Playtime for all

Attraction operators are clearly not worried about theme park fatigue in Asia, with more set to make their debut in the coming year

26-september-theme-riversafariOfficially opened in 2014

Which markets are you targeting?
China, Malaysia, India, Indonesia and the Philippines

What is your unique selling point?
River Safari is Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park. With 6,000 animals representing 200 species, it is home to unique river giants and megafishes such as the giant river otter, giant freshwater stingray and the critically endangered Mekong giant catfish, all curated in thematic exhibits representing each river zone.

Key attractions include the Giant Panda Forest, home to Kai Kai and Jia Jia, and the Amazon Flooded Forest which features the world’s largest freshwater aquarium and where manatees and arapaimas can be seen swimming among giant trees. The park also features two boat rides: the Amazon River Quest and River Safari Cruise, both of which offer an immersive wildlife experience into the world of freshwater habitats.

How can travellers get there?
Public trains and buses are readily available for visitors. In addition, bus shuttle services by Singapore Attractions Express and Safari Gate transport visitors to and from the wildlife parks and selected locations around Singapore. Tour companies also provide transfer services to the wildlife parks.

How should the trade sell your theme park?
Tour companies may choose to bundle admission to two wildlife parks together with meals. For example, a trip may start with a visit to Singapore Zoo in the morning followed by River Safari in the afternoon. This package includes Chinese buffet lunch at the River Safari Tea House.

There are also packages where visitors make a trip to River Safari in the afternoon followed by a choice of Asian or Indian buffet dinner at Night Safari’s Ulu Ulu Safari Restaurant, before embarking on their tour of Night Safari.

In addition to the above packages, an additional snack set can be included in the River Safari itinerary. This set comes with the park’s signature panda pau (bun) and a soft drink in a souvenir cup.

Operational hours
09.00-18.00 daily

Ticket prices
Adults: S$25 (US$20)
Children (three to 12 years): S$16
Boat ride: Top-up fee of S$5 (adults) and S$3 (children)

Isabel Cheng
Chief marketing officer
Wildlife Reserves Singapore

“River Safari opens another platform for us to create another experience for our guests. I suggest it teams up with reputable research institutions and even NGOs, as well as bring in specialist talent to upgrade the attraction beyond its touch-and-go programme. It can provide relevant activities and tour programmes targeting guests who want greater insights.”

Jaclyn Yeoh
Director, Siam Express, Singapore

“This new attraction has yet to create a huge enough impact to make every traveller want to list it as a must-do activitiy in Singapore, so I think more can be done to promote it. Perhaps it is still overshadowed by the award-winning Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.

However, the Amazon boat ride is a fantastic experience because it allows visitors to get really close to the animals, yet not within reach to ensure safety – and this is an attractive point.”

Dominic Ong
Managing director, Star Holiday Mart, Singapore

26-september-theme-skytrexOpened in August 2014

Which markets are you targeting?
Those who enjoy extreme sports and outdoor activities, nature lovers and adrenaline junkies from within the country and overseas

What is your unique selling point?
The park’s three challenges comprise the Little Legend Adventure, Island Extreme and Eagle Thrill.

Little Legend Adventure circuit has more than 20 fun adventure challenges for all ages. Eagle Thrill, for adults only, has more than 25 adventure challenges with various levels of difficulty. Island Extreme is also for adults only and offers more than 30 adrenaline-pumping extreme challenges.

How can travellers get there?
The park is located in the Lifestyle Precinct of the integrated development of Perdana Quay, which is around 20 minutes’ drive from Kuah town as well as from Langkawi International Airport.

How should the trade sell your theme park?
Tour operators can combine a visit to the park with other activities such as a mangrove tour or visit to Langkawi Oriental Village where one can take a ride on the SkyCab.

Operational hours
09.00-17.00 daily

Ticket prices
Little Legend: RM35 (US$11)
Eagle Thrill: RM45
Island Extreme: RM55
Group bookings of minimum 10 people: 10 per cent discount; incentive for travel agencies: more favourable rates through a contractual arrangement with Skytrex to bring tourists to the park

Note: Minimum age for guests is eight years old. Height requirements are 110cm for children and 140cm for adults.

