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Top attractions and experiences trends for 2022

Space tourism, robots, the metaverse, immersive art, experiential F&B and NFTs are among this year’s biggest attractions trends.

COVID-19 hit the attractions business hard two years ago. But now in 2022, the attractions industry is thriving, with myriad exciting trends surfacing in the pandemic’s wake. New developments such as digital collections and contactless technology have only been accelerated. And with the demise of brick-and-mortar retail, spaces are being recycled to house location-based entertainment (LBE).

Technology has advanced in a short space of time. Space tourism is a real offering in 2022, and operators have been employing autonomous robots and working on the metaverse. The NFT market has also exploded in the museum world, as have immersive art experiences.

Customers in 2022 are more environmentally and socially conscious than ever. In response, attractions are focusing heavily on sustainability, conservation and accessibility. And then there’s experiential F&B, arty wellness experiences, themed hotels, multi-sensory attractions and more.

So, let’s take a deeper look at some of the key attractions trends to watch in 2022.

Themed accommodation

Themed hotels are all the rage this year. Disney is taking the concept one step further with the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience at Walt Disney World Resort.

attractions trends 2022 star wars galactic starcruiser

Launching guests to the luxurious Halcyon ship, Disney’s immersive two-night hotel experience offers a cruise-style itinerary. Visitors become the hero of their own adventure in a galaxy far, far away, enjoying state-of-the-art technology, Star Wars-style cabins, entertainment and F&B.

Passengers feel like they are speeding through space as they approach the Halcyon. When they arrive, guests can interact with an eclectic group of characters from the Star Wars universe. Plus, they can even enjoy some lightsaber training.

“Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is a completely new type of experience,” said Ann Morrow Johnson, executive producer and creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI).

“You’re going to live onboard a starcruiser, and you can get wrapped up in the larger Star Wars story. For the first time, we’re going to invite guests to become the hero of their own Star Wars adventure. They will live aboard a starship for two days and two nights.”

star wars galactic starcruiser

New hospitality experiences

Miral and Warner Bros. are also staying ahead of the attractions trends for 2022, having opened the world’s first Warner Bros. hotel. Located next to Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi on Yas Island, The WB Abu Dhabi is home to a collection of Warner Bros. archives. Offerings include the fountain from Friends and the new Batmobile from The Batman (2022).

Pam Lifford, president of global brands and experiences at WarnerMedia, said:

“We always strive to be fan-focused and have developed an exceptional hospitality experience for them to further connect with the iconic Warner Bros. brands, franchises, and characters they know and love.”

Tokyo Disney Resort Toy Story Hotel

Additionally, Oriental Land Co (OLC) is opening an immersive Toy Story-themed hotel at Tokyo Disney Resort this year. Guests will feel like they’ve been shrunk to the size of a toy. Rooms are inspired by Andy’s bedroom from the first Toy Story film.

Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel launched at Disneyland Paris in 2021 with Marvel-themed experiences.

Immersive art experiences

Immersive art experiences – from teamLab to Meow Wolf – are one of the leading trends in the attractions industry in 2022.

These mixed reality (MR) playgrounds often feature secret passageways, themed rooms, and technology-driven works of art. AREA15, an experiential art and entertainment complex in Las Vegas, is always expanding to offer new experiences.

“With AREA15, at the end of the day, we’re building an imagination box,” said AREA15 CEO Winston Fisher.

meow wolf omega mart las vegas

Meow Wolf installations include the House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe and Omega Mart at AREA15. It also recently launched its latest attraction, Convergence Station in Denver. Described as a mind-bending space for art, portals, rooms and wormholes, Convergence Station is a “journey of discovery into a surreal, science-fictional epic”.

Encouraging guests to enjoy experiential art outside of traditional museums and galleries, Superblue Miami features installations and experiences by Es Devlin, James Turrell and teamLab. These include an immersive environment, as well as a transcendent digital experience and light-based Ganzfeld work.

Meow Wolf, teamLab & more

“Our mission is to make art more accessible to a wider and younger public,” said Bruno Monnier, founder of Culturespaces, which operates Atelier des Lumières in Paris.

“Physical media is no longer the limit,” teamLab told blooloop. “Digital technology has made it possible for artworks to expand physically.” teamLab has permanent art experiences in Shanghai, Tokyo and Macao.  

attractions trends 2022 immersive art experiences

France is also getting a new immersive art experience thanks to a collaboration between the Louvre and the Grand Palais in Paris. Based on Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic Mona Lisa, the interactive show takes guests back in time to explore the painting in detail.

