Experience design company FORREC helped usher in the opening of the expanded Lionsgate Zone at MOTIONGATE Dubai and its two new roller coaster attractions, John Wick: Open Contract and Now You See Me: High Roller. Inspired by Lionsgate’s film franchises of the same name, the rides opened to guests on January 21 at the integrated theme park destination Dubai Parks and Resorts, part of Dubai Holding.
Under the mandate of Dubai Holding Entertainment and in collaboration with Lionsgate, FORREC developed the creative vision, direction, storyline and planning for the Lionsgate Zone at MOTIONGATE Dubai.
“FORREC is proud to have played a vital role in the creation, design and development of these new experiences at MOTIONGATE Dubai,” says Cale Heit, President and CEO, FORREC. “Working with both partners on John Wick: Open Contract and Now You See Me: High Roller was an exciting process filled with diverse perspectives, and we’re excited to see guests’ reactions with these new, thrilling coasters.”
“The opening of the world’s first John Wick rollercoaster and the world’s fastest spinning rollercoaster are an example of the breadth and diversity of entertainment experiences in Dubai,” says Fernando Eiroa, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Holding Entertainment. “We are confident that these new offerings will contribute to further enhancing Dubai’s competitiveness as one of the leading international tourism destinations in the world.”
“The heart-pounding thrill of the new world’s-first rides are delightfully counterbalanced by rich storytelling, deeply immersive interior spaces, and vibrant environments,” says Jerry Sabatini, Vice President, Creative of Global Live and Location Based Entertainment, Lionsgate. “In collaboration with our partners at MOTIONGATE Dubai and FORREC, we developed clever ways to weave interconnected storylines in and around a dazzling-built world that is both grandiose in spectacle and intimate in detail.”
Considering the growth in demand for more involved and explorative experiences in attractions, FORREC designers worked closely with Lionsgate to create a holistic themed world within the expanded Lionsgate Zone — connecting with audiences on-the-ground through immersive experiences, rather than just a queue onto a ride. Using space and time, both John Wick: Open Contract and Now You See Me: High Roller bring the narrative of the adjacent zones together, creating transformational experiences.
John Wick: Open Contract
As the world’s first attraction inspired by John Wick, John Wick: Open Contract is a 4D free spin, 10-story high roller coaster and is set over a 310-meter (1,017-foot) track. It can reach speeds of up to 64 kilometers per hour (nearly 40 mph) and deliver up to 2.8 G-force. Guests begin their journey at the Continental hotel before embarking on an intense, action-packed journey that recreates John Wick’s perilous adventures, as the coaster races down a 4D track that offers forward and backward freestyle spins.
Prior to boarding, riders will be given a choice of two different experiences depending on which path they choose to queue through: fulfill a blood oath and help protect John Wick from lethal contractors or become an assassin hired to hunt him down. As visitors move through the queue, they are presented with an immersive, experiential pre-show, starting with a walkthrough of a scaled version of The Continental — the setting and gathering point in the John Wick movies. From there, depending on the chosen line, guests are immersed in the story and navigate through different key moments in the film before coming together in the War Room to board the ride.
As the creative design partners, FORREC was tasked with creating engaging experiences that bring the John Wick IP to life in a meaningful way, while balancing economical design in relation to square footage and establishing a sense of intimacy in an area that is massive in scale. In a strategic design choice, FORREC used the ride buildings as architectural infrastructure to help create this sense of density and close quarters.
Now You See Me: High Roller
Based on the mind-bending heist thriller Now You See Me, guests will get to experience the film’s misdirection in real-time through a series of optical illusions, magic shows and immersive storytelling. Riders will reach speeds of up to 70 kilometers per hour (43.5 mph) as they race to escape security and expose the antics of a criminal mastermind during an intense coaster experience. Now You See Me: High Roller boasts a 20-meter (over 65-foot) first drop, non-inverted loops, and Immelmann turn sections, with riders making a full 180-degree turn after entering a half-loop section of the track, followed by a half twist.
Set in a casino hotel in an undisclosed location with a contemporary Las Vegas feel, guests will enter the queue in the casino as they walk through the lobby to take part in a heist the Horsemen (illusionists who pull off robberies during their performances) are in the midst of carrying out. While riders are under the guise of seeing a magic show, they are in fact being recruited to assist the illusionists to rob a hotel vault and return the money to its rightful owners.
Centered on the theme of magic and set in multiple cities like the film, FORREC wanted to capture the sense of being “transported” between cities, while also having guests feel a part of the iconic “heists” that are central to the Now You See Me narrative. Guests approach the glittering casino ride façade under a massive arced canopy covering an urban themed promenade lined with interactive storefronts and fountains, creating an immersive pre-show space and a shaded amenity for the entire park that comes alive with lights embedded in the facades and LED canopy. Riders eventually reach the “rooftop” of the hotel where they will board the spinning coaster. Acting as a portal, guests are “magically” teleported to New York and disembark the roller coaster, successfully eluding the casino security.