Lionsgate Sets Launch Date for ‘Hunger Games,’ ‘Divergent’ China Theme Park

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Lionsgate Entertainment World, to open July 31, will feature indoor themed rides and VR experiences inspired by the Hollywood studio’s movie franchises.

Lionsgate on Monday said its indoor theme park, which will bring Hunger Games- and Divergent-inspired attractions to China, will launch on July 31.

Lionsgate Entertainment World, through a licensing deal by the studio, will launch in Hengqin, China, an hour from Hong Kong, and will feature around 25 attractions based on the Hollywood studio’s film properties.

Lionsgate’s interactive indoor theme park will feature 3D and virtual reality experiences inspired by The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga and the Divergent and Now You See Me movie franchises, as well as story backgrounds from other film titles like Escape Plan and Gods of Egypt.

“From escaping the Capitol to braving the mental and physical challenges of Dauntless to taking on a newborn vampire army with Jacob and the Wolf Pack, we can’t wait for fans to step into the worlds of their favorite films to create their own authentic adventures,” Jenefer Brown, Lionsgate’s senior vp of global live and location-based entertainment, said in a statement.

The indoor theme park aims to leverage the earlier box office success of Lionsgate’s tentpole movies in China.

Lionsgate partnered with the Thinkwell Group and Village Roadshow Theme Parks to create the Lionsgate Entertainment World immersive attractions like Hunger Games – Mockingjay Flight, a 3D motion simulator ride; The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride VR experience; and The Divergent Series – Fear Simulator.

There are also dining experiences like the Hunger Games-inspired Capitol Club, Peeta’s Bakery and the Lionsgate Cafe.

Lionsgate’s location-based entertainment business includes separate attractions in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The studio earlier announced the launch of the outdoor theme park Lionsgate Movie World at Jeju Island, South Korea.

Lionsgate Entertainment World: a ‘world’s first’ theme park

The eagerly-awaited Lionsgate Entertainment World is set to open this summer at Novotown Hengqin. Asia’s first movie-themed vertical indoor experience centre will feature some of the world’s most popular film franchises. These include The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga, The Divergent Series, and Now You See Me.


More information about the park was released at IAAPA Asia Expo 2019. Attendees at the event in Shanghai enjoyed an introductory video. It featured several new ride concepts and never-seen-before insights into the new park. Blooloop caught up with Selena Magill, General Manager at Lionsgate Entertainment World and Kelly Ryner, President of Thinkwell, Asia to find out more about the park’s development.

Lionsgate has offered six of its most successful global film franchises as the story backgrounds for the park’s attractions. These are fan favourites The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga, The Divergent Series, Now You See Me, Gods of Egypt, and Escape Plan.

Selena Magill, General Manager, Lionsgate Entertainment World

Lionsgate Entertainment World – coming soon!

The project has been in construction for almost three years. Now, many of the closely-guarded secrets around the park are being released. The park will be opening to the public shortly, as Magill explains, “Opening is going to be sometime this summer, we are reallyreally close. It’s such an immersive and integrated facility we need to get it just right. We need to put the final touches through all that planning and we can’t wait to shout it from the rooftops.”

Lionsgate Entertainment World is in the Novotown precinct. The location is home to a mix of residential properties as well as a large shopping mall and entertainment offerings. Magill adds that there is a lot of other construction taking place in the area. “A Hyatt Regency hotel will also open later this year and a National Geographic ExperienceThis is another great family entertainment centre, so once we are all open together, we will all compliment each other. The other facilities will open later September/October time but we will be the first to open.”


Several partners are working together to bring Lionsgate Entertainment World to Life. These include key partner Thinkwell Group and operators Village Roadshow Theme Parks. Other notable companies from around the globe are the Australian construction services company Cockram, international show contractor Scenario, world-famous ride and attraction manufacturer CAVU and Oscar-winning visual media producer Framestore. There are many other names involved in the project too, including MackETF Rides, DreamCraft Attractions and Walltopia.

28 years in the business

Magill recently celebrated her 28th year in the business. She began working for Village Roadshow Theme Parks in 1990, at Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast. “Warner Bros Movie World was being built next door,” says Magill. “I was finishing school and thought ‘that looks reallycool’ and didn’t know that much about theme parks. I was there for the opening of that park at the age of 17, in 1991.”

Lionsgate Entertainment World

“Across that time I’ve opened many different theme parks. This is my 10th, which is amazing and the first for me in China, but I’ve worked across all our brands in Australia.” Magill says, “We had Warner Bros Movie World, Sea World, Wet’n’Wild – one in Vegas, one in China, we opened both of them last year. We have Movie World in Germany, both parks in Las Vegas. Then our waterparks and a number of smaller attractions as well as our resorts.”

“I’ve worked across pretty much every department including show and entertainment, operations, food and beverage and marketing, before returning to a more operational role. Part of every role I’ve done previously has given me a very deep understanding of the theme park industry. Now I’m able to apply this in China. This role is a great way to bring that theme park knowledge to this huge emerging market.”

Lionsgate Entertainment World and Thinkwell

The attractions industry is booming in China. To stand out from the crowd, the park chose Thinkwell Group to ensure a well-rounded, showstopping project. Thinkwell also worked on Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi. This means that the company has a strong movie-based theme park background.

Lionsgate Entertainment World

The park includes theming and rides based around six of the most popular films in China. Magill says these titles continue to be popular and to resonate with audiences in China. “With Thinkwell, they can create these worlds and the level of immersive-ness in this park. Bringing the Hunger Games, the Twilight Saga, Divergent, Now You See Me, all these films across different levels to life.”

Bringing the IP to life

Because the new park is indoors, the environment is easy to control. “In the Hunger Games, for example, you walk into the Capitol,” continues Magill. “If you’ve seen the films, the Capitol is so opulent and elegant and so over the top. So too is our whole floor dedicated to that IP. In there we have the Capitol Club restaurant, which for a theme park you’ve never seen anything like it! It’s opulent, its marble, it’s gold, it’s rich. It’s not your normal theme park. We want people to live in that world.”

Lionsgate Entertainment World

“In Now You See Me, we literally recreated streetscapes from the film. These are the streets of Macau, bringing pieces of that to life. There will be magicians. Portuguese tarts and food offerings are integrated into that world too.”

An immersive experience

Lionsgate Entertainment World will feature actors who interact with guests, for an immersive experience. It will also include live shows and walking entertainments.

“One of the things that makes us different, is that rather than having set show times, we are doing it in a way that is more pop-up style. You walk down, there is a magician and you turn around and there is somebody entertaining. There will absolutely be live shows in the atrium. In our live show space, we can set shows up very quickly. You can see it standing down on the first level but also looking down from upper levels. It’s a very unique show space that will be very different,” says Magill.

lionsgate movie world

Ride technologies

Lionsgate Entertainment World worked with CAVU Designwerks, Dreamcraft Attractions, Framestore and ETF on the technology behind the new rides.

