By Chad Emerson
While The Large Park Report normally focuses on domestic destinations, the phenomenal worldwide growth of large amusement parks warrants a closer look at these exceptional resorts around the globe. Some of the names may sound familiar but, as a whole, the industry’s international large parks and resorts have big plans for 2020. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights…
While this is our international edition of The Large Park Report, even overseas, domestic park giants Disney and Universal feature major new attractions, especially in their Asia-based parks.
At the massive Tokyo Disney Resort, the Japanese version of Disneyland debuts a brand-new Fantasyland area, part of a $1 billion expansion of the resort. While featuring different rides, the concept is similar to Disney’s 2012 re-imagining of its Magic Kingdom Fantasyland in Orlando—a clever way to reinvigorate an existing asset without having to build a new park area from scratch.
Meanwhile, Universal Studios Japan is betting big on its brand-new Super Nintendo World—a reported $500 million investment in rides themed to the iconic video game brand. The first character to jump into this world is slated to be Super Mario himself with a signature attraction opening in 2020 along with themed food, beverage, and merchandise experiences. This sounds like an attraction that Universal Orlando and Universal Hollywood fans should eagerly anticipate if it makes its way to Universal’s domestic destinations as rumored.
Domestic park leader Six Flags is also making a big push into Asia this year with its Six Flags Zhejiang park outside Shanghai. The park will feature cutting edge rides highlighted by a Mack Mega coaster, Vekoma suspended coaster and a massive GCI wooden coaster. The new park is planned to be one of several new Six Flags’ additions to China in coming years.
Beyond major Six Flags, Disney and Universal attractions, Asia-based parks are also debuting impressive new experiences throughout 2020. At the marine-themed Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in China, leaders will soon unveil a new show entitled “Dragon” – billed as a Broadway-style show with one of the most complex staging and special effects system ever built in a theater. In Hong Kong, Ocean Park is adding the stationary, spinning Wild Twister thrill ride which will offer thrilling views in almost every direction (including unique vertical views.)
Another highly anticipated addition to the Asian theme park scene in late 2020 features a brand-new indoor theme park at the massive Mall of China Being touted as the world’s largest indoor amusement, the Nickelodeon Universe-themed park is teasing thrill ride fans with the promise of unveiling the longest and fastest indoor roller coaster on the planet. Add in iconic Nickelodeon characters like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob and Dora the Explorer, and it’s easy to see how some of the most popular United States domestic animated characters are likely to make a big impact in Asia later this year.
Europe’s Large Parks
Similar to Asia, the European continent includes a large Disney resort. And, like its domestic counterparts, Disneyland Paris is undergoing a massive capital investment of over $2 billion. This huge investment is timed to coincide with the 2024 Summer Olympics scheduled to “bring the world” to Paris in just four years. The resort expansion will ultimately feature attractions from signature Disney-owned brands like Marvel, Star Wars and Frozen.
While those new rides are slated to debut after 2020, one of the more intriguing additions to Disneyland Paris is a new Marvel Studios themed hotel. Disney’s Hotel New York—The Art of Marvel is actually the transformation of the existing hotel into what is arguably one of the grandest Marvel Universal experiences anywhere. The hotel, billed as the largest public collection of Marvel art in the world, collaborated with over 50 artists to curate 300 different Marvel art pieces and exhibits throughout the property.
While Disney may be spending billions in Europe, that doesn’t mean Europe-based parks aren’t also keeping pace. Efteling will debut the highly immersive Max & Moritz roller coaster that promises to combine an exciting all ages-friendly ride mechanism with detailed theming that shares a traditional German fable. By several accounts, the new ride is analogous to Disney’s Magic Kingdom Seven Dwarves mine ride that melds moderate coaster thrills with dark ride-like set pieces.
Meanwhile, one of Europe’s most anticipated 2020 rides actually opened early in 2019 as Poland’s Energylandia park debuted Zadra, one of the continent’s most thrilling coasters in recent years. Featuring a 200-foot drop, the 4,300-plus feet steel and wood track will propel riders at speeds in excess of 70 mph with a series of inversions that would make any domestic Large Park operator proud to claim Zadra as one of their own.
As you can see, large parks and resorts around the world are aggressively expanding and innovating to offer guests high quality and immersive theme park experiences. Sounds like a great reason to take that international theme park “bucket list” trip in 2020…