Construction Update: Movie Animation Park Studios, Malaysia

Having heard that this theme park under construction in Ipoh, Malaysia is not opening in December as planned but probably in April 2017, I thought I would stop by on my way to Penang over the end-of-the-year break to report on the status of construction and share a few pictures.

The entrance building and car park were finished early 2016 and it seems most of the rides have been delivered by now. The theming in Animation Square is almost done and you can actually see it from the highway itself. I wonder if that will be covered later as I don’t think visitors of the park want to see the highway from the square! It looks like the structure for the stunt show is also done. The main areas requiring more work are probably the Dreamworks Zone and the Blast Off Zone.

img_0007_2

View from the main entrance building of the bridge, Animation Square and Megamind Megadrop at the back

img_0006_2

View from the main entrance of Fantasy Forest at the front and Stunt Legends structure at the back

img_0005_2

Panoramic view from the entrance building

img_0003_2

View of the starship restaurant being built in the Blast Off Zone

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!

RSG Takes Lead in MAPS and Enters into Partnership with MONSTA

PETALING JAYA, April 8, 2015: RSG, the co-owner and co-developer, together with Perak Corporation Bhd of Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS), today entered into a partnership with MONSTA, an animation content developer and creator of BoBoiBoy.

The partnership with MONSTA paves the way for BoBoiBoy to have his first theme park home in MAPS, and be the first local animation character to join the MAPS animation family of popular animated characters from DreamWorks, like Mr. Peabody and Sherman, The Croods, Megamind and Casper the Friendly Ghost.

MAPS is RSG’s inaugural foray into best-in-class integrated family entertainment theme parks and resorts.

“While RSG is committed to redefining family fun, MONSTA is redefining family entertainment through animation. Together we have a synergistic partnership that excites and meets Malaysian and Asian family values,” says RSG founder and chairman, Ramelle Ramli.

He explains, “From day one, RSG led the MAPS project. And, from the very beginning, we have had tremendous support from Perak Corporation; financial institutions who believed in us and the project, and the Sanderson Group, our turnkey contractor, who is fully mobilised on site and is currently at 40% completion. Together we are making MAPS a reality.”

Moving forward, RSG’s middle to long term plans in redefining family fun in Malaysia will include Phase II of MAPS, which will comprise a hotel, serviced apartments, and a unique lifestyle retail and dining concept that will serve theme park visitors, Ipoh residents and commuters from Penang to Kuala Lumpur.

RSG is currently working on securing a few more integrated family destination projects in strategic locations in Malaysia that are expected to be announced by end of the year.