Imagine Picasso, an immersive art experience celebrating the career of artist Pablo Picasso, has made its debut in the US.

Digital collections

The pandemic prompted museums to go online, with virtual tours and digital collections becoming one of the key attractions trends to watch in 2022.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture launched the new ‘Searchable Museum’ digital initiative. This made the institution’s exhibitions and installations available to global audiences. Visitors around the world can now access state-of-the-art technology, 3D models, videos and audio podcasts.

louvre museum paris

The Louvre has put its entire collection of 480,000 artworks online. This includes the ‘Venus de Milo’, ‘Mona Lisa’, and ‘Winged Victory of Samothrace’.

“For the first time, anyone can access the entire collection of works from a computer or smartphone for free, whether they are on display in the museum, on loan, even long-term, or in storage,” said Jean-Luc Martinez, president of the Musée du Louvre. “The Louvre’s stunning cultural heritage is all now just a click away.”

Virtual museums

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is also working with Dell Technologies to digitise its entire collection of 1.1 million artworks. This will mean that the most extensive Rembrandt collection in the world will be accessible to everyone by 2023. “The Rijksmuseum is open to all,” said Rob Hendriks, the museum’s head of IT.

In the UK, the V&A launched a digital platform called Explore the Collections, giving global audiences an online look at 1.2 million objects.

“This new platform comes at a vital time when the way audiences engage with museums and their collections has changed dramatically – particularly during the last year of the global pandemic,” said Tim Reeve, deputy director and COO at the V&A.

natural history museum london earth and whale most visited

The Natural History Museum aims to digitise 80 million objects in its collection. This move could create in excess of £2 billion in economic benefit.

“This new analysis shows that the data locked up in our collections has significant societal and economic value, but we need investment to help us release it,” said Professor Ken Norris, head of NHM’s life sciences department.

Sensory attractions

Humans have five basic senses – touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. Gone are the days of simply staring at screens and works of art. Guests in 2022 want multi-sensory experiences. Attractions are introducing scent, touch and other elements to create an immersive visit. One example of this is a Mauritshuis exhibition where visitors could smell the artworks. Meanwhile, Odeuropa is creating the first ‘smell museum’ using AI.

mauritshuis scent smell exhibition

Dopamine Land is a multi-sensory experience where guests can burst bubbles, play games and step inside a popcorn machine. It is opening in London in April 2022. As per the description, “Can you imagine a space created just to delight your senses and stimulate dopamine, the happiness hormone? You will go through different immersive settings designed to stimulate touch, sight, smell and even memory.”

The Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven also opened a multi-sensory exhibition featuring artworks that could be seen, touched, heard and smelled.

“The intention is to liberate the objects and give them a value and importance for today,” said Charles Esche, director of the Van Abbemuseum. The exhibition provided more than 25 multi-sensory tools, including texts in Braille, scent interpretations, tactile drawings and soundscapes. This also made the experience accessible to a wide audience, including visually or hearing-impaired guests.

Roller coasters return

Classic coasters are not a new trend for the attractions industry. However, they are so abundant in 2022 that they deserve a mention.

SeaWorld is launching 11 rides and attractions across 10 parks this year. This is the largest number of new offerings to be introduced in a single year in the company’s history. These include SeaWorld Orlando’s Ice Breaker, offering the steepest beyond vertical drop in Florida, and SeaWorld San Diego’s Emperor, the tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster in California.

Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is the world’s fastest and steepest hybrid coaster, while the Williamsburg park’s Pantheon is the world’s fastest multi-launch coaster.

attractions trends 2022 seaworld orlando ice breaker coaster

Merlin Entertainments has announced plans for a new roller coaster at Thorpe Park. This will be its first new coaster since The Swarm launched in 2012. Ireland’s Tayto Park is spending more than €30m on three new coasters.

New coasters for Six Flags include Aquaman Power Wave, Dr. Diabolical’s Cliffhanger and Wonder Woman Flight of Courage, while Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is launching in summer 2022 at Walt Disney World.

Intamin, a creator of record-breaking amusement rides, recently installed the world’s first launched single-rail coaster, Big Dipper, at Sydney’s Luna Park. The company also opened Lights of Revenge at Happy Valley Nanjing, and All Speeds at Sunac Land Chengdu.

