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LIVE/ Updated Keeping you up to date with the latest breaking news and events from around the world, welcome to the Planet Attractions daily news feed
Summary
Universal reports record earnings for 2022, driven by theme park attendance

Children in hospital can now explore South Carolina Aquarium remotely using a robot

Port Aventura's Uncharted coaster among 2023's most anticipated openings

Disney bringing major immersive experience to London, Berlin and Paris in 2023

‘The Office’ visitor interactive experience coming to Toronto in March

New MSC campaign highlights sustainability

Excitement building for Parc Asterix’s upcoming Toutatis coaster

Baby Trump set to fly again as Museum of London reinflates blimp

PIF’s Seven announces SAR1bn entertainment destination for Saudi city of Tabuk

Liseberg offering flights to moon and back with new Luna coaster

First black history statues return to Brixton

WATCH: Anthony Palermo on how Connect&Go is transforming attractions operations

accesso announces 18 new strategic partnerships in the UK and US

Disney’s Lunar New Year Celebrations return to Anaheim

Grand Egyptian Museum at 100% completion as ticket prices announced

Cosm Studios releases new full-dome movie exploring first photo of a black hole

Roman Magna Project to uncover stories of Hadrian’s Wall fort

Dudley Zoo plans to open new visitor centre

MENALAC Awards head to Dubai for 2023 edition

Pipeline progress continues ahead of 2023 opening

Disney theme park stock might not be as magical as it used to be

Smithsonian Associates to host educational summer camp

Ukrainian refugees on Glasgow cruise ship to be rehomed

Smithsonian to preserve experimental sound recordings made by Alexander Graham Bell

Plans submitted for new planetarium at Sherwood Observatory

Darts championships headed for Europa-Park

Eye-tracking technology can identify different fish in an aquarium and tell the user what they’re looking at

New York Knicks announces multi-year partnership with cruise operator MSC

ArieForce One set to take flight at Fun Spot America in 2023

New VR coaster set to open at Universal Studios Japan next month



28 Jan 2023

Universal reports record earnings for 2022, driven by theme park attendance


 Universal attributes the record earnings to increased park attendance and customer spend    Credit: Canva

Comcast’s theme parks division continues to thrive, with the company reporting a 12% increase in revenue in the final quarter of 2022, and a nearly 50% increase from 2021 in its annual financial report.

The company revealed that Universal Parks & Resorts earned US$2.1bn (€1.93bn, £1.7bn) in Q4 2022, with an overall total earnings of US$7.5bn for the year.

Universal attributed the increases to high attendance levels and customer spending at its resorts in the US and Japan, with visitor numbers surpassing pre-pandemic levels. A trend that company leaders expect to continue in 2023.


Read more


27 Jan 2023

Children in hospital can now explore South Carolina Aquarium remotely using a robot


 

Patients at several children’s hospitals in the US will now be able to explore South Carolina Aquarium without leaving their rooms following the introduction of a robot that can be controlled remotely via a tablet.

Following a successful trial in December at the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital in Charleston, SC Aquarium will open the scheme up to two more hospitals in the state, including Prisma Health Children’s Hospital Midlands and Prisma Health Children’s Hospital Greenville, later in the year.


Read more


27 Jan 2023

Port Aventura's Uncharted coaster among 2023's most anticipated openings



Spanish theme park resort PortAventura's team-up with Sony Pictures for the development of a world-first dark ride rollercoaster dedicated to the Uncharted franchise is among the most anticipated new attractions of 2023.

One of the world’s most successful gaming franchises, the new dark ride attraction will be based on the movie version of Uncharted starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg, with the ride expected to open in the middle of the year.

The coaster, which is being developed at a cost of €25m (US$25.8m, £21.6m), will be 700m (2,300ft) in length, reaching heights of up to 12m (39ft) and will be entirely located inside a 4,800sq m (51,700sq ft), 16m (52ft) high immersive space.

Located in the Far West area of the park, the location is fitting for the story, which will see riders go on a hunt for one of the greatest treasures ever discovered.

The ride has significant pedigree behind it, with both Intamin and Sally Dark Rides both working on the new attraction.

See more of the biggest rollercoaster openings in 2023 here


27 Jan 2023

Disney bringing major immersive experience to London, Berlin and Paris in 2023


 

Disney is creating a multi-sensory adults pop-up experience that will tour London, Berlin and Paris through 2023.

Made up of four unique installations across 1,000sq m (10,800sq ft), ‘Wonder of Friendship, The Experience’ marks 100 years of Disney by celebrating iconic characters, stories and friendships made over the last century.

The first experience, based on Alice in Wonderland has been dubbed ‘Garden of Mystery’. Inside this installation, guests will journey past towering flowers and ‘Bread-and-Butterflies’ in a dense and vibrant haze-filled maze.


Read more


26 Jan 2023

‘The Office’ visitor interactive experience coming to Toronto in March


 The Office Experience takes fans inside the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin    Credit: OGX/Universal Live Entertainment

A popular interactive touring experience based on NBC’s hit workplace comedy The Office is coming to Toronto, Canada, later this year.

Following successful runs in Washington DC and Chicago, The Office Experience will open at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Center on March 3.

Taking fans inside the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin, the attraction offers 17 immersive areas with recreated sets from the show, including Schrute Farms and Scranton Business Park. Visitors can also see original props and costumes from the show.


Read more


26 Jan 2023

New MSC campaign highlights sustainability



MSC Cruises has launched a new global campaign showcasing its commitment to sustainability and delivering zero-emission cruising.

The Discover the Future of Cruising campaign will be aired in more than 30 countries and will include a multi-channel output on TV, print media, digital and social media.

The advert was filmed on board MSC’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered ship, MSC World Europa, which came into service at the end of 2022.

“We have already virtually eliminated emissions like sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide from our operations and now we are focused on reducing carbon emissions with LNG,” said Linden Coppell, vice president of sustainability at MSC.

