What’s happening in water parks in SE Asia?

This article was originally published in blooloop.com

I was recently approached by one of the big fives looking at putting together a report on water parks in SE Asia.

I realized a lot had happened in our region in the last two years, from the opening of Cartoon Network’s first branded water park in Thailand to the opening of Yangon’s first water park in Myanmar.

It certainly does look like something big is going on for someone sitting in Europe or the US. So here is a quick overview for you.

First we have to go back to the why of water parks in SE Asia. It’s actually very simple. It starts with an all-year warm weather. To which you need to add good value scalable equipment, which allow owners to start small and charge very little, and gear up and eventually charge more when they can. I have seen many small neighborhood water parks in Indonesia that would cost less than USD1million to build and still provide a good return for their owners.

The development of sizeable water parks in SE Asia is almost exclusively driven by property developers, who see them as ways of anchoring their residential/resort communities at no loss.

  • Jakarta alone has 13 water parks in its greater urban area, almost all as part of new townships. The latest in date was developed for a whopping USD13.4million by developer Sinarmas Land in Bekasi
  • In Malaysia property developer Sentoria has developed a business model selling condos in resort cities anchored by water parks (Bukit Gambang and coming soon in Morib and Kuching)
  • In Thailand, developers of resort condos in Hua Hin, south of Bangkok, have also used water parks to pull buyers in resulting in 3 highly themed water parks (Black Mountain, Santorini and Vana Nava) all competing for the same weekend/short break business

Whilst traditionally water parks in the region are either not themed or themed after local myths and legends e.g. Suoi Tien in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam or Pandawa Lima in Solo, Indonesia, the trend is for IP-based water parks, which command a significant price premium.

  • In Malaysia LEGOLAND water park opened at a price of MYR120 (USD30) and achieved 630,000 visitors in its first year of operation, making it a much more profitable investment than the next door LEGOLAND theme park
  • Still in Malaysia Sunway Lagoon finally opened its new Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon expansion and used it to increase its price to MYR150 (USD37.5)
  • In Indonesia the developers of Jogja Bay Pirates Adventure Waterpark decided to develop their own pirates-based IP commissioning a local animation studio to create a multimedia show as part of the offering, which also includes a beautifully themed pirates ship
  • Still in Indonesia Bakrieland, the owner of The Jungle water park, is planning to further develop the Jungle IP with an animation series featuring the park’s mascots and new water park locations throughout the country as part of an IPO for its leisure division
  • In Thailand Cartoon Network Amazone water park is proving to be a hit with both Thai residents and International tourists flocking and willing to pay up to THB1,590 (US$45)
IMG_3909

Jogja Bay Pirates Adventure Waterpark

Now what’s next for water parks in SE Asia? Here are a few trends we might be looking at in the near future.

  • Hybrid: it’s all about being more than just water park, from a combination with a safari park with live animals roaming the water park to a combination with an adventure park with aqua maze, etc for team building
  • Indoor: with more shopping malls being developed and always bigger it wouldn’t be surprising if developers decided to look at indoor water parks combining ‘spa’ areas for adults and kids play areas similar to Korean water parks
  • Gamified: video games are coming to theme parks, so why not to water parks too; manufacturer WhiteWater is already in the ‘game’ with its Slideboarding ride
  • Luxury: with the emergence of a strong upper middle class we see the potential for a luxury offering, which would bring the experience of an exclusive beach club to demanding families
  • Crystal Lagoons: this giant lagoon pool technology developed by a Chilean company is possibly the next big thing; it’s already in Bintan, Indonesia and Hua Hin, Thailand and expanding fast
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