EFT Rides created The Twilight Saga – Bella’s Journey. This articulated vehicle ride is basedon the much-loved Twilight franchise. “You get to see Bella and Edward kiss in the forest, and there is a lot of environmental effects, says Magill. “You are in the snow you feel cold, there is wind, you can smell the pine needles”.

CAVU, Dreamcraft Attractions and Framestore worked with the park to create The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride. This is a simulated motorbike ride. “We have taken that simulator technology which most people are used to seeing in a group vehicle. Now it is just you on a motorbike. You can grab the throttle and make it go. You literally sit on the bike, put a seatbelt on and the VR goggles come down, and from that moment it’s unbelievable.”

Lionsgate Entertainment World - The Twilight Saga – Midnight Ride

A VR motorbike adventure

The ride features a pre-show with the character of Jacob, in his garage. Once guests put on the goggles, they are transported to this workshop. Amongst the sounds of the forest, Jacob explains he needs help to defeat the Volturi. Then, the bike takes off.

“It has that technology where you can see your own hands, you can see the person next to you in the VR world. The first time I rode it, I absolutely loved it! I screamed like a girl. There are parts when it is very interactive. You can actually personalise your experience, by pushing your bike to go down a certain route or path. You can have a different experience to the person next to you who has gone a different route. It is incredible technology. The realness of it, even though it is VR technology is amazing.” 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Flight – Rebel Escape

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Flight – Rebel Escape is the first enclosed motion simulator in mainland China. The story focuses on the character of Katniss and her need to escape from the Capitol. The state of the art simulator features a 6DOF (degrees of freedom) motion base. This supports a 30-person cabin. 

Lionsgate Entertainment World

From quick eats to fine dining

The park is home to the Lionsgate Cafe. This is an all-day dining, sit down option. It includes many different Chinese and western options, suitable for quick dining.

For fine dining, guests can experience the Capitol Club. “The food there is amazing,” says Magill. We have tried really hard to make sure our food offering is to a much higher standard. The way it is plated, some of the food is themed, based on the IPs and so on.”

Lionsgate Entertainment World

Lionsgate Entertainment World also features the Oculus Lounge. This is an octagon shaped bar with several interactive tables. Guests can unlock a secret menu while they are drinking by interacting with the table. The atmospheric bar adds a different, quirky touch to the IP. “When you come in, it’s quite dark, it’s quite moody,” says Magill. “We do molecular cocktails, mixologists – it’s going to be my favourite part of the park!”

The park also has food carts, like most theme parks tend to do. However, they are all themed to be in keeping with the IP. For example, the one in the Macau themed area will sell Portuguese tarts.

hunger games lionsgate

An indoor adventure

The whole attraction is retrofit since the building’s first purpose was not to be a theme park. This added some extra challenges to the design and construction process. Magill explains, “We had to do a lot of work re-enforcing the floors, making sure the walls were strong enough – we have a two story roller coaster in there! It was incredible how we could fit it all in. When I stand up on the Twilight Floor in the forest and look down – it’s quite epic.”

The park features a huge central chandelier that is four storeys high. It is made of screens, so the images are constantly changing. “In a lot of theme parks, they use screens for content or to upsell products buy this or do this, ours is very on brand,” says Magill. “You will just see the IPs, the flames of the Mockingjay, the cards in Now You See Me, it’s beautiful on these screens.”

Lionsgate Entertainment World

The best in the business

Thinkwell Group is a global design and production agency. It creates custom, content-driven experiences for companies and brands in the physical world.

Kelly Ryner, President of Thinkwell, Asia

For Lionsgate Entertainment World, the choice to work with Thinkwell was a straightforward one, as Magill explains. “Thinkwell is just the best in the business when it comes to immersion and theming. And also when it comes to creating, conceptualising and creating the vision. They have really been the most wonderful partners. They have finished designing and creating the project which is coming to life in just a few weeks.”

Ryner agrees, “It really has been amazing, this really was a turn-key opportunity for us. Lionsgate said we want you to design and produce this, we want to sign as few contracts as possible. We put together a rock star team – it wasn’t about what is the cheapest way, it was what is the BEST way. The best way to develop something that was really setting the new gold standard in China but also internationally.”





Lionsgate Entertainment World

Pushing the limits

“We have just come off of creating Warner Bros Abu Dhabi which is the polar opposite,” continues Ryner. “Lionsgate is all about 16 years and up, edgy, dare I say it sexy IPs, as opposed to cartoon characters. So for us to get to play in a completely different sandbox like that and create something that pushes our limits with technology…its something we can’t do in a kids park.”

Lionsgate Entertainment World

For Thinkwell, the project involved a lot of innovative design and some real firsts. Not only is the attraction the world’s first vertical park, but it is also the world’s first use of motorbike path changing technology.

“Considering its only 25,000 sqm, what we crammed into the space – it’s very special,” agrees Ryner. However, the design process was not without its unique challenges. “The great thing about space issues is the challenges force you to new creative ideas,” says Ryner. “There are things that came out of playing around with this complicated space. The design is wholly unique because the space isn’t like a flat ground like Warner Bros. So challenges always end up bringing the best out of everyone. I’m really proud of some of the solutions we came up with and how we bring people up into the vertical-ness of the space.

Setting the bar high

The park estimates visitor figures of 1.4 – 1.5 million people per year. The location of the new attraction will be a key factor in its popularity. It lies in close proximity to Macau and Hong Kong, thanks to the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau bridge, as well as the whole greater bay area.

Lionsgate Entertainment World

There is a huge local population within reach. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom is also nearby. With the shopping mall and the new National Geographic Experience, there is a lot to draw visitors to the area. Lionsgate Entertainment World is likely to attract a majority of visitors from mainland China, the greater bay area, and Macau. However, it also expects a percentage of international visitors.

“We want them to have a good time at the theme park and return lots of times. We want people to come to the park for that same reason. The other thing with our park is you can come and dine at the cafe, or visit the studio store and not have a ticket to get into the park. People with tickets can come and go in the park. If they want to pop out do some shopping and pop back in they can do that as well.”

twilight lionsgate

Lai Sun Group

Lai Sun Group is a Hong Kong-based company with a number of developments in entertainment and real estate. It developed the site.

“They have also been fantastic for us to work with,” says Magill. “Lai Sun Group brought on the IPs which is Lionsgate. They then worked with Thinkwell to conceptualise the theme parks and Village Roadshow to take on the operations and run the park.”

Lai Sun Group developed the building previously and has since re-done it for Lionsgate Entertainment World. The mall, hotel and welcome centre were already in place. Magill explains, “Before Lionsgate was in the plans, the area was going to be more shopping mall space. The fact that they have been able to fit all this into the exterior of the building, a big jelly bean, to retrofit all of it and make such good use of the space is incredible.”

Lai Sun's Novotown Lionsgate entertainment zone by Thinkwell

For original article, click here.

