The highly-anticipated Genting SkyWorlds Theme Park will open later this year. The movie-inspired park is part of Resorts World Genting (RWG) and is situated in an idyllic location in Malaysia’s Genting Highlands, surrounded by one of the oldest tropical rainforests on the planet.
Genting Malaysia, which revised the theme park’s initial opening from the last quarter of 2020 to 2021, has spent over $800 million on the project. The park aims to be a valuable asset to the Malaysian economy and the country’s tourism industry.
Visitors to the attraction will experience nine immersive, movie-inspired worlds. These are Andromeda Base, Central Park, Eagle Mountain, Liberty Lane, Epic, Ice Age, Robots Rivet Town, Rio, and Studio Plaza. The theme park will feature 26 attractions, including roller coasters and water rides, as well as some world-first experiences. Visitors will also enjoy a variety of food and beverage offerings.
Greg Pearn & Genting SkyWorlds Theme Park
Greg Pearn, RWG’s Head of Theme Parks & Experiences, is responsible for the overall business strategy and operations of the indoor and outdoor theme parks, as well as other attraction and experience assets within the wider Resorts World Genting portfolio.
Since 2018, he has overseen the successful opening of several projects including Skytropolis Indoor Theme Park and The VOID – Asia’s only Hyper-Reality Experience. He has also been involved in various redevelopment and improvement initiatives to consolidate operations and improve the guest experience.
Currently, Pearn is working on the development and opening of Genting SkyWorlds Theme Park. An industry professional, he has been applying his knowledge of operational, commercial, marketing and business operations within the attractions, theme parks and entertainment industry to the creation of unique and memorable entertainment experiences for two decades.
Before joining Resorts World Genting, Pearn held senior positions at several major industry operators, including aquariums, science centres, branded IP Midway attractions, and integrated theme park resorts.
Enhancing Resorts World Genting
“Resorts World Genting has been here over 55 years,” says Pearn. “It was predominantly a gaming resort, with an outdoor amusement park and concession operated attractions. There were mostly carnival-type rides, and a small, indoor park with a mix of leisure, retail entertainment, et cetera.”
The idea behind the expansion is, he says, to enhance the overall appeal of the resort and attract new audiences. In particular, the non-gaming visitor:
“It’s about adding more experiences and taking the destination to the next level. Mainly because of a desire to shift the demographic, and to accommodate entertainment for the leisure consumer at the resort. But also to compete within the regional market in Asia. With new developments in Macau and Singapore, it was the right time to expand and grow the resort.”
Presenting Genting SkyWorlds Theme Park
Genting SkyWorlds is the jewel in the Genting Integrated Tourism Plan’s (GITP) crown:
“There was a desire to refurbish the outdoor theme park and to offer a product very similar, if not better, than the highly successful offering at Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore.”
The range of attractions and leisure opportunities at Resorts World Genting is diverse, says Pearn.
“We have the outdoor park which will open in 2021, and the indoor park, which we opened at the end of 2018. Plus, we have our indoor SnowWorld. This is complemented by various arcade facilities, a cinema, museums, bowling, and a virtual reality theme park.”
The main indoor attraction is Skytropolis, which is pitched at the consumer on a budget.
“The indoor park is more aligned to a traditional amusement park experience; it doesn’t try to be anything else. It’s predominantly a pay-per-ride business aimed at the kind of visitor that’s within the mall environment and who wants to do a couple of rides, then go and have something to eat. And it does incredibly well; on a busy day, we’ll do up to 20,000 rides.
“It’s a big business for us that sits comfortably alongside our other indoor attraction and retail offerings. Pre-COVID, the Resort was attracting 28 million people a year.”
Demand for entertainment
Theme parks and entertainment are important to people in Malaysia. Expanding on this, Pearn says:
“It’s still very much an emerging market. Kuala Lumpur, like most cities in Southeast Asia, is incredible, in terms of the entertainment offer. But there’s definitely a desire for new experiences and improved quality. And that’s where we’re positioning Genting SkyWorlds. We want to bring that kind of premium product into Malaysia, and to do it at the right price for an audience that is hungry for it.”