“This is the first step in our journey that involves transitioning to LNG in the short-term, low carbon in the medium-term, and net-zero carbon fuels, including synthetic and bio LNG and synthetic and bio methanol, in the longer-term.”


26 Jan 2023

Excitement building for Parc Asterix’s upcoming Toutatis coaster


 

An Intamin-manufactured rollercoaster, the steel LSM launch coaster Toutatis is set to become a signature attraction for France’s Parc Asterix when it opens to the public later this year.

Set for launch on April 8, the new attraction is themed around the Celtic god Toutatis - a deity who was worshipped in ancient Gaul and Britain and is regularly referenced in the Asterix series as a way of expressing strong emotion.

Covering 3,526.9ft (1,075m), the ride features 23 airtime points - a world record for a steel coaster - and reaches speeds of up to 66.5mph (110kmph). Its peak stands at 167.3ft (51m) with a vertical drop of 101 degrees.

The ride’s triple half-pipe launch will send visitors forwards, backward, and forwards again, with the train eventually reaching enough speed to make it over the ride’s peak. Intamin says that the ride will hold a European record for the most launches on a rollercoaster.

Originally scheduled for 2021, the build was delayed for a number of reasons, including the pandemic and the layout impeding a number of protected trees in the adjacent National Forest.

Toutatis will be part of a larger new themed area of the park dubbed Toutatis Festival. The new space will also offer a Zamperla-manufactured spinning tower, a playground, a restaurant and a shop.



See more of the biggest rollercoaster openings in 2023 here


26 Jan 2023

Baby Trump set to fly again as Museum of London reinflates blimp


 

While Donald Trump’s hopes for re-election as US president may be faltering, the nappy-wearing depiction of him made famous during a UK protest in 2018 has had new life breathed into it, as the Museum of London has reinflated it.

The baby blimp inflatable, which flew above a march in Parliament Square in London in July 2018, was given a test inflation this week.

It was first flown during Trump’s working visit to London where about 75,000 people took to the streets to... More from The Guardian


25 Jan 2023

PIF’s Seven announces SAR1bn entertainment destination for Saudi city of Tabuk


 

Development company Saudi Entertainment Ventures (Seven) has announced a more than SAR1bn (US$266.4m, €244.7m, £215.7m) project to build a state-of-the-art entertainment destination in the city of Tabuk.

Designed by architects Gensler, the 72,500sq m (780,000sq ft) development has been imagined as a village between gardens and recreational spaces.

Entering under a glass canopy inspired by local arts and traditions, visitors will find a number of attractions, including a family entertainment centre (FEC), a second junior FEC and a Discovery-branded indoor edutainment centre. Mattel’s Hot Wheels IP will also feature, with an e-karting experience, while a 12-hole indoor golf course will use new technology to tailor individual experiences. A bowling alley and a cinema are also included, as are retail, food and beverage outlets.


Read more


25 Jan 2023

Liseberg offering flights to moon and back with new Luna coaster



Sweden’s Liseberg is planning to celebrate its 100th year in style with the launch of several new attractions, the most exciting of which is Luna, a family coaster, described as the “jewel in the crown”, that serves as a focal point for a brand new area of the park.

Set to open on April 22, the Vekoma-manufactured Luna is a custom Boomerang model set to reach heights of 109.9ft (33.5m) and speeds of up to 42.3mph (68kmph), with the ride being constructed atop Liseberg Hill - the park’s highest point.

Offering “flights to the moon”, the ride car, which resembles a rocket ship, will carry guests forwards then backwards over the 738ft (225m) track, with Luna being the tallest and fastest of its kind anywhere in the world.

Luna will open alongside two already launched family attractions - the Technical Park-manufactured Turbo motorcycle ride and the Zamperla-manufactured Tempmus spinning tower ride.

See more of the biggest rollercoaster openings in 2023 here


25 Jan 2023

First black history statues return to Brixton


 

Three statues thought to be the first sculptures depicting black British people on display in England are set to return to Brixton station later.

The life-size bronze figures, called Platforms Piece, were first installed on the platform in 1986 before being removed in 2016 for refurbishment.

Created by Kevin Atherton, it depicts three Brixton residents of the time and is Grade II listed.

The original statues will be joined by a new one named... More from the BBC


25 Jan 2023

WATCH: Anthony Palermo on how Connect&Go is transforming attractions operations


 

One of the global leaders in guest and attractions management technology, Connect&Go is a company that has worked with iconic brands and events all over the world.

Working with The Super Bowl, the Vancouver Olympics, Comic Con and SXSW among a host of major names, the company offers a cloud-based platform that aims to improve the end-to-end customer journey while providing an easy-to-use solution for operators.

Currently deployed in dozens of attractions around the world, the platform transacts revenues of several hundred million dollars, serving waterparks, family entertainment centers, animal attractions, festivals, and numerous live events.


Read more


25 Jan 2023

accesso announces 18 new strategic partnerships in the UK and US


 accesso’s new partners include London’s Battersea Power Station (pictured) and the San Francisco Zoo    Credit: Battersea Power Station

accesso has signed a series of new strategic agreements with 18 attractions, culture, hospitality and ski partners across the UK and the US.

Its new partners, which include the Battersea Power Station in London, UK and the San Francisco Zoo in California, US, will redefine the guest experience at their venues using accesso’s suite of guest management products - including the accesso Passport eCommerce ticketing suite, the accesso Siriusware POS ticketing solution and accesso ShoWare live event ticketing platform.

Commenting on the new partnerships, accesso CEO Steve Brown said: “2022 was incredible for our team at accesso, and we’re pleased to have closed out the year welcoming such a unique set of new partners to our worldwide client network,” said accesso CEO Steve Brown.

“We look forward to deepening our global footprint even further in 2023, helping operators unlock new opportunities to drive revenue and deliver a better guest experience in the process.”


25 Jan 2023

Disney’s Lunar New Year Celebrations return to Anaheim


 Ortensia the Cat and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit will appear in festive garb to mark the Year of the Cat in the Vietnamese zodiac and the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac    Credit: Disneyland Resort

Disney’s Lunar New Year Celebrations have made a triumphant return to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, US.