Zoo conservation

Zoos across the world are transforming themselves from visitor attractions into zoo-based conservation organisations in 2022. Dublin Zoo and Chester Zoo have launched ambitious conservation masterplans.

“We want to make the leap from a zoo that Dubliners can be proud of, to a national cultural attraction that defines the future of zoos globally,” said Dublin Zoo director Dr Christoph Schwitzer. “Our ambition is for Dublin Zoo to transform into a leading hub for wildlife conservation of international significance.”

chester zoo scrotum frog

The new Bristol Zoo will be located at the Wild Place Project. This will house some of the world’s most threatened species and will feature a new conservation breeding centre, conservation learning centre and conservation medicine centre.

“Our new Bristol Zoo will set the standard for a modern, forward-looking zoo for the 21st century,” said Brian Zimmerman, director of conservation and science at Bristol Zoological Society. 

Educating visitors

Twycross Zoo is building a research and conservation centre. Meanwhile, its new land inspired by The Gruffalo will teach children about conservation.

Across the pond, Kansas City Zoo is transforming into a conservation-focused attraction, the Los Angeles Zoo has launched an ambitious conservation plan to preserve biodiversity, and Brevard Zoo has plans to build a new conservation centre.

“The conservation challenges facing our world are rapidly growing, and we have to improve the strength and speed of our response,” said Dr Jake Owens, director of conservation at the LA Zoo.

greenloop sustainability in visitor attractions conference

Zoos and aquariums are also reaching beyond their sites with impactful sustainability initiatives. Chester Zoo is helping cities in the UK become sustainable palm oil communities, and New England Aquarium has created an incubator programme for blue tech startups.

Find out more at the greenloop, sustainability in visitor attractions conference online, 19 – 20 April 2022.

Museums get social

Museums getting sociable is one of the top attractions trends in 2022. Italy, for example, has launched an innovative streaming platform called ITsART, billed as the ‘Netflix of Italian culture’.

The service provides access to virtual tours, museum exhibitions, and other forms of art. ITsART has debuted in 26 countries in Europe in order to promote Italian culture across the globe. The platform will expand to the US and China this year.

getty becoming artsy youtube

ITsART has partnered with more than 100 cultural institutions in Italy, including the Uffizi Gallery and Peggy Guggenheim Foundation. The platform was developed during the pandemic when Italy’s museums were closed and offering digital content.

The Getty launched a YouTube series called ‘Becoming Artsy’, designed to entice ‘art curious’ audiences. In 2021, the Uffizi started a weekly video series on Facebook called ‘Eat with the Uffizi’. The videos show recipes inspired by artworks in the gallery’s collection. And, after joining TikTok, the Uffizi doubled its number of young visitors.

Climate change awareness

Attractions are looking to address the world’s most critical environmental issues. Whether that’s via immersive art, educational exhibitions or social media.

Arcadia Earth in Las Vegas and NYC is a multi-sensorial journey through immersive worlds and installations. Its aim is to inspire guests to positively impact the planet. Highlighting global challenges such as biodiversity loss and deforestation, the attraction includes exhibits made from reclaimed fishing nets and discarded plastic bags.

attractions trends 2022 arcadia earth

London’s Design Museum teamed up with Snapchat and architect Mariam Issoufou Kamara to reveal the effects of climate change on the building’s exterior through augmented reality (AR). Visitors and passers-by could use Snap’s AR technology to see the museum in apocalyptic conditions.

The Science Museum also is opening an interactive gallery dedicated to climate change in 2023. The gallery, however, is supported by Adani Green Energy, Adani’s solar power arm. Adani is an Indian multinational conglomerate with major holdings in coal.

Additionally, Adobe collaborated with the Smithsonian and Hydrous on an interactive AR exhibit for smartphones that brings the oceans to life. The project reveals the importance of marine habitats in the fight against climate change. It uses the Smithsonian’s 3D collection and original samples of scanned corals.

Dr Ellen Stofan, undersecretary for science and research at the Smithsonian will be speaking about How to set an impactful strategy for sustainability at greenloop in April 2022.

greenloop sustainability in visitor attractions conference

Accessible to everyone

Accessibility is among the biggest attractions trends in 2022. Leading the way is the world’s first Peppa Pig Theme Park, located adjacent to Legoland Florida Resort. It features accessible ride vehicles and attractions and is a Certified Autism Center (CAC). The ride vehicles for Peppa Pig’s Balloon Ride were designed to give children who use wheelchairs seamless access without getting out of their wheelchairs.

peppa pig theme park florida legoland

“Our teams at Merlin Magic Making and the vendor, Technical Park, have worked together to redesign the ride vehicle,” Kelly Hornick, communications and strategy at Legoland Florida, told blooloop. “This is huge for us: to be able to fit that child within a wheelchair on the ride and still have enough room for an adult companion or parent to ride alongside.”

