EXCLUSIVE: Nature, storytelling and technology combine to create Indonesia's answer to Narnia

by Tom Anstey | 09 Dec 2015

Themed entertainment specialists Zeitgeist Design + Production (ZD+P) have promised Indonesia’s first world-class theme park, using a combination of a dramatic natural setting and cutting-edge technology to create a “Narnia-like” immersive experience never before seen in the region.

The US$500m (€464.5m, £331.5m) theme park and resort development just outside the Indonesian capital of Jakarta was announced by the Media Nusantara Citra Group (MNC) in November.

“It’s a beautiful site,” said ZD+P president and chief experience officer Ryan Harmon, speaking exclusively to CLAD. “We really have an opportunity for what we hope will be the most beautiful theme park in the world through our designs, the landscape and fact that we’re on the equator in a greenhouse more-or-less. You’ve got the vegetation, the flowers and trees. Half of theme park is ‘park’ and we want this to be a botanical experience as well.”

Harmon revealed that ZD+P have been developing an original backstory and storyline for the park since early 2014.

“In a way we’re combining nature and fantasy, almost in a Lord of the Rings or Hobbit fashion,” he said. “The park is already a beautiful, dynamic site with jungles, canyons and cliffs, so we’re taking advantage of the natural side of things. It’s woven in. We’re letting the land tell its story. I wouldn't say it’s only about nature but we are creating an immersive world which incorporates these ancient wonders.”

When finished, the park will comprise a mix of thrill rides, family rides, live entertainment shows and media-based attractions which currently do not exist in the region. In addition, a flying theatre show, signature rollercoaster and stunt show are all in the works.

MNC, which operates a media network accounting for around 70 per cent of television broadcasts in Southeast Asia, is planning to use the park’s original IPs in its own programming, as the concept reverses the trend seen in most major theme parks of using top-rate IPs to attract in visitors.

In addition to using distinctive design and architecture in each of the park’s regions to create an immersive experience, a number of interactive experiences will be available via smartphone, augmented reality and gaming throughout the park.

“One example of the kind of things we’re looking at is using overhead projection in our restaurants to create characters and little things running around your table,” said Harmon.

“Using your phone as binoculars, you will be able to look up at the mountain and see dragons up there shooting fire. There will be a lot of ways we bring these gaming, virtual interactive experiences in. Even the queue lines will be interactive, incorporating beacon technology so guests can play interactive games.”

“We envisage it as being like going to Narnia or Middle Earth. It’s its own immersive world which has a relation to the real world, but it’s like playing an immersive videogame where you play a role in this world and its multiple perspectives on the same story.”

ZD+P is currently recruiting a team of industry all-stars, who have worked long-term for the likes of Disney and Universal, to ensure the quality of the ambitious project. In addition to rides and other attractions, the theme park will be home to two family hotels and a retail/entertainment centre, which will be located just outside the main gate.

“We’re really excited about having the opportunity to create something literally from scratch,” said Harmon. “It’s very rare not having to copy things you saw in a movie and we've started with a blank sheet of paper. Everybody is pretty blown away.”

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Nature at the heart of US$500m Indonesia theme park plan

Themed entertainment specialists Zeitgeist Design + Production (ZD+P) have promised Indonesia’s first world-class theme park, using a combination of a dramatic natural setting and cutting-edge technology to create a “Narnia-like” immersive experience never before seen in the region. The US$500m (€464.5m, £331.5m) theme park and resort development just outside the Indonesian capital of Jakarta was announced by the Media Nusantara Citra Group (MNC) in November. “It’s a beautiful site,” said
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The design by Zeitgeist Design + Production incorporates its natural surroundings
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