CAVU Designwerks, Thinkwell Group and Framestore to develop new rides for Lionsgate

CAVU Designwerks, the media-based attractions specialist, Dreamcraft Attractions, the integrated ride specialist, Thinkwell Group Inc, the global experience design and production company, and Framestore, the visual effects specialist, have announced a new collaboration to work on two next-generation rides to showcase Lionsgate film properties.

The four companies, are proud to be working with Lionsgate on two new projects. This innovative partnership will lead to two exciting new attractions, based on fan favourites The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.

The unique rides are set to launch this year at Lionsgate Entertainment World in China. This much-awaited destination is a new concept, blending the theme park experience with some of Lionsgate’s most popular film franchises. The indoor immersive entertainment venue includes state-of-the-art VR, AR, and multimedia attractions, performances, dining, and exclusive retail experiences. The rides will be called The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Flight Rebel Escape.

Action-packed rides

Fans can experience the world of The Twilight Saga in a hyper-reality VR ride, The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride. “Midnight Ride is a VR motorcycle simulator that features real motorcycles, avatar embodiment and proprietary Predictive Ride TrackingTM. Dreamcraft has created a world’s first virtual ride path with real-time virtual motorcycle physics matched with real-world motorcycles and motion bases,” says Terry Sanderson, VR Producer at DreamCraft Attractions.

Mark Stepanian, VP Innovation & Engineering at CAVU describes Midnight Ride as a “first-of-its-kind” attraction. “Guests can move throughout the Twilight world and interact with friends, family and familiar characters from a highly responsive motion base. Coupled with force feedback haptics, wind and scent, it is designed to fully engage all the senses. This ride makes for a truly ground-breaking experience.”

Visitors can also enjoy the world of the successful Hunger Games franchise as they are taken on an exciting escape from the Capitol. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Flight Rebel Escape is the first enclosed motion simulator in mainland China. The state of the art simulator is entirely electric and runs

silently. The 6DOF (degrees of freedom) motion base supports a 30-person cabin.  It features a digital presentation for a vivid and realistic experience.

A scene from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Flight Rebel Escape.


A unique experience

The collaboration will provide the focused expertise that Lionsgate requires to provide an entirely new experience. CAVU and DreamCraft provide ride systems engineering talent, Framestore provides media expertise and Thinkwell adds creative and production leadership.

“CAVU and DreamCraft are excited to have collaborated with Lionsgate, Thinkwell and Framestore to introduce these revolutionary attractions to the industry at Lionsgate Entertainment World,” says Peter Schnabel, CEO of CAVU.

CAVU recently announced it is continuing to expand in the Middle East, with a new office servicing Riyadh, Beirut and Abu Dhabi. Dreamcraft Attractions is a connected arm of CAVU launched in 2016.

Thinkwell has just brought the latest expansion, Gringott’s Bank, to life at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.

Framestore showcased a revolutionary new genre of rides, Game Changers, at IAAPA Expo last year.

Article first appeared on Blooloop.


Theme park to star ‘Hunger Games,’ ‘Twilight’

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Some of Lionsgate’s most popular film franchises from “Hunger Games” to “Twilight” will be brought to life when the studio opens what it calls the world’s first vertical theme park in China this summer.

Lionsgate Entertainment World will offer several adventures including a virtual reality motorcycle ride based on “Twilight,” a maximum-security prison breakout like in “Escape Plan” and a replica of The Capitol lobby from “Hunger Games,” complete with shops where guests can fashion themselves in the film’s distinctive couture.

More than 25 rides and virtual reality experiences will pack a sleek, futuristic looking bean-shaped building that stands 10 stories high. The theme park, which will also include attractions based on films such as “Divergent,” ″Now You See Me” and “Gods of Egypt,” is scheduled to open in July on Hengqin Island located in Zhuhai, China.

“We found a way to create this theme park experience inside of one box over multiple floors,” said Jenefer Brown, senior vice president of Global Live and Location Based Entertainment at Lionsgate.

“We created experiences that are immersive, that tell stories and are organic to the brands,” she said. “It’s a mix of all the cutting-edge attractions that you’ll find in entertainment right now.”

Brown said Lionsgate decided to create its first theme park to expand their international brand into China where films like “Twilight” and “Gods of Egypt” are popular. She said the studio hopes to capitalize off Zhuhai’s emerging status as a tourist destination and its proximity to Macau, which is considered the “Las Vegas of China.” She said the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom theme park in Zhuhai has already drawn tens of millions of people.

The Santa Monica, California-based company expects to have around 1.5 million park goers this year.

“We would complement Macau,” Brown said. “The idea is to have Vegas and Orlando right next to each other and create this super tourist destination. … People are already coming here. But we’re on the early side in terms of development on the island. It’s growing into this dedicated kind of entertainment tourist place and virtual containment vessel.”

Lionsgate Entertainment World would be the first movie-themed park on Hengqin Island. Disney has a theme resort in Shanghai, and Universal has plans for a park based on its franchises, including “Fast and the Furious,” in Beijing.

The theme park will be a part of a large destination called Novotown, a multi-phase project that includes a hotel and office towers along with retail dining and entertainment. Future phases include plans for the National Geographic Ultimate Explorer and Real Madrid interactive experiences, as well as an international school will be built offering British-based education.

Here are some of the theme park’s other features shown to The Associated Press during a recent sneak peek of the park’s design and attractions:


Based on the four-part film series starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, park goers will journey through a motion simulator 3D ride experience called The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Flight Rebel Escape. It starts on the streets before riders board a vehicle that gets picked up by a hovercraft that flies through The Capitol.

Guests will also have the opportunity to venture around the lobby area of The Capitol where they can get their hair, makeup and even nails done to look like a citizen of the “Hunger Games” films, including the look of chaperone Effie Trinket.

Restaurants will feature a “Hunger Games”-themed menu with different dishes inspired by the film’s various districts.


Guests will have a chance to spend time in Forks, the town where author Stephenie Meyer based her vampire novels before they were turned into movies.

Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride offers a chance for four to hop on a motorcycle and take a virtual ride with Jacob Black and a pack of wolves on a dirt-bike adventure through the moonlit woods while an evil creature roams the area looking for blood.

Guests will control their bike’s speed, which path it takes and see other riders during the excursion.

Twilight Saga: Bella’s Journey will be an indoor amusement ride that highlights key moments from the films including Bella Swan’s relationship with her vampire husband Edward Cullen and encountering The Volturi, the most powerful coven of vampires.


Gods of Egypt: Battle for Eternity will be a virtual reality roller coaster based on the 2016 film about Egyptian deities. Riders on the high-speed amusement train ride will don headsets and soar through ancient Egypt during an epic battle between good and evil.


About 20 people work together to break out of a maximum-security prison in Escape Plan: Prison Break. The group faces a climbing challenge course and crawl through tunnels to escape to freedom.

Thinkwell Group Congratulates Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter on the Successful Opening of its Largest Expansion to Date

Thinkwell designed and produced the new Gringotts Wizarding Bank experience and new attraction hub working in close collaboration with the filmmakers of the Harry Potter film series.