“As we gear up for the opening, our teams are already creating a comprehensive accessibility guide,” Hornick added.

She also revealed more about the sensory guide. “It will be similar to our accessibility guide, but this one is specific to sensory spectrum needs. It will create a ranking system across the five senses for each of our attractions throughout the park. Autism parents are mega planners in what their child’s needs may be.”

Inclusive experiences

In Amsterdam, the Van Gogh Museum has introduced a touchable scale model of the building that includes all floors and walking routes. It is designed to make a visit to the museum easier for everyone, particularly for blind and partially-sighted guests. Using the model, guests can feel their way around the building and get to know the layout.

van gogh museum scale model

The Van Gogh Museum will continue to invest in accessibility. Touchable floor plans will be installed next to the lift entrances on each floor of the permanent collection. In addition, these touchable-style plans will also be created for temporary exhibitions.

“It is vital that blind and partially-sighted visitors also feel welcome at our museum,” said Mirjam Eikelenboom, educator at the Van Gogh Museum.

Cryptocurrency and NFTs

NFTs are also one of the biggest attractions trends in 2022. An NFT (non-fungible token) is a digital asset that represents real-world objects, such as photos, videos and digital art.

Russia’s State Hermitage Museum has been trading digital art on Binance NFT, and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures was fundraising by selling Pillar Award NFTs. The Crypt, a new museum dedicated to NFT art, has also launched online. Plus, the world’s largest NFT museum could rise in New York.

attractions trends 2022 the crypt virtual nft art museum

Additionally, the Seattle NFT Museum, opened in January 2022. This is the first museum devoted to NFTs in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. “It is our vision to create a space that serves the imagination of NFT artists and creators while helping to confirm Seattle’s place as a global cultural and technology destination,” said co-founder Jennifer Wong.

PortAventura World, one of the largest leisure destinations in Europe, will start accepting Bitcoin payments in 2022. David García Blancas, managing director of PortAventura World, said:

“The push for initiatives such as this one allows us to become aligned with the latest trends and satisfy the needs of our guests”.

greenloop sustainability in visitor attractions conference

However, mining and trading many cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, consumes vast amounts of energy. Attractions should ensure they are using energy efficient versions of these technologies, for example the Whitworth Art Galleries’ Tezos based NFT, to avoid an environmental backlash. Find out more in a dedicated session at greenloop, 19 – 20 April 2022.

Space tourism

Space tourism could become one of the hottest trends in the attractions industry in 2022. In 2021, Jeff Bezos‘ rocket company Blue Origin successfully completed its first space tourism flight on the New Shepard spacecraft.

Richard Branson‘s spaceship company Virgin Galactic also got approval to fly customers to space. Former Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde was hired to design the experience journey. “What Virgin Galactic is doing, in democratizing space travel, has reached a moment where it is about to enter history,” Rhode said.

blue origin new shepard

Space hotels are incoming, too. Orbital Assembly Corporation (OAC) is making progress on the world’s first space hotel, which is expected to debut in 2027.

Voyager Station will feature platforms for viewing the Earth. Its restaurant will offer ‘space classics’ such as Tang and freeze-dried ice cream.

Meanwhile, Space Perspective has unveiled the world’s first ‘space lounge’, complete with reclining seats, 360-degree panoramic windows, and a bar. This is situated within the Spaceship Neptune capsule, which will be lifted to the edge of space by a giant balloon.

LUSSO Dating is responding to the arrival of space tourism by organising the first date in space for singles on the planet Earth.

Merging art and wellness

Therme Group, a global developer and operator of wellbeing destinations, is a trailblazer when it comes to merging art and wellness. Part of Therme Group, Therme Art works with artists and architects to commission and develop projects for the company’s wellbeing resorts.

