Lionsgate Entertainment World: A Year of Many “Firsts”

One year ago, on July 31st, 2019, Lionsgate Entertainment World in Zhuhai, China opened its doors to the world. Created in partnership between Thinkwell with film studio Lionsgate, developer Lai Sun of Hong Kong, and park operator Village Roadshow, this one-of-a-kind indoor theme park features twenty unique guest activities including rides, shows, attractions, and interactive experiences inspired by popular Lionsgate blockbuster film franchises The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga, The Divergent Series, Now You See Me, Escape Plan, and Gods of Egypt. Thinkwell worked closely with computer animation house Framestore, VR attraction groups CAVU Designwerks and Dreamcraft Attractions, and many other global partners to bring the park to life.

To celebrate the first anniversary of that achievement, as well as the park’s recent June 2020 reopening under revised health and safety guidelines, we’ll take a look back at the extraordinary number of worldwide “firsts” Lionsgate Entertainment World represented.

Lionsgate Entertainment WorldForemost among these “firsts” was that Lionsgate Entertainment World became the world’s first vertical theme park, at nearly 250,000 square feet (24,000 square meters) stacked over four levels.

What exactly does a vertical theme park mean? The concept isn’t entirely without precedent—other theme parks have included multi-level indoor zones, and several urban entertainment centers have included a mix of interactive experiences within a vertical design. But Lionsgate Entertainment World was the first to take the kinds of immersive environments and signature attractions you’d find at a major theme park, including roller coasters and dark rides, and design the entire experience within a 100% vertical framework.

This verticality required a radically different approach to many of the fundamentals of theme park design, particularly to the organization of the park and its theme zones. Many theme parks use a “hub and spoke” master plan to orient guests within the park, in which the various themed environments are organized radially around a central icon, allowing guests to intuitively orient themselves within the park. 

The solution was to re-imagine the hub as an immense central atrium connecting all of the levels, by which guests could visually orient and physically move throughout the vertical space. The icon that attracts guests to this central space had to likewise fit the unique vertical philosophy of the park. Dubbed the “media chandelier,” this icon boasts a three-story, eight-ton, cylindrically shaped media installation using eight curved LED screens that are in constant motion. The glass and metal surfaces surrounding the atrium reflect the dynamic media, creating a 360-degree experience that’s not only an engineering marvel but also a mesmerizing sight to behold.

Lionsgate Entertainment World also provided an excellent opportunity to experiment with new technologies and storytelling techniques that could take advantage of the stacked vertical space. Engineering a vertical theme park meant that traditional large iron rides weren’t feasible, so Thinkwell had to devise more innovative media- and story-driven experiences to thrill its audience… which created many more “firsts” along the way!

Attractions based on virtual reality and gamified interactives, often associated with lower capacity upcharge experiences at theme parks, here are not only included in the base ticket price but serve as flagship experiences to represent Lionsgate’s most important franchises. These include The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride, the world’s first high capacity interactive virtual reality experience to open as a major theme park attraction and the world’s first purpose-built VR roller coaster, Gods of Egypt: Battle for Eternity, that uses its vertical space limitations to its advantage.

Additional innovations in the park were realized when creating a 4D simulator ride based on The Hunger Games franchise. Mockingjay Flight Rebel Escape provided new 3D layering illusions and in-cabin effects. For the media-enhanced dark ride The Twilight Saga: Bella’s Journey, Thinkwell’s design and production team combined squinching media, animatronics, mapped projections, and physical scenery to create an incredible retelling of Bella’s story from the blockbuster film.

Yet other attractions were the first to use technology or interactive concepts as part of a signature theme park experience, from high-tech escape rooms (Escape Plan: Prison Break), a team-based VR walkthrough experience (Divergent: Dauntless Fear Simulator), and countless smaller gamified digital interactive experiences hidden throughout the themed environments.

The park’s dining and retail offerings are just as experiential, whether it’s getting a makeover at Capitol Couture & Cosmetics from The Hunger Games, or solving a mystery with media and magic while grabbing a drink in the Oculus Lounge, based on the Now You See Me franchise. Collectively, the experiences at Lionsgate Entertainment World represent perhaps the biggest achievement: to integrate a deep level of participatory, technology-enhanced interaction within the entire theme park design, representing the first-of-its-kind in an entirely new genre of immersive themed entertainment.

That’s a lot of firsts for a single theme park to achieve in its first year of operation, yet as we celebrate one year of Lionsgate Entertainment World, and reflect on all the ups and downs the world has seen during that time, we know that it isn’t so much the primacy of “being first” that’s important, but the inspiration it gives to those who might follow.

Lionsgate Entertainment World to open in 2019

Asia’s first movie themed indoor interactive experience center to reinvigorate the Greater Bay Area, based on Lionsgate’s blockbuster movie franchises The Hunger Games, The Divergent Series and Now You See Me.

HENGQIN, CHINA (December 13, 2018) – Today Lionsgate Entertainment World held its first preview event in Zhuhai and offered a sneak peek into its key offerings, immersive entertainment experiences and innovative designs. Breathing new life into the Greater Bay Area, Lionsgate Entertainment World is a highlight attraction in Novotown Hengqin and Asia’s first movie-themed indoor experience center. The indoor center is based on exciting film properties from global content leader Lionsgate and will open in first half of 2019.

