Friday, April 16, 2021

Bazyliszek: Monster hunting in Poland

Bazyliszek interactive dark ride helps write a new chapter for Legendia park and receives multiple awards

By Anja D’Hondt

The interactive dark ride Bazyliszek (Basilisk in English) opened in April 2018 as part of the recently rebranded Legendia theme park, which now includes five themed zones. Formerly known as Śląskie Wesołe Miasteczko, it is the oldest family amusement park in Poland, located in Chorzow, Upper Silesia. Bazyliszek offers a unique experience featuring state-of-the-art dark ride technology, and raises the bar for visitor attractions at the regional level and in this particular market. In April 2019, one year after opening, Bazyliszek will be honored with a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement, presented by the Themed Entertainment Association at the 25th Annual TEA Thea Awards Gala.

Our objective was to build a quality interactive dark ride at an affordable budget,” comments Pawel Cebula, Managing Director of Legendia. “We are a regional family park and do not have the budgets of some famous European parks. We knew we had to look for alternative solutions, however the limited budget could not be an excuse for lower quality.”

Legendia is a regional family theme park with a 60-year history. Unique, new attractions such as the Lech Coaster and Bazyliszek are part of the park’s extensive refurbishment in the two years since its rebranding, following a new master plan that includes moving from seasonal to year-round operations. Cebula explains how Bazyliszek fits into the plan. “Our aim is to attract visitors all year long,” he says. “Therefore, a strong indoor attraction which could stand alone was imperative. Our park offer would not be complete without an interactive dark ride, even if this is relatively new in Poland’s young amusement park industry. An important requirement was that the attraction needed to appeal to families, from young children and teenagers to their parents and grandparents. I am very proud to say we have largely achieved this as the attraction has surpassed all our expectations!”

The new, 2,000-square-meter, purpose-built, Bazyliszek Cave has in fact extended the park’s season, running successfully during the harsh Polish winter. In addition to the interactive dark ride, it houses a cafeteria, playground, arcade and shop. Located close to the park border, it has a separate entry and dedicated parking lot.

“Interactive dark rides are becoming more popular,” says Cebula. “Poland is catching up on theme park entertainment, and we are very proud to offer such a high-tech ride specifically designed for Legendia. Technology advancement can be found on three levels: interaction by projection on multimedia screens, shooting at physical targets, and shooting at objects created by means of video mapping. With a relatively low investment we managed to offer guests a world-class entertainment in their region.”

Fruitful collaboration

Alterface Projects oversaw the total ride experience as main contractor for the attraction, applying their latest interactive technology including video mapping, gameplay, show control and shooting devices. Alterface stepped right into the action after the contract was signed, detailing the scenario and sharing expertise and ideas from years of relevant experience. Other primary team members were design firm Jora Vision and ride vehicle manufacturer ETF. Jora Vision devised the décor and theming, and had previously developed the new master plan for the park. ETF crafted the trackless Multi mover vehicles, customized to fit the theme. “The collaboration with Alterface and their partners Jora Vision and ETF was wonderful,” explains Cebula. “They spent so much time to understand our sometimes vague demands. Every detail was discussed, and we were often positively surprised with the solutions they proposed, as well as the level of realization. It was a great pleasure to work together! Thanks to the dedication of all involved, we managed to create a unique attraction in Legendia. We have all truly enjoyed building this attraction!”

Intricate theming combines with technology to create the interactive and fun dark ride Basilisk, as seen in these photos. Courtesy of Alterface

Bringing the legend alive

“We have built Legendia around Polish legends and fairy tales, bringing them back alive,” says Cebula. “Some of them have been forgotten or seem old-fashioned but they hold great symbolic value and storytelling potential. The story of the Bazyliszek attraction is based on such an authentic Polish folklore, but shared in a way that speaks to modern audiences.”

