Bandung is where I experienced a lot of 1st times. Starting in 1998 when Bandung was my first stop after landing in Jakarta during my very first trip to Asia (as a backpacker at the time), then in 2007 when I saw my first Novotel project being built and opened in less than 2 years after I had signed with the owners – PT Kamarku Nyaman – in 2005; and now in 2014 when I finally experienced South East Asia’s first world-class homegrown theme park, Trans Studio.
I made the trip to Bandung just for it; flying Air Asia direct from KL and staying at the Ibis hotel conveniently located besides Trans Studio Mall.
This is where I give you a bit of background on Trans Studio Bandung. It is CT Corp’s second theme park project (after Trans Studio Makassar) and part of the redevelopment of an existing mall. In addition to owning a few TV channels (Trans TV, Trans 7), CT Corp is one of Indonesia’s largest retailers; they now own the Carrefour network in the country and master franchises for brands such as Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Baskin-Robbins, Wendy’s, etc. The new Trans Studio Mall looks very nice and quite upmarket; it houses South East Asia’s biggest indoor theme park and is flanked by 2 large hotels: the 5-star Trans Luxury Hotel and the largest Ibis hotel in Asia.
The ticketing for the theme park is on the ground floor on one of the sides of the mall. Then visitors take an escalator to the park entrance on the 3rd level of the mall (access is also possible from the food area of the mall). Tickets are IDR160,000 (USD13) for an Adult on week days (IDR260,000 on weekends) and they come on a magnetic card, which can be recharged for purchases within the park. Probably due to control issues in Indonesia, the park is strictly no-cash. In my opinion this is not optimal because of the inconvenience of having to find a cashier to reload the card (I couldn’t be bothered although I wanted to buy a souvenir) but some would argue the park gets additional revenue from unused value in cards after visitors leave.
Enough money matters! Let me tell you about the sense of arrival. I thought it was very well done. The ceiling height is very generous and the area just outside the park gates feels like a mini NYC Times Square with lots of signage and some F&B kiosks. After I passed the gates I found myself on the U-shaped main boulevard; a band was playing classic Indonesian rock songs, staff in costumes were greeting me, taking pictures with visitors and the facades along the boulevard were nicely themed with just the right lighting. I felt a strong sense of place, I was instantly transported into the universe of Trans Studio, which was going to be mine for a few hours.
Trans Studio gets more than 2.5million visitors a year. The day of my visit was a week day and most visitors were Indonesians, probably from outside Bandung, on a family trip or as a group of teenager friends. There were also a number of school groups as well as incentive groups.
The park is built around the U-shaped boulevard with the exterior side left at full ceiling height (20m+) and the interior split in two levels with retail and F&B on the lower level and walk-through attractions on top (with small entrances on the lower level). The retail offering comprises of a series of 4 or 5 Trans Studio stores selling pretty much the same merchandise but with slight differences in theming. There is also a candy store. The F&B offering is nice and varied with a few kiosks (incl. CP Group’s own brands Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Baskin-Robbins) and outlets: American style diner, Japanese restaurant, local food, milk bar, etc.
Some of the signature rides and attractions include Dunia Lain (dark ride into a haunted house with very well executed theming and media content inspired by a popular Trans TV show), Special Effects Action Show (mini stunt show with short motorcyle demo and one action film scene) and the Yamaha Racing Coaster (boomerang family coaster coming out of the building).
I really liked the Legenda Putra Mahkota show – a very well executed cultural acrobatic musical for all ages – performed on a stage in the heart of the park. The crew was very good and obviously experienced with a theme park crowd. As a matter of fact I found the entire staff of the park well trained and with a very good attitude. Later when I asked how many staff work for the park I was told 600 to 700, that’s a lot to manage and Trans Studio does a great job. And looking back at my day there I think this is what made the main difference. The Trans Studio universe I was referring to earlier would not exist without its staff.
Besides the above signature attractions there are a few worth mentioning such as the Si Bolang Adventure – a take on Disney’s it’s a small world where the visitor follows a character in the various regions of Indonesia – which is well themed but a bit repetitive, and the Science Center, which covers a large area with interactive displays and facilitating staff; maybe good for school groups visiting but not overly exciting for a typical theme park visitor.
You know my interest in sponsorships so I couldn’t help noticing that the park gets a fair amount of it. Nearly every significant ride is sponsored (Yamaha, Dunlop, Indosat, Indo Mie, Bank Mega) and taking the example of Dunlop and Yamaya the exposure is quite extensive with branding (banners everywhere, staff uniforms, etc), history of the brands, product displays, etc.
Most IP’s in the park are from the owner’s TV channels except for a Marvel 4D ride, which I personally thought was one of the least interesting ones.
I stayed in the park until the afternoon parade, which was well sized for such indoor park, with bright-lit cars, dancers, etc. A very nice way to end the day in South East Asia’s first world-class homegrown theme park, which happens to be indoor. But isn’t everything indoor in South East Asia!?