LOS ANGELES, CA (April 30, 2019) – In ongoing collaboration with Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Thinkwell designed and produced the largest expansion at The Making of Harry Potter attraction since its opening in 2012. Thinkwell conceived and created the original experience and has been involved with the UK’s most successful attraction for every expansion since, including the addition of Platform 9 ¾, featuring the Hogwarts Express, in 2015 and the Forbidden Forest in 2017. This latest expansion includes the pristine Gringotts Wizarding Bank set as seen in the Harry Potter film series, a dynamic exhibition area, an exploratory vaults area, and an immersive surprise finale. In addition, Thinkwell developed and created the guest experience and media elements in the new, expansive central hub and entrance for the attraction, notably the massive “living mural.”


“Once again, Thinkwell is honored to have played an important role in the development, design, and production of new experiences at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London,” said Craig Hanna, Chief Creative Officer, Thinkwell Group. “Working with the Studio Tour team and the original filmmakers from the Harry Potter films is always an exciting experience. They challenge us to do our best work, and we are proud of how much visitors from all over the world love the experience.”


A new entry to the Tour is part of a 37,480 sq. ft. (3,482 sq./m) expansion that creates a more inviting arrival for guests with a new ticketing area, arrival hall, and entrance hub. In the new hub, guests are greeted by a massive 64 foot (19 m) long dragon, custom built by the filmmakers, suspended in the space. On either side of the dragon are two 135 foot (41 m) long photo murals that surround the lobby. With moving video backlighting and front mapped projected imagery, the living mural is slowly transformed with a 35-minute ambient and atmospheric series of magical media moments that reflect motifs and events from the Harry Potter film series.


“This expansion is our most ambitious addition since opening and the reaction from visitors has been fantastic. Gringotts certainly showcases the very best of filmmaking talent from the incredible set design to the beautifully crafted props. This extension, coupled with our new entrance and lobby, has taken to the Studio Tour to a new level of excellence,” commented Geoff Spooner, VP and General Manager, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.


The Gringotts Bank expansion is divided into six zones and is a seamless extension to the existing attraction. Guests exit out of the Creature Effects Area and into the new Gallery of Goblins, an area that highlights how the various Gringotts goblins were designed and created for the films. From there, guests move on to discover original models, designs, and inspiration for the making of Gringotts Bank and the vaults, and a variety of interactives and integrated media elements can be experienced throughout. Around the corner, visitors are amazed to find themselves in the pristine Gringotts Wizarding Bank set, one of the largest sets made for the films and now on display in the attraction.


After exploring the massive set, visitors move into the vaults area, where they see the Gringotts vault cart, the vault door, and further displays. Then visitors get a one of a kind photo opportunity in the Lestrange vault before moving onto the surprise finale, one of the most dynamic and immersive experiences in the attraction. Utilizing seamless custom computer animation, environmental effects, multichannel surround sound, and other elements, this surprise will be the capstone moment of a guests’ visit to the Gringotts expansion before returning to Diagon Alley.


In conjunction with the new guest arrival and entry areas, Thinkwell also created a 1,280 sq. ft. (390 sq./m) introductory experience for the attraction, including new exhibits, new media, and an entirely new 180-degree seamless projection preshow. Thinkwell conceived, designed, and produced all media for the expansion and Tour updates through Thinkwell Media.

Gringotts Bank Hall

Gringotts Wizarding Bank

Gringotts Bank Vault

Lestrange Vault

Gringotts Bank Ironbelly Dragon

New Tour Entry 


Photos and media courtesy of Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

President Sebastian Piñera Announces the Launch of “Chile Experience” Development Plans for China

BEIJING, CHINA (Thursday April 25, 2019) – Today the partnership of Wines of Chile and Lam International announced at the Beijing Media Conference the launching of ”Chile Experience” an immersive Culture Park is being developed for China with the purpose of strengthening the friendship between the peoples of Chile and China for years to come by creating a place that would bring together Chilean culture, products and investment opportunities in a way that is fun, experiential, educational and memorable.


“The Chile Experience will bring a taste of Chile to our Chinese friends by not only showcasing Chilean wines, food, and other authentic products from Chile, but it will also feature immersive high-tech attractions that will connect our guests with the culture of Chile” said Wines of Chile representative Julio Alonso.


Lam Yau Sun of Lam International noted “The Chile Experience truly demonstrates the spirit of One Belt One Road, as she promotes understanding, trade and investments between the peoples of China and Chile through engagements (food, shopping, entertainment, cultural events) that are fun, learning, experiential, and memorable.

This is Chile’s home away from home and we hope our project will incentivize more Chinese to visit Chile and vice versa for generations to come.”


To ensure a high-quality immersive experience, Alonso and Lam turned to guest experience and theme park development experts Thinkwell Group to bring their big idea to life. “We are elated to be a part of this team” said Kelly Ryner, President of Thinkwell Asia “the Chilean culture and country has so much to choose from that this is going to be a wonderful place to visit for the whole family.”


The Chilean adventure will capture the vast extremes of the regions of Chile and express them through 4 zones. While each zone is uniquely themed/programmed, includes a wine/dining experience, and contains a Key Attraction, collectively they bring a singular experience & adventure from the furthest point half-way around the world — one that guests could only get from Chile.

Zone 1 – Green Gateway: Santiago & Valparaiso

Marked by 19th century European architecture, vibrant colors, music and dance performances, and a marketplace liveliness that serves as the gateway to the greens of the wine lands of Central Chile. Featured is an attraction that uses state-of-the-art VR motion platform technology allowing guests to expertly navigate the famous, albeit insane downhill street course of colorful Valparaiso on mountain bikes.

Zone 2 – Atacama Sands & Skies

One end of the extremes within the spectrum of a Chilean adventure, the arid but beautiful vitas of the Atacama Desert provide the perfect backdrop to open up the clearest skies that exist on the planet. Among the key attractions is “Fly Through Chile” a flying theater experience, simulating flying over the vast landscape of Chile.

Zone 3 – Rapa Nui: Easter Island & Robinson Crusoe Island

Representative of Chilean Polynesia in Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe Island, this zone is to capture the imagination for adventurers of all ages with a walk through aquarium and dry-for-wet kids play zone.

Zone 4 – Patagonia & Antarctica

Cold zone base, showcasing the adventuring spirit within the wilds and vistas of the region including a thrill coaster, boating experience and potentially some snow play.

Final location and opening date will be announced soon.

About Wines of Chile 

Wines of Chile is a non-profit organization that represents Chile’s wine producers. Established in April 20, 2007, the association represents the trade unions of the industry, strengthens the image and recognition of Chilean wines in international markets, and positions the best quality and diversity of Chilean wine.

About Lam International 

Lam International Limited Company is a foreign funded enterprise headquartered in Shanghai Tower, the tallest building in China. The company has three main business areas: investment banking, global online platforms, international trade & investment. To support our investment in Hainan and Hefei, we have registered our company in Shanghai Free Trade Pilot Area, with a registered capital of RMB 100 million.

