Lennard Otto is General Manager for IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubai, the largest indoor themed-entertainment destination on the globe.
Since his appointment in April 2015, he has provided strategic direction and led all aspects of operations management for the 1.5 million sq. ft development by the Ilyas & Mustafa Galadari (IMG) Group.
He brings a wealth of experience to the project and is widely recognised in the region for his keen understanding of the local market and his leadership abilities, most recently as General Manager for Wadi Adventure.
He spoke to Blooloop about the imminent opening of Dubai’s indoor mega-park, IMG Worlds of Adventure.
The world’s largest indoor themed entertainment complex
The construction has been challenging due to the weather conditions within the UAE – with restrictions in place over the summer months – but the project is now in its final stage of delivery, and the end is in sight.
Otto says, “I guess that’s the reason we’re building an indoor theme park in the first place – to eliminate the factor of the climate conditions, and to be able to offer a business that can operate all year round without being affected.
“We’ve picked the best contractors both from a local and global standpoint: the global contractors we’ve picked have local offices here. A lot of effort has gone into ensuring we pick top gear contractors to deliver the project.”
The park is gearing up to open in early 2016, with the official date to be announced soon, and online ticket sales to follow hot on the heels of the announcement. As the world’s largest indoor themed entertainment complex – 1.5 million square feet (139, 355 square metres) in total – it will have the capacity to accommodate in excess of 20, 000 visitors a day.
Centrally-located within Dubai, the park is sited on the Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, known as the ‘new growth corridor of Dubai’. More than 800, 000 vehicles pass in front of it on a daily basis. It is easily accessible by public transport, fifteen minutes away from both the international airports, and twenty minutes away from most of the major hotels in the Dubai region.
Creative Realisation by Falcon’s Treehouse
IMG collaborated with Orlando-based Falcon’s Treehouse (part of Falcon’s Creative Group) to realise the creative vision for the project. Falcon’s Treehouse is an internationally renowned creative services firm specialising in the design and production of tech-driven immersive themed experiences. The company has brought their entertainment design and storytelling expertise to bear on each of the four themed zones that comprise the mega-park: a Cartoon Network zone; a Marvel zone; a Lost Valley zone and the IMG Boulevard.
Influential IPs are key
Marvel is a key IP for IMG Worlds of Adventure being a globally strong brand, with a large fan base, impressive movie statistics and the biggest market share of comic books in the world.
The Marvel Zone includes, among other offerings, the ‘Avengers: Battle of Ultron’ attraction, where Falcon’s Treehouse have contrived to blend stereoscopic 3D media with an elaborate physical environment and special effects to bring the Marvel Universe to life.
Cartoon Network is another influential IP: the most watched free-to-air kids’ channel in the region, it has a strong following.
This is the first time these two brands have come together under one roof to develop a theme park. In fact, IMG Worlds of Adventures is Cartoon Network’s first theme-park and the first dedicated Marvel Zone theme-park in the world.
The third zone created in collaboration with Falcon’s Treehouse is The Lost Valley, a dinosaur development with original animatronic dinosaurs and themed rides, and is IMG’s own intellectual property. Dinosaurs remain perennially popular among both kids and adults, as is demonstrated by the popularity of releases such as the Jurassic Park movies.
Otto says, “We have an excellent design concept that’s gone into our Lost Valley area.”
Finally, there is the Boulevard Zone, also the park’s own intellectual property, which connects the entire park and runs many of the refreshment and beverage offerings, as well as dining venues and some rides and attractions which are situated in there.
“The entire park is a highly thematic and immersive environment: from the moment you walk through the doors you’ll be immersed within the different characters, the different areas and different zones, ” says Otto. “And, the theming goes throughout the rides and attractions to common areas through the retail and food and beverages, so everything is complementary.”
Something for everyone
A comprehensive mix of rides, attractions, events and entertainment aims to cater to all age ranges and all tastes, from thrill-seekers to those seeking a more family-based environment.
There are 28 food and beverage outlets and 20 retail stores, as well as a 12-screen cinema complex which will also be accessible to local residents.
Otto says, “The cinema complex has an Imax screen and we’ve partnered up with Novo Cinemas on operation.
“We’ve worked with the best vendors in the world to ensure that we can offer a comprehensive offering. The park is really for everyone. We don’t have a specific category of visitor we want to single out, because of the selection of rides and attractions and the type of offering we have, we cater to families, to kiddies, to thrill-seekers; there’s really something for everyone in the park.”
A park for all seasons
And, perhaps most impressively of all, apart from one roller coaster which leaves the building briefly before returning, the entire guest experience will take place indoors.
“Obviously, in this region that’s a key USP given the weather conditions we have.”
Lighting mirrors the conditions outside, and the temperature within the park is controlled throughout the day, based on the different weather conditions outside: in the summer, the temperatures in Dubai can reach 45 °C (113 °F) and, on occasion, have climbed as high as 52.1 °C (126 °F).
Attracting tourists and residents
While Dubai is renowned for its strong international tourist base, the park also aims to attract residents.
“We are looking to capitalise both on the tourist market and on the local residential market, and we’ve aligned ourselves very closely with the Dubai Tourism Authority to attract the international audience to the park, and the excellent selection of food and beverage offerings is designed to cater to a global clientele, ” says Otto.
“A lot of our efforts will be going to align our marketing plans with those of the Dubai Tourism Authority . We see the park as a complement to what Dubai is trying to achieve; they want to move heavily into a more leisure-based market instead of being more of a shopping and retail-based market, so there’s a big emphasis on following more of an Orlando-based model globally where there’s a high penetration rate for all the theme parks and leisure parks within the city itself. So the development of the park complements the overall tourism drive to reach 20 million tourists by 2020 in line with the Expo.”
He concludes, “Our offering is very unique and different in the sense that we are completely indoors which, in this region, is a big USP. And then, because of our IPs and our brands resonating globally, plus the immersive environment and the selection of rides and attractions, we will be attracting the widest audience.”