Running until February 15, the multi-cultural celebration has been described as a ‘joyous tribute to Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean cultures’, and features East Asian-inspired cuisine, décor, live entertainment and themed merchandise.

Highlights from this year’s celebrations include Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession, which will run along an extended route, as well as the Hurry Home – Lunar New Year Celebration nighttime water spectacle. The line-up also includes two new Lunar New Year-themed marketplaces and new menu items.

As 2023 marks the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac and the Year of the Cat in the Vietnamese zodiac, this year’s celebrations will also see Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Ortensia the Cat, in festive garb, join in the fun, taking centre stage alongside Mickey and Minnie.


24 Jan 2023

Grand Egyptian Museum at 100% completion as ticket prices announced


 

One of the world’s most anticipated museums will finally open this year after a more than 20-year development process with work now complete on Cairo’s Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).

GEM has experienced frequent delays since its first foundation stone was laid in February 2002. It seems, however, that its opening is imminent with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has confirmed that the museum itself is now 100% done, with only work on the areas surrounding it to be completed.

Designed by Dublin-based architecture firm Heneghan Peng Architects, the £718m (US$877m, €810m) museum will be housed inside a 480,000sq m (5.2 million sq ft) complex offering spectacular views of the ancient pyramids.

It will be the world’s largest museum dedicated to a single civilisation and will be home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts, with more than 100,000 objects, including the fourth shrine of King Tutankhamun.

GEM’s director, Tarek Tawfik has said the development will be “the museum of the 21st century,” with all means of modern technology taken into consideration in order to create an “unforgettable experience for the visitor” and to best protect the artefacts.

Once open GEM is expected to attract five million people a year. Ticket prices have been confirmed at LE60 (US$2, €1.85, £1.60) to Egyptian citizens, while foreign tourists will pay a premium of LE200 (US$6.70, €6.16, £5.45) to enter the museum. For Egyptian and foreign students, there is a 50% discount on tickets.

See more of the most anticipated museum openings in 2023 here


24 Jan 2023

Cosm Studios releases new full-dome movie exploring first photo of a black hole


 

Cosm Studios has released a new full-dome planetarium film following two young astronomers in their journey to achieve the historic scientific mission of producing the first photo of a black hole.

Called Black Hole First Picture, the film, designed specifically for full-dome planetariums, encapsulates a historic milestone in science visualisation and discovery – witnessing a phenomenon widely believed to be invisible: a black hole.

“Scientific breakthroughs are a direct result of hard work and worldwide collaboration,” said Neil Carty, VP, head of Cosm Studios and Labs at Cosm.

“Through the lens of this film, we see the tremendous contributions and impact made by the global science community.”

Black Hole First Picture will officially premiere at Museon-Omniversum in The Hague, Netherlands, on February 1, 2023. It will also be shown at industry conferences and full-dome festivals throughout the year.


24 Jan 2023

Roman Magna Project to uncover stories of Hadrian’s Wall fort


 

The Heritage Fund has awarded £1.6m (US$1.9m, €1.8m) to a project in Britain so it can support research excavation and explore the impact of climate change on an important historic cultural site.

Over the last two decades, the land to the north of the Hadrian’s Wall Magna fort has been rapidly drying out. This has resulted in significant damage to the peat and organic soils that have formed a protective layer over the ancient Roman landscape. As further damage is created due to climate change, the precious, organic Roman layers are starting to become exposed and put at risk.

The funding will help the Vindolanda Charitable Trust to better understand and address the impacts that climate change has had on the Magna site to date. It will also allow the Trust to take the actions needed to protect the exceptional monument and the treasures that it holds.

“In a year when we have marked 1,900 years since the construction of Hadrian’s Wall began, we must also look to the future to protect this irreplaceable monument for the next 1,900 years and beyond,” said Dr Andrew Birley, Vindolanda Trust CEO and Director of Excavations.

“This project will help us understand the environmental pressures our site is under and enable us to plan appropriately for its future management.”

More here


24 Jan 2023

Dudley Zoo plans to open new visitor centre


 

Dudley Zoo is planning to build a new visitor centre.

The project will include a welcome and exhibition area, a fleet of new education spaces as well as future access to the Stores Cavern Mine tunnel.

A site next to the Castle Hill Conservation Area and the new Brierly Hill to Wednesbury metro extension has been earmarked for... More from the BBC


23 Jan 2023

MENALAC Awards head to Dubai for 2023 edition


 The MENALAC Awards are among the most prestigious in the Middle East and North Africa region for attractions and suppliers    Credit: David Rodrigo on Unsplash

Dubai will play host to this year’s MENALAC Awards, with the prestigious event bringing together top names in the industry to celebrate attractions across the Middle East and North Africa region.

Taking place on March 15 at the Skyview Hotel, the MENALAC Awards will shine a spotlight on the achievements of its participants, while also challenging them to constantly strive for excellence to implement best practices, innovate offerings and delight visitors.


Read more


23 Jan 2023

Pipeline progress continues ahead of 2023 opening



SeaWorld Orlando’s upcoming Pipeline coaster was one of the most anticipated showcases at November’s IAAPA Expo, with the ride car officially unveiled at the event.

Described as a “new genre of rollercoaster”, an innovation from manufacturer B&M creates a distinctly different ride action for this coaster with its flexible standing position. The coaster is designed to look and feel like the rider is using a surfboard, with the ride’s restraints rising and falling to mimic the sensation of surfing on a wave. The ride’s inversions have also been designed to mimic the movements made by surfers on a wave, with five airtime movements and a ‘wave curl’ inversion.

Reaching speeds of up to 60mph (97kmph) and a maximum height of 110ft (33.5m), the 2,950ft (899.2m) track features a ‘wave curl’ inversion and five airtime movements. The 110ft tall (33.5m) surf coaster will be capable of reaching speeds of up to 60mph (97kmph) when it opens in the spring.

