Jora Vision helps bring theme park design skills to cultural attractions
by Simeon van Tellingen, Jora Vision
ABOVE: Jora Vision’s concept drawing for the Los Piratas de Bacalar cultural tourist attraction in Mexico. All images courtesy of Jora Vision
Dutch company Jora Vision, known for creating immersive experiences for theme parks and museums, has recently been applying its expertise for the benefit of cultural and corporate attractions. Seeking new ways to bring their stories to their audiences and enhance their status as tourist destinations, more and more visitor centers and museums are exploring and embracing immersive, theme park storytelling techniques as an alternative to traditional exhibit design. Having designed and built several such immersive experiences, Jora Vision has established itself as a leader in this market.
“We are very proud to pave new ways for cultural attractions to bring their stories to life,” explains Jan Maarten de Raad, CEO at Jora Vision. As an example of this approach, he cited the Young Rembrandt Experience in Leiden. “We were asked by the city of Leiden to create a new immersive experience about Rembrandt, in the house where he actually received his first painting lessons,” says de Raad. “We used a combination of decor and projection mapping, and the story is told from the perspective of Jacob van Swanenburg, Rembrandt’s teacher. “The combination of video, audio, music and decor is working very well; most people leave the experience touched – and some even with goosebumps!”
Creating storytelling environments
A distinguishing element of Jora Vision’s approach, compared to traditional museum design methodology, is the concept of placing the guest in a particular space, within a specific time period and for a specific reason. This is a concept which has been applied to theme parks for a long time, but less so in cultural attractions. “We used this approach for ‘Mon Beaujolais’ in Hameau Duboeuf,” explains de Raad. “Visitors enter a replica wine cellar and sit on one of the benches because a storm is brewing and they need shelter. Meanwhile, the vineyard owner enters the room and tells the story and history of the Beaujolais region. These stories come to life all around the room, thanks to the combination of large projection screens integrated within the show sets and video projection mapping on top of these show sets.”
TOP: Mon Beaujolais in Hameau Duboeuf places visitors in the vineyard house in the midst of a storm. BOTTOM: The Young Rembrandt Experience in Leiden places visitors in Rembrandt’s painting school in Leiden, Netherland
Many projection mapped experiences are outdoor, non-story-based shows with images that appear on the exterior of big buildings. Sometimes mapping is used as an indoor effect on shapes or screens. In this attraction the projection mapping is used on a themed show set specifically designed for this purpose and used subtly to magically bring to life what is being explained.
New projects in Mexico and China
Another cultural tourist attraction Jora Vision recently developed on a larger scale is “Los Pirates de Bacalar in Mexico.” This 5,000-square-meter stand-alone attraction has been designed to be part of the retail, dining and entertainment district of the Amikoo theme park complex in Cancun, Mexico. Los Piratas de Bacalar will feature a 50-minute walk-through and ride experience, a fully-themed buffet restaurant and a merchandise shop, all based on the rich pirating history of the Mexican Riviera Maya. The real fortress of Bacalar, Fuerte de San Felipe, built by the Spanish Navy in 18th Century, served as the inspiration for the multi-million-dollar attraction.
“This attraction is one of the most spectacular we ever designed,” explains de Raad. “It not only includes theming, video mapping and animatronics, but also a complete ride system and actors that play different roles throughout the walkthrough experience.”
Additionally, the Jora Vision team is currently working on a new project, still in development: the Panda Museum in Chengdu, China. The project is an initiative of the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, the most renowned and biggest institution for Panda research and protection. The jury of experts praised and therefore selected Jora Vision’s proposal, out of a series of other competitive international designs, as winning company to design the new museum experience.
“We are proud that not only theme parks but also tourist attractions and local entrepreneurs are looking to us to help create immersive experiences,” concludes de Raad. “We love unique and meaningful stories and are thrilled to combine our skills with the knowledge of local organizations and companies regarding the creation of tourist attractions. We look forward to creating many more attractions in the future.” • • •
Simeon van Tellingen is creative director for Jora Vision. Visit joravision.com.