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Regional Updates - March 2017

Learn from Insects in New Zealand

Bug Lab—currently on display at New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa—showcases the amazing superpowers of bugs and the ways they have inspired human innovation.

Across four immersive chambers and some 2,000 individual pieces, visitors learn about drones based on insect flight, life-saving medicine made from venom, and new body parts printed from spider silk. Perhaps the oddest diorama is that of a female jewel wasp turning a cockroach into a zombie on which her larvae feed.

“For 450 million years, bugs have been getting smarter. From brain surgery to teamwork to mastering flight, they can really outdo us humans at most things!” says Bug Lab Creative Director Sir Richard Taylor of Weta Workshop, which is perhaps best known for its work on film series like “The Hobbit” and “Mad Max.”

Bug Lab goes on tour later this year, first to Australia’s Melbourne Museum and then most likely to the United States.


Life Inverted in Manila

Visitors at the new Upside Down Museum in Manila brace themselves for excitement and the challenge of doing everyday tasks from a new angle. In addition to inverted rooms, visitors to the 1,700-square-foot facility can take photos under a giant sneaker and in the middle of a massive headset, or walk upside down on a steel bridge with real SUVs under head. Other Upside Down Museums in Asia can be found in Penang, Malaysia; Phuket, Thailand; Taipei, Taiwan; and on Ganghwa Island in South Korea.


‘Avatar’ Exhibition Begins Global Tour

Below, a child at the interactive exhibition “Avatar: Discover Pandora” learns about the Na’vi, the mythical race of sentient humanoids who inhabit the lush jungle moon in James Cameron’s movie. The exhibit, which started a five-year global tour in Taipei, Taiwan, presents Pandora as a real place, offering visitors the opportunity to “experience the science and wonder of Pandora right here on Earth.” It showcases the fictional moon’s exotic flora and fauna, along with the mythology and culture of its indigenous people.

“So much of what we learn about Pandora can inspire us to be more curious and thoughtful about the world around us,” says Kathy Franklin, president of franchise development at Lightstorm Entertainment, one of a half dozen companies that worked to make the exhibit a reality.


Themed Dark Ride Awaits Efteling Guests in 2017

The picturesque main structure of “Symbolica: Palace of ­Fantasy” continues to develop at Efteling theme park in Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands. The i35 million attraction will be the largest at the park when it opens in summer 2017.

Efteling says “Symbolica” will be a dark ride for the whole family that will revolve around magical stories of reality, dream, and fantasy.

Visitors will be accepted by the King of Symbolica into the Palace of Fantasy as the journey begins. All the park will say now about the experience is that it is similar to other Efteling attractions such as “Droomvlucht,” “Fata Morgana,” and “Carnival Festival,” and that it’s an enchanting ride where nothing is as it seems. Guests will be able to have an audience with the King of Symbolica and will meet Pardoes, a magic jester.

“Symbolica: Palace of Fantasy” is being built in honor of the park’s 65th  jubilee. Efteling is presenting a series of eight monthly episodes on the construction and theming of the attraction called “Making of Symbolica” on its YouTube channel.


United Kingdom’s First Double-Launch Coaster Underway

Work has begun on the first new roller coaster to open in 11 years at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Blackpool, England, and the seaside amusement park says the new ride will be well worth the wait when it debuts in spring 2018. Currently dubbed “Construction 18,” it will be the first double-launch roller coaster in the United Kingdom, propelling riders with LSMs at not only the start of the ride, but again at the midway point of the 2 ½-minute journey. The park says riders will experience the same levels of acceleration as the drivers of a Formula 1 race car.

The £16.25-million coaster is manufactured by Mack Rides and will carry riders over 3,750 feet of steel track. The ride will speed through two tunnels, an Immelman, and an in-line twist. It will also interact with five other Blackpool Pleasure Beach rides, including the “Big One,” “Pleasure Beach Express,” “Steeplechase,” “Big Dipper,” and the “Grand Prix.” It will feature 15 interactions total, which the park is touting as the most in the world. The coaster’s trains will feature four cars with guests seated two across in two rows for a total of 16 passengers per train.


Dolphin Discovery Recognized for Training

Recently, Mexico’s Dolphin Discovery won the Marine Mammal Behavioral Conditioning Award at the International Conference on Marine Training, held in San Diego, California. The honor, which is given for innovative techniques used for training mammals, was awarded to Dolphin Discovery for its study showing that dolphins could be conditioned—or trained—based on sense of smell.


Brazil’s Beto Carrero World Earns  Social Media Ranking

Talk about being social! At the end of 2016, Instagram released its “Retrospective 2016,” which features the most tagged locales in various countries, and Beto Carrero World was in the top 10 (7th place) for Brazil. The park’s official handle—instagram.com/bcwoficial—has more than 78,000 followers at this writing and has posted more than 1,400 times on everything from special events in the park to photos to discounts and promotions.


Unicoaster Debuts at West Edmonton Mall

Galaxyland park inside the West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, opened “Zero Gravity,” a Unicoaster from Chance Rides. The ride is loaded with 15,360 RGB LED lights provided by Eworks Pro, and each light can produce as many as 32 different colors. When reflecting off the chrome-like center hub of the ride, it creates a wonderful display.

Invented by famed ride designer Bill Kitchen, who also invented the Skycoaster giant swing ride as well as the SkyVenture indoor skydiving wind tunnel, the Unicoaster is a rider-controlled experience that allows occupants to regulate the spinning of the ride car by use of a joystick. Riders can choose the intensity level of the spinning by pushing the joystick forward and backward, which likewise makes their seats roll forward and backward over the undulating track. Or, they can leave it alone to enjoy a calm journey.

Galaxyland, which features 27 rides and attractions, conducted an online contest to name the ride and received more than 800 suggestions, with “Zero Gravity” the top choice. The winner of the contest received a one-year pass for unlimited rides at the park.


Tubing Isn’t Just for Water Parks at Camelback Resort

This winter, Camelback Resort in Tannersville, Pennsylvania, which includes Camelback Lodge & Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark, introduced its new “Galactic Snowtubing” ride, a lighted nighttime attraction that launches guests downward through the largest snow­tubing park in the United States. Decked out with lasers, music, and LED light shows, “Galactic Snowtubing” offers an astounding 42 high-speed lanes.

At the base of the snowtubing park is the new Base Camp 1 Lodge, where guests can purchase tickets, relax between runs, or enjoy hot food and beverages. When they’re ready to hit the slopes again, riders and their tubes take two “magic carpets” back to the top of the attraction.