Pipeline will be SeaWorld Orlando’s seventh coaster and is currently nearing completion.

See more of the biggest rollercoaster openings in 2023 here


23 Jan 2023

Disney theme park stock might not be as magical as it used to be


 

A new report from financial market specialist Seeking Alpha has suggested that a number of issues facing Disney mean that the company’s stock value could remain volatile for some time to come.

The operator’s theme parks have struggled to return to pre-pandemic levels in terms of attendance, something attributed to a reduction in international travel. This has been coupled with a 109.2% ticket increase against 2019 levels.

Die-hard Disney fans also haven’t been quiet about the fact they were not happy with operations under Bob Chapek’s leadership.

The report concludes that DIS stock could remain uncertain, with this partly attributed to Bob Iger’s restructuring of the company over the next few quarters.

More here


23 Jan 2023

Smithsonian Associates to host educational summer camp


 The Smithsonian will offer educational summer camps for kids aged five - 15 throughout the summer    Credit: The Smithsonian

The Smithsonian’s education arm, Smithsonian Associates (SA), will offer several one-of-a-kind learning experiences throughout the summer in the form of the Smithsonian summer camps.

The camps, taking place at the S. Dillon Ripley Center, in Washington, D.C. from June 20 until August 18, will offer immersive and engaging opportunities for children aged five to 15 to connect with the Smithsonian’s museums and research.

A diverse, creative and experienced team of instructors have designed age-appropriate content to bring the Smithsonian, its history and its collections to life.

Over 80 camps will be available this year, including a series of virtual camps taking place on Zoom from June 20 until July 28.

Learn more on The Smithsonian website.


23 Jan 2023

Ukrainian refugees on Glasgow cruise ship to be rehomed


 The MS Ambition has been home to more than 1,000 Ukrainian refugees since September 2022    Credit: Ambassador Cruise Line

Ukrainian refugees living on an Ambassador Cruise Line ship in Glasgow are to be rehomed as the Scottish government's contract with the vessel comes to an end.

The MS Ambition has been home to about 1,170 people, including 420 children since September last year.

The Scottish government said the ship was contracted from the cruise line on a short-term basis and this will end on 31 March.

The contract for a second ship, the MS Victoria I docked in Edinburgh, has been extended by five months.

The Scottish government said it was working closely with Glasgow City Council... More on BBC News


23 Jan 2023

Smithsonian to preserve experimental sound recordings made by Alexander Graham Bell


 The recordings made by Bell in his Volta Laboratory formed the basis for the music and broadcast industries

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will embark on a new round of sound recovery to restore some of the world’s earliest audio recordings made by telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell.

Dubbed ‘Hearing History: Recovering Sound from Alexander Graham Bell’s Experimental Records,’ the project will focus on the recordings made by Bell and his colleagues at both the Volta Laboratory in Washington, D.C. and Bell’s property in Nova Scotia, between 1881 and 1892.

The Volta Laboratory's innovations in sound recording and playback formed the foundation of the then-emerging music, broadcast and entertainment industries... More from The Smithsonian


23 Jan 2023

Plans submitted for new planetarium at Sherwood Observatory


 The planetarium, if approved, will transform a disused underground reservoir into a state-of-the-art education centre    Credit: Sherwood Observatory/Player Roberts Bell

A new multi-million-pound planetarium in Nottinghamshire, UK, is expected to attract thousands of visitors if plans are approved.

The attraction would be built at Sherwood Observatory in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire and would transform a disused underground reservoir into a state-of-the-art education centre.

The Mansfield and Sutton Astronomical Society (MSAS), which submitted the plans, said the centre would be the "jewel in the crown"... More on BBC News


23 Jan 2023

Darts championships headed for Europa-Park


 Some of the world’s best darts players are set to compete in the ‘Darts is a Roller Coaster’ tournament at Europa-Park in February

Several of the world’s best darts players are set to gather at Germany’s Europa-Park for the PDC Darts Gala attendees on February 4, 2023.

The tournament, dubbed ‘Darts is a Roller Coaster’, follows the PDC World Darts Championships, which took place in London, UK, between December 15, 2022, and January 3, 2023.

Competitors include five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld, ‘German Giant’ Gabriel Clemens, Joe ‘The Rockstar’ Cullen and the ‘Dutchman’ Dirk van Duijvebode, with Luke Humphries, Max Hopp and Wayne Mardle completing the line-up.

Tickets for the event are available here.


20 Jan 2023

Eye-tracking technology can identify different fish in an aquarium and tell the user what they’re looking at


 The AI Aquarium uses multiple cameras to track eye movements and the positions of the fish before displaying information about the different species in the visitor’s line of sight

A new technology that could prove a game changer for aquariums is utilising eye tracking technology to show a user in real time information about the creature they are looking at.

Called the AI Aquarium, the innovative system developed by the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) in Hsinchu, Taiwan, utilises dynamic object recognition and augmented reality (AR) to recognise and display information about different fish species in a visitor’s eye line.


Read more


20 Jan 2023

New York Knicks announces multi-year partnership with cruise operator MSC


 MSC Cruises has been named the official cruise line of the New York Knicks

NBA side the New York Knicks have named MSC Cruises as the basketball team’s official cruise line, with the two companies revealing a multi-year marketing partnership deal.

The agreement, which also sees MSC become the first official global rights partner of the Knicks, will see the two organisations work together on new activations in overseas markets, including Italy, Germany, England and Brazil.


Read more


20 Jan 2023

ArieForce One set to take flight at Fun Spot America in 2023



ArieForce One is a major investment for the Atlanta-based Fun Spot America with the new attraction promising to be one of the park’s most exhilarating additions for 2023.

Manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC), the US$13m (€12.2m, £10.75m) steel coaster hybrid was originally set to open last year, but delays pushed the opening to March 3, 2023.