Azlan Idrus
Skytrex Langkawi

“Skytrex@Perdana Quay Langkawi attracts adventurous international visitors looking for challenges. The park also gives an additional reason for business event organisers to choose Langkawi, as it can be used for teambuilding activities.

Langkawi has always been known as a family destination. Thus, I hope the park will have activities that allow everyone to participate in together as a family.”

Arokia Das
Senior manager, Luxury Tours Malaysia

26-september-theme-movieanimeOpening in late 2015

Which markets are you targeting?
Families with children and young adults. We expect to attract 1.4 million visitors in the first year, with 80 per cent from Malaysia and 20 per cent from overseas.

What is your unique selling point?
The park will be Asia’s first animation theme park, comprising 40 attractions and rides including the world’s first DreamWorks-dedicated zone featuring The Croods, Mr Peabody & Sherman, Casper and Megamind. It will also feature Asia’s first car stunt show and a one-of-a-kind live TV broadcast.

It  will also serve as a springboard for Malaysia’s growing creative industry, including projects with local animation studios and a performance stage concept dedicated to young adults.

How can travellers get there?
The park is about 2.5-hours’ drive from the heart of Kuala Lumpur and 15-20 minutes from Ipoh city, Perak. It will be within walking distance of the new Amanjaya Bus Terminal served by intercity bus companies. By air, Firefly connects Singapore to Ipoh with two daily flights.

How should the trade sell your theme park?
We aim to put Perak on the list of Malaysia’s top five destinations for international tourists when the park opens.
The park can be combined with Ipoh Heritage Trail,  Royal Belum Rainforest and Taiping Zoo. There are a number of new hotels in Ipoh, including Ibis Styles Ipoh, Casuarina @ Meru and Best Western Premier The Haven Ipoh, making it easy to stay overnight and create packages.

Operational hours
To be confirmed

Ticket prices
To be confirmed, along with incentives for travel agencies

Ramelle Ramli
Director, Animation Theme Park

“It will be a stopover destination for those travelling from south to north or vice versa, or from the east coast of peninsular Malaysia to the south or vice versa.

Being Asia’s first animation theme park will make the park a must-see attraction for Perak. Currently, there is no single attraction in the state that is a real crowd-puller. We do not see much demand for Perak now; I hope this will change when the park is open. It will create a lot of spillover business for the local tourism industry, benefiting the hotels, restaurants and transportation-related businesses. In time, I hope there will be adjoining hotels to the theme park, making it easier to package it with overnight stays.

Perak should ride on the park’s presence to showcase other products in the state to draw longer-staying travellers.”

Syed Mohd Razif Al Yahya
Group managing director and group CEO
Sutra Group of Companies, Malaysia

26-september-theme-disneyOpening in late 2015

Which markets are you targeting?
The population of 330 million who live within a three-hour drive or train ride from Shanghai is our core market.

What is your unique selling point?
The resort will be a world-class family vacation destination that combines classic Disney characters and storytelling with the uniqueness and beauty of China. F&B and merchandising will incorporate many Chinese elements.

Unique features include the largest and most immersive castle at any Disney park around the world, the iconic central attraction Enchanted Storybook Castle, the first pirates-themed land in a Disney park and the first Disney Broadway-style theatre, which will stage the global premiere of The Lion King in Mandarin.

In short, it is a mega resort comprising a variety of products under one roof – a theme park, two themed hotels, a large retail, dining and entertainment venue, a theatre and outdoor recreation areas.

How can travellers get there?
A high-speed rail line will connect Shanghai Disney Resort to the city, and Disney Express rail services will connect the attraction to other Chinese cities.

Operational hours
To be confirmed

Ticket prices
To be confirmed

Frances Li
Director, communications
Shanghai Disney Resort

“Shanghai is known as a business destination, so the resort will add a fresh family travel dimension. Widely travelled Singaporeans have visited Disney theme parks in the US, Europe and Asia, so the resort may have limited appeal for them. However, it might appeal to the Malaysian and Indonesian markets; we need more information to repackage tours to Shanghai when the resort opens.