Photos from Wine of Chile Roadshow and Chile Experience Media Conference 

Thinkwell Asia Vice President of Design, Randy Ewing and President, Kelly Ryner with Lan Yau Sun of Lam International at the Wines of Chile Roadshow and Chile Experience Media Conference held on April 25, 2019.

Thinkwell Asia Vice President of Design, Randy Ewing and President, Kelly Ryner with Lan Yau Sun of Lam International at the Wines of Chile Roadshow and Chile Experience Media Conference held on April 25, 2019.

Wines of Chile and Lam International at the Wines of Chile Roadshow and Chile Experience Media Conference held on April 25, 2019.

Thinkwell Growth Announcement

Thinkwell Group Achieves Significant Growth with Purchase of Réalisations-Montréal and Appointment of Louise Murray to President of Thinkwell’s Los Angeles Studio

Acquisition of Réalisations-Montréal Will Expand Thinkwell’s Interactives Practice While Louise Murray Will Run Thinkwell’s Design & Production Team in LA.


LOS ANGELES: Thinkwell Group announced today the purchase of Montréal-based creative studio Réalisations-Montréal as well as the hiring of ex-Delaware North executive Louise Murray as President of Thinkwell’s Los Angeles studio. Both moves are in response to the organizational growth and continued expansion of Thinkwell globally over the past year. “Our projects continuously demand the best in state-of-the-art interactive technologies and design, which we will meet with expanded creative capabilities and technical agility in Montréal,” said François Bergeron, Chief Operating & Financial Officer, Thinkwell Group. “At the same time, bringing Louise Murray into the organization means she can focus on the management and growth of our Los Angeles design and production group to best serve the evolving needs of our clients.”

Réalisations-Montréal, founded in 2000 by Roger Parent, former Executive Producer and VP of Production at Cirque du Soleil, conceives, invents and perfects new technologies, including big data, artificial intelligence, real-time generative projection technologies, recognition systems, and more. These interactive breakthroughs are prototyped in Réalisations’ studio and put to use in cutting edge creative projects for museums, attractions, corporate brand experiences, hospitality clients, and more. Thinkwell and Réalisations worked together on a number of projects before forming a strategic alliance in 2018 that led to Thinkwell Group acquiring the company.

“This is a major step for Réalisations,” said Roger Parent. “We have always been a boutique creative technology firm developing high quality, unique interactives and media. I have known François for more than 25 years, and now that we are a part of Thinkwell, we can continue to refine our innovations and develop new ones while closely collaborating on projects in Thinkwell’s pipeline.”

Louise Murray joins Thinkwell’s Los Angeles design and production studios as President, overseeing the strategic growth and operation of the Los Angeles organization. Louise has an MBA from HEC Montreal and most recently served as Senior Vice President, Operations for Delaware North’s TD Garden group. Prior to that, she was Vice President, Creative Entertainment Parks & Resorts at The Walt Disney Company and was Vice President, Tour Planning & Partnerships at Cirque du Soleil. “I’m extremely excited to be joining Thinkwell at a time of such growth and expansion in the organization,” Murray said. “Working in a creative studio like Thinkwell is something I’m very passionate about and it’s exciting to be able to facilitate strategic growth and change at such an innovative company.”

“These initiatives are significant for us,” said Joe Zenas, CEO, Thinkwell Group. “Louise comes at an important time in our expansion to strategically manage and operate our largest studio. With more than 230 people in the organization worldwide we need the rigor and focus she will bring to our employees and clients.”

Lionsgate Entertainment World to open in 2019

Asia’s first movie themed indoor interactive experience center to reinvigorate the Greater Bay Area, based on Lionsgate’s blockbuster movie franchises The Hunger Games, The Divergent Series and Now You See Me.

HENGQIN, CHINA (December 13, 2018) – Today Lionsgate Entertainment World held its first preview event in Zhuhai and offered a sneak peek into its key offerings, immersive entertainment experiences and innovative designs. Breathing new life into the Greater Bay Area, Lionsgate Entertainment World is a highlight attraction in Novotown Hengqin and Asia’s first movie-themed indoor experience center. The indoor center is based on exciting film properties from global content leader Lionsgate and will open in first half of 2019.

“The development of Novotown and Lionsgate Entertainment World is a testament to the great potential of the Hengqin New Area, as well as its role as an economic driver throughout the Greater Bay Area,” said the spokesperson of Administrative Committee of Hengqin New Area Zhuhai. “Along with the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge earlier this year, both Novotown and Lionsgate Entertainment World are poised to play a key role in creating more diversified entertainment offerings for visitors and boosting tourism in the region.”

Spanning 22,000 sqm of premium indoor space, Lionsgate Entertainment World is one of the key attractions in Novotown, an integrated tourism and entertainment destination in Hengqin. Lionsgate is an entertainment studio whose blockbuster films, popular television series, and digital products reach next generation audiences around the world. The studio has won multiple Academy® and Emmy® Awards and has a long track record in delivering world-class products. In addition to being Asia’s first movie-themed indoor experience, this marks Lionsgate’s first interactive indoor experience to open in the world and will feature blockbuster franchises like The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga, The Divergent Series, and Now You See Me as well as films like Escape Plan and Gods of Egypt as the story backgrounds of the attractions.
Bringing the captivating stories to life is an eye-catching list of elite partners that helped create Lionsgate Entertainment World, including the design and production agency Thinkwell Group (“Thinkwell”) and the operator Village Roadshow Theme Parks (“Village Roadshow”). A global experience design and production agency, Thinkwell is known for delivering experiential design in major theme parks and resorts around the world. Partnering with Thinkwell is Village Roadshow, a world leading theme park operator with footprint across Australia and America. Other notable global partners behind Lionsgate Entertainment World are the Australian construction services company Cockram, international show contractor Scenario, Oscar®-winning visual media producer Framestore and many other world-acclaimed companies.

“Lionsgate Entertainment World aims to become a multifaceted destination by engaging guests through story-telling, as well as encouraging participation and social activities with opportunities for plenty of personalization,” said Selena Magill, General Manager of Lionsgate Entertainment World, at the event. “By working closely with our international partners, as well as creating immersive entertainment attractions featuring blockbuster movie properties, we expect guests in the Greater Bay Area to enjoy sensational experiences with their friends and families at Novotown.”

Leveraging on the latest state-of-the-art technology, Lionsgate Entertainment World offers an entertainment experience like no other, one that is designed to transport guests into the world of film where they are free to create their very own theatrical stories. Visiting guests will be able to look forward to several world-class attractions, including Hunger Games – Mockingjay Flight, The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride and The Divergent Series – Fear Simulator, and Gods of Egypt – Battle for Eternity. The application of technology has been carefully incorporated into the designs to ensure a perfect guest experience, while also allowing room for constant update on the contents.

