Indonesia May Be the Next Hot Theme Park Destination

Posted by Elizabeth Alton on Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Zeitgeist - MNC project design

International markets are the fastest point of growth for theme parks today. While China immediately comes to mind, another Asian destination is quickly heating up for theme park development: Indonesia. The team at Zeitgeist Design + Production, headed by industry veteran Ryan Harmon, has been hired by Indonesia’s top integrated media company, Media Nusantara Citra (MNC) Group, to design an immersive US$500-million theme park on the island of Java. Just sixty minutes southwest of Jakarta, the park represents the first world-class theme park in Indonesia and the beginning of a possible entertainment revolution for the country.

Indonesia is a nation of 250 million people, with its capital city of Jakarta alone home to 25 million. The park will encompass nearly 100 acres of stunning canyons, verdant jungles, and ancient riverbeds in the shadow of two skyscraping volcanoes. In addition to the theme park, the project will include residential space, an Ernie Els’ designed golf course and club, a Trump Collection resort, and family hotels.

Themed Rides and Natural Beauty - Indonesia Theme Park

MNC is widely known in Indonesia as a successful television company. The theme park project represents a transition into real estate development; over the longer-term, the project provides exciting opportunities for growth into areas such as movie studios and water parks. Coming from an entertainment background gives Zeitgeist and MNC a unique perspective – and advantage – in terms of intellectual property (IP).

Many of today’s hottest parks are licensing IP from American books and movies; but there are risks for international parks taking this approach. One is that there’s already a lot of activity based on American intellectual property in the region, including in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. IP-based attractions can quickly become outdated and may not be culturally relevant.

“We decided that the best way to stand out from the crowd, to be unique, and to protect our client’s investment for the short and long term, is to design a park that celebrates entirely original stories and characters that can be exploited on television networks owned by our client. This also allows the spectacular beauty of the site, itself, to be the basis for the theme,” says Harmon.

Central Lake - Indonesia Theme Park

“Our strategy is to create a theme park filled with original stories that can be told through the MNC media network, which controls the largest market share in Southeast Asia,” said MNC chairman Hary Tanoesoedibjo in a media release. “The result will be a fantastic, safe, and well-maintained family entertainment destination that tourists will flock to and Indonesians will feel proud of.”

Zeitgeist’s design leverages the site’s dramatic natural setting and Indonesian culture, combined with a rich and compelling original narrative and collection of themed attractions. The park will feature six themed areas, each home to a unique community of characters who live in accord with each other – which serves as a metaphor for Indonesia’s “unity in diversity” focus. Technology and interactivity will help audiences to engage more deeply with the story.

Zeitgeist and MNC teams

The time is right for a world-class theme park in Indonesia. “Like in other regions of Asia, the median income is rising and people have more leisure time dollars than in the past. Some locals have visited Universal Studios Singapore and desire an entertainment experience closer to home,” says Harmon. Currently, two other parks exist in Jakarta but not on the scale of what is planned by MNC, which underscores the differentiation of the endeavor.

While there’s excitement in the market for these opportunities, recent focus groups also revealed the chance for educating consumers. Focus group participants were not aware of how engaging a Cirque du Soleil-style production or even a Water World-style stunt show can be. There were also concerns about safety, which will need to be addressed. “There is some educating to do. It’s a bit like the US in the 1950s – nobody had ever seen anything like Disneyland before,” says Harmon.

Harmon has high hopes for the project, “The site is beautiful and the company has a rare vision to create something fresh and exciting — and do things the right way. Our goal is to spend the next four years designing and producing the most beautiful, magical, and immersive family entertainment experience in Southeast Asia, if not the world.”

With Asia as the hotbed of theme park development globally and China congested with all the development happening, it’s exciting to see Indonesia poised to join in. By taking an approach to develop unique Indonesian-themed stories backed by the power of a regional entertainment powerhouse, this project is one to watch. It could redefine the model of how flagship parks approach development, especially in regards to questions of intellectual property and theming.



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