Therme’s portfolio already includes Badeparadies Schwarzwald, Thermen & Badewelt Sinsheim, and Thermen & Badewelt Euskirchen in Germany. It also runs Therme Bucharest in Romania. Therme is now working to take its concept to Glasgow, Manchester, New York City, Toronto and Frankfurt.

therme Manchester waterpark

Dr Robert Hanea is CEO of Therme Group. He describes Therme as “a natural urban oasis where people can have fun, relax and unwind from their busy lives – boosting their physical and mental health”.

Therme attractions fuse water-based activities and wellbeing treatments with art, nature and technology, providing a unique visitor experience. Offerings range from wave pools and waterslides to immersive digital art and botanical gardens.

New ways to experience art

teamLab also combined art and wellness with TikTok teamLab Reconnect, a digital art experience that opened last year in Tokyo. The art and sauna exhibition invited guests to enjoy the artworks while taking alternating hot saunas and cold baths. This results in a neurological state called ‘sauna trance’, immersing visitors in the art, according to teamLab.

attractions trends 2022 teamlab reconnect

“Art is traditionally exhibited in luxurious places like palaces or museums – we wanted to create a luxurious state of mind for people to experience it,” said teamLab lab member, Takashi Kudo (via Thomson Reuters).

“Nobody goes to an art museum in this fashion because art is art and sauna is sauna. What we wanted to try is to combine and offer a very different experience – and a very different experience of this art.”

Robot takeover

AI’s takeover is incoming, with robots providing more services than ever in the attractions industry.

Disney has been developing bots for years and this will be one of the most interesting attractions trends to watch in 2022. An animatronic Spider-Man can be seen flying above the rooftops of Avengers Campus. In addition, robotic actors that can move and act on their own are being created as part of Project Kiwi.

“While only in an early exploration stage, a prototype in the form of Groot is being used to test unique traits, gaits and capabilities,” Walt Disney Imagineering said.

attractions trends 2022 animatronic spider man

Gujarat Science City’s Robotic Gallery includes an F&B outlet with robot servers and chefs. It also features an area where guests can compete in an air hockey game against a robot opponent. In addition to this, they can watch a group of performing robots.

In China, Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park has unveiled the world’s first bionic whale shark. This could potentially replace live cetaceans in captivity in aquariums and theme parks across the country.

Robot security guards are being recruited at theme parks across the US. Known as ROAMEO (Rugged Observation Assistance Mobile Electronic Officer), the autonomous bot has cameras and speakers. It also has a touchscreen and a two-way communication system. ROAMEO can tell when guests are in restricted areas and determine when they are not wearing face coverings. Big Brother is watching you.

Experiential F&B

Transforming the F&B experience will continue to be one of the key trends in the attractions industry in 2022. Today’s visitors want more than the hotdogs and burgers of yesteryear. They seek out entertainment and immersion, also known as eatertainment.

Disney parks have been treating their guests to themed dining experiences and dishes for many years. The company has taken its gastronomic offerings to the next level with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Space 220. Here, guests feel like they are dining 220 miles above Earth.

attractions trends 2022

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is an immersive two-night hotel experience at Disney World. This features the Crown of Corellia Dining Room and Sublight Lounge. The dining room offers a live Twi’lek performance. Dishes inspired by Star Wars planets include blue bantha butter and blue shrimp from the planet of Felucia.

The lounge serves cosmic cocktails such as Hoth Frost and Mooja Twist. It also features a working holotable for playing a game of sabacc. 

Immersive dining

Park Row is the world’s first DC-inspired F&B experience. It combines multi-sensory storytelling with world-class food and drink inspired by some of Gotham City’s most famous residents. Dishes include a ‘poisonous’ mushroom and edible helium balloons.

“Trends in our sector are moving towards fun, immersive and experiential dining. Our aim is to demonstrate this on a grand scale with exceptional food and drink to match,” said James Bulmer, chief creative officer of Wonderland Restaurants.

The Monarch Theatre is a fully immersive restaurant experience with state-of-the-art floor to ceiling projection mapping. Even the table “releases smoke, has sub-woofers built-in, heats up, levitates and has magnets”, Bulmer told blooloop.

mushroom park row edible poison

Experience design studio Bompas & Parr was responsible for a multi-sensory culinary experience at Expo 2020 Dubai. The Future of Food: Epochal Banquet took creativity, innovation and technology to a new level. Highlights included edible creations that glow in the dark, flavour changing desserts and rare ingredients.

The duo also created the world’s first flavour rainbow in London using bespoke light refracted through multicoloured moisture.

