Martin Aquatic Design & Engineering, a world-class aquatic firm, was part of the team of consultants that created VinWonders’ spectacular new nighttime fountain show, Once: An Enchanted Storybook Spectacular, which is now entertaining audiences at the park in Phu Quoc, Vietnam.
The show is a highlight of the newly opened theme park which covers 135-acres and includes a wide range of rides and attractions. It cost $12 million USD to create Once, and Martin Aquatic Design & Engineering developed the special water effects within the 6,128-square-meter lagoon, creating an array of water screens and fountains in order to tell the original story.
Bringing a magical story to life
The story follows a boy who comes to possess a magic storybook, which gives him the power to use his imagination to defeat an enemy sorceress. Along the way, he faces dangerous settings under the sea, on board a pirate ship and even face-to-face with a giant Phoenix.
A team of technical consultants worked together to bring the story to life, led by Quantum Creative Studios, a world-class entertainment and experience innovation producer. Quantum Creative directed the spectacular from conception. Park owners Vinpearl also allowed the production team to have complete control of the design and infrastructure of this area of the park.
“Quantum assembled the team together at such an early stage in the development of this show,” says Martin Aquatic’s President & Creative Director, Josh Martin. “It’s rare that technical consultants and the creative producers can collaboratively build a show and venue of this magnitude from the very beginning, and we were so proud to have added our expertise to the mix.”
The show is located in front of a European-styled castle. It uses many different technical effects to communicate the story and create a little magic.
Company develops programming for show
Martin Aquatic was responsible for developing the programming alongside the fountain manufacturer, Oase. There are over 40 fountain nozzles forming an array within the lagoon which are able to shoot water up to 150 feet high. 31 nozzles can also move and rotate to create dramatic arcs, and special misting nozzles are used to create a 50-foot tall, 150-foot wide water screen, where video content is projected during the show.
“Because water is such a life-giving element of Vietnamese culture, we created a human connection to water by giving the boy the power to control it and make it move. Those fountains are really the heartbeat of the hero—his excitement, his growing confidence, and his bravery in the face of danger,” says Quantum’s Chief Creative Officer Kelly Easterling.
“But if you watched the show as just fountains, it wouldn’t make sense. It takes all the elements together—the characters, the projection video, the music, and the fire effects to create a complete story full of emotion and suspense.”
The 20-minute show features original music and video, in addition to specially choreographed battle sequences with fire and water effects. Quantum also brought in the iconic puppet designers of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop to create the giant Phoenix. This was operated by eight members of the 25-person cast.
In creating the show, there were several challenges that the project team needed to overcome. For example, the audience needed to be a particular distance away from the fountains, fire effects and castle, in order to see the entire video mapping projection. In the end, the audience was placed 268 feet away from the stage, meaning the performers seem fairly small.
“Even though the performers are some distance away, it was because of the fountains and the other special effects that the show is still able to achieve these big moments that Quantum envisioned for the characters and in the story,” says Diego Cordova, Martin Aquatic’s Themed Entertainment Manager. “The way that the water follows our hero’s movements with such intensity helps him become larger than life.”
Programming the fire effects was also a challenge. Two custom “Magma” flame units spew out 200-foot-tall plumes of fire during the final battle sequences of the show, created by the special effects team at Sigma Services.
“Programming the exact timing of the effects in this show was never more crucial than when those Magma flame units went off,” says Easterling. “The simultaneous water fountains portray the hero’s struggle to defeat the sorceress, but they also help to dampen the extreme heat produced by those flames. It’s another example of just how well this team collaborated to achieve a one-of-a-kind stage spectacular.”
Despite these challenges, and the impact of the global pandemic, the team was able to deliver the show for the opening at the end of April. Once: An Enchanted Storybook Spectacular is already being hailed as one of Asia’s grandest multimedia shows.
At last year’s virtual edition of the WWA annual conference and show, Martin Aquatic was recognised for its work on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas waterslides with the WWA Leading Edge Award for waterpark design.
All images courtesy of Quantum Creative Studios