While the attractions invite guests on a mesmerizing journey in the movie world, Lionsgate Entertainment World has a lot more offerings that will create a total immersive experience. There are themed dining outlets such as the opulent Hunger Games-inspired Capitol Club; the homey Peeta’s Bakery; and the modern and stylish Lionsgate Cafe. The entertainment center will also boast a wide selection of retail options, including Capitol Couture, Dauntless Ink and Gods of Egypt market-place.
With over 30 groundbreaking attractions to look forward to, Lionsgate Entertainment World leverages on the latest cutting-edge technology to deliver a one-of-a-kind immersive experience. The development is poised to set a new standard for entertainment centers in the region when it officially commences operation in 2019.

“As Thinkwell has been developing theme parks, family entertainment centers and museum exhibits around the world for many years now, we know there is nothing in the market like this and I am confident it will not only grab the attention of people on Mainland China, but internationally as well,” adds Kelly Ryner, President, Thinkwell Asia.

Selena Magill, General Manager of Lionsgate Entertainment World ; Zengqing Luo, Deputy Director of the Administrative Committee of Hengqin New Area ; John Tse, Chief Executive Officer of Novotown; Larry Leung, Managing Director of Novotown; Jerry Sabatini, VP Creative, Franchise Management of Lionsgate; Alistair Bennallack, CEO of Village Roadshow and Kelly Ryner, President of Thinkwell Asia, attended Lionsgate Entertainment World first preview event in Zhuhai.

John Tse, Chief Executive Officer of Novotown; Kelly Ryner, President of Thinkwell Asia; Larry Leung, Managing Director of Novotown.

Gods of Egypt – Battle for Eternity: The world’s first purpose-built VR roller coaster, which sees guests soar like a god on this high-speed, VR roller coaster adventure through ancient Egypt. As an epic battle wages between good and evil, it’s time to prove your valor, strength and devotion. It’s time to fight alongside the Gods of Egypt!

Hunger Games – Mockingjay Flight: Suit up and take flight alongside the rebellion on this action-packed adventure throughout the world of The Hunger Games. Danger lurks around every corner, but hope is in sight on this exhilarating 3D motion simulator attraction. May the odds be ever in your favor!

The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride: Race with Jacob and the Black Pack wolves on a daring VR dirt-bike adventure through the moonlit woods. But beware, beyond these hallowed hills, a different kind of creature roams, and this one is out for blood.

Capitol Club: Visit the Capitol’s most exclusive dining establishment, frequented by the Capitol elite. The Capitol Club offers the freshest and finest culinary masterpieces that Panem has to offer, with breathtaking views overlooking the Capitol.

Peeta’s Bakery: Indulge in a selection of handcrafted treats and delectable bites inspired by 74th Hunger Games victor Peeta Mellark. For those in need of a little pep in their step, enjoy a fresh cup of coffee, tea or other home-grown refreshments while on the go.

Gods of Egypt marketplace: Featuring a wide range of specialty souvenirs, this bustling bazaar offers up exotic treasures, ancient antiquities, and prized jewels admired by Gods and mortals alike.

Capitol Couture: This luxurious upscale clothing store features many of the Capitol’s most celebrated fashion designers. At the Capitol Couture Collection, you can try on a variety of extravagant formal wear inspired by some of Panem’s most fashionable citizens from the world of The Hunger Games to model and take home.

About Lionsgate Entertainment World
Lionsgate Entertainment World, Asia’s first movie themed indoor interactive experience center, is one of the key attractions in Novotown – an integrated tourism and entertainment project in Hengqin invested by Hong Kong Lai Sun Group. Spanning across 22,000 sqm of premium indoor space, Lionsgate Entertainment World is set to bring to life some of Lionsgate’s most successful film franchises, including The Hunger Games; The Twilight Saga; The Divergent Series; Now You See Me; Escape Plan; and Gods of Egypt, with over 30 interactive and immersive attractions and rich entertainment offerings.

Released on behalf of Lionsgate Entertainment World by GHC Asia
For media enquiry, please contact:
GHC Asia (Hong Kong)
Claire Wang  / Ines Yu
Tel:+852 3163 0168 / +852 3163 0155
Email:[email protected] / [email protected]

How Warner Bros. Cast Its Spell On Abu Dhabi

This article was originally published on

We all know how hard it is to build sandcastles. Sculpting the base is the easy part but it usually collapses like a house of cards when it comes to putting the turrets on top. So spare a thought for property developers in the city of Abu Dhabi.
In just three years they transformed a 153,000 square meter stretch of desert into Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, the largest indoor theme park ever built. It premièred in July with the kind of glitz and glamour you would expect to find on the opening night of a movie.

Confetti rained down and costumed characters of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck looked on as an over-sized red button was pushed by Warner Bros. Entertainment chief executive Kevin Tsujihara and Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the park’s developer, government-owned Miral Asset Management. Warner’s parent WarnerMedia is the first Hollywood studio to have its own theme park in the Middle East and it took more than the wave of a magic wand to get there.

In a bid to compensate for its depleting oil reserves Abu Dhabi’s government is diversifying its revenue and banking on boosting tourism. It is throwing its weight behind theme parks and has covered the $1 billion cost of building Warner Bros. World. The Prince Charming behind it is Al Mubarak, a graduate of Boston’s Northeastern University and a self-confessed comics and cartoon fanatic.

“I am a big fan of the Warner Bros. movies and their Intellectual Property (IP) whether it is DC, Looney Tunes or Hanna-Barbera,” he told us in an interview. “I watched the cartoons growing up, read the comics growing up, still read the comics today and still watch the movies. They are some of the best movies I have ever watched.”

In addition to being the head of Miral, which specializes in building visitor attractions, Al Mubarak is also chairman of Aldar Properties, the leading real estate developer in Abu Dhabi. With assets of $10 billion and more than 75 million square meters of development land it is an economic powerhouse so it’s perhaps no coincidence that Al Mubarak’s favorite superhero is also a titan of industry.

As he explained to local newspaper The National, Batman is his superhero of choice because his alter ego Bruce Wayne uses his vast fortune as a force for good. “During the day he is a businessman who is making billions and billions of dollars, and he uses that money to strengthen his body and his soul. He gets all the gadgets..and he fights crime for the best of the community.”
His affinity for the caped crusader is one of the reasons that he made a beeline for Batman’s owner Warner. His mission began 11 years ago when state-owned Abu Dhabi Media launched a $1 billion fund with Warner for movie and video game development. It fuelled Looney Tunes games and the 2009 fantasy film Shorts, starring James Spader. This led to the theme park partnership but casting that spell involved more than just money.

Warner is a relative newcomer to the theme park industry. Its first outpost, Warner Bros. Movie World, made its début on Australia’s Gold Coast in 1991, 36 years after Disneyland in California kick-started the industry as we know it. Europe had to wait until 2002 for its first Warner park, which opened in Madrid, and although it is still operating, its sister park in Germany dropped the Warner brand when it changed ownership in 2005.

Unlike rival studios Warner generally doesn’t own its parks so doesn’t need an in-house design division for them. Instead it relies on outside agencies meaning that the styles and standards of the attractions can differ from park to park. Al Mubarak’s aim was to build a park which could compete with the best in the world so he needed a design agency which is as much of an animation aficionado as he is. He found it.