Reviving retail

It was reported last year that up to 70 of Britain’s 700 shopping centres were facing redevelopment or closure in the aftermath of COVID-19. Many of these were built in the 1970s and 1980s, In great news for the attractions industry, this is opening up retailtainment opportunities for location-based entertainment.

“Many shopping centres have been left too long and need a radical rethink,” said Stephen Springham, head of retail research at property advisory firm Knight Frank.

Electric Playbox Group Adventure

The brick-and-mortar retail industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. Lockdowns forced malls to close and sent consumers online. Indoor attractions and innovative experiences could revitalise these retail spaces. Electric Gamebox, for example, has plans to launch its gaming pods at retail outlets across the globe.

UK shopping centres set for development include Nottingham’s Broadmarsh, Stockton’s Castlegate and the Chilterns Centre in High Wycombe. Oxford Street in London is also becoming a greener space with visitor attractions. Plus, a former Debenhams store in Wandsworth is becoming a £4 million retailtainment hub.

“If retail spaces want to survive, they must embrace retailtainment,” said industry expert Arnold van de Water. “I see it as mandatory. We are living in eclectic times that make the boundaries between industries disappear. Everything has become much more fluid and retailtainment follows this trend. The best way to progress is to break from existing silos, learn from each other and look for synergies.”

Contactless technology

Attractions trends accelerated by the pandemic in 2022 include contactless technology, especially facial recognition.

Disney has been busy testing facial recognition technology at Magic Kingdom in Florida and Shanghai Disneyland. Discussing a “shift in focus to more touchless experiences”, Disney said it is “always looking for innovative and convenient ways to improve our guests’ experience, especially as we navigate the impact of Covid-19”.

disney magic mobile

Universal Studios Singapore is also using facial recognition scanners. This will allow the operator to offer “efficient and seamless” entry to the theme park at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS). Annual and season ticket holders no longer need physical passes. Guests using day passes still need tickets for entry, but they can exit and re-enter with facial recognition.

Additionally, Yas Island is on track to become a totally contactless destination through facial recognition technology called FacePass. FacePass is designed to streamline the visitor experience at destinations including Ferrari WorldYas Waterworld and Warner Bros World. The technology also enables contactless payment through facial recognition at select retail and dining locations.

“Yas Island theme parks will be the first in the region to implement complete contactless access and payment solutions,” said Mohamed Al Zaabi, CEO of Miral.

Sustainable operations

Sustainability is more important than ever, with attractions and brands shifting towards greener operations and products.

The Eden Project has been influential in the creation of eco attractions since it first opened in Cornwall in 2001. Eden Project International is taking the offering to UK locations including Dundee, Morecambe, Derry and Dorset. It will also be launching in China, Australia, New Zealand, Colombia and Costa Rica.

red sea project coral bloom sustainability

The Red Sea Project is working alongside biotechnology firm Blue Planet Ecosystems. Together, they aim to produce seafood sustainably at the giga-project in Saudi Arabia.

“In response to growing consumer demand for sustainable protein during their travel experiences and to support our regenerative ambitions, TRSDC strives to explore innovative technology solutions,” said John Pagano, CEO of the Red Sea Development Company. TRSDC is also collaborating with the world’s first sustainable water brand.

Renew and recycle

Making operations greener is one of the key attractions trends that businesses can’t ignore in 2022.

Marwell Zoo in Hampshire is making use of ‘zoo poo’. The attraction is generating renewable energy using waste from endangered species such as Grévy’s zebra and the scimitar-horned oryx. It is the UK’s first zoo to heat its buildings using biomass technology.

“Using heat in this way from our own animals is unique in the UK and, as far as we know, across the world,” said Dr Duncan East, head of sustainability. “There is an urgent need to reduce the burning of fossil fuels and leave these high carbon sources in the ground.”

lego brick sustainable

Additionally, brands such as Lego, Disney and Mattel are using recycled plastic for their toys and packaging.

Mattel has launched a new collection called Barbie Loves the Ocean. This is its first fashion doll line made from recycled ocean-bound plastic. The Lego Group has created a prototype Lego brick made from recycled plastic, and Disney has unveiled plastic-free packaging for its classic dolls.

Tech-driven sports

The biggest attractions trends for 2022 include technology-infused sports experiences. Indoor venues are on the up while traditional golf courses and similar offerings are in decline.

