Saturday, April 17, 2021

Cinesplash reveals the pearls and pixels of Attraktion!

Attraktion!’s new Cinesplash 5D theater at Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi highlights the company’s innovation in creating next-gen media-based attractions

by Martin Palicki

ABOVE: Cinesplash 5D. Courtesy Attraktion!

“We are in an industry that demands a constant stream of new ideas and attraction products in the marketplace,” says Markus Beyr, CEO of Attraktion!, an Austrian company dedicated to creating immersive, media-based attractions for themed entertainment. Being able to consistently and reliably develop new product concepts is key to success, but the ideas also have to stand the test of time and be adaptable to different circumstances.

Attraktion! was founded by Beyr in 2012 to do just that. Drawing on his decades of experience working on multimedia attractions, Beyr created the company with the mission of creating new, customizable experiences for the industry. Four main product genres (4D/5D Theaters, Dome Attractions, Playoke and WeRobots) established the Attraktion! core portfolio, with multiple products being offered in different genres. Cinesplash 5D, for
example, is part of the 4D/5D theater family, along with a more traditional 4D/5D theater and the SeaExplorer 5D attraction. All the products and genres center on a media-based experience, which draws on the company’s core strengths in technology, media, integration and manufacturing.

Building the Business

Markus Beyr, CEO, Attraktion! GmbH

According to Beyr, the ascent of Attraktion! has been deliberate and measured. “Although we work constantly to develop new ideas and concepts, we typically do not launch new products until we have a buyer,” he says. That ensures the proper level of collaboration and problemsolving has already taken place between the supplier and the buyer.

In the article “The importance of collaboration and teamwork in the creative industry,” [July 11, 2017, Cogswell.edu] renowned composer, AV expert and Cogswell College lecturer Julius Dobos explains how creative collaboration across work groups creates desirable outcomes:

“Working with people who think differently…has its own benefits: forms of creative disruption. Similar minds with similar experiences often see the same solution to a challenge — but this might be only one of the possible solutions, and not necessarily the best…This is one of the biggest gifts a creative producer can receive: the ability to see into another intellect in which solutions work completely differently, yet they produce the desired results.”

Like Dobos, Beyr has worked across multiple disciplines and aggregated the knowledge gained from different work environments. He’s taken this earned expertise and applied it to the Attraktion! product development process, not only with clients, but also with other manufacturers. For example, the partnership between Attraktion! and ride manufacturer Intamin led to the development of The Dome Ride Theater. Guests experience a rotating and tilting ring of seats inside of a sphere that is also a projection surface, fully surrounding them in a virtual environment. Dome Ride Theater is a signature ride, developed by Attraktion! for medium- to large-scale theme parks, and the first installation will be announced soon.

“My plan has always been to combine the Attraktion! team’s extensive knowledge of the industry and world markets with bold imagination,” says Beyr. “The result has been a growing company creating tailored experiences with the latest technology.”

And grown it has. Since Markus started Attraktion! with three colleagues, the company has matured into a medium sized corporation, which resides in a large office building and production facility in Austria. Today, team members come from ten different countries and speak a variety of languages. “We rely on a variety of expertises from our team members and are constantly looking to expand our team,” says Beyr. “We are particularly seeking talented new attraction engineers, 3D artists and sales representatives from around the world.”

Cinesplash: a flood of effects and a pearl for Yas Waterworld

Cinesplash 5D motion seats

One of the Attraktion! products currently experiencing a wave of attention is the Cinesplash 5D theater, designed especially for waterparks. A 3D theater is augmented with pneumatically-controlled motion seats and a generous supply of water-based special effects with the ultimate goal of drenching riders (who being at a waterpark, are already wearing swimsuits).

Beyr developed the initial concept for Cinesplash with Markus Achleitner in 2009. Achleitner is managing director of Austria’s biggest thermal bath and waterpark, Therme Bad Schallerbach. He was the initiator and initial client of the idea. Together they built the first one with a basic range of water effects in 2011 at Achleitner’s Aquapulco in Austria. A second theater with more effects then opened in Malaysia. Since then, additional theaters have opened at Hangzhouwan Dream Hotspring Water World near Ningbo, China and two 36-seat theaters at Wanda’s new waterpark in Qingdao, China.

