The theme park industry has regained its historical growth rate in 2017, according to the latest Theme Index and Museum Index global report. While the overall growth of major theme parks in terms of attendance has reached 8.6 percent, Asia-Pacific specifically experienced a significant increase of 5.5 percent. This can be attributed on the most part to mainland China, whose parks have double-digit, year-on-year increases as much as 20 percent.
Due to the continuous rise of international tourism and higher purchasing power of travellers worldwide, theme parks are expected to remain as a primary tourist destination. A forecast claims that by 2020, the global theme park market will reach USD 44.3 billion. China, in particular, is believed to become the largest theme park market by such time.
One factor that Asian theme park visitors greatly consider is the implementation of more innovative technologies, which would lead them to actually double spend-per-head, according to research. Today’s tech-savvy generation of travellers looks for virtual reality experiences, artificial intelligence-powered recognition systems, and smartphone apps, to name a few.
The pressure is on for theme park operators to introduce hi-tech rides while still keeping in mind the value of family entertainment. Which countries in Asia have taken on the challenge?
Photo courtesy of VRIGHT
KT Corporation, South Korea’s largest telecommunications company, has opened its second VR theme park VRIGHT in Seoul last June, after unveiling the first just three months prior. A joint partnership with convenience store chain operator GS Retail Co., the entertainment complex right in the heart of Seoul introduces a new concept anchored on virtual reality.
Compared to other VR cafes and game rooms, VRIGHT features immersive experiences produced with the country’s leading game developers, including a first-person shooting game and a multiplayer augmented reality dodgeball game.
More VRIGHT parks are set to open throughout the year, along with KT Corporation's plans of selling its VR content and platforms to local and global operators.
Photo courtesy of TTG Asia
The Marvel Experience: Thailand, Southeast Asia’s first themed entertainment attraction of its kind, has officially opened at the Megabangna Mall in Bangkok last June. The family-oriented mobile interactive attraction is a joint venture between Los Angeles-based Hero Ventures and local Thai firm Hero Experience.
Set inside a custom-made domed venue of more than 20,000 square metres, The Marvel Experience: Thailand allows aspiring agents to take part in the action alongside well-known Marvel characters. The two-hour battle features immersive hyper reality, interactive and multimedia technology games, and augmented and virtual reality simulations. The experience also includes a 4D motion ride and a 360-degree 4D stereoscopic projection dome.
Photo courtesy of Have Halal, Will Travel
Earlier this year, property developer Capital World Limited has announced that the largest indoor theme park in Southeast Asia is slated to open in Johor Bahru during the third quarter of 2018. MCM Studio, which is also the fifth largest indoor theme park in the world, will be part of the 1.2 million-square feet Capital 21 entertainment mall and shopping complex.
Two of MCM Studio’s main sections will integrate augmented reality and virtual reality, with the customised simulation rides letting visitors run away from dinosaurs, battle robots, and walk through a haunted house. The same AR and VR concepts are expected to bring animated characters to life in the child-friendly attractions.