Topgolf, a technology-enabled golf experience, is launching its first state-of-the-art venue in Scotland this year. Topgolf Glasgow will be the company’s fourth attraction in the UK, joining more than 70 locations across six countries. The concept attracts more than 30 million players every year.

toca social

Puttshack, a technology-driven mini-golf experience with F&B, opened its first locations in the US in 2021. The company was founded by Topgolf creators Steve Jolliffe and Dave Jolliffe. It is continuing its US expansion with a series of new venues opening throughout 2022. Puttshack also has four attractions in the UK.

Competitive socialising

TOCA Football, billed as the Topgolf of soccer, is the world’s leading technology-enabled soccer experience company. Its TOCA Social entertainment venues are now heading to the US after the successful launch of TOCA Social in London. By the end of 2023, TOCA plans to operate five TOCA Social attractions.

attractions trends 2022

“Guests will be able to experience soccer in a new and innovative way, while socializing with friends over drinks and world-class cuisine,” said Yoshi Maruyama, TOCA’s CEO. “With games designed for all ages and abilities, TOCA Social truly is one of a kind and we are excited to keep expanding.”

COVID-19 calms down

The pandemic had a huge impact on the attractions industry and even sped up certain trends in 2021 and 2022. Many health and safety measures later and the world has adjusted to a new normal.

During the winter months, potential visitors should expect closures and attendance caps. However, as spring and summer approach, social distancing and other measures tend to be relaxed. And, with the arrival of the vaccine last year, lockdowns are a thing of the past. In fact, Universal theme parks posted their most profitable third and fourth quarters on record in 2021.

Disney World reopens face masks theme parks coronavirus

In late 2021 and early 2022, destinations such as Toronto Zoo and Hong Kong Disneyland closed as the Omicron variant led to a surge of COVID-19 cases. The Met reduced visitor capacity, and the Smithsonian and London’s Natural History Museum temporarily shut due to staff shortages.

Things have improved since then. Disney’s US theme parks and Universal Orlando Resort have now made face masks optional in indoor and outdoor locations for vaccinated guests.

Reaching new heights

No longer satisfied with riding a coaster, guests are after unique experiences. Blackpool Pleasure Beach has been catering to thrill-seekers with ‘Walk The Woodie’, ‘Walk The Big One’ and an extended version, ‘Walk The Big One XL’. Guided by the ride operations team, these offerings allow guests to climb the Big Dipper and the UK’s tallest coaster.

blackpool pleasure beach big one

Elsewhere, Fuji-Q is adding the $10m Fujiyama Tower observation deck to its Fujiyama coaster. This offers views of Mount Fuji as well as a tubular slider and daredevil walkway. Visitors will be able to travel to the top via an internal elevator. They can stick to the observation deck or enjoy a thrilling walk on a winding track without handrails. Fortunately, guests are attached to harnesses.

Unforgettable views

Edge at Hudson Yards is the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere. It is now also offering a skyscraper climbing experience called City Climb.

City Climb offers 360-degree views of New York City’s skyline from the 100th floor of 30 Hudson Yards. Visitors can scale the outside of the skyscraper and then lean out from the observation deck at the top. Guests are fitted with special safety harnesses. They are also secured into the course via two cables attached to a trolley that seamlessly moves with them.

attractions trends 2022 edge city climb nyc

Ain Dubai, the world’s tallest and largest observation wheel, opened in October. It rises to a height of 250 metres, offering views of Dubai’s skyline. It features observation cabins, social cabins and private cabins.

“Ain Dubai is a testament to one of the many innovative initiatives developed by Dubai to further enhance its competitiveness as a key international tourism destination in continuation of Dubai’s drive to achieve new global heights,” said Mohamed Sharaf, chief operating officer of Dubai Holding.

The metaverse

One of the most exciting attractions trends in 2022 is the metaverse. This is a virtual world where users can play, build and own digital experiences, often using virtual reality (VR) headsets.

Last year, Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta. The company has plans to spend more than $10bn (£7.4bn) on developing VR software and hardware. Meanwhile, Disney has now appointed an executive to lead its metaverse plans.

attractions trends 2022

“For nearly 100 years, our company has defined and redefined entertainment by leveraging technology to bring stories to life in deeper, more impactful ways,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said in a memo to staff (via Variety). “Today, we have an opportunity to connect those universes and create an entirely new paradigm for how audiences experience and engage with our stories.”

“This is the so-called metaverse, which I believe is the next great storytelling frontier and the perfect place to pursue our strategic pillars of storytelling excellence, innovation, and audience focus,” Chapek added.