The new coaster stands 154 ft (47m) tall and once open will send riders down a 3,400 ft (1,000m) track, featuring a 146ft (45m) drop and four inversions, reaching speeds of up to 64mph (103kmph).

The ride will also feature a themed queue line and is inspired by FunSpot founder John Arie Sr's childhood passion for aviation, with the ride experience featuring a number of airtime moments.

See more of the biggest rollercoaster openings in 2023 here


20 Jan 2023

New VR coaster set to open at Universal Studios Japan next month


 

Universal Studios Japan has revealed new information about an upcoming VR rollercoaster based on the upcoming film Nobita's Sky Utopia.

Called ‘Doraemon XR Ride: Nobita's Sky Utopia’, the VR coaster will take riders through the high-flying world of Paradapia. As they explore the setting of the film, they'll be guided by the cat robot Sonya. The tour, however, is interrupted by the bounty hunter Marimba.

The VR ride will open on February 23 but is only a temporary attraction. It will run until September 3 and takes the place of Space Fantasy – The Ride.





© Kazoo 5 Limited 2023
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Keeping you up to date with the latest breaking news and events from around the world, welcome to the Planet Attractions daily news feed
28 Jan 2023

Universal reports record earnings for 2022, driven by theme park attendance


 Universal attributes the record earnings to increased park attendance and customer spend    Credit: Canva

Comcast’s theme parks division continues to thrive, with the company reporting a 12% increase in revenue in the final quarter of 2022, and a nearly 50% increase from 2021 in its annual financial report.

The company revealed that Universal Parks & Resorts earned US$2.1bn (€1.93bn, £1.7bn) in Q4 2022, with an overall total earnings of US$7.5bn for the year.

Universal attributed the increases to high attendance levels and customer spending at its resorts in the US and Japan, with visitor numbers surpassing pre-pandemic levels. A trend that company leaders expect to continue in 2023.


Read more

27 Jan 2023

Children in hospital can now explore South Carolina Aquarium remotely using a robot


 

Patients at several children’s hospitals in the US will now be able to explore South Carolina Aquarium without leaving their rooms following the introduction of a robot that can be controlled remotely via a tablet.

Following a successful trial in December at the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital in Charleston, SC Aquarium will open the scheme up to two more hospitals in the state, including Prisma Health Children’s Hospital Midlands and Prisma Health Children’s Hospital Greenville, later in the year.


Read more

27 Jan 2023

Port Aventura's Uncharted coaster among 2023's most anticipated openings


Spanish theme park resort PortAventura's team-up with Sony Pictures for the development of a world-first dark ride rollercoaster dedicated to the Uncharted franchise is among the most anticipated new attractions of 2023.

One of the world’s most successful gaming franchises, the new dark ride attraction will be based on the movie version of Uncharted starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg, with the ride expected to open in the middle of the year.

The coaster, which is being developed at a cost of €25m (US$25.8m, £21.6m), will be 700m (2,300ft) in length, reaching heights of up to 12m (39ft) and will be entirely located inside a 4,800sq m (51,700sq ft), 16m (52ft) high immersive space.

Located in the Far West area of the park, the location is fitting for the story, which will see riders go on a hunt for one of the greatest treasures ever discovered.

The ride has significant pedigree behind it, with both Intamin and Sally Dark Rides both working on the new attraction.

See more of the biggest rollercoaster openings in 2023 here

27 Jan 2023

Disney bringing major immersive experience to London, Berlin and Paris in 2023


 

Disney is creating a multi-sensory adults pop-up experience that will tour London, Berlin and Paris through 2023.

Made up of four unique installations across 1,000sq m (10,800sq ft), ‘Wonder of Friendship, The Experience’ marks 100 years of Disney by celebrating iconic characters, stories and friendships made over the last century.

The first experience, based on Alice in Wonderland has been dubbed ‘Garden of Mystery’. Inside this installation, guests will journey past towering flowers and ‘Bread-and-Butterflies’ in a dense and vibrant haze-filled maze.


Read more

26 Jan 2023

‘The Office’ visitor interactive experience coming to Toronto in March


 The Office Experience takes fans inside the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin    Credit: OGX/Universal Live Entertainment

A popular interactive touring experience based on NBC’s hit workplace comedy The Office is coming to Toronto, Canada, later this year.

Following successful runs in Washington DC and Chicago, The Office Experience will open at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Center on March 3.

Taking fans inside the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin, the attraction offers 17 immersive areas with recreated sets from the show, including Schrute Farms and Scranton Business Park. Visitors can also see original props and costumes from the show.


Read more

26 Jan 2023

New MSC campaign highlights sustainability


MSC Cruises has launched a new global campaign showcasing its commitment to sustainability and delivering zero-emission cruising.

The Discover the Future of Cruising campaign will be aired in more than 30 countries and will include a multi-channel output on TV, print media, digital and social media.

The advert was filmed on board MSC’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered ship, MSC World Europa, which came into service at the end of 2022.

“We have already virtually eliminated emissions like sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide from our operations and now we are focused on reducing carbon emissions with LNG,” said Linden Coppell, vice president of sustainability at MSC.

“This is the first step in our journey that involves transitioning to LNG in the short-term, low carbon in the medium-term, and net-zero carbon fuels, including synthetic and bio LNG and synthetic and bio methanol, in the longer-term.”

26 Jan 2023

Excitement building for Parc Asterix’s upcoming Toutatis coaster


 

An Intamin-manufactured rollercoaster, the steel LSM launch coaster Toutatis is set to become a signature attraction for France’s Parc Asterix when it opens to the public later this year.

Set for launch on April 8, the new attraction is themed around the Celtic god Toutatis - a deity who was worshipped in ancient Gaul and Britain and is regularly referenced in the Asterix series as a way of expressing strong emotion.

Covering 3,526.9ft (1,075m), the ride features 23 airtime points - a world record for a steel coaster - and reaches speeds of up to 66.5mph (110kmph). Its peak stands at 167.3ft (51m) with a vertical drop of 101 degrees.