Inside the Cinesplash 5D theater at Yas Waterworld

“It took a while for the initial concept to catch on,” explains Beyr, “but now that several are operational, parks are starting to see the value Cinesplash provides in diversifying an attraction lineup.”

At this writing, three additional Cinesplash 5D theaters were in execution in China – in Guangzhou, Wuxi and Shenzhen. The Cinesplash concept is promising for Asian markets, in part because of the sheer quantity of waterparks being built there. Cinesplash offers a differentiating factor among competing parks, and is designed to be scaled up to provide high throughput for parks that need the capacity. And since the Cinesplash experience is so different from that of the standard waterslide, it has the potential to be added as an upcharge to regular admission.

Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi opened up the newest iteration of Cinesplash5D in June 2018. In addition to being the most current install, it also features new effects not yet found in the other theaters.

Bathing suit-clad guests enter the theater equipped with 3D glasses and sit in molded fiberglass motion seats. Throughout the film, a variety of standard effects splash the guests. Rain falls from overhead, water sprays from the sides and front of the theater, water cannons erupt below the screen, and giant waterfalls cascade down the sides of the theater. Additional, in-seat effects include spray nozzles and feet ticklers. All of this, of course, enhances the action taking place on the screen.

But the climactic moment occurs when the theater starts to fill with water until it is lapping at guest’s knees, completely surrounding the motion seats. The effect is unexpected and (so far) unduplicated in the world. Future installations will also include wave generators for the flooded theater.

Beyr is coy when asked exactly how the effect works, but he explains that a giant pit the same size as the theater is located directly beneath the auditorium and the unique system completely floods (and, at the end, drains) the venue in less than 30 seconds. The water is treated through a standard pool filtration system and recycled from show to show.

In many ways, Yas Waterworld is the perfect setting for a Cinesplash theater. The park, opened in 2013, has an extensive backstory about how the watery world was created, including the signature giant pearl perched on top of the mountain. A customized theatrical experience offers a new opportunity to pull guests into the story and enrich their experience. This made Cinesplash a good fit for the highly themed waterpark.

A scene from “The Legend of the Lost Pearl”

“We wanted to offer our guests a unique aquatic experience that doesn’t exist in any other waterpark in the region, which was also a great new way to experience the park’s award-winning story, ‘The Legend of the Lost Pearl’,” says Bianca Sammut, Yas Waterworld’s General Manager.

We are proud to be the first waterpark to introduce the Cinesplash attraction genre to guests in the region -Bianca Sammut General Manager, Yas Waterworld

The story was inspired by the UAE’s pearl diving heritage, and had already been written before the park was built. In addition to producing the media for the ride, Attraktion! developed content that fit this narrative. The process included taking the pre-existing 2D cartoon characters, and rendering them in three dimensions for the new show.

“Guests love Cinesplash,” says Sammut. “It is undoubtedly an exciting new addition to our rides and we are very proud to be the first waterpark in the region to bring this type of attraction to our guests. Providing visitors with fun aquatic adventures with local personality is at the heart of what we do here at Yas Waterworld.”

The success of Cinesplash, and perhaps a key reason for recent renewed interest in the concept, is driven by two powerful current trends in the marketplace. First, waterparks and water play have seen continued strong and sustained growth, particularly in Asia. As Chris Yoshii, AECOM’s Vice President, Asia Pacific points out in the 2017 TEA/AECOM Theme Index, compared to theme parks, waterparks are less expensive and quicker to develop, tend to require a smaller footprint, and come with a lower price point for emerging-market consumers. They are popular destination attractions for both developers and governments.

Additionally, one need only glance at the largest theme park operators to see that story-driven, media based attractions have been enjoying great success around the world. Even smaller operators are more frequently relying on media-rich (frequently projection-based) attractions to tell stories and engage guests.