The Los Angeles-based Thinkwell Group was founded in 2001 by former Universal Studios park designers who didn’t want to relocate when the company moved its creative team from the west coast to Orlando. They set up a boutique design studio which has gone on to get a reputation for creating some of the industry’s most immersive and engaging attractions thanks to their passionate approach.

Thinkwell has designed attractions for Universal Studios Singapore and the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Hollywood but perhaps its best-known work is across the pond. In 2012 Warner swung open the doors to a backstage tour of Britain’s Leavesden Studios where all eight Harry Potter movies were made. It takes guests deep behind the scenes of them by showcasing concept art for the characters, models of all sizes, costumes complete with video descriptions and of course props.

They range from rows and rows of wands to cabinets containing full-size robotic creatures from the films which move at the push of a button. Then come the actual sets where the movies were made. You can walk past the wonky buildings of Diagon Alley and even step into the famed Great Hall of Hogwarts Castle.

It is manna from heaven for fans whilst anyone else will still be spellbound by the attention to detail. Testimony to this, as we have reported, up to 6,000 guests stream through the turnstiles every day in peak season driving annual revenue to more than $115 million.

Warner produced all of the movies about the boy wizard so you wouldn’t have thought it would need assistance to make the tour. However, such is Thinkwell’s reputation that Warner partnered with it right from the start on master planning, design and installation of the tour. Its success put Thinkwell in pole position to take on the task of creating Warner’s first-ever indoor park.
Thinkwell produced the 29 rides, shows and attractions in Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi which alone involved creating more than 7,000 pages of drawings and 2,300 pieces of production-ready art. In addition it conceived, created and produced all of the media and acted as a co-ordinator by bringing in specialist subcontractors. They included designers GDE Creative and Wyatt Design Group as well as audio-visual experts like Electrosonic, Pixomondo and Blur Studios, which has worked on blockbuster movies such as Avatar and Thor: The Dark World.

Thinkwell was also Warner’s ‘brand assurance’ representative and had hundreds of hours of meetings with the studio as well as monthly trips with its executives to the site and vendors around the world. Then came construction.

In June Miral’s talented chief executive Mohammed Al Zaabi told Construction Week that it will have taken “about 39 months by the time we open the park, and [has logged] 32 million man hours so far, with more than 6,800 engineers working on the project.” It paid off.

In a recent interview, the park’s general manager Mark Gsellman said that “the partnership with Warner Bros. has just been fabulous, they’re have people here in one form or another every day. Every square inch of the park they’ve blessed, approved, given their art direction.” One key decision ensured from the start that it would hit the mark.

Daytime temperatures in Abu Dhabi regularly hit 75 degrees in winter and in summer the mercury soars above 95. The heat comes from all angles and feels like standing in front of a huge hairdryer. It’s so hot that you can’t even cool down with fans which spray mist as the water warms up the moment it hits the air.

It makes outdoor parks impractical so instead Thinkwell decided to house Warner Bros. World inside a giant golden structure which resembles the hangar-like soundstages at the studio’s lot in California. Shelter from the heat isn’t the only benefit of the park being indoors. It also allowed Thinkwell to control all aspects of the environment from the lighting and sound right down to the temperature. It has made the most of it.

Rides themed to Wonder Woman, Superman and co are on a street from Metropolis complete with a Daily Planet newsstand and phone box. Batman and arch nemesis the Joker have their own gloomy home in Gotham whilst the oversized boulders of Bedrock tell you that you’re in the Flintstones’ world. Next door is the Grand Canyon-inspired Dynamite Gulch and the toon town of Cartoon Junction.

Bigger is usually better in theme parks. New lands are added to them to drive publicity and taller castles are built to lure guests in. Not at Warner Bros. World. Less really is more there as Thinkwell took the bold step of drastically reducing the amount of the park which is on show to guests as they walk around. Just 30% of the floorspace is visible with the remainder being the rides themselves which are hidden behind internal walls. It reduces the walking time inside the park and makes it seem even more packed with rides. That’s just the start.

The real magic of Warner’s park is that design isn’t just used to make things look pretty but to immerse guests in a fantasy world which is all around them.

You usually know what you’re in for when you head towards a theme park ride as a hulking building looms beyond the entrance. It breaks the fantasy and spoils the surprise. In contrast, at Warner’s park the elaborate entrances to many of the rides are set into the internal walls which has a magic touch as it means that you don’t know what you’re getting until you step inside. It makes the doorways seem like portals to different worlds.

This is put to great effect in Cartoon Junction, where Hanna-Barbera stars like Scooby-Doo are said to live next to Tom and Jerry and Bugs Bunny from Looney Tunes. The ride entrances in Cartoon Junction are actually the front doors of a row of brightly-coloured town houses with sloping roofs. Some only have small signs hanging in front so it can be hard to tell the rides from the shops which are also in wonky-walled buildings. Warner says that each brick was individually carved and painted by hand whilst all of the windows are different shapes and sizes. They are just as elaborate inside as out.

The queue for one roller coaster winds through a house which looks like it has been trashed by Tom and Jerry. As you get deeper inside you go under the floorboards and pass the mouse’s bed inside a over-sized sardine can. Every last detail seems to have been thought of. Even the queue railings look like Jerry has made them from ear buds and bits of rope.

There’s hint of things to come on the wall at the end of the line in the form of a huge blueprint which appears to have been scrawled by the mouse. It shows an elaborate contraption for stealing cheese and transporting it back to his den. Continuing this theme, the ride cars are shaped like slabs of cheese and spin as they zip down the track in pitch darkness with giant statues of Tom and Jerry lighting up as you pass them.

At the end of the row of houses is a spooky-looking mansion which is home to a Scooby-Doo ride. Instead of taking the lazy route and just creating scenes themed to the cartoon, the ride makes it seem like you’re on a mission to solve a mystery.
The ride cars look like the famous Mystery Machine van and are trackless so they appear to dart around the spooky set looking for clues. They take varying routes and stop in front of different models of museum pieces which come to life. It encourages guests to ride again to see how it changes.

The climax is a recreation of the cartoon’s classic hallway chase as the ride cars pirouette in and out of doors on a long corridor pursued by a ghost which has taken control of one of them. The cars’ paths are plotted by a computer so they can criss-cross each other in what appear to be near misses but are actually carefully controlled.

So much passion has been put into the land that it even appears to have been designed like an actual town. There’s a theater where Bugs and Daffy perform for kids, shops, the wealthy landowners’ mansion which has been taken over by ghosts, and even a factory where everyone works.

Remember ACME and its wacky cartoony killing machines which injured the user but not the target? There’s a ride here where you work as a deliveryman for it. The queue for Ani-Mayhem takes you through ACME’s offices where Thinkwell’s passion for the product is shown in gags which ACME is famous for.

The queue passes empty awards cabinets and piles of forms in trays with the only one which has run out being the waiver and release of liability. The furniture and elevator-esque music even has a 60s vibe evoking ACME’s origins in the heydays of Looney Tunes.