Unfortunately, I foresee the opening of the resort impacting our inbound business from China.”

Nancy Tan Li Keng
Managing director, Ik Chin Travel, Singapore

“The resort can help to attract younger tourists and encourage families to travel to Shanghai. However, I doubt it will have a big impact on international visitors. Still, we will promote the resort to family travellers. Of course, special rates and promotions will help us sell it.”

Voo Wei Keong
Director, WTS Travel, Singapore

26-september-theme-kidzaniaOpening in early 2015

Which markets are you targeting?
Families with kids, educators, non-profit organisations and government agencies

What is your unique selling point?
KidZania believes in the power of play in child development. It is an interactive kids’ play city that offers nearly 100 role-playing activities in more than 60 establishments, featuring real brands, with various levels of difficulty to meet the abilities and interests of every child. It combines fun and learning for children aged three to 14 years.

There is the credibility of the brand to boot as well – it has over 500 partners around the world with hundreds of major international and regional brands that authenticate the content at the park, including American Airlines, Avis, Coca-Cola, Domino’s, Dunkin Donuts, Duracell, Fuji Film, Gillette, Honda, HP, Johnson & Johnson, Mattel, McDonald’s, Mitsubishi, Nestle, Nike, HSBC, Unilever, Seiko, Sony and Wal-Mart.

How can travellers get there?
By public transport; there’s also a shuttle bus going around Bonifacio Global City. The park is about 20-30 minutes by car from Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, but a bit longer if coming from Terminals 1 and 2.

Operational hours
Kidzania operates by five-hour shifts
Mondays-Thursdays: One shift
Fridays-Sundays: Two shifts

Ticket prices
To be confirmed
Maricel Pangilinan-Arenas
CEO and president
Play Innovations, Inc

“It will do well if it is sold to schools. For foreigners, it can be attached to day tours of the city, offered to families.”

Thaemar Achacoso
Operations manager, Travelhub Inc, Philippines

26-september-theme-dreamworksOpening in late 2014

Which markets are you targeting?
Besides the large domestic market, we anticipate key markets for leisure-seeking visitors and families will include overseas markets such as South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, China and Thailand, among others.

What is your unique selling point?
DreamPlay by DreamWorks will be the first of its kind in the world. Inspired by the mantra of learning through play, it represents a revolutionary approach to family entertainment.
The park also represents an exciting blend of integrated live and digital play spaces, featuring popular characters and creative storytelling combined with innovative educational play appealing to children and adults alike.
Interactive environments, featuring the very latest digital technologies, will enable kids to engage in a wide range of thrilling activities, interacting with beloved characters from DreamWorks Animation’s world-famous franchises including Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon.
Each experience is designed exclusively for City of Dreams Manila.

How can travellers get there?
By taxi, it is 15-20 minutes away from Ninoy Aquino International Airport, or 10-15 minutes from SM Mall of Asia.

Operational hours
To be confirmed

Ticket prices
To be confirmed

Melco Crown Philippines

“It’s time we came up with something relevant, and I am for it. Kids these days know all the fads and can be hard to please.
If Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia have theme parks, then this is our way of stepping it up.”

Dino Manila
Head of sales and marketing, Rajah Travel Corp, Philippines

26-september-theme-vananavaSoft opening in October 2014

Which markets are you targeting?
About 70 per cent Thai and 30 per cent foreigners from Germany, China, Hong Kong, the UK, Australia and Scandinavia

What is your unique selling point?
The park is Asia’s first water jungle concept combining a lush tropical environment with modern design, world-class attractions, interactive facilities and latest technology to create ‘an oasis of fun’ for all.

It features over 19 attractions, such as Thailand’s first and only Aqua Course, a multi-level challenge and interactive adventure; one of Thailand’s longest lazy rivers; Asia’s tallest man-made waterfall; and Thailand’s first Abyss, one of the world’s most popular and award-winning slides.