In Poland there are many variations of Bazyliszek. It’s basically a monster combined of a saurian (reptile), snake and rooster with the ability to turn people into stone with its gaze. Legendia’s Bazyliszek attraction is situated in the Magical Forest zone, taking us back to ancient times of legendary myths. The main hero is a boy who lives in the Polish countryside and wants to defeat the monster not with violence but intelligence.

Guests get a specific task in the queue and pre-show and then board a vehicle to make an exciting journey through the magical forests of Poland. Trees and plants come to life and take all kind of forms and shapes, aligning the scenery with the story. The helpers needed to look like wild creatures from a dark forest, similar to living plants, berries and worms. “It took quite some time to get the image of the Bazyliszek monster the way we wanted it, not too scary and not too infantile either,” says Cebula.

Jora Vision’s specialized work is immediately evident in the immersive atmosphere of the waiting zones. When guests enter the headquarters of the Monster Hunters Guild, they hear the story and learn about the challenge ahead. In the peaceful village of Kurkowo, citizens are enlisted to fight monsters, the most dangerous one being the Basilisk. The Monster Hunter vehicles (the work of ETF) take visitors through ancient villages, dark caves, forests and ruins. During the fierce battle guests use their Monster Hunter Guns – Alterface-designed laser weapons with light and mirror technology for special effects – to finally defeat the ferocious Basilisk and end its reign of terror. Players compete for the highest score, resulting in Best Monster Hunter in the Guild’s golden book (and of course providing an incentive for repeat visits to improve one’s Monster Hunting skills).

Impressive dark ride experience

Benoit Cornet, CEO & Founder of Alterface, comments on the experience and success of bringing this epic story to life. “We created a diverse mix of the newest media techniques, including video mapping and projections in black lights, combined with compelling scenery and story. This top-notch dark ride has put Legendia firmly on the map in Poland and Europe. It demonstrates their innovative view, applying technology to drive engaging attractions. We are very proud of the result and hope many visitors will enjoy this ride in coming years!”

“Our goal was to build a high-level dark ride around a well- known Polish legend, and at an affordable budget,” concludes Cebula. “The result exceeds all expectations and is the result of a great collaboration between all parties. What makes it so unique? The great attention to detail and quality in digital and physical elements combined with a strong story. The fusion of video mapping, show control and shooting devices resulted in a truly immersive visitor experience. With the new interactive ride, our regional park is able to offer guests – both locals and tourists – a high-level and mixed-media attraction that appeals to young and old.” • • •

Anja D’Hondt ([email protected]) is a PR Strategist with FLOWER & FEET, a public relations consultancy that serves B2B markets, and represents Alterface. Founded in 2001 and headed by Benoit Cornet, Alterface Projects (www.alterface. com) is a leading manufacturer of interactive attrac- tions, with a global clientele of amusement parks and family entertainment centers.

Awards for Bazyliszek

Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement (Attraction: Limited Budget): The Thea Awards were created to bring recognition to achievement, talent and personal excellence within the themed entertainment industry. The award was announced in November 2018 and will be officially presented at the 25th Annual TEA Thea Awards Gala on April 13, 2019 in Anaheim. There will also be a presentation about  the project during Thea Case Studies Day, April 12 as part of the annual TEA Summit. Info: www.teaconnect.org.

Statement from the TEA Thea Awards Committee: “This unique attraction introduces interactive, dark-ride story- telling to an emerging theme park market (Poland) and builds on a unique and local cultural context. Bazyliszek is an outstanding model of an attraction that speaks to its regional audience. It is well-executed, elegant, engag- ing, colorful, fun and fresh.”

The Bazyliszek ride was also honored with four additional awards in September 2018, during the IAAPA Euro At- tractions Show in Amsterdam: Parkscout Award for Europe’s Best New Rides 2018; European Star Award for Best New Ride 2018; and two Park World Excellence Awards, in the categories Family Ride of the Year and Best Use of Technology (for the trackless ETF vehicles).

FROM INPARK MAGAZINE ISSUE #75, 2018:

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