We are very confident that when the pandemic is over, attractions and resorts like ours will be a necessity for a lot of people
When it comes to trends, like the rest of the world, people here are looking for more tangible, location-based forms of entertainment.
“We re-opened after the three-month lockdown in 2020. And the pent-up demand to come back to the resort was significant,” he says. “Within a couple of weeks of reopening, we were trading, particularly at weekends, to similar levels as the previous year.
“We are very confident that when the pandemic is over, attractions and resorts like ours will be a necessity for a lot of people. Particularly while the borders remain closed. But there’s definitely demand over here to do more premium experiences. To have more of those world-class attractions and rides and for our guests to know we operate to the highest safety and quality standards.
“All our attractions are TUV certified and our senior leadership team brings experience and expertise from theme park operators globally.”
Rising to the challenge
Genting SkyWorlds has some challenges, which are being met and overcome with ingenuity. For example, the park is compact in size.
“It’s a total of 26 acres at ground level, plus some floor space underneath,” says Pearn. “When you have put 26 big, quality attractions in that space, you’re left with little area development.
“However, we have some fantastic ride experiences going into the park, from some of the industry’s best vendors. For example, Oceaneering, Dynamic Attractions, ETF Ride Systems and Zamperla to name a few.”
“Once we’ve wrapped these rides with quality theming, storytelling and digital media, I’m confident we’ll significantly exceed the expectations of our core audience and take the theme park experience in Malaysia to new highs, literally at 6,000 ft!
“One of the challenges we have is trying to maximize the guest experience to ensure we get as many people through as many rides as possible in a given day, and trying to do that with a park that has challenges in capacity is actually quite exciting. So we have been exploring and investing in using technology to enhance the guest experience. We were doing this even before COVID.”
Personalization at Genting SkyWorlds Theme Park
“We are also building a lot of personalisation into the experiences,” says Pearn. “Everybody has a mobile phone. Everybody is on top of their Instagram and other social media in this region. Our focus is on how we wrap all that into one experience. It’s something we’re very excited about; it’s not been done in this region yet.”
“Look at what Disney did with FastPass, and how that product has evolved over the years. They had a lot of historical data to work with. They understood how the consumer reacted with the park already, and how they could improve on that.
“We can draw on other people’s previous data, of course. So we can look at what other parks have done well or less well. Then we wrap our learnings up and make it fit the environment we’ve created.”
An integrated resort
Genting SkyWorlds is just one component of an integrated resort.
“Again, a lot of the technology that we’re using is building on that overall Resort experience. Rather than just looking at the confines of the gated park, we’re interested in how we move guests out of the park, into the ungated areas. We are invested in how we motivate guests to use some of our other attraction assets after they spend the day in Genting SkyWorlds Theme Park,” says Pearn.
“When we open later this year, we anticipate we’ll still be under restrictions in terms of social distancing. But we are already ahead of the game. This is because we have been mindful throughout the process of our existing capacity constraints, and how we tackle those related issues.
“A lot of the technology that is going to become very relevant post-COVID is tech we were already working on.”
A local audience
To accommodate the closure of international borders, the focus will be on the local market for the moment.
“From a demographic point of view, our business plan and opening strategy are built around the local or regional consumer. 70% of our market is predominantly Malaysian, and we have a phenomenal footfall,” says Pearn.
Many global destinations are having to rethink their whole operating model to target the domestic market. But Resorts World Genting is ahead of the game.
“If you look at some of the other theme park operators, they have, historically, really strong daily gate figures, 60,000, 80,000 people a day. But they are now having to work out how they can adjust to a fraction of that, in terms of the business model and operating headcount. And to remain profitable at that lower volume,” he says.
“We, conversely, have always approached it from the perspective of deliberately keeping our capacity relatively low. Because we want to make sure that the guest’s experience is a premium one. We don’t want people waiting in line any longer than they need to.”
“We’re in a good position because there’s no built-in expectation already. We don’t have to adjust; we don’t have to downsize; we’re going into this fresh.”