Since I recently relocated to Kuala Lumpur working on the MAPS Perak project, I have been exploring a bit to check out the family entertainment scene in Malaysia.
The industry is one of the most developed in Asia with a myriad of water parks and small integrated resorts throughout the country. It all started with Genting Highlands 40 years ago, which turned a small mountain resort 45min from Kuala Lumpur into a 30-million annual visitor destination featuring 3 casinos, 5 hotels, a giant convention center and a 20th Century Fox theme park under construction.
Now back to my exploration and the main reason for this post. I went to i-City in Shah Alam (suburban KL) over the weekend. They have been in the news recently for the opening of a wax museum, snow world, space attraction, horror house, trick art museum and South East Asia’s 1st tornado water slide. I was expecting a nice integrated entertainment city with retail, attractions, restaurants, etc. Instead I found a bunch of old and cheap looking rides and attractions housed in shop-houses and surrounded by half-finished residential towers.
I felt really embarrassed. I was totally mislead by this developer who had no intention of building a true sustainable family entertainment destination (as portrayed in the media) but only did so to get some sort of grant or tax incentive from the government. Now I understand why they keep flashing the Visit Malaysia logo, trying to ‘buy’ a legitimacy they do not deserve. More than embarrassed actually I felt upset because that’s not where I’d like to see the industry go in Malaysia. This country needs more quality attraction developed by genuine people who care. Now, I’ve said it!
Let me show you in images the difference between what i-City claims it is and what it really looks like.
More embarrassing pictures.