New and exciting enhancements at VinWonders Nha Trang
by Joe Kleiman
Around the world we’re seeing a variety of innovative and influential resort developments. Many include waterparks, and when they do, Polin Waterparks is often a preferred partner. Over the past 33 years, Polin Waterparks has established itself as a top manufacturer and solutions-oriented, creative collaborator, working closely with clients to meet challenges of space and theme and help deliver a unique guest experience.
A recent example is Vinpearl Nha Trang resort complex and its adjoining theme park, VinWonders Nha Trang. It is located in the Nha Trang region of Vietnam, which boasts a number of five-star luxury resorts. As the country came out of its national COVID-19 lockdown in spring 2022, Vinpearl and VinWonders prepared to welcome back tourists.
Among the new offerings to help VinWonders remain competitive is an expanded waterpark, rebranded as Tropical Paradise. It features new theming evocative of a tropical forest, complete with Instagrammable spots and lush landscaping next to a white sand beach, along with a host of new attractions.
VinWonders returned to its original supplier, Polin Waterparks, to provide the new attractions, designed and integrated to fit the property and express the tropical forest theme of this island waterpark.
To satisfy the vision, Polin applied creative engineering and customer-oriented design to deliver unique, compact versions of signature attractions and intertwine others, making the most of available space with attention to aesthetics, guest experience and safety. The new Tropical Paradise now boasts many new outdoor activities for returning domestic tourists, while also readying the park for a future wave of international tourists.
A recovering tourism sector
The Tropical Paradise waterpark expansion at VinWonders Nha Trang is an encouraging example of the kind of reinvestment that helps drive repeat visitation and keeps a property thriving. It comes at a time when Vietnam is reopening after a nationwide COVID-19 closure that had severe negative impacts on the tourism and hospitality sector. More than a third of the country’s GDP is based in the service sector, which includes tourism, eclipsing the profits from manufacturing, construction, agriculture, fisheries, and mining. The growth of the tourism sector has steadily increased over the past decade, from 6.3% of the GDP in 2015 to 9.2% in 2019. However, the effects of COVID-19 are apparent over the subsequent two years, with the sector’s contribution to GDP reducing to 3.6% in 2019 and less than 2% in 2020.
According to a report by Margaux Constantin, Matthieu Francois, and Thao Le for global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, international travel to Vietnam decreased from 34 million to 7 million air passengers between October 2019 and October 2020. Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism shows that most international visitors come from China, maxing in 2019 with 5.8 million visitors, but reducing to only 872,000 the following year.
The McKinsey report points out that “in 2019, Vietnamese tourists spent $15.5 billion, of which $5.9 billion flowed overseas. The majority of tourists are unable to leave the country, so they are looking domestically to scratch their travel itch.” These domestic tourists are also looking for outdoor activities after being cooped up at home during the nationwide shutdown.
The seven lands of VinWonders
Nha Trang, approximately an eight-hour bus ride from Ho Chi Minh City, was once a thriving regional government center. These days, it’s one of Vietnam’s leading tourism destinations. The city is home to numerous historic religious structures, including centuries-old Buddhist temples and a Catholic Cathedral harking back to the days of French colonial rule, while Nha Trang Bay is well known for its white sand beaches and crystal blue waters abundant in sea life that entice both seafood foodies and scuba divers alike.
Located on an island accessible by boat or aerial gondola, VinWonders Nha Trang is one of the biggest draws of the region. It features seven unique themed lands, all included with a single ticket.
Tropical Paradise (described above), a 59,000-square-meter waterpark first opened in 2006 with a majority of its attractions provided by Polin Waterparks, with new Polin attractions opened for the 2022 season.
Sea World features one of Vietnam’s largest aquariums, housing over 30,000 animals. In 2022, the park added an upcharge experience of a journey through local coral reefs in the world’s first submersible where the passenger cabin is a single transparent acrylic tube.
King’s Garden is the only zoo in the Nha Trang region and features birds and mammals from around the world, including Bengal tigers and hippopotamus.
World Garden is a botanical garden divided into three distinct sections – cacti, roses, and a Japanese garden. The World Garden is also home to the Sky Wheel, one of the tallest and largest observation wheels in Vietnam, at a height of 120 meters. The wheel is located at one of the highest points in the park, offering views over both Nha Trang Bay and the shoreline of the resort city of Nha Trang.
Adventure Land is a combination traditional theme park, with elements of an adventure park. Attractions range from roller coasters to bungee jumping.
Fairy Land is a combination of traditional family and children’s rides, such as a carousel and more hardcore adventure park elements, including an alpine coaster and Vietnam’s longest and steepest zipline.
Tata Show is the park’s $10 million, nighttime spectacle, featuring 170 performers, projection mapping, lasers, and environmental effects.