The ride itself is like Disney’s finest on steroids. Disney parks are home to rides that see you firing a virtual shooter at a 3D screen whilst other attractions are trackless and some allow riders to interact with the scenery. Ani-Mayhem does all that and stars toons like Tweetie Pie and Sylvester who are rarely seen in theme park rides. They help you hit parcels on 3D screens and in the physical sets with a gun in the shape of a barcode scanner.

Kids will go ga-ga at the characters but nostalgia is the lure for adults as Al Mubarak knows only too well. “Here we have lots of IPs so you have people who are fans of Hanna-Barbera and fans of Looney Tunes. You get the fanatics of Superman and Batman and then you have the nostalgic parents or the adults who want to come and relive their childhood when they watched Tom and Jerry or the Flintstones on TV.

“I think a great thing is that it is quite a universal theme park. People have watched and loved these characters whether they are from Europe, Asia or the Gulf. Some characters make sense a lot more here. An example is Tom and Jerry which has much more of a fan base in the Arab world and in Europe than they do in the US so it was important for us to have those characters as part of our park.”

It feels like a shrine to Warner and the homage is much more than skin deep. Above the entrance to Cartoon Junction is a wrought-iron sign featuring the ACME name and motto, ‘Caveat Emptor’ which is Latin for ‘Buyer Beware.’ No stone is left unturned. A cartoony rocket is embedded in the window next to the Ani-Mayhem entrance and the window opposite appears to have been smashed as it was fired through it.

Even the ride names indicate that Thinkwell has mined deep into Warner’s library. An innovative roller coaster winds around the rock formations in the Grand Canyon-inspired Dynamite Gulch area. Called Fast and Furry-ous it isn’t a nod to the Vin Diesel movies but is the name of a 1949 cartoon which was the first to feature Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner he endlessly pursues.

It would have been easy just to slap pictures of the characters above the entrance sign but instead it puts you in the middle of the story. It starts in the queue which passes the coyote’s lair, complete with models of the outlandish weapons he built to try and catch the Road Runner. The coaster itself is meant to be one of them as red rockets cover the wheels of its cars which hang underneath the track so that riders’ feet dangle down.

At the ride’s summit there’s a model of the coyote lighting a rocket and then you’re off. Coming full circle, at the finale there’s a model of the same rocket embedded in the ground as the coyote has failed again. It’s one of many blink-and-you-miss-it moments as the ride races by so fast but that too is done to encourage repeat rides.

You won’t find any movies being made at the park though it often feels like you’re on a set. Being indoors allows the scenery to be more elaborate than if it was outdoors as there is no danger of it getting damaged by wind, overgrown with foliage or faded in the sun. It allowed Thinkwell to create the kind of detailed scenery which many other parks can only dream of.

It comes into its own on the gloomy streets of Gotham. Some of the windows in the building facades are cracked whilst others are boarded up or have curtains which are only partly pulled to. Bricks look weathered and soot-stained, there’s graffiti on the walls and posters are peeling off them. The mock skyscrapers even appear to be taller than they actually are thanks to some design trickery known as forced perspective. The upper floors are only a fraction as tall as the ones lower down the towers which makes it look like they are narrowing at the top as skyscrapers usually would.

Down at ground level, fake manhole covers are embedded in the cracked tarmac, steam billows out from underneath them and shadows of moving people are even projected onto the windows of the train in the station. Sounds of police sirens in the distance and crashing waves play from hidden speakers. Its eerily convincing and the only thing missing is a director leaping out and saying ‘cut.’

The scenery even tells a story. One of the gargoyles above a restaurant in Gotham is missing its head but Britain’s Sun newspaper noticed that it is on display in the shop opposite. It’s no coincidence as the outlet is styled as a Pawn Shop which sells salvaged wreckage from superhero battles (memorabilia to you and me).

“When I walk around in Gotham City, it is Gotham City. The steam that comes out of the sewage holes, the smell, the sounds. The quality of the theming is really fantastic,” says Al Mubarak. The elaborate sets allow guests to get stunning photos which look like panels from comic books. Millennials in particular post them on social media and, as we recently reported, this is known to drive traffic to theme parks. Even the rides in Gotham are photogenic.

A dirty-looking spooky circus tent contains trials set by the Joker including a corridor which seems to be turning and a maze of mirrors that are so polished they seem to be endless. The rides are cleverly based on the beloved cartoon versions of the heroes, not the ones in the new movies which have had a more mixed response.

The highlight is a ride which sits inside a miniature version of  the iconic Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles. It starts out like a planetarium show but suddenly turns into a 3D adventure thanks to the seats being attached to a robot arm so that they appear to float in front of one of the world’s largest domed screens. It is 124 foot in diameter and shows footage in pin-sharp 4K resolution.

Themed to the Green Lantern character, the ride is like being thrust into an ‘80s sci-fi film as you soar over psychedelically-coloured planets and duel with fire-breathing dragons. It’s a spellbinding experience as you get blasted with mist and air when creatures roar whilst smells of pine are pumped in as you skim over alien forests.

Perhaps the biggest trick in the park’s spell book is one which none of its rivals can boast about. In many of the lands, the curved ceiling is cleverly painted to look like the sky complete with projections of clouds and vivid changing colours as the sun sets. It actually appears to be endless and it’s only on standing still and peering that you can see it is painted onto wall tiles.
The sky comes into its own in the main plaza which looks like an old-fashioned square and is lined with art deco architecture. It hosts Warner’s equivalent of a fireworks show where scenes of classic movies from Superman to the Lord of the Rings are beamed onto billboards above the buildings and even the ceiling itself.

During the Harry Potter segment, projections magically turn the ceiling into a night sky before the villainous Dementors fly past the moon and onto the surrounding buildings. The high-tech wizardry then transforms them into the walls of the Great Hall at Hogwarts complete with detailed brickwork and stained glass windows.

“We wanted to develop a world-class experience for our fans in the region and Miral has been the right partner,” says Pam Lifford, President, Warner Bros. Global Brands and Experiences. “The level of detail they delivered created an environment that truly brings our stories and characters to life and immerses fans into a world where they experience a lasting emotional connection to our brands.”

It gives Warner a flagship which can stand toe-to-toe with the finest from Disney and Universal and, in design terms, it ranks amongst the most significant parks ever built. If it kick-starts high-octane growth in the Middle East theme park sector it could even prove to be the most important park in the modern era. Early signs are encouraging.

According to The National, almost 15,000 tickets were sold before the doors opened. Indeed, the end result is so ground-breaking that Warner is already talking about exporting the model and it is easy to see how it could be just as useful in a cold climate as a hot one.

In a recent interview with Attractions Management magazine, Peter Van Roden, Senior Vice President of Global Themed Entertainment for Warner Bros. Consumer Products, said “it’s certainly possible” to roll the model out. “We have lots of discussions and we have a number of plans in the works.” If they come off they would add even more weight to Abu Dhabi’s status in the industry and that really would be a happy ending.