Mexican Caribbean program. Leveraging environmental, recreational, gastronomic, and academic activities, Ocean Festival of the Mexican Caribbean provided more than 6,000 visitors with the opportunity to more deeply experience—and learn about—Quintana Roo’s natural environment through events including volunteer trash pickups along the area’s beaches and mangroves, photography exhibits, and presentations by marine scientists.


Stompin’ Gator’ Storms Through Florida’s Gatorland

Orlando’s Gatorland celebrated in December 2017 the grand opening of its $2.2 million expansion that includes two new attractions: “Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure” and “Gator Joe’s Adventure Outpost.” Local government and tourism officials were on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 13. “Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure” features three 12-foot-high off-road monster swamp vehicles that take guests on wild and fun 15-minute romps through a swamp with singing tour guides, “wacky” Gatorland characters, and, naturally, loads of alligators. The three vehicles—called “Bonecrusher,” “Cannibal Jake,” and “Swamp Ghost”—are named after real alligators and crocodiles at Gatorland. 

The trek into the swamp leads guests to a section of Gatorland never seen by visitors since the park opened in 1949, adjacent to the swamps that feed the headwaters of the Florida Everglades. The off-road vehicles traverse hills and huge mud puddles, sneak through a real alligator graveyard, and dash through a swamp filled with hundreds of live alligators. 

Named after Ernest “Gator Joe” Brown, an employee of Gatorland for more than 50 years, “Gator Joe’s Adventure Outpost” is a 3,900-square-foot station where visitors make reservations for the off-road swamp adventure, as well as the rest of the park’s add-on experiences. It also offers exclusive merchandise, snacks, and beverages.


A New Underwater Experience—Beneath Times Square

A 90-minute underwater experience called “National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey” is open beneath Times Square in New York City. This isn’t an aquarium or a scuba dive, but rather, a remarkable cinematic attraction that takes visitors on an underwater journey stretching from the South Pacific to the west coast of North America. Created by design and VFX company Pixomondo, along with other designers and artists from around the globe, the encounter brings guests up close to a 50-foot humpback whale and numerous sharks and sea lions. 

Pixomondo says the exhibit features a coral reef built from a process called photogrammetry, in which more than 1,300 2-D photos taken in the Solomon Islands were used to construct 3-D models of coral. During the attraction’s grand finale, guests see 120,000 fish. Other firms involved in the project included Falcon’s Creative Group and Mirada Studios.