Double the waterpark attractions
To meet the park’s post-COVID expansion needs, Polin Waterparks has provided new attractions for Water World. Among the new additions is a special version of the award- winning King Cobra ride, specifically designed for VinWonders Nha Trang. Introduced at IAAPA Expo Asia in 2010, the first King Cobra waterslide opened at the Cobra Kingdom waterpark at Maxx Royal in Antalya, Turkey. Since then, it has been a bestseller for the company, with installs in Europe, North America, and Asia. The traditional model begins with a journey through twisting tubes, ending with a trip up into the cobra’s mouth. At VinWonders, the narrow plot of land allotted for the King Cobra, surrounded closely on three sides by other waterslide structures and on the fourth by a lazy river, was too short and thin to allow for the curving portion of the slide.
Polin’s solution was to create an open-air, compact version of King Cobra, in which teams of riders race each other on rafts over a hump and through a straightaway. Like the classic version, the ride concludes with the traditional trip up into the cobra’s mouth.
The park has also added a Splash Course, a ropes course with water elements that fits perfectly with VinWonders Nha Trang’s adventure park elements. At the top of the Splash Course is a shortcut to the Aquatube waterslide, which intertwines with the Splash Course structure. The Aquatube is an example of Polin Waterparks’ UTEXTURE technology. Based on Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM), UTEXTURE allows for fully themed slides with a variety of patterns, ranging from solid colors to translucent, with patterns appearing on both the exterior and interior.
Another new feature is a children’s waterplay structure, with tipping buckets, slides, net climbs, and water cannons.
Kubilay Alpdogan, General Manager of Polin says, “VinWonders is the biggest theme park chain in Vietnam. It was truly an honor to be able to work with the group again. We take great pride in the fact that the park chose us as a partner for their recent expansions. We are excited to have added such unique new attractions to the park, truly an investment in its future.”
Founded in 1976 by architect Enver Pakis, the Polin Group is a leading innovator in developing and manufacturing composite materials. Headquartered in Dilovasi, Turkey, it began by serving the construction industry and in 1989, the company began manufacturing composites for the European waterpark sector. By 2006, Polin had begun applying specialty techniques to its pioneering research and development work in waterslides, to the benefit of its clients and the industry. An example is the use of light-resin transfer molding (LRTM), more typically used in industries such as automotive, aviation and spacecraft. The newly adapted procedure allowed for symmetrically perfect parts on slides that were lighter, yet stronger than their traditional composite counterparts. By the end of the year, the company had converted its entire waterslide manufacturing operation to LRTM.
In addition to providing composites for aerospace, construction, automotive, hotels, transportation, wind energy, and waterslides, Polin Group has positioned itself as a “one-stop shop” for the attractions industry, branching into park development, management, and operations, and into the design and operation of wildlife parks and aquariums. Within the waterpark industry, Polin offers a variety of solutions to its global list of customers, including design, theming, engineering, manufacturing, and installation. Polin Waterparks also offers a technical operations service, supplying an on-site team to oversee slide and attraction maintenance and sanitation. With 1,500 staff members from 75 countries, Polin operates or oversees 21 manufacturing facilities around the world and has offices or partners and dealers in 65 countries. In 2018, Polin was designated as a Research & Development Center by the Turkish government.
Ready for a challenge
Polin works closely with its clientele to determine creative and technical solutions based on need, whether spatial or customer- based. One example of Polin Waterparks’ solutions-based approach is The Wave waterpark in Coventry, England, which was built on a confined piece of land measuring only 50m (164ft) in diameter and positioned in a unique, three-story tower, the top two of which comprise the waterpark, featuring six intertwining Polin slides. “The floor plan ultimately put the waterslides on the third floor, an especially unusual proposal,” said Bilge Pakis, Board Member of Polin Group. “That meant Polin needed to specially adapt its rides to fit within the specific limitations of the building’s mostly round layout and its constricting ceiling height. It wasn’t an easy design. But it was incredibly fun to work on. It was challenging yet exciting to see the puzzle pieces of the slides match the required size needs and, finally, fit perfectly within the restrictions of the facility.”
At Turkey’s Land of Legends, Polin Waterparks played an important role in the design and implementation of this fully integrated resort, which opened in 2016. The waterpark was a primary feature from the start. Land of Legends has in common with the Vinpearl Nha Trang resort that both include a waterpark, zoo, dolphinarium, land-based amusement park, and resort hotel.
“Polin has been a leader in bringing themed attractions into the waterpark space,” says Baris Pakis, Polin Group President. “There will continue to be an integration of various ideas and concepts across amusement facilities. That’s why we have built a flexible organization that can respond to the needs of the industry, and of our clients. We constantly strive to put our clients in the center of everything we do, because without them we wouldn’t be where we are today.” • • •