Cinesplash combines the best of both those trends, bringing storytelling and media into a waterpark environment typically void of such attractions, and to a population of guests increasingly interested in both waterplay and themed entertainment recreation.

Captivating audiences

Guests experience 270-degrees of projection inside the SeaExplorer 5D attraction

Beyond Cinesplash, Attraktion! has found consistent interest in several of its other product lines, especially Playoke and the SeaExplorer 5D theater.

Playoke immerses a group of people in a video-led performance. The physically engaging experience is made personal, interactive and even competitive through a system of real-time, 3D group motion tracking.

Playoke systems are currently operating in China, France, Philippines, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Vietnam. It’s become popular in family entertainment centers (FECs). Playoke is being included as part of more than a dozen National Geographic FECs planned for locations around the world. The first such opened recently in Shenyang, China, the 2nd one in Mepetec Mexico, with additional locations set to debut in the coming months. The next two are already confirmed for Changzhou and Hengqin, China. In addition to Nat Geo, several other groups are installing multiple versions of Playoke, including Vingroup in Vietnam and Centerparcs in France.

Attraktion!’s latest product, SeaExplorer 5D, was launched in 2016 and is already operating in Indonesia, Malaysia, UAE and two locations in the USA (Chicago and Las Vegas). The next SeaExplorer 5D will debut in Cairns, Australia before the end of 2018.

A scene from Wild Safari Explorer

Attraktion! also offers non-aquatic themed Explorer 5D attractions such as Wild Safari – a south African safari in the savannah with near-photorealistic flora and fauna – and later in 2019, Mission to Mars.

Each experience culminates in a 270-degree film, surrounding guests who are standing on a 3-DOF motion platform. Wind and water effects are added for even more immersion. “It’s essentially a small cave environment,” explains Beyr. The space is scalable and can achieve high throughput even in very restricted footprints. As with its other products, Attraktion! provides a turnkey system for operators, and also produces the CGI animated content.

“I am proud of Attraktion!’s development during the past six years,” says Beyr. “We’ve seen our products work
well in a wide range of venues and I think we have only scratched the surface of what we can create for both today’s and tomorrow’s entertainment destinations.”

Markus Beyr will be available during the 2018 IAAPA Attractions Expo (Orlando) to discuss Cinesplash 5D and the Attraktion! suite of products and services. To set up an appointment, email [email protected] • • •

More from the Attraktion! portfolio

In addition to the products and services mentioned above, Attraktion! has several other notable business lines.

Touring Exhibitions

Attraktion! has developed an educational and entertaining interactive experience that includes a variety of small, media-based experiences to inform guests about the importance the polar regions play in the world. “Polar Journey” includes seven interactive scenes and is currently on exhibition at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The same exhibition setup can also be used with other content options like Wild Safari, so being able to renew the exhibition with fresh contents without the need to change any decoration.

4D Theaters

Although developing new concept formats and venues is a company specialty, Attraktion! is also active in traditional 4D theaters, with a variety of features including motion seats, vibration and ticklers, mist spray and atmospheric effects. Attraktion! recently debuted a 4D theater at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Birmingham and is currently working on on two major 4D theaters in Asia, opening 2019.

Dome Ride theater concept illustration

Attraktion! Studios

Attraktion! has an extensive render farm computer system to support their in-house CGI movie production team. Right now Attraktion! focuses on productions in the 270-degree format, but also creates dome and other themed entertainment films, such as “The Legend of the Lost Pearl.” The company attraction film library is available for licensing. •

FROM INPARK MAGAZINE ISSUE #55, 2014:

The Immersive Ingenuity of Attraktion!

 

Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki owns and publishes InPark Magazine. Started in 2004, InPark Magazine provides owners and operators the perspective from "in"side the "park." Martin has also written for publications like Sound & Communications, Lighting & Sound America, Attractions Management and others. Martin has been featured in Time Magazine, CNN.com and Folio. Martin lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

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