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Attractions Preview: openings to come in 2020

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Happy New Year to all our readers! After a year that was packed with new attractions developments (see our 2019 review articles over the last couple of weeks), Attractions Management looks ahead to some of the biggest openings scheduled for 2020 ‒ from aquariums to theme parks.

These attractions openings are in no particular order, but we begin with a development in the Land of the Rising Sun...

Super Nintendo World

Opening: Q2 2020Universal Studios, Osaka, Japan

Super Nintendo World, at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, is due to open before the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in July.

Heralded as the world's first Nintendo-themed expansive entertainment area, the immersive and interactive park will make guests feel "as if they are playing inside their favourite Nintendo games" said Universal Studios.

Attractions will include Mario-Kart and Yoshi rides, Peach's Castle and Bowser's Castle. The multi-level world will also feature shops and a restaurant. Guests will use interactive wristbands that keep track of their scores on the rides, and interface with their game consoles.

Expectations for the new attraction are ambitious, with Kansai University estimating that the nationwide economic impact will be 11,700 billion yen (US$107.4bn, €97.5bn, £83.5bn) over the first 10 years.

Humboldt Forum

Opening: September 2020

The Humboldt Forum – a museum and heritage site in Berlin – is to open in phases starting in September following construction delays.

Housed inside a reconstructed Prussian palace in the east of the city, the museum – which is named after the explorer and polymath Alexander von Humboldt – aims to "bring together diverse cultures and perspectives and seek new insights into topical issues such as migration, religion and globalisation".

Italian architect Franco Stella has reinvented the Berlin Palace, which is considered one of the most important secular Baroque buildings in Northern Europe. His design combines the past with the present, including a reconstruction of the iconic historical facades.

Also featuring restaurants, cafés and a rooftop terrace overlooking Brandenburg Gate, the cost of the project is reported to be around €600m (US$668m, £500m).

Dubai World Expo

Opening: October 2020Dubai, UAE

The six-month-long Dubai World Expo will be the largest event ever staged in the Arab world, with 190 participating countries, and millions of visitors expected from across the globe.

With a strapline of "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future", the expo aspires to put youth at its heart, and to create "a meaningful legacy that will benefit generations to come, both locally and globally". The event will be a meeting place for everything, from innovations and architecture to friendships and business opportunities.

Among the national pavilions already announced are Belgium's "The Green Ark": an exhibit of biophilic architecture as well as an illustration of the country's green future.

Designed by Belgian bureaux Vincent Callebaut Architectures and Assar Architects, the building will feature merchandise shops, a brasserie, terrace, and a naturally ventilated agora, as well as oasis-like garden comprised of 10,000 hanging plants, which will store carbon dioxide and lower the space's temperature by up to five degrees.

Also announced is the UK entry, by British artist Es Devlin, which will showcase Britain’s contributions to the artificial intelligence and space industries. Devlin's structure will rise 20m (65ft) with LED-powered poetic verses decorating the design.

The Sea Shell Aquarium

Opening: Early 2020Phu Quoc Island

A new high-tech aquarium that developers claim will be a model for future aquarium projects is to open on Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam, in early 2020.

Located within a wider theme and water park development that is being created by Vinpearl Land, the leisure division of Vietnamese real estate company Vingroup, "The Sea Shell" will be one of the most technologically-advanced aquariums ever imagined, the company said.

Vinpearl has enlisted expertise from US-based design firm Legacy Entertainment and Australia's Advanced Aquariums Technologies (AAT) to work on the project, which features a distinctive turtle shell-inspired roof design.

Jason Vanhinnisdael, AAT's business development manager, said: "From the ample tank design, to the state-of-the-art life support systems, Vinpearl's Sea Shell will be a model for all other aquarium developers moving forward."

Stephen Hawking VR Tour of Black Holes

Opening: Early 2020Pop-ups initially in the UK, in museums worldwide thereafter

An immersive experience for museums which takes people on a 20-minute virtual reality tour of the universe, and is narrated by the late Professor Stephen Hawking, is due to launch early in 2020.

The project was a collaboration between Hawking and Atlantic Productions, the company behind a number of award-winning productions, including numerous David Attenborough documentaries.

Former BBC documentary maker Anthony Geffen, who founded Atlantic Productions in 1992, told Attractions Management that the Stephen Hawking VR project will be delivered through a series of pop-ups across Britain, before being distributed to museums worldwide.

"Before his death, Stephen recorded the narration of his journey," said Geffen. "In this experience, he's going to take you through space, sharing his thoughts as you explore. To me, that's extraordinary. It's like being able to get into Da Vinci's head.

"Once you're immersed in the experience, you'll feel like you're flying through space and can actually choose where you want to go. This whole thing is from Hawking's mind and it's incredibly exciting."

Epcot - Walt Disney World Resort

Opening: January or Summer 2020Orlando, USA

Disney has promised the biggest ever transformation of any of its parks in announcing a host of new attractions and experiences for its Epcot theme park, many set to open in January or summer 2020.

Among the new characters that will inhabit the park are Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast, Moana and Guardians of the Galaxy.

The location will be divided into four neighbourhoods that will be filled with new experiences, said Disney. World Showcase will continue to be a celebration of culture, cuisine, architecture and traditions, but, according to Disney, infused with new magic, including a first attraction inspired by Mary Poppins, a new Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along and Remy's Ratatouille Adventure attraction.

World Celebration retains its Spaceship Earth attraction, with new narration and music, and this will be joined by a new pavilion that will provide a venue for live events and festivals. In World Nature, visitors will find Awesome Planet, a new film showcasing the beauty and diversity of the planet and its dynamic story.

New in World Discovery will be Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind: the first "other-world" showcase pavilion at Epcot, with a new storytelling coaster from Disney Imagineering, that rotates 360 degrees and has the first reverse launch of a Disney coaster.

There will also be the Play! pavilion, which will be an interactive city full of games, activities and experiences.

Nor are the Epcot developments the only scheduled openings from Disney in 2020: there is also the Avengers Campus that will open at the California Adventure park this year.

Auckland Zoo

Opening: phased openings through to 2022Auckland, New Zealand

New Zealand's Auckland Zoo has revealed a timetable for opening each part of its new South East Asia Jungle Track project ‒ a NZ$58m (US$39m, €34.6m, £31m) investment that's part of the zoo's wider 10-year, NZ$150m (US$100.9m, €89.5m, £80.4m) evolution programme.

The development includes new habitats for species from the south-east Asian jungle, including a high canopy for orangutans, gibbons and other primates, lowlands for tigers and otters, a swamp forest dome with a scientifically-engineered environment to mimic the hot and humid Tropics, where the Sunda gharial (Asian crocodile) and a range of other reptiles and fish will live, and lake and wetlands with an extended climbing range for arboreal primates.

The schedule announced sees the high canopy expected to open during the New Zealand summer (December 2019-February 2020), followed by the lowlands in the winter (June to August) and the tropical dome in springtime (September to November 2020).

In the final phase of the development programme, slated for 2021 to 2022, the zoo said it will develop a refreshed South American trail, new entry and family facilities, and an African Forest track.

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Happy New Year to all our readers! After a year that was packed with new attractions developments (see our 2019 review articles over the last couple of weeks), Attractions Management looks ahead to some of the biggest openings scheduled for 2020 ‒ from aquariums to theme parks.

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