Regional Updates - March 2019


FROM LEFT: Harves CEO Bo Zhang, Manchester United legend Denis Law, Manchester United Group Managing Director Richard Arnold (Credit: Manchester United Football Club Ltd.)

Manchester United Scores Deal to Open Three Attractions in China

British football (soccer) club Manchester United plans to open three indoor entertainment centers in China by the end of 2020. The interactive attractions will “bring the excitement of Manchester United and its Old Trafford stadium” to Beijing, Shanghai, and the northeast city of Shenyang.

More than 100 million Chinese fans follow Manchester United online, making it one of the best supported European football teams in China. The British football club made its first visit to China in 1975 and continues to play occasional preseason matches there.

“We are excited to bring the rituals and emotions of the Manchester United experience to the youth in China,” says Bo Zhang, CEO of Harves, a Chinese property developer that is partnering with Manchester United to build the attractions. “We will create a fully immersive experience that entertains, educates, and inspires the next generation of football fans.”

Each of the three centers promises to offer fans a unique experience.




Sea Life Sydney Celebrates 30 Years with Great Barrier Reef Experience

After seven months of construction and an AU$5 million investment, Merlin Entertainments’ Sea Life Sydney Aquarium has launched the largest Great Barrier Reef display in the world.

“Day and Night on the Reef” is designed to convey several distinct “time zones” providing visitors with an around-the-clock sense of what life is like for the more than 500 species of fish and marine mammals that live around the Great Barrier Reef.

To launch the new exhibit, which was developed by a team of more than 100 people, Sea Life Sydney opened its doors for a dusk-to-dawn event so visitors could observe the marine life at a time when most people are normally sleeping.

“Sea Life Sydney Aquarium is entering a new phase of innovation with this new interactive experience bringing to life the magic of the Great Barrier Reef,” says Sea Life Sydney General Manager Richard Dilly. “It’s been wonderful to see the animals settling into their new home, and we’re pretty confident the guests are going to love the Instagrammable moments.”

Photo Credit: Sea Life Sydney


Octopus Ride to Make Waves at Fraispertuis City

Fraispertuis City in Jeanménil, France, expects its new Zierer Jet Ski ride to be a barrel of laughs when it launches in April 2019. Octopuses will wrap themselves around nine barrel-style gondolas, which bob above water around “L’île aux Pieuvres” (“Octopus Island”). “These octopuses are not as scary as the Kraken legend says; they only want to play with the waves,” explains Frédéric Beck, community manager at Fraispertuis City. 

The rotating family ride is the latest addition to the French theme park’s pirate-themed area. “We love the possibility for riders to interact with the gondolas,” says Beck. Each gondola seats one adult and one child; passengers can steer the barrels and squirt water at spectators. 

Fraispertuis City has been owned by the Fleurent family since 1966. The park now has more than 35 rides spread across several themed areas. 

“The park continues to grow from year to year and regularly offers new attractions to its loyal visitors,” says Beck. “In 2018, the park welcomed 276,000 visitors and hopes to reach 300,000 soon.”


Atlantis Aquarium Surfaces in Spain

Parques Reunidos Group has brought marine life to a Spanish shopping mall with the opening of Atlantis Aquarium at intu’s Xanadú in Madrid. The indoor edutainment attraction combines 20 aquatic ecosystems with interactive exhibits including touchscreen, virtual reality, and augmented reality technologies. Visitors can feel the strength of a wave or “walk” on a seabed. 

“Atlantis Aquarium is an innovative project, bringing together technology, education, and environmental awareness in a new aquarium concept that is more accessible and closer to the public,” says aquarium spokeswoman María José Luis.

The new facility covers more than 6,000 square meters and holds more than 2.3 million liters of water. A meteor crashing into Madrid marks the start of the visitor experience. The meteorite carries a message from a future civilization living in a submerged world. It warns humans about the consequences of climate change and urges them to secure the planet’s future by becoming Atlantis ambassadors. 

Visitors embark on a trail through different aquatic ecosystems, from mangrove swamps to coral reefs and Antarctic habitats. Nearly 10,000 specimens from more than 150 different species are represented, including turtles, penguins, and grey reef sharks. It is “the first aquarium free of single-use plastic in Spain” and encourages guests to make eco-friendly changes in their lives. 

Atlantis Aquarium expands Parques Reunidos Group’s portfolio of indoor entertainment center brands, appealing to retail developers looking for anchor attractions.

latinamericaMUSEO DE LOS NIÑOS

Museo de los Niños Celebrates the Festival of Light

Now that is a bright idea! Costa Rica’s Museo de Los Niños (Children’s Museum) recently took part in the country’s Festival of Light parade and brought home three awards for its creative, forward-thinking float. The float, titled “Castle of Dreams” and created entirely by the staff of the museum, brought to life the theme of everyone living together in harmony—with humans, animals, and the planet.


Entertainment and Technology Immerse Guests in Calaverandia’s World

One of the most famous celebrations for Mexico—Day of the Dead—was recently brought to life in a new way. Calaverandia, a pop-up park in Guadalajara’s Ávila Camacho Park, opened its doors to visitors for a limited-time event at the end of 2018. The park offered guests immersive experiential entertainment in the form of art installations, performances, multimedia shows, fireworks, and even made-for-photo (selfie) moments.

Photo credit: Photos: Altea Corp.


FROM LEFT: Dade County High School’s Logan Gordy, Dakota Angle, Nick Wilson, and Taryn York with Sarah Sweat of Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute. (Credit: Tennessee Aquarium)

Students 3D Print Massive Sturgeon for Tennessee Aquarium

Sarah Sweat, geographic information systems analyst at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, tasked five students at Dade County High School in Trenton, Georgia, with creating a 6-foot-long replica of the endangered lake sturgeon using their school’s four 3D printers. The students invested more than 100 hours in designing and assembling 35 printed pieces that needed to be sanded, bonded, and painted.

At the end of 2018, the students and their instructor presented their creation (nicknamed Sharon) to Sweat, who says the replica will be displayed at the institute’s freshwater science center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for visitors to see and touch. The Tennessee Aquarium and its associates first partnered in 1998 to reintroduce the fish into its historic habitat range. Previously, institute visitors have only seen 6-inch-long juvenile lake sturgeons before they were reintroduced into their outdoor habitat. The fish can grow up to 8 feet in length and live up to 150 years.


Giraffe Calf Born on ‘Kilimanjaro Safaris’ Savanna

It’s a boy! A male Masai giraffe calf was born Jan. 14 on the “Kilimanjaro Safaris” savanna at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort. After the birth, the calf and his mother spent several weeks bonding backstage under the watchful eye of the park’s animal care team. Baby calves arrive quite large, standing 6 feet tall and weighing between 100 to 150 pounds. The calf at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be named at a later date, when he and his mother return to the savanna, where guests aboard the “Kilimanjaro Safaris” attraction will be able to see the pair.