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Regional Updates - November 2016

Animated Storks Share the Spotlight at Singapore’s Jurong Bird Park

Fans of the Warner Bros. animated film “Storks” were presented with the best of both worlds at Singapore’s Jurong Bird Park during the recent school holidays: an opportunity to meet the movie’s stars—Junior, Toady, and Tulip—as well as to learn about several varieties of real-life storks, including the saddlebill, which is the basis for Junior’s character. Jurong Bird Park, located in the western part of Singapore, is celebrating its 45th anniversary and is slated to move to Mandai, near the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, by 2020.


Space Park to Open in China

In a deal signed at the Canada China Business Council gala—in front of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—Dynamic Attractions and Altair Space Technologies inked plans to build and co-own the RMB3 billion Space Park in Hangzhou, China.

The park, slated to open in 2020, will feature six Dynamic Attractions rides, including virtual or augmented reality attractions. It will also house spaceships and rockets on loan from Beijing’s Chinese Space Museum.

“There’s a lot of Western export culture coming here that people think will fit; I’m not as convinced that’s the case. A space theme is pretty universal and should be an incredibly strong, competitive offering,” says Dynamic Attractions President Guy Nelson, who describes the park as “a game changer” for his company due to the size of the deal.


WhiteWater Forms Southeast Asia Venture

A sign of the rapid growth of the Asian market for water park attractions, WhiteWater West has formed a joint venture with Thailand’s Vana Nava Co. to create WhiteWater West Southeast Asia. WhiteWater West, headquartered in Canada, says the partnership is the first of its kind in the international water park industry. Company officials expect growth in the tourism and leisure sectors, as well as a burgeoning middle class, to fuel sales.


Investments Drive Visitor Increase at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo looks set to beat last year’s record-breaking attendance of nearly 1.7 million. The zoo hit the million-visitor mark by the end of July 2016, earlier than it has ever done before—an “incredible achievement” according to Managing Director Jamie Christon. Visit Britain also released figures showing the zoo was Britain’s most visited paid-for attraction outside of London in 2015. 

Zoo bosses credit its success to the £40 million Islands habitat, as well as the Channel 4 TV documentary series, “The Secret Life of the Zoo.”

“The development of Islands is continuing this autumn as we get to work creating the next stage of the South East Asian experience. We’re creating habitats for animal species including the Malayan tapir, sun bears, and Indonesian songbirds,” says John Brown, the zoo’s PR officer.


Fort Fun Abenteuerland in Germany Hosts Heartwarming Day

Fort Fun Abenteuerland invited visitors with disabilities and their companions to enjoy the park for free on Sept. 15. “Tag der Herzen” (“Day of Hearts”) allows visitors with physical and cognitive challenges to experience the German park without the usual crowds and expense. The park expected 1,500 visitors to attend the event, which runs every two years.

“To enjoy the park, people with disabilities need assistance during the day: someone who joins them on the attractions, someone who helps them get in and out, someone who knows what special needs they might have,” says Fort Fun spokesperson Christine Schütte. “Tag der Herzen” allows the park to offer the right support, she says: “With the help of a lot of volunteers, as well as our own employees, we can offer people a joyful and relaxing day without any stress.”

Fort Fun organizes the day with Förderverein der Schule für Körperbehinderte in Olsberg, an association that supports the Olsberg school for children with physical ­disabilities. The event has also won backing from energy supplier RWE, the Brauerei C. & A. Veltins brewery, and politician Dirk Wiese.


Fundación Xochitla Festival Blooms in Mexico

Tepotzotlán, Mexico’s Fundación Xochitla celebrated its annual Festival of Flowers earlier this year, highlighting the impact flowers have on the local culture, history, economy, and even nutrition. The show included an 1,800-square-meter flower display; an ecobazaar of wild and ornamental plants, seeds, garden products, and crafts; cooking demonstrations utilizing flowers; and workshops in flower arranging and bonsai.


Brazil’s Beto Carrero World Names Two Golden Lion Tamarins

After the birth of two new golden lion tamarins earlier this year, Brazil’s Beto Carrero World worked with local school students to name the babies. The children visited the park, where they learned about the species, why it is endangered, and what they can do in their own lives to help the animals survive—including respecting nature and helping to minimize their own environmental footprint. Some of the most popular names the children came up with were Flora, Daisy, Rose, Carnation, and Jasmine. The winning names were Carnation and Rose.


IAAPA Attractions Expo Encounter 25 Years Ago Leads to New Project

IAAPA Attractions Expo 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the first meeting of three competitors—a meeting that launched a long-term relationship characterized by mutual admiration and friendship and, ultimately, led to a project collaboration this year.

Kelly Fernandi, founder of Minotaur Mazes; Paul Chartier, creator of SOS Labyrinthe; and Greg Gallavan, owner of Amaze’n Mazes, all met for the first time at the Expo in Orlando in 1991. But Fernandi explains why it took years for that encounter to culminate in a joint project: “[We] kept in touch and discussed potential projects over the years, but nothing materialized. We regularly bounced joint projects off of each other, but 2016 was the first time that took root.”

Chartier, now director of Felix Mundi Consultants, was contacted in early 2016 by Jean-Pierre Ranger, owner of Parc Safari, a zoo in Hemmingford, Quebec, Canada, about making his long-time dream of a maze a reality. Chartier engaged Fernandi because Minotaur Mazes had created animal-themed mazes for 50 zoos. But since Fernandi’s mazes had primarily been temporary attractions, he turned to Gallavan, who’d been building permanent outdoor mazes for decades. “The main difference in outdoor maze construction is long-term durability and a structure that can hold up in all weather conditions,” says Gallavan.

The result was “Mission Safari,” a 5,000-square-foot maze that opened June 16, 2016, and features 16 endangered species from the zoo’s animal collection. Chartier worked with Parc Safari’s educators to fine tune the content. The maze, which can handle 200 visitors at a time, has four giant themed spinning wheels that connect a guest to an endangered animal companion and a mission to find it in the maze.

There are also six physical-play activities, such as monkey bars and a climbing web, that allow guests to imitate the animals. Once found, the visitor lifts a door that reveals where in the park that animal is located, launching a new mission for the guest to find it in person. “Physical-play elements inserted in the maze provide guests with a greater level of challenge and a heightened sense of adventure,” says Chartier. “This in turn makes the quest for and exploration of their mission objectives enjoyable and memorable.”

www.minotaurmazes.com, www.amazenmazes.com, www.felixmundi.com

Smithsonian Opens First National Museum Dedicated Exclusively to African-American Life, History, and Culture

On Sept. 24, 2016, the Smithsonian Institution opened the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) next to the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama was on hand to dedicate the museum, which was established by an Act of Congress in 2003 and presents many of its 36,000 artifacts through interactive exhibits. The NMAAHC said the 400,000-square-foot museum “explores what it means to be an American and share how American values like resiliency, optimism, and spirituality are reflected in African American history and culture.”