The ride’s triple half-pipe launch will send visitors forwards, backward, and forwards again, with the train eventually reaching enough speed to make it over the ride’s peak. Intamin says that the ride will hold a European record for the most launches on a rollercoaster.

Originally scheduled for 2021, the build was delayed for a number of reasons, including the pandemic and the layout impeding a number of protected trees in the adjacent National Forest.

Toutatis will be part of a larger new themed area of the park dubbed Toutatis Festival. The new space will also offer a Zamperla-manufactured spinning tower, a playground, a restaurant and a shop.



See more of the biggest rollercoaster openings in 2023 here

26 Jan 2023

Baby Trump set to fly again as Museum of London reinflates blimp


 

While Donald Trump’s hopes for re-election as US president may be faltering, the nappy-wearing depiction of him made famous during a UK protest in 2018 has had new life breathed into it, as the Museum of London has reinflated it.

The baby blimp inflatable, which flew above a march in Parliament Square in London in July 2018, was given a test inflation this week.

It was first flown during Trump’s working visit to London where about 75,000 people took to the streets to... More from The Guardian

25 Jan 2023

PIF’s Seven announces SAR1bn entertainment destination for Saudi city of Tabuk


 

Development company Saudi Entertainment Ventures (Seven) has announced a more than SAR1bn (US$266.4m, €244.7m, £215.7m) project to build a state-of-the-art entertainment destination in the city of Tabuk.

Designed by architects Gensler, the 72,500sq m (780,000sq ft) development has been imagined as a village between gardens and recreational spaces.

Entering under a glass canopy inspired by local arts and traditions, visitors will find a number of attractions, including a family entertainment centre (FEC), a second junior FEC and a Discovery-branded indoor edutainment centre. Mattel’s Hot Wheels IP will also feature, with an e-karting experience, while a 12-hole indoor golf course will use new technology to tailor individual experiences. A bowling alley and a cinema are also included, as are retail, food and beverage outlets.


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25 Jan 2023

Liseberg offering flights to moon and back with new Luna coaster


Sweden’s Liseberg is planning to celebrate its 100th year in style with the launch of several new attractions, the most exciting of which is Luna, a family coaster, described as the “jewel in the crown”, that serves as a focal point for a brand new area of the park.

Set to open on April 22, the Vekoma-manufactured Luna is a custom Boomerang model set to reach heights of 109.9ft (33.5m) and speeds of up to 42.3mph (68kmph), with the ride being constructed atop Liseberg Hill - the park’s highest point.

Offering “flights to the moon”, the ride car, which resembles a rocket ship, will carry guests forwards then backwards over the 738ft (225m) track, with Luna being the tallest and fastest of its kind anywhere in the world.

Luna will open alongside two already launched family attractions - the Technical Park-manufactured Turbo motorcycle ride and the Zamperla-manufactured Tempmus spinning tower ride.

See more of the biggest rollercoaster openings in 2023 here

25 Jan 2023

First black history statues return to Brixton


 

Three statues thought to be the first sculptures depicting black British people on display in England are set to return to Brixton station later.

The life-size bronze figures, called Platforms Piece, were first installed on the platform in 1986 before being removed in 2016 for refurbishment.

Created by Kevin Atherton, it depicts three Brixton residents of the time and is Grade II listed.

The original statues will be joined by a new one named... More from the BBC

25 Jan 2023

WATCH: Anthony Palermo on how Connect&Go is transforming attractions operations


 

One of the global leaders in guest and attractions management technology, Connect&Go is a company that has worked with iconic brands and events all over the world.

Working with The Super Bowl, the Vancouver Olympics, Comic Con and SXSW among a host of major names, the company offers a cloud-based platform that aims to improve the end-to-end customer journey while providing an easy-to-use solution for operators.

Currently deployed in dozens of attractions around the world, the platform transacts revenues of several hundred million dollars, serving waterparks, family entertainment centers, animal attractions, festivals, and numerous live events.


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25 Jan 2023

accesso announces 18 new strategic partnerships in the UK and US


 accesso’s new partners include London’s Battersea Power Station (pictured) and the San Francisco Zoo    Credit: Battersea Power Station

accesso has signed a series of new strategic agreements with 18 attractions, culture, hospitality and ski partners across the UK and the US.

Its new partners, which include the Battersea Power Station in London, UK and the San Francisco Zoo in California, US, will redefine the guest experience at their venues using accesso’s suite of guest management products - including the accesso Passport eCommerce ticketing suite, the accesso Siriusware POS ticketing solution and accesso ShoWare live event ticketing platform.

Commenting on the new partnerships, accesso CEO Steve Brown said: “2022 was incredible for our team at accesso, and we’re pleased to have closed out the year welcoming such a unique set of new partners to our worldwide client network,” said accesso CEO Steve Brown.

“We look forward to deepening our global footprint even further in 2023, helping operators unlock new opportunities to drive revenue and deliver a better guest experience in the process.”

25 Jan 2023

Disney’s Lunar New Year Celebrations return to Anaheim


 Ortensia the Cat and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit will appear in festive garb to mark the Year of the Cat in the Vietnamese zodiac and the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac    Credit: Disneyland Resort

Disney’s Lunar New Year Celebrations have made a triumphant return to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, US.

Running until February 15, the multi-cultural celebration has been described as a ‘joyous tribute to Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean cultures’, and features East Asian-inspired cuisine, décor, live entertainment and themed merchandise.

Highlights from this year’s celebrations include Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession, which will run along an extended route, as well as the Hurry Home – Lunar New Year Celebration nighttime water spectacle. The line-up also includes two new Lunar New Year-themed marketplaces and new menu items.

As 2023 marks the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac and the Year of the Cat in the Vietnamese zodiac, this year’s celebrations will also see Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Ortensia the Cat, in festive garb, join in the fun, taking centre stage alongside Mickey and Minnie.

24 Jan 2023

Grand Egyptian Museum at 100% completion as ticket prices announced


 

One of the world’s most anticipated museums will finally open this year after a more than 20-year development process with work now complete on Cairo’s Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).

