Theme parks open new attractions ahead of high season
With the Covid-19 situation easing and tourism improving, Thailand's entertainment, water and theme park businesses are rushing to tap the upcoming high season.
Both new and existing players are introducing products to draw tourists, including Carnival Magic Co, under the umbrella of Safari World, the country's biggest theme park operator, which is scheduled to open the Carnival Magic theme park in Phuket on Sept 20.
The 6.6-billion-baht Carnival Magic theme park, spanning 100 rai, aims to welcome as many as 2 million domestic and foreign tourists next year.
Carnival Magic, located in Phuket's Kamala Beach area, adjacent to Phuket FantaSea, offers Thai-style carnivals, parades and temple fairs, augmented with modern technology.
Carnival Magic expects foreign visitors, mainly from India, China, Europe, Australia and the Middle East, to make up 70% of its customers, with locals accounting for the remainder, according to Kittikorn Kewkacha, president and chief executive of Carnival Magic Co.
In addition to the new theme park, Mr Kittikorn said the company plans to upgrade Phuket FantaSea once tourism fully rebounds on the island.
- Splashing out -
Columbia Pictures' Aquaverse Movie Theme Park, the studio's first theme and water park on the planet, is scheduled to open in Pattaya on Oct 12.
Liakat Dhanji, chief executive and chairman of Amazon Falls Co, the owner and operator of Columbia Pictures' Aquaverse, said the company chose Thailand to develop the studio's first theme park because of the ideal location, with infrastructure such as high-speed trains and U-tapao airport.
In addition, around 20 million tourists visited Pattaya in 2019, half of whom were foreign, he said.
The Aquaverse park was jointly developed by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Amazon Falls on a 35-rai plot in Pattaya.
Targeting visitors of all ages, the park features themed and immersive zones with a range of water- and land-based attractions in addition to a programme of live shows, entertainment, interactive props, unique sets, themed restaurants, and speciality merchandise and retail locations.
After tourism has fully rebounded, the company plans to start development of the second phase of indoor immersive entertainment, part of a 10-year project, said Mr Liakat.
"The Aquaverse park is the next step in Sony Pictures' larger global strategy to expand location-based entertainment by utilising its globally known film and TV brands," said Jeffrey Godsick, executive vice-president of global partnership and brand management at Sony Pictures Entertainment.
"We are creating opportunities for audiences around the world to immerse themselves deeper into our stories through water parks, touring exhibitions and theme park attractions."
Mr Liakat echoed this level of confidence.
"Sony Pictures' breadth of global content, technology and talent leadership will be invaluable in creating a fully immersive experience that will bring curiosity and wonder to a global audience," he said.
The company wants to promote the project via its network in 80 countries and expects 1 million tourists to visit each year, said Mr Liakat.
"The Aquaverse park will play a key role in reshaping the growth dynamism in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), enticing tourists to stay in Pattaya for 6-7 days per trip, up from the current 5 days," said Kanit Sangsubhan, special adviser on strategic development in the EEC.
- Retail flair -
Siam Park City Group, another water and theme park operator, is slated to open Bangkok World, next door to its Siam Amazing Park, on Nov 25.
Chaiwat Luangamornlert, founder and senior president of Bangkok World, said the company plans to open the 3-billion-baht park soon, a retail and entertainment project on 70 rai of land.
"Thailand's image in terms of water parks and theme parks has changed. Several foreign theme park developers are keen to invest in Thailand, while some local operators provide their services in tourist destinations such as Hua Hin, Pattaya and Phuket. We believe Bangkok World will become a landmark attraction," Mr Chaiwat said.
Bangkok World plans to offer more than 500 Otop (One Tambon, One Product) shops, with dinner theatres, restaurants, street food and cultural performances. Bangkok World expects to draw 1.5-2 million visitors per year.