During IAAPA in November 2020, Tilak Mandadi, who previously served as head of digital and technology for Disney parks, experiences and products, described the metaverse as a space “where physical and digital worlds converge, with wearables, smartphones and digital access points immersing the guests in the metaverse experiences”.

New tech

In addition, Disney has been granted a patent for technology that would allow visitors to enjoy a virtual world without VR headsets or AR-enabled devices. The technology would create 3D imagery using multiple projectors for an immersive experience.

“Rather than look through a phone screen or a headset, Disney developed a system almost similar to a movie projector to project on a real surface what humans see on a screen. It’s more real-world experience rather than looking at it through a phone,” Founders Legal patent and technology technical adviser John DeStefano told Spectrum News.

attractions trends 2022 avengers campus disneyland paris

Ocean Park Hong Kong has teamed up with The Sandbox, an Ethereum-based decentralised NFT gaming metaverse. Together they will create new digital entertainment experiences. Ocean Park’s virtual world will feature creative content and “offerings that are distinctively Ocean Park”, said Ivan Wong, chief executive of Ocean Park.

Gaming collaborations

Video game IP is one of the hottest trends in the attractions industry for 2022. Operators are teaming up with the likes of Nintendo, Crystal Dynamics, Square Enix and PlayStation.

Last year, the first Super Nintendo World launched at Universal Studios Japan. Following this, it’s already expanding to include the world’s first Donkey Kong-themed area. “I am very happy to be able to make the world of Donkey Kong a reality, following the world of Mario,” said Nintendo game developer Shigeru Miyamoto.

super nintendo world donkey kong universal studios japan

Now, the Eden Project has partnered with PlayStation to create a 12-acre wildflower habitat in Morecambe. This comes ahead of the launch of Sony’s action-adventure game Horizon Forbidden West, drawing on the beauty of the natural world depicted in the game. Horizon Forbidden West is developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Also in the UK, Little Lion Entertainment has joined forces with video game developer Crystal Dynamics and entertainment and video game company Square Enix. Together, they are creating an immersive Tomb Raider experience.

Tomb Raider: The Live Experience is inspired by the video game series and film franchise. It will take guests on a thrilling adventure with Lara Croft.

“Lara is an icon who transcends generations. So we know that fans of all ages will run, jump, and swing at this chance to save the world alongside their hero, Lara Croft,” said Dallas DickinsonTomb Raider executive producer at Crystal Dynamics.

Real-world experiences

“Despite the promise of the metaverse I hope, and am convinced that, the real world will always be the most interesting place that we operate,” Tom Lionetti-Maguire, Little Lion Entertainment’s founder and CEO, told blooloop.

“Taking the world of video games, taking the world of TV and films, then installing it into the world of theatre; you’re there doing it with your friends in real-time, right in front of you. That’s super interesting for me.”

resident evil virtual museum

Capcom has launched a virtual Resident Evil museum on the franchise’s official online portal. Here, fans can explore exhibits on the history of the Japanese video game and view never-before-seen artwork.

New artwork includes character models and concept art, GameRant reports. Each exhibit focuses on a specific game, with information about its release date, story, characters and creatures (via IGN).

Ghibli Park, Studio Ghibli’s unique new theme park, is opening in Japan this year.

Three of its five themed lands will launch on 1 November 2022. These are Ghibli’s Giant Warehouse, Dondoko Forest and Springtime of Life Hill. The remaining two areas, Princess Mononoke Village and Witch Valley, are due to open in March 2024.

studio ghibli theme park

Attractions are inspired by anime classics from the studio. For instance, My Neighbor TotoroHowl’s Moving Castle, Castle in the SkySpirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service.

“Ghibli Park is a park that represents the world of Studio Ghibli,” the website says. “There are no big attractions or rides in Ghibli Park. Take a stroll, feel the wind, and discover the wonders.”

Highlights include a My Neighbor Totoro-themed playground and life-size Howl’s Moving Castle. The playground will feature a replica of Satsuki and Mei’s house. It will also be home to a giant camphor tree and life-size Catbus. Ghibli Park was designed around the environment. It celebrates the natural beauty depicted in Studio Ghibli’s animation.

studio ghibli park my neighbor totoro

The project is a ¥34 billion ($323 million) joint venture between Studio Ghibli and the government of Aichi Prefecture. Ghibli Park is reportedly targeting an admission price of approximately $35. This is half the price of tickets to Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan.

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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