GEM has experienced frequent delays since its first foundation stone was laid in February 2002. It seems, however, that its opening is imminent with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has confirmed that the museum itself is now 100% done, with only work on the areas surrounding it to be completed.

Designed by Dublin-based architecture firm Heneghan Peng Architects, the £718m (US$877m, €810m) museum will be housed inside a 480,000sq m (5.2 million sq ft) complex offering spectacular views of the ancient pyramids.

It will be the world’s largest museum dedicated to a single civilisation and will be home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts, with more than 100,000 objects, including the fourth shrine of King Tutankhamun.

GEM’s director, Tarek Tawfik has said the development will be “the museum of the 21st century,” with all means of modern technology taken into consideration in order to create an “unforgettable experience for the visitor” and to best protect the artefacts.

Once open GEM is expected to attract five million people a year. Ticket prices have been confirmed at LE60 (US$2, €1.85, £1.60) to Egyptian citizens, while foreign tourists will pay a premium of LE200 (US$6.70, €6.16, £5.45) to enter the museum. For Egyptian and foreign students, there is a 50% discount on tickets.

See more of the most anticipated museum openings in 2023 here

24 Jan 2023

Cosm Studios releases new full-dome movie exploring first photo of a black hole


 

Cosm Studios has released a new full-dome planetarium film following two young astronomers in their journey to achieve the historic scientific mission of producing the first photo of a black hole.

Called Black Hole First Picture, the film, designed specifically for full-dome planetariums, encapsulates a historic milestone in science visualisation and discovery – witnessing a phenomenon widely believed to be invisible: a black hole.

“Scientific breakthroughs are a direct result of hard work and worldwide collaboration,” said Neil Carty, VP, head of Cosm Studios and Labs at Cosm.

“Through the lens of this film, we see the tremendous contributions and impact made by the global science community.”

Black Hole First Picture will officially premiere at Museon-Omniversum in The Hague, Netherlands, on February 1, 2023. It will also be shown at industry conferences and full-dome festivals throughout the year.

24 Jan 2023

Roman Magna Project to uncover stories of Hadrian’s Wall fort


 

The Heritage Fund has awarded £1.6m (US$1.9m, €1.8m) to a project in Britain so it can support research excavation and explore the impact of climate change on an important historic cultural site.

Over the last two decades, the land to the north of the Hadrian’s Wall Magna fort has been rapidly drying out. This has resulted in significant damage to the peat and organic soils that have formed a protective layer over the ancient Roman landscape. As further damage is created due to climate change, the precious, organic Roman layers are starting to become exposed and put at risk.

The funding will help the Vindolanda Charitable Trust to better understand and address the impacts that climate change has had on the Magna site to date. It will also allow the Trust to take the actions needed to protect the exceptional monument and the treasures that it holds.

“In a year when we have marked 1,900 years since the construction of Hadrian’s Wall began, we must also look to the future to protect this irreplaceable monument for the next 1,900 years and beyond,” said Dr Andrew Birley, Vindolanda Trust CEO and Director of Excavations.

“This project will help us understand the environmental pressures our site is under and enable us to plan appropriately for its future management.”

More here

24 Jan 2023

Dudley Zoo plans to open new visitor centre


 

Dudley Zoo is planning to build a new visitor centre.

The project will include a welcome and exhibition area, a fleet of new education spaces as well as future access to the Stores Cavern Mine tunnel.

A site next to the Castle Hill Conservation Area and the new Brierly Hill to Wednesbury metro extension has been earmarked for... More from the BBC

23 Jan 2023

MENALAC Awards head to Dubai for 2023 edition


 The MENALAC Awards are among the most prestigious in the Middle East and North Africa region for attractions and suppliers    Credit: David Rodrigo on Unsplash

Dubai will play host to this year’s MENALAC Awards, with the prestigious event bringing together top names in the industry to celebrate attractions across the Middle East and North Africa region.

Taking place on March 15 at the Skyview Hotel, the MENALAC Awards will shine a spotlight on the achievements of its participants, while also challenging them to constantly strive for excellence to implement best practices, innovate offerings and delight visitors.


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23 Jan 2023

Pipeline progress continues ahead of 2023 opening


SeaWorld Orlando’s upcoming Pipeline coaster was one of the most anticipated showcases at November’s IAAPA Expo, with the ride car officially unveiled at the event.

Described as a “new genre of rollercoaster”, an innovation from manufacturer B&M creates a distinctly different ride action for this coaster with its flexible standing position. The coaster is designed to look and feel like the rider is using a surfboard, with the ride’s restraints rising and falling to mimic the sensation of surfing on a wave. The ride’s inversions have also been designed to mimic the movements made by surfers on a wave, with five airtime movements and a ‘wave curl’ inversion.

Reaching speeds of up to 60mph (97kmph) and a maximum height of 110ft (33.5m), the 2,950ft (899.2m) track features a ‘wave curl’ inversion and five airtime movements. The 110ft tall (33.5m) surf coaster will be capable of reaching speeds of up to 60mph (97kmph) when it opens in the spring.

Pipeline will be SeaWorld Orlando’s seventh coaster and is currently nearing completion.

See more of the biggest rollercoaster openings in 2023 here

23 Jan 2023

Disney theme park stock might not be as magical as it used to be


 

A new report from financial market specialist Seeking Alpha has suggested that a number of issues facing Disney mean that the company’s stock value could remain volatile for some time to come.

The operator’s theme parks have struggled to return to pre-pandemic levels in terms of attendance, something attributed to a reduction in international travel. This has been coupled with a 109.2% ticket increase against 2019 levels.

Die-hard Disney fans also haven’t been quiet about the fact they were not happy with operations under Bob Chapek’s leadership.

The report concludes that DIS stock could remain uncertain, with this partly attributed to Bob Iger’s restructuring of the company over the next few quarters.

