Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Themed Attractions Malaysia joins popular parks and brands

by Judith Rubin

We caught up with executives from Themed Attractions Malaysia while at the IAAPA Attractions Expo in November: MD/CEO Tunku Dato’ Ahmad Burhanuddin, CFO Vallo Mutto and VP Branding and Group Communications Waikuan Wong. From them, we learned some details about the government-supported push for tourism development in the commonwealth, especially in the Southern corridor. As Malaysia receives many tourists from China, India and the Middle East, and has a sizable Chinese community, a growing middle class and easy proximity to Singapore and Bangkok, and everybody speaks English plus one other language, it is well-favored to serve both locals and travelers.

Focusing on jump-starting things with a family-friendly selection of attractions, the company sought out top entertainment design firms and suppliers: The Hettema Group, BRC Imagination Arts, Thinkwell, Forrec, WhiteWater West and Pro Slide have all contributed – and top brands:  Legoland Malaysia (Legoland Malaysia opened September 2012); KidZania (KidZania Malaysia opened February 2012); The Little Big Club and Sanrio Hello Kitty Town (both at Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park, opened in late 2012). Other human and company resources have included Bain & Co. for master planning, Darrell Metzger, Chairman of the Themed Attractions Malaysia Executive Committee, Steve Peet  former COO of Village Roadshow, and Philip Whittaker, as chief marketing officer. approach has succeeded and tourism has grown 10% year over year.

Entrance picture
Legoland Malaysia joins other popular brands like KidZania and Hello Kitty in the quickly expanding Asian market for attractions.
Photo courtesy of Legoland Malaysia.

With the market of children under age 12 and their families now reasonably well covered, a new surge of development will emphasize the natural beauty and culture of the area, with Leisure Tour Asia initiative aiming to embrace all five senses with food, arts & culture, heritage attractions, seaside resorts and increased leveraging of holidays. Ride parks are also forecast in the future. The group also has the license to open KidZania Singapore in 2015. Just 15 minutes away to the South by bridge, Singapore is seen as a complementary region in terms of tourism, especially in terms of its gaming attractions.

Tunku Dato reported that Malaysia’s prime minister as well as its people are quite happy with the development trend, which includes hotels and residential complexes. “It’s a long-awaited thing,” he said. “We had no theme parks for a very long time. The community is very hungry for it and attendance has been beyond all expectations. And with all the new development it brings in its wake, we are creating jobs directly and indirectly. We are fostering a local industry.”

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Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, publicist, strategist, blogger, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She excels at writing about all aspects of design and technical design, production and project management. Areas of special interest include AV integration and show control, lighting design and acoustics, specialty cinema, digital video and world’s fairs. Judith has ties to numerous industry organizations. From 2005-2020 she ran communications, publications and social media for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA, and co-chair of the 2014 IMERSA Summit. She was publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association in the 1990s, now part of the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) and has also contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Already making her mark as a magazine and book editor, Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. Launching as a freelancer in the mid 1990s she has contributed to dozens of publications and media outlets including Funworld, Lighting&Sound America, Sound & Communications, Urban Land, The Raconteur and The Planetarian. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. She has lived in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, and now makes her home in Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts and theater community.

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