Malaysia, the Orlando of Asia

When I first read the phrase ‘Malaysia, the Orlando of Asia’ referring to the Singapore-Johor corridor in a report from ECA I was a bit surprised and thought it was maybe a bit exaggerated. Universal Studios Singapore and LEGOLAND Malaysia combined are attracting fewer visitors than one single theme park in Orlando.

I have been spending a lot of time in Malaysia in the past year and I thought I would look into this phrase again, from a different perspective.

And yes, I think Malaysia is probably the Orlando of Asia but not so much for the number of theme parks and their attendance – Hong Kong for example beats Malaysia big time – but because it is where the future of our industry in Asia is being shaped. Let me explain why.

Recently I was having lunch with Aaron Soo (former CEO of Sunway Lagoon), who was back in Malaysia for a few days after having opened Wanda’s first indoor movie park in Wuhan, China. We started speaking about all the good things happening in or out of Malaysia:

  • First, Galasys is on its way to revolutionizing theme park ticketing with their cloud-based “Intelligent Tourism” concept; something that has been recognized by the founder of alibaba, who recently took a stake in the company;
  • RSG, the company behind Movie Animation Park Studios, managed to signed up both DreamWorks and The Smurfs for Asia’s first animation theme park, which is about to give sleepy Ipoh a serious shake;
  • The same RSG just announced a partnership with French video game publisher Ubisoft to build in Kuala Lumpur the world’s first next gen theme park where “every guest is a player, every ride is a playground, every visit is a game”
  • Actually, theme parks in Malaysia have recently become the first stepping stone into Asia’s Location Based Entertainment (LBE) for the world’s best entertainment brands (LEGOLAND, Hello Kitty, Thomas & Friends, Nickelodeon and 20th Century Fox) and even local brands (Malaysia’s animation sensation BoBoiBoy);
  • In the aquarium world, home-grown Aquaria will be expanding in Phuket in a partnership with the Central Group; and
  • Let’s not forget some of Singapore’s biggest attractions are actually Malaysian owned: Universal Studios (Genting) and KidZania (TAR)

We have Genting to thank for; they really started the Malaysian family entertainment industry 40 years ago with their first resort up in Genting Highlands. They were among the first to bring to Asia concepts such as a themed hotel or a large indoor theme park with First World Plaza featuring one of Asia’s first Ripley’s Believe it or Not museums.

But maybe more importantly it’s the people. Malaysia has a great pool of people who are well trained (they have often studied overseas) and know how to run international standard theme parks. They export very well and this is why you find them in Manila, Macau and everywhere in China (it’s an easy move for Malaysian Chinese in particular). But recently Malaysia has begun to attract industry people from other countries, seduced by innovative companies such as Galasys and RSG, and you can feel the energy; it’s all happening.

If you think of Orlando as a sunny place, which is home of innovative companies such as SeaWorld Entertainment, Ripley’s and countless design studios and ride manufacturers, Malaysia could very well become the Orlando of Asia. It already has the sun and a few emerging innovative operators! It just needs more studios and suppliers.

So if you too want to shape the future of our industry in Asia, join the party and move to Malaysia, the Orlando of Asia!

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NEWS: Ubisoft® developing Next-Generation Theme Park

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – September 7, 2015 — Today, Ubisoft announced that it is developing a next-generation theme park. Combining a rich portfolio of world-renowned brands and an expertise in designing highly interactive gaming experiences, Ubisoft aims to revolutionize guests’ journeys. The project is being led by Ubisoft Motion Pictures, who has a successful track record of expanding Ubisoft’s game brands to theme parks with the launch of the award-winning* Rabbids Dark Ride at French park Futuroscope.

UBISOFT THEME PARK_RABBIDSFor its first next-generation theme park, Ubisoft Motion Pictures is partnering with RSG, co-owner and co-developer of Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS). “Together we are creating a place where every guest is a player, every ride is a playground, every visit is a game,” said Jean de Rivières, senior vice president, Ubisoft Motion Pictures. “In RSG, we’ve found a partner with a successful track record in working with international brands, a shared ambition to design the family destination of the future, and a wealth of expertise in theme park development.” said Jean de Rivières.

The planned 10,000 square meter development will be located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – second most visited country in Asia** – and will feature innovative rides, attractions and shows inspired by some of Ubisoft’s biggest franchises, such as Assassin’s Creed®, Just Dance® and Rabbids®. The park will open in 2020.

UBISOFT THEME PARK_ASSASSIN'S CREED

“RSG is committed to redefining family fun, and video games have taken an increasingly central role in entertainment for all ages,” said Ramelle Ramli, Chairman, RSG. “Partnering with Ubisoft means we’ll work with their creative teams to develop the first of what we believe will be a revolutionary new theme park experience. We are confident that this partnership agreement highly benefits both parties and consolidates our presence in the global family entertainment market.”

Additional information about Ubisoft can be found at www.ubisoft.com. Additional information about RSG can be found at www.rsg-group.com.my.

About Ubisoft Motion Pictures

Ubisoft Motion Pictures was created in 2011 to expand the popularity of Ubisoft’s game brands to new areas of entertainment including television and film. It is responsible for the Assassin’s Creed live-action long-feature – set for release in December 2016 – and the Rabbids animated television series, currently in its second season. Four long-feature films are also currently in development. Recently, Ubisoft Motion Pictures has expanded into theme parks, developing specific rides adapted from the group’s hit brands as well as a full-scale next generation theme park concept.

About Ubisoft

Ubisoft is a leading creator, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and services, with a rich portfolio of world-renowned brands, including Assassin’s Creed, Just Dance, Tom Clancy’s video game series, Rayman, Far Cry and Watch Dogs. The teams throughout Ubisoft’s worldwide network of studios and business offices are committed to delivering original and memorable gaming experiences across all popular platforms, including consoles, mobile phones, tablets and PCs. For the 2014-15 fiscal year Ubisoft generated sales of €1,464 million. To learn more, please visit www.ubisoft.com.

About RSG (R-Segari Group)

RSG is the co-owner and co-developer of Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS), one of the most unique and exciting family entertainment projects in the leisure and tourism landscape in Malaysia. Ramelle Ramli is the Chairman of RSG and founder of MAPS. He led the MAPS project from its inception. RSG’s expansion strategy includes the development of integrated family entertainment theme parks and resorts in Malaysia and Asia. To learn more, please visit http://www.rsg-group.com.my

© 2015 Ubisoft Entertainment. All Rights Reserved. Ubisoft and the Ubisoft logo are trademarks of Ubisoft Entertainment in the U.S. and/or other countries.

**2014 Themed Entertainment Association Award (TEA) for Outstanding Achievement

**Source: 2014 Tourism Highlights Report by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) ©