More here

23 Jan 2023

Smithsonian Associates to host educational summer camp


 The Smithsonian will offer educational summer camps for kids aged five - 15 throughout the summer    Credit: The Smithsonian

The Smithsonian’s education arm, Smithsonian Associates (SA), will offer several one-of-a-kind learning experiences throughout the summer in the form of the Smithsonian summer camps.

The camps, taking place at the S. Dillon Ripley Center, in Washington, D.C. from June 20 until August 18, will offer immersive and engaging opportunities for children aged five to 15 to connect with the Smithsonian’s museums and research.

A diverse, creative and experienced team of instructors have designed age-appropriate content to bring the Smithsonian, its history and its collections to life.

Over 80 camps will be available this year, including a series of virtual camps taking place on Zoom from June 20 until July 28.

Learn more on The Smithsonian website.

23 Jan 2023

Ukrainian refugees on Glasgow cruise ship to be rehomed


 The MS Ambition has been home to more than 1,000 Ukrainian refugees since September 2022    Credit: Ambassador Cruise Line

Ukrainian refugees living on an Ambassador Cruise Line ship in Glasgow are to be rehomed as the Scottish government's contract with the vessel comes to an end.

The MS Ambition has been home to about 1,170 people, including 420 children since September last year.

The Scottish government said the ship was contracted from the cruise line on a short-term basis and this will end on 31 March.

The contract for a second ship, the MS Victoria I docked in Edinburgh, has been extended by five months.

The Scottish government said it was working closely with Glasgow City Council... More on BBC News

23 Jan 2023

Smithsonian to preserve experimental sound recordings made by Alexander Graham Bell


 The recordings made by Bell in his Volta Laboratory formed the basis for the music and broadcast industries

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will embark on a new round of sound recovery to restore some of the world’s earliest audio recordings made by telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell.

Dubbed ‘Hearing History: Recovering Sound from Alexander Graham Bell’s Experimental Records,’ the project will focus on the recordings made by Bell and his colleagues at both the Volta Laboratory in Washington, D.C. and Bell’s property in Nova Scotia, between 1881 and 1892.

The Volta Laboratory's innovations in sound recording and playback formed the foundation of the then-emerging music, broadcast and entertainment industries... More from The Smithsonian

23 Jan 2023

Plans submitted for new planetarium at Sherwood Observatory


 The planetarium, if approved, will transform a disused underground reservoir into a state-of-the-art education centre    Credit: Sherwood Observatory/Player Roberts Bell

A new multi-million-pound planetarium in Nottinghamshire, UK, is expected to attract thousands of visitors if plans are approved.

The attraction would be built at Sherwood Observatory in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire and would transform a disused underground reservoir into a state-of-the-art education centre.

The Mansfield and Sutton Astronomical Society (MSAS), which submitted the plans, said the centre would be the "jewel in the crown"... More on BBC News

23 Jan 2023

Darts championships headed for Europa-Park


 Some of the world’s best darts players are set to compete in the ‘Darts is a Roller Coaster’ tournament at Europa-Park in February

Several of the world’s best darts players are set to gather at Germany’s Europa-Park for the PDC Darts Gala attendees on February 4, 2023.

The tournament, dubbed ‘Darts is a Roller Coaster’, follows the PDC World Darts Championships, which took place in London, UK, between December 15, 2022, and January 3, 2023.

Competitors include five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld, ‘German Giant’ Gabriel Clemens, Joe ‘The Rockstar’ Cullen and the ‘Dutchman’ Dirk van Duijvebode, with Luke Humphries, Max Hopp and Wayne Mardle completing the line-up.

Tickets for the event are available here.

20 Jan 2023

Eye-tracking technology can identify different fish in an aquarium and tell the user what they’re looking at


 The AI Aquarium uses multiple cameras to track eye movements and the positions of the fish before displaying information about the different species in the visitor’s line of sight

A new technology that could prove a game changer for aquariums is utilising eye tracking technology to show a user in real time information about the creature they are looking at.

Called the AI Aquarium, the innovative system developed by the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) in Hsinchu, Taiwan, utilises dynamic object recognition and augmented reality (AR) to recognise and display information about different fish species in a visitor’s eye line.


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20 Jan 2023

New York Knicks announces multi-year partnership with cruise operator MSC


 MSC Cruises has been named the official cruise line of the New York Knicks

NBA side the New York Knicks have named MSC Cruises as the basketball team’s official cruise line, with the two companies revealing a multi-year marketing partnership deal.

The agreement, which also sees MSC become the first official global rights partner of the Knicks, will see the two organisations work together on new activations in overseas markets, including Italy, Germany, England and Brazil.


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20 Jan 2023

ArieForce One set to take flight at Fun Spot America in 2023


ArieForce One is a major investment for the Atlanta-based Fun Spot America with the new attraction promising to be one of the park’s most exhilarating additions for 2023.

Manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC), the US$13m (€12.2m, £10.75m) steel coaster hybrid was originally set to open last year, but delays pushed the opening to March 3, 2023.

The new coaster stands 154 ft (47m) tall and once open will send riders down a 3,400 ft (1,000m) track, featuring a 146ft (45m) drop and four inversions, reaching speeds of up to 64mph (103kmph).

The ride will also feature a themed queue line and is inspired by FunSpot founder John Arie Sr's childhood passion for aviation, with the ride experience featuring a number of airtime moments.

See more of the biggest rollercoaster openings in 2023 here

20 Jan 2023

New VR coaster set to open at Universal Studios Japan next month


 

Universal Studios Japan has revealed new information about an upcoming VR rollercoaster based on the upcoming film Nobita's Sky Utopia.

Called ‘Doraemon XR Ride: Nobita's Sky Utopia’, the VR coaster will take riders through the high-flying world of Paradapia. As they explore the setting of the film, they'll be guided by the cat robot Sonya. The tour, however, is interrupted by the bounty hunter Marimba.

The VR ride will open on February 23 but is only a temporary attraction. It will run until September 3 and takes the place of Space Fantasy – The Ride.




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