How can travellers get there?
From Bangkok, the park is 2.5-hour drive away or 40 minutes by private jet to Hua Hin Airport. It is just five minutes from Hua Hin’s city centre.

How should the trade sell your theme park?
The park can be bundled with accommodation and transfers or as an optional tour offer. Guests can spend an entire day in the park for its other facilities besides the 19 attractions, such as the double flow rider, restaurants and cafes, lounges, private sala, weekend market and concerts.

Operational hours (tentative)
Waterpark (Wet) Zone: 10.00-18.00 from Sundays to Thursdays and 10.00-21.00 on Fridays and Saturdays
Adventure (Dry) Zone: 10.00-21.00 from Sundays to Thursdays and 10.00-23.00 on Fridays and Saturdays

Ticket prices
To be confirmed

Usa Boonchalakulkosol
Director of sales and marketing

“This may be a nice addition for Hua Hin, Cha Am and Pranburi residents and tourists. The area already has other smaller water theme parks that are very popular with mainly the Thais. I’m sure this new park will be ‘invaded’ by weekend guests from Bangkok.

Will this lead overseas guests to choose Hua Hin instead of Pattaya or Phuket? I don’t think so; after all it’s not Disney World right?”

Hans van den Born
Managing director, Diethelm Travel (Thailand)

“I don’t think this park will be a game changer, especially for the international market. It will not be the deciding factor when foreign travellers decide where to spend their beach break. But it will be very interesting for the domestic market, and will have more influence on people’s decision for short breaks from Bangkok.”

Michael Lynden-Bell
General manager, Thailand, Exotissimo Travel

26-september-theme-chimelongOpened in March 2014

Which markets are you targeting?
Mainly China, Hong Kong and Macau. We are developing the Taiwanese and South-east Asian markets.  Our target segments include families with kids for school holidays; young adults in non-school holiday seasons and MICE groups.

What is your unique selling point?
The Whale Shark Aquarium claims to be the world’s largest acrylic panel, which in turn sets a record for the world’s largest aquarium window. It also features the largest underwater viewing dome where visitors can enjoy the experience with a spectacular underwater view.

How can travellers get there?
Located on Hengqin Island, the park is  near Macau and only a 30-minute ride from Taipa/Hengqin Port to Hengqin Chimelong. At Taipa Ferry Terminal, board the Taipa Chimelong shuttle bus (departs hourly from 10.25 to 17.25) to Macau Lotus Port and through to Zhuhai Hengqin Port, disembarking at both ports for immigration formalities. After completing the immigration procedure, board the Taipa Chimelong shuttle bus to Chimelong.

How should the trade sell your theme park?
They may promote the FIT package for one night’s accommodation at Chimelong Hengqin Bay Hotel inclusive of return ferry tickets, shuttle bus transfer, admission to Chimelong Ocean Kingdom and Chimelong Hengqin International Circus City. The group tour package may include transportation, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, Chimelong Hengqin International Circus City and Zhuhai cuisine.

Operational hours

Ticket prices
Adults: RMB350 (US$57)
Children (height 1m-1.5m): RMB245
Seniors (65 years old or above): RMB245
Holders of registration card for people with disabilities: RMB245

“The new park has generated more tourist traffic to Zhuhai, which had been lacking new tourism products like theme parks. It also draws many domestic travellers who extend their visit to Hengqin Island after touring around Guangdong province. I observe that Chinese travellers now tend to stay longer than before.

This new attraction also draws traffic from Macau and Hong Kong. Business is good with high demand for weekend packages. However, the park needs to improve accessibility given its remote location on Henqin Island. It’s an issue for FITs, and I hope to see more shuttle bus or public transportation connecting to the park. The shuttle service from Taipa Ferry Terminal is not frequent.“

Wing Wong
Managing director, W Travel, Hong Kong

Additional reporting from S Puvaneswary, Caroline Boey, Marianne Carandang, Prudence Lui, Xinyi Liang-Pholsena

This article was first published in TTG Asia, September 26, 2014 issue, on page 16. To read more, please view our digital edition or click here to subscribe.

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