Edutainment: Orbi Proves a Natural Fit for Dubai
Damien Latham, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Leisure & Entertainment, realized the attraction was the right fit for the company’s portfolio after seeing the first Orbi, which premiered in Yokohama, Japan, in 2013. Sega Holdings Co. Ltd. and BBC Worldwide collaborated to produce the interactive, multimedia-driven attraction that showcases the natural world.
Orbi’s “fusion of technology, nature, and edutainment” suited the “Majid Al Futtaim ecosystem,” says Latham. Majid Al Futtaim opened Orbi Dubai earlier this year at City Centre Mirdif. Representing an investment of 90 million dirhams, it joins the company’s existing entertainment offerings there: Magic Planet, Little Explorers, and iFly.
Orbi turns the BBC’s spectacular natural history content into 12 experiences. Visitors start at “Base Camp,” where projection mapping transforms a sculpture into different living animals. “You’ll see nature at its best, constantly changing,” explains Latham. In “Earth Palette,” people can pick a color swatch and watch as the 360-degree screen around them transforms into a parade of plants, animals, and landscapes in matching colors. The centerpiece theater features a 35-meter-wide screen where visitors are treated to a panoramic display of BBC Earth films, including tours of Yellowstone National Park and the world of meerkats. There is also a 4-D theater with leg ticklers, rain, and smoke effects, where guests join a BBC Earth crew in their search for mountain gorillas.
“We’re here to create great moments for everyone every day, and this truly does that,” says Latham. Sega provided the technology for Orbi Dubai. Bluehaus Group handled the design, and McLaren executed construction.
Orbi Dubai is aiming for annual attendance of between 250,000 and 300,000 visitors, a “fairly conservative estimate,” according to Latham: “The reception has been extremely positive.” The team “supercharged” Orbi Dubai’s educational content and introduced workshops to attract school groups. Visitors spend two to three hours at the 5,500-square-meter attraction. A new food and beverage outlet overlooking “Base Camp” should extend that.
Majid Al Futtaim holds the Orbi rights for the United Arab Emirates and has right of first refusal on projects in the Gulf Cooperation Countries and Middle East/North Africa region. Sega, in turn, benefits from Majid Al Futtaim’s reach in terms of shopping malls, retail, and leisure operations. Having opened Ski Dubai and Ski Egypt, Majid Al Futtaim is now planning to open “Snow Park” attractions at the Mall of Oman, Mall of Saudi, and Reem Mall in Abu Dhabi.