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Asia-Pacific Attraction Update - June 2017

A look at the major and pending openings in the region

by Mike Bederka

IN ADDITION TO THE WANDA GROUP PROJECTS, numerous other blockbuster parks have thrown open their doors across Asia, with many more in various states of construction. Here’s a look at the latest happenings in this region.

1706_feature_ap_roundup_1Legoland, Nagoya, Japan

With a team of 500-plus staffers working more than 1.5 million hours, Legoland Japan opened April 1. The park contains 17 million Lego bricks and 10,000 Lego models, as well as 40-plus attractions, rides, and shows.

“The reimagined ‘Ninjago’ show combines the tradi-tions of Japan with the Lego product using projection mapping and the latest in theater technology,” says Ray Dubois, director of projects—Asia at Merlin Entertainments.

Miniland, one of seven themed lands, includes a miniature Mt. Fuji, high-speed Shinkansen train, various Japanese shrines and temples, and replicas of Nagoya, Osaka, and Tokyo, he says, also calling the 12-meter-high Lego pirate ship in the Pirate Shores land “one of the icons” of the park.

The city and Merlin worked closely to not only develop Legoland but a nearby 5,000-car garage and spots to shop and eat, as well. Dubois says: “The redevelopment of this area has brought a once quiet part of Nagoya back to life.”

For the future, Merlin announced a targeted 2019 opening for Legoland Korea in Chuncheon, and the company continues to explore sites in China.

1706_feature_ap_roundup_2Six Flags Bishan and Zhejiang, China

In February, Six Flags Entertainment Corp. and Riverside Investment Group Co. Ltd., a tourism and real estate developer, signed a definitive agreement to open a second Six Flags-branded theme and water park in China. Officials anticipate a 2020 opening of the park in Bishan, a district of Chongqing.

The companies also announced late last year they remain on track for the 2019 debut of Six Flags Zhejiang in Haiyan, and the adjacent Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Water Park. Both will anchor the 30 billion-yuan resort development on the coast of Hangzhou Bay. The theme park will feature Six Flags’ signature lineup of roller coasters, family rides and attractions, and shows—as well as themed sections that pay homage to the Chinese culture, they say. Water slides, a large wave pool, a lazy river, and a children’s water play area will highlight Hurricane Harbor.

Universal Studios Japan, Osaka

Minion Park opened at Universal Studios Japan on April 21. The area features numerous themed facilities, including a toy store and sweets factory called Delicious Me, costumed characters strolling about, and the immersive “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” attraction, which anchors the land.

By the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Universal Studios Japan also plans to add Super Nintendo World, which will feature characters and game worlds from the Nintendo universe. The rides, interactive areas, shops, and restaurants will be developed primarily using the current parking lot and part of an area designated for future expansion. Officials say the project—expected to cost at least 50 billion yen—will attract guests worldwide.

Shanghai Disney Resort, China

To infinity … and beyond. The newly opened Shanghai Disney Resort will add Toy Story Land in 2018. The seventh themed land for Shanghai Disney-land represents “part of the accelerated expansion plan for the first phase of the theme park,” says Fan Xiping, chairman of Shanghai Shendi Group, a joint venture shareholder along with the Walt Disney Company.

Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, says he “couldn’t be more pleased” with the early success of Disney’s first park on mainland China, which opened in June 2016: “We’re demonstrating our confidence by breaking ground on a new Toy Story Land that will be both authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese.”

In Toy Story Land, guests will enter the backyard of Andy, the boy from the movies, and feel like they’ve been shrunk to the size of the popular toys. The land will fea-ture three new attractions and a themed character greeting area.

KidZania, Delhi, India, and Surabaya, East Java

KidZania continues its worldwide growth. It most recently opened a facility in Delhi in May 2016 and has several more planned for the next few years, including facili-ties in Qatar, Mexico, South Africa, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates. The company is also planning a 2019 opening in Surabaya, East Java, says Patricia Velasco, commercial director at KidZania. The company currently has 24 facilities in 19 countries.

Universal Beijing Theme Park, China

Construction is underway at Universal Studios theme park and resort in Beijing, China. Chinese state media reports a 2020 opening date at a cost of 100 billion yuan. The first phase of the project will include a park, two resort hotels, and a Universal CityWalk re-tail/entertainment complex.

Dragon Park, Ha Long, Vietnam

Park operator Parques Reunidos expanded its international presence to Vietnam with the management of newly opened Dragon Park in the Sun World Ha Long Park complex, owned by Sun Group. This marks the company’s first operation in Asia. Dragon Park features 32 rides, including the “Dragon’s Run” roller coaster with a track length of more than 1 kilometer, and the “Rhino” drop tower.

“This new opening represents a significant step in the expansion plan that the company has set for the coming years,” explains Fernando Eiroa, CEO of Parques Reunidos, whose portfolio includes 61 facilities in 41 countries. “The Asian market is a key region due to its strong growth potential in the leisure park industry. We believe this new park will prove a success in a strong tourist region, such as Vietnam.”

DreamCenter, Shanghai, China

Tabbed with a late-2018 opening, DreamCenter will be an integrated cultural and lifestyle destination and house the new headquarters of Oriental DreamWorks. On the Huangpu River, DreamCenter will revitalize several old fea-tures in the area, officials say, including turning a former cement factory into a multifunctional performance venue, an old boat shed into an arts and entertainment space, and a stone and cement storage warehouse into an arts exhibition, retail, and dining area. 


1706_feature_ap_roundup_3New High-Tech Experiences Unveiled at Everland and Hong Kong Disneyland

This March, South Korea’s Everland added “Robot VR,” a collaboration between Samsung C&T and IT company Sanghwa. The ride features twin six-meter-high robotic arms and Samsung Gear VR headsets. “Robot VR” allows 12 people at a time to step into the shoes of the pilot of a flying robot. On the three-minute ride, guests leap from tall buildings, avoid rocket attacks, and navigate other adventures, while the arms rotate 360 de-grees.

Disney Parks’ first Marvel-themed ride, the “Iron Man Experience,” opened at Hong Kong Disneyland in January. Guests meet Iron Man in person during the adventure and virtually try on his armor. In the finale, guests board the Iron Wing flight vehicle and fly alongside Iron Man in the Hong Kong sky to battle Hydra in the immersive multisensory motion attraction. The park spent more than three years to design and create the Iron Man Experience, which features flight simulators, 3-D projection, surround sound, and other special effects.

“We are always pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation so that our guests can step into the magical worlds of their favorite stories and meet their most beloved characters,” says Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We’re thrilled to be adding the high-tech, action-packed uni-verse of Marvel to Hong Kong Disneyland, and we’ll continue building on it as we move into the resort’s next phase of expansion.”