Europe, Middle East, Africa Quick Takes | Jan./Feb. 2021
J.K. Rowling’s ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Inspires Museum Exhibition in United Kingdom
Witches, wizards, and Muggles will be welcome at the “Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature” exhibition launching at the Natural History Museum in London, England. The exhibit is set to run through August (COVID-19 restrictions permitting). The exhibition marks an exciting crossover between the worlds of fact and fiction, showing how the natural world’s wonders have inspired myths, legends, and magical creatures, notably those from Rowling’s Wizarding World.
The exhibition encourages visitors to understand and protect extraordinary creatures, just as magizoologist Newt Scamander does in the “Fantastic Beasts” films and books. Guests can see real-life animals that have given rise to tales of dragons, mermaids, unicorns, and sea serpents. There’s even a Dracorex Hogwartsia dinosaur, named after Hogwarts. The attraction features 120 displays, including elements from the Wizarding World.
“We cannot wait to share this thrilling experience with our visitors. They will journey through magical realms and walk alongside some of the most fascinating creatures in the world,” says Clare Matterson CBE, executive director of engagement at the Natural History Museum. The exhibition highlights “the fantastic beasts we have the privilege of sharing our planet with and the very real threats they face,” she says. “Visitors will leave with a renewed love of the wonders of nature and a revived urgency to help protect it.”
“Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature” is a partnership between the Natural History Museum, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, and the BBC Studios Natural History Unit. The museum has also worked with Google Arts & Culture to curate a digital exhibition, allowing guests to dig deeper.
Ticiland Brings Theme Park Fun to Switzerland
The first phase of Ticiland opened in November in the Swiss town of Stein am Rhein. The indoor park’s theme pays homage to Ticino, Switzerland’s Italian-speaking canton, famous for its alpine lakes and valleys, picturesque resorts, and piazzas. Ticiland’s second phase, a 5,500-square-meter outdoor area, is set to launch this spring.
“It’s the first real theme park in Switzerland,” says Markus Mack-Even, who co-owns Ticiland with veteran showman and lifelong friend Peter Hablützel. Mack-Even was born into the Mack family and grew up with Mack Rides. He previously helped deliver Universal Studios Singapore and was chief project officer and general manager for IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. “Peter always had the dream of building a park in Switzerland, and he asked if I’d join him,” says Mack-Even. “We have an overall budget of 17 million Swiss francs.”
Ticiland’s main 4,500-square-meter building houses 10 attractions, including a roller coaster, a drop tower, and a wave swinger each made by Zierer. Bertazzon crafted a vintage-style carousel, hand-painted with scenes of Ticino. Guests can enjoy food in the indoor piazza in front of a stage. There’s also a Wintergarten conservatory restaurant, offering 320 seats. Diners will have a view of a small lake, inspired by Lake Maggiore. There are five more attractions to come outdoors, including Zamperla’s Watermania, Zierer’s Berg- und Talbahn, and a 200-meter-long racetrack with electric cars.
Under normal circumstances, Ticiland can host 1,500 people and events for up to 1,000 guests indoors. The city of Stein am Rhein is popular with tourists and has excellent transport connections. “From an infrastructure perspective, it’s an amazing location,” says Mack-Even.