Attractions industry news

30 Dec 2017

Attractions Review 2017: November

In a year of ups, downs, loops and scoops, Attractions Management looks back at some of the biggest stories to hit the headlines, giving possible indicators at what’s still to come in the year ahead.

November is among the biggest months in the calendar for attractions, thanks to the annual IAAPA Expo in Orlando, Florida. This year’s event didn’t disappoint, with news breaking constantly across the trade show floor. Some of the attractions industry’s brightest and most respected minds came together for this year’s Legends Panel to share their insights, while the new IAAPA chair revealed expansion plans for his Swedish theme park. Meanwhile, up in the mountains of Tibet, plans were unveiled to open the world’s highest planetarium.

Liseberg masterplan

Liseberg CEO Andreas Andersen provided an update on the park’s planned €200m (US$238.8m, £178.8m) expansion in November, with work on the project expected to start in 2019 as the park diversifies its product offering to expand its operational season.

A waterpark, being developed by Water Technology Inc, will operate year-round with capacity for 2,800 guests over 17,000sq m (183,000sq ft). In addition, a 453-bedroom hotel is being designed by Swedish architectural firm Wingårdh.

“We’ve finished concept design and are currently between schematic and detail design,” revealed Andersen. “We have all the permits and permissions, and we’ve secured financing for the project.”

Once the design is finalised, preliminary work will take place before the development breaks ground in 2019. A projected opening date is set between 2021 and 2023.

“We have a few things in the pipeline in terms of attractions,” said Andersen. “In 2023 we celebrate our 100th birthday. We have some fun stuff planned in the build-up for 2021-2022. It’s a strategic investment, not just in the short term, but also the long term.”

Reaching for the skies

Plans were unveiled in China to build the world’s highest planetarium – to open at the Tibet Museum of Natural Sciences in 2019.

Dubbed “the roof of the world”, the museum in the provincial capital of Lhasa, sits 4,000m (13,123ft) above sea level, passing through the three permanent exhibition halls of the Natural Science Museum, the Science Museum and the Cultural Exhibition Hall. It also features a theatre and multimedia facilities.

According to the Tibet Autonomous Region Government, which owns the museum, the planetarium will become a major regional base not only for astronomical research but also public science education. At its core, the planetarium will feature the region’s largest telescope, which will be jointly developed by the planetarium and the National Astronomical Observatories.

The IP in InsPiration

Some of the attractions industry’s brightest and most respected minds came together at IAAPA for this year’s Legends Panel – an open discussion about the creative process and challenges involved with turning some of the world’s most popular IPs into real-life places.

Examining how fantasy worlds such as Avatar, Harry Potter and Star Wars went from fiction to reality, Universal’s Thierry Coup and Disney’s Joe Rohde and Scott Trowbridge shared personal and professional insights with an audience comprising the next generation of creators, operators and leaders within the sector.

Celebrating the May launch of his latest Disney project, Pandora ‘The World of Avatar’ at Orlando’s Animal Kingdom, Rohde revealed his secret to storytelling in theme parks, saying that to successfully utilise an IP, attractions creators must put visitors at the heart of their own universe.

“A film is a format that allows you to explore the character-based side of the storytelling world,” he said. “What we do is much more about direct experiences – what could and is going to happen to you inside this world where these things also happened to those characters.”

Working at Universal for more than two decades, Thierry Coup said operators looking to stay ahead of the curve must go above and beyond to deliver new levels of immersive experiences.

“You can use technologies like VR or AR, but there’s nothing like entering a world where you have been transported completely,” he said. “It’s not just about igniting the basic senses like touch and sound.”

Also speaking on the panel, Scott Trowbridge revealed new details of the Star Wars lands opening at Disneyland California and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando in 2019, saying the experiences would “change the lens” on who is the protagonist in the theme park experience – something Disney wants to apply to all of its projects going forward.

Check back with Attractions Management tomorrow for a round-up of developments in December

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