Six Emerging Trends in Immersive Entertainment Observed in UAE Destinations
We highlight six trends in immersive entertainment among UAE destinations that could shape the future of the attractions industry.
Recently, the nFusion team was among the more than 200 top-tier industry professionals welcomed at a range of innovative attractions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, UAE, as part of the IAAPA Leadership Conference 2019. We toured several of these destinations during the event, which revealed a wealth of emerging immersive entertainment trends among attractions in those cities – many of which are also being seen globally.
Below, we highlight six trends in immersive entertainment among these destinations that could shape the future of the attractions industry:
Transporting Guests to Another World
In order to drive strong senses of immersion at themed destinations, developers are increasingly utilizing high-quality site planning and consistent theming.
A prime example of site planning and theming execution in immersive entertainment is Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, which features franchises including Looney Tunes, DC Comics, and Hanna-Barbera, in 29 rides, restaurants, attractions, shops, and shows.
With minimal landscaping, a significant number of scenic overlays, strategic lighting, and ceiling ‘sky’ for this indoor environment, guests are immersed in the world of Warner Bros.
Emphasis on Architecture and Lighting
Traditional cultural attractions such as museums are increasingly leveraging architectural design and lighting techniques, which in turn enhance and add texture to the visitor experience.
For example, the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s exceptional architecture and natural lighting are creative ways to display the museum’s exhibits through a ‘lens’ of history. In particular, the use of natural lighting through the ornate dome creates constantly changing light patterns in the plazas during the day, providing guests with a unique experience.
The museum also offers a nice through-line of content—including artifacts, pottery, and other objects from different regions, time periods, and cultures of civilization worldwide, adding to the overall experience.
Powerful use of intellectual property and story, which connects well with the overall experience, is becoming more prevalent in immersive entertainment.
This can be seen on a vast scale at Dubai Parks and Resorts, the Middle East’s largest integrated leisure and theme park destination.
Spread over 25 million square feet, the venue features more than 100 rides and attractions and consists of Legoland Water Park and three theme parks: Motiongate Dubai (featuring characters and stories from Hollywood studios DreamWorks, Lionsgate, and Columbia Pictures, among other attractions), Bollywood Parks Dubai, and Legoland Dubai. The attraction also encompasses Riverland Dubai, a themed retail and dining destination, and the Polynesian-themed family resort, Lapita Hotel Dubai.
Each theme park articulates the full line of its studio’s characters so well that it is unmistakable to guests which ‘land’ they’re visiting. The attraction features highly immersive environments, and each land or ‘zone’ has a definitive look and feel.
The DreamWorks theme park does an exceptional job of using each of their characters in the attractions and theaters, creating distinct lands with their own environments— celebrating the worlds of Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda.
It is our industry’s job to continue providing our guests with park experiences that excite, delight, enchant, and immerse them in the worlds they enjoy.
Strongly Defined Brands
Some attractions developed over the past few years are more like a sophisticated ‘brand land’ than simply a theme park.
In Abu Dhabi, we see this at Ferrari World on Yas Island, which immerses guests in the world of the luxury Italian sports car. Guests can view concept cars and experience virtual-reality driving, which is a unique selling proposition for the park. It also offers a variety of well-executed food options.
The first Ferrari-branded theme park ever built, Ferrari World holds the record as the largest space-frame structure ever built and is home to the world’s fastest rollercoaster, Formula Rossa.
Awe-Inspiring Live Performances
Like theme parks, live performances are increasingly enhancing their value and appeal as standalone attractions featuring a fusion of immersive artistry, imagery, and technology.
In Dubai, we see this with the award-winning show La Perle by Dragone, produced by Franco Dragone, who is also known for his work with Cirque Du Soleil. The event employs projection mapping strongly within an interior theater environment, including artistically beautiful uses of water with and waterfalls and breathtaking stunts utilizing bikes in cages.
Creative Design and Materials
Another emerging trend is the use of design and fabrication materials that are not complex, yet create an immersive and distinct look.
For example, Laguna Water Park at La Mer uses a simple but effective design with a stacked warehouse feel, as if visitors are at the end of a pier. It also features a highly effective sand-colored, water-permeable floor treatment that keeps the ground cool, which is necessary in the extremely hot climate of Dubai.
The water park is also connected to an outdoor mall with a similar look and feel, and the combination feels like one pleasurable experience.
Each of the above destinations utilize fresh ideas, emerging technologies, or a combination to the two to take the guest experience up to the next level. It is our industry’s job to continue providing our guests with park experiences that excite, delight, enchant, and immerse them in the worlds they enjoy.