Time - Traveling Adventures
Indoor parks have been on a roller coaster ride through the pandemic, but a flurry of openings in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) market signals optimism. Socializing is back, and as families, friends, and coworkers look to entertain themselves, the new parks are ready for them.
Quest for Success
Doha Quest is Qatar’s first indoor theme park. It brings color and joy to Doha Oasis, a mixed-use development combining leisure, entertainment, a luxury hotel, residences, and shopping in Qatar’s capital, Doha. Quest opened on July 1, 2021, in downtown Msheireb.
Quest’s owners, the Doha Oasis Real Estate Investment company, wanted to create a theme park to international standards for Qatar residents and tourists. The 32,000-square-meter venue takes guests on a time-traveling adventure through three realms, from the past (Oryxville) to the present (City of Imagination) and the future (Gravity). Each land has its own style and characters, including Flap, a comical tropical bird, and a space-faring hedgehog named Spike.
“Quest is a themed and story-based concept that caters to all ages. It comprises over 30 rides and attractions, featuring adrenaline-heavy thrill rides, media-controlled simulators, virtual reality experiences, and family-friendly attractions,” says Marcel Hendriks, Doha Quest’s senior vice president and general manager. “It’s an experience unlike any other in Doha. Quest has transformed Qatar’s entertainment landscape, setting a new standard in this booming country.”
Quest’s record-breaking rides include “EpiQ Coaster,” the world’s tallest indoor roller coaster, from Premier Rides. Riders launch backward up a twisting spike, reaching 56.736 meters high on a 91 kph, 90-second flight. “Magma Blast” is the world’s tallest indoor drop tower at 56.409 meters.
At Dynamic Attractions’ “Wings of Destiny” 3D flying theater, guests join inventor Firnas and Flap on an animated, time-hopping trip. Families can race around rocky Oryxville on the “Oryx Express,” a Vekoma Rides Manufacturing junior coaster inspired by Qatar’s national animal. Quest also has Qatar’s first Cloud Coaster, “Fly with Flap,” from Extreme Engineering, which partnered with master planning company Nassal on the suspended roller coaster. Riders swoop around 200 meters of track, getting a bird’s-eye view of the park.
Guests tumble through time and space on a rider-controlled “Time Tumbler” Unicoaster. There’s also a “Gravity Swing” spinning pendulum ride. “Many of the rides have never been seen before in Qatar,” Hendriks says.
Suppliers included Zamperla, SBF, S&S, Swiss Rides, Simtec Systems, and Holovis. MR-ProFun, Backpack Creative, nFusion, AECOM, and Gensler contributed their expertise. (ITPS was involved earlier, before leaving the project.) P&P Projects, movemotions, Outdoor Factory, and VGS were also on the team.
Quest’s guests can enjoy various food and beverage outlets, including Planet Hollywood, and shop at the TimeQuest store.
“‘There’s always more…’ is our philosophy, which motivates us to give our customers more, just when they think they’ve seen it all,” Hendriks says. “This ‘moreness’ will always position Quest as an innovator.”
Launching amid the pandemic came with all the associated issues and attendance restrictions. “However, that did not stop our customers from visiting Quest at every possible opportunity,” Hendriks says. “Quest gave people a novel experience when it was hard to travel and there were limitations on things to do in Doha.”
Quest can accommodate 4,000 people at a time, with an average dwell time of three to four hours. The first year of operation has been “a continuous learning process to understand the market and its needs better,” says Hendriks, adding that “corporate events, group bookings, and birthdays are in high demand.”
Quest operates independently after initially engaging MR-ProFun as its operating partner in 2015. MR-ProFun operated the park until October 2021, when it handed it over to the owner.
“MR-ProFun is grateful to have been involved in such an amazing project. It was groundbreaking for Qatar and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region, and we are excited for the park’s future,” says Mike Oswald, managing partner, management services at MR-ProFun. “A successful project opening during the pandemic is testament to what a great team and leadership can accomplish under extremely challenging conditions.”
Hendriks is happy with attendance. “We are all waiting to see the impact of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” he says. Right now, he is building on the park’s reputation and success and continuously training his global team.
Mandoria offers guests a City of Adventure to discover in Poland. Its owners, the Ptak family—who are well known for real estate, trade, and fashion in Poland—saw an opportunity to combine shopping and entertainment. Mandoria – City of Adventures is centrally located in Łódź, Poland’s third-largest city, which is easily accessible from the rest of the country.
The first phase of development opened in July 2021 inside an existing hall. The family theme park uses around half the available indoor space. It transports guests to a fictional, 16th century Renaissance city, and the park’s design invites exploration.
“The hall is never perceptible in one overview. It’s divided into smaller confined areas representing streets, alleys, and squares. This makes it feel like a historic town, one that you have to walk around to appreciate,” explains Leroy Koevoets, Mandoria’s art director.
The Mediterranean architecture is a contrast to Łódź’s red-brick industrial buildings. After the theme was born, “many stories started to unfold about the city’s noble families, its guilds, and its important harbor,” he says. “The result is a setting rich in detail that feels like a cityscape with much to discover.”
Mandoria’s team chose classic attractions that the whole family could do together.
“We always tried to give them a twist to fit with our theming,” Koevoets says. “We have bumper cars, for example, but they are shaped like elegant shoes. Our double-decker carousel has hand-painted panels with custom images. We have a high level of customization for such a young park.”
Fitting the attractions into an existing building proved a challenge.
“The hall has a limited height of circa 7 meters at the core, cascading downward to the sides. So, the selection and placement of the attractions was a big puzzle,” says Koevoets.
Gerstlauer’s Bob Coaster, “Merkant,” makes the most of the higher ceiling height at the entrance for the lift hill. For its latest development, Mandoria is squeezing in a Powered Coaster from Mack Rides under its roof. “This coaster really comes into its own because it constantly passes near to the cityscape set pieces we designed around it,” Koevoets explains. Mandoria’s team has even managed to include a water-filled harbor in the hall.
Koevoets pays tribute to suppliers “that were as ambitious as us.” TAA Group added theming magic. The coaster suppliers faced challenging timelines but came up with offerings that felt fresh. The global suppliers complemented the efforts of Polish companies, many of which were new to the theme park industry.
“People seem pleasantly surprised at the level of theming and detail when they enter the building,” says Koevoets. Attendances are in line with expectations, and guests “are willing to spend well during their visit.”
The team is now turning its attention to the 50 hectares of land outside the hall. “It will be a big step to go outdoors,” Koevoets says. The expansion will allow them to bring in bigger attractions and natural landscaping to become “a fully fledged theme park.”
Mandoria and Doha Quest both share world-class experiences, story-driven, highly themed products tailored to their audiences, and culturally rich teams, capable of learning and adjusting to circumstances that are changing for everyone.
- Funworld Contributing Editor Juliana Gilling covers the attractions industry in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region. Contact her at [email protected].