Regional Updates - February 2019


Marine Park Opens in Shanghai

Shanghai has a new US$795 million marine park. Set on 73 acres and five years in the making, Haichang Ocean Park is expected to attract 5 to 6 million visitors a year. Designed by Hollywood-based Legacy Entertainment, the park features a mix of marine life and thrill rides. Haichang Ocean Park features a “360-degree penguin super bowl” where visitors can observe the Antarctic birds. The park is also home to beluga whales, polar bears, and sharks. There’s also a roller coaster and, according to Legacy Entertainment, the “world’s longest rapids ride.” Day tickets cost about US$50.

Haichang Ocean Park is owned by Haichang Ocean Park Holdings Ltd., a Hong Kong listed company, and adds to a stable of more than a half-dozen Chinese attractions operated by the firm. Legacy Entertainment, meanwhile, is working on two new parks in Indonesia—one in Bali, the other near Jakarta—both of which are slated to open this year.



Polin Aquariums Vice President Ayhan Şentürk inks a deal with VGP Marine Kingdom President, and IAAPA Board Member, V.G.P. Ravidas. (Credit: Polin Aquariums)

Polin Partners with Indian Aquarium

VGP Marine Kingdom in Chennai, India, is moving forward with a new deal signed with Polin Aquariums, a division of the Polin family of brands. The 7,500-square-meter project, described by the company as “India’s first major public aquarium,” will feature more than 30 aquariums, a diving school, gardens, exhibition areas, and a restaurant spread over three levels. 

Turkey’s Polin Aquariums will install acrylic panels and life support systems for the 48-meter-long, walk-through tunnel portion of the aquarium. 

“[We are] proud to be able to help complete this project, which had been stopped due to technical difficulties,” Polin Aquariums commented in a news release.

The aquarium is set in the VGP World Theme Park in the resort area of Chennai. VGP Marine Kingdom says the attraction is the first of many planned commercial aquariums in the country.


New Name, Attractions for U.K.’s Snowdonia Surf Park

Surf Snowdonia in Dolgarrog, United Kingdom, plans to move forward with a £16-million rebrand and expansion. Beginning in summer 2019, the inland surf attraction in North Wales will become Adventure Parc Snowdonia, reflecting a newly enhanced adventure offering. 

“Our investment in phase two is all about building on what we’ve established since our launch in August 2015: a flagship adventure destination for Wales and the U.K.,” says managing director Andy Ainscough. “Our plans will allow us to give our visitors more of what we know they really value: engaging, family-friendly adventures, which take them away from their screens and get them moving in the great outdoors.”

Guests will discover a broader range of indoor and outdoor activities including climbing walls, artificial caving, an adventure playground, a via ferrata (a protected climbing route), a zipline, a pump track, and a bouldering course. The park also plans to offer an Adventure Concierge Service to encourage guests to explore instructor-led activities such as gorge walking, stand-up paddleboarding, and kayaking. “Our magnificent inland surf lagoon will remain at the heart of this expanded adventure offer,” says Ainscough.

The first Hilton Garden Inn in Wales (with 106 rooms) will follow in 2020, together with a wellness spa and conference facilities. Pozzoni Architecture designed the aesthetic look of the resort, while WCP Associates serves as the project manager. 

Visitor numbers and group business have increased at the Welsh attraction since it opened. Ainscough expects to see “in excess of 250,000 visitors” per year once redevelopment is fully launched as Adventure Parc Snowdonia.


Gardaland to Enchant Guests with New Hotel

Fresh from a record-breaking season in 2018, Gardaland Resort in Castelnuovo del Garda, Italy, plans to open the enchanting, 128-room Gardaland Magic Hotel in May 2019. The 20-million-euro hotel promises to immerse guests in a spellbinding kingdom with three themes: Foresta Incantata (Enchanted Forest), Cristallo Magico (Magic Crystal), and Grande Mago (Great Wizard).

The new four-star accommodation will join the existing Gardaland Hotel and Gardaland Adventure Hotel, creating “the first themed hotels hub in Italy,” according to the park. 

Attendance is already rising across the resort. The Gardaland theme park achieved a 17 percent growth in visitor numbers in 2018, compared to 2017. “Hotel occupancy rose by 5 percent,” and the resort reached “an occupancy rate of 85 percent during this past season,” according to Gardaland CEO Aldo Maria Vigevani. He says he hopes to welcome increasing numbers of overseas tourists during 2019.

latinamericaGRUPO DOLPHIN

Grupo Dolphin Acquires Aquarium in Argentina

Grupo Dolphin, which owns and operates Dolphin Discovery, recently announced it acquired Argentina’s Aquarium Mar del Plata, a popular summer tourist destination in the country. This is the first acquisition for Grupo Dolphin in South America, where the company hopes to continue to expand. The aquarium, which hosts more than 200,000 visitors per year, features several species of penguins, fish, sharks, dolphins, sea lions, and a variety of local and exotic birds, while allowing visitors to interact with some of the animals through educational shows. This marks the 10th country in which Grupo Dolphin will operate.



KidZania Grows Its Interactive, Role-Playing Concept

Mexico’s KidZania, which introduced immersive play for children through realistic career role-playing experiences, recently expanded its global footprint both in Asia and Latin America. Toward the end of last year, KidZania opened two new locations—Guadalajara, Mexico, and Heredia, Costa Rica. These locations are part of the company’s new concept, KidZania 4.0, which is a small-format facility that allows the company to enter cities with a smaller population density and continue with its national and international growth. Additionally, through a new partnership with KDDI telecommunications group in Japan, KidZania announced that in 2020, it will bring additional role-playing activities using technology as the focal point of its third facility in the country.


WhiteWater and Cirque du Soleil Partner on New Water Park Concept

Two Canada-based companies, WhiteWater and Cirque du Soleil, have partnered to create a unique water park entertainment concept. The firms say their agreement will combine WhiteWater’s expertise in the water park and rides industry with Cirque du Soleil’s creative artistry to introduce something brand new to the attractions market through a series of concepts featuring novel theming and attractions to be featured in both new and existing water parks. 

WhiteWater says during the day, visitors will enjoy WhiteWater’s water rides and slides, and at night, they’ll experience a “completely transformed” environment. Water parks adopting the new concept will become festive experiences with music, specialty food and drinks, and picturesque illuminated trails intertwining with the main features of the evening program.

This program will consist of a 15-minute show that takes place at the same attractions guests enjoyed during the day. The special productions will feature Cirque du Soleil performers and be presented a few times each night, allowing guess to choose which ones they’d like to watch and in what order. The two companies say the new entertainment concept will encourage repeat visitation while lengthening operating hours, thereby increasing revenue from the same infrastructure. It will be designed to seamlessly complement hospitality, retail, and resort venues.


Morey’s Piers Rolling Out New Coaster for Park’s 50th Anniversary

In 2019, Morey’s Piers in Wildwood, New Jersey, will celebrate the park’s 50th anniversary with the launch of a new steel family roller coaster, “The Runaway Tram.” Themed after the “Wildwood Sightseer Tram Cars,” which were originally built for the 1939 New York World’s Fair and have ferried passengers along the two-mile-long Wildwood Boardwalk since 1949, the coaster will be a 922-foot-long Zierer Force 280 and will feature one train with 10 two-passenger cars. 

JRA (Jack Rouse Associates) is handling the custom theming of the coaster’s train and station, and JRA is also developing a custom-themed golf cart that will be used as a promotion vehicle for the new ride. The Morey’s Piers team is also working on a catchy rap jingle to promote the coaster and has hired Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, and producer Picasso to record the song. “The Runaway Tram” is slated to open in mid-June.