“The development of Novotown and Lionsgate Entertainment World is a testament to the great potential of the Hengqin New Area, as well as its role as an economic driver throughout the Greater Bay Area,” said the spokesperson of Administrative Committee of Hengqin New Area Zhuhai. “Along with the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge earlier this year, both Novotown and Lionsgate Entertainment World are poised to play a key role in creating more diversified entertainment offerings for visitors and boosting tourism in the region.”

Spanning 22,000 sqm of premium indoor space, Lionsgate Entertainment World is one of the key attractions in Novotown, an integrated tourism and entertainment destination in Hengqin. Lionsgate is an entertainment studio whose blockbuster films, popular television series, and digital products reach next generation audiences around the world. The studio has won multiple Academy® and Emmy® Awards and has a long track record in delivering world-class products. In addition to being Asia’s first movie-themed indoor experience, this marks Lionsgate’s first interactive indoor experience to open in the world and will feature blockbuster franchises like The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga, The Divergent Series, and Now You See Me as well as films like Escape Plan and Gods of Egypt as the story backgrounds of the attractions.
Bringing the captivating stories to life is an eye-catching list of elite partners that helped create Lionsgate Entertainment World, including the design and production agency Thinkwell Group (“Thinkwell”) and the operator Village Roadshow Theme Parks (“Village Roadshow”). A global experience design and production agency, Thinkwell is known for delivering experiential design in major theme parks and resorts around the world. Partnering with Thinkwell is Village Roadshow, a world leading theme park operator with footprint across Australia and America. Other notable global partners behind Lionsgate Entertainment World are the Australian construction services company Cockram, international show contractor Scenario, Oscar®-winning visual media producer Framestore and many other world-acclaimed companies.

“Lionsgate Entertainment World aims to become a multifaceted destination by engaging guests through story-telling, as well as encouraging participation and social activities with opportunities for plenty of personalization,” said Selena Magill, General Manager of Lionsgate Entertainment World, at the event. “By working closely with our international partners, as well as creating immersive entertainment attractions featuring blockbuster movie properties, we expect guests in the Greater Bay Area to enjoy sensational experiences with their friends and families at Novotown.”

Leveraging on the latest state-of-the-art technology, Lionsgate Entertainment World offers an entertainment experience like no other, one that is designed to transport guests into the world of film where they are free to create their very own theatrical stories. Visiting guests will be able to look forward to several world-class attractions, including Hunger Games – Mockingjay Flight, The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride and The Divergent Series – Fear Simulator, and Gods of Egypt – Battle for Eternity. The application of technology has been carefully incorporated into the designs to ensure a perfect guest experience, while also allowing room for constant update on the contents.

While the attractions invite guests on a mesmerizing journey in the movie world, Lionsgate Entertainment World has a lot more offerings that will create a total immersive experience. There are themed dining outlets such as the opulent Hunger Games-inspired Capitol Club; the homey Peeta’s Bakery; and the modern and stylish Lionsgate Cafe. The entertainment center will also boast a wide selection of retail options, including Capitol Couture, Dauntless Ink and Gods of Egypt market-place.
With over 30 groundbreaking attractions to look forward to, Lionsgate Entertainment World leverages on the latest cutting-edge technology to deliver a one-of-a-kind immersive experience. The development is poised to set a new standard for entertainment centers in the region when it officially commences operation in 2019.

“As Thinkwell has been developing theme parks, family entertainment centers and museum exhibits around the world for many years now, we know there is nothing in the market like this and I am confident it will not only grab the attention of people on Mainland China, but internationally as well,” adds Kelly Ryner, President, Thinkwell Asia.

Selena Magill, General Manager of Lionsgate Entertainment World ; Zengqing Luo, Deputy Director of the Administrative Committee of Hengqin New Area ; John Tse, Chief Executive Officer of Novotown; Larry Leung, Managing Director of Novotown; Jerry Sabatini, VP Creative, Franchise Management of Lionsgate; Alistair Bennallack, CEO of Village Roadshow and Kelly Ryner, President of Thinkwell Asia, attended Lionsgate Entertainment World first preview event in Zhuhai.

John Tse, Chief Executive Officer of Novotown; Kelly Ryner, President of Thinkwell Asia; Larry Leung, Managing Director of Novotown.

Gods of Egypt – Battle for Eternity: The world’s first purpose-built VR roller coaster, which sees guests soar like a god on this high-speed, VR roller coaster adventure through ancient Egypt. As an epic battle wages between good and evil, it’s time to prove your valor, strength and devotion. It’s time to fight alongside the Gods of Egypt!

Hunger Games – Mockingjay Flight: Suit up and take flight alongside the rebellion on this action-packed adventure throughout the world of The Hunger Games. Danger lurks around every corner, but hope is in sight on this exhilarating 3D motion simulator attraction. May the odds be ever in your favor!

The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride: Race with Jacob and the Black Pack wolves on a daring VR dirt-bike adventure through the moonlit woods. But beware, beyond these hallowed hills, a different kind of creature roams, and this one is out for blood.

Capitol Club: Visit the Capitol’s most exclusive dining establishment, frequented by the Capitol elite. The Capitol Club offers the freshest and finest culinary masterpieces that Panem has to offer, with breathtaking views overlooking the Capitol.

Peeta’s Bakery: Indulge in a selection of handcrafted treats and delectable bites inspired by 74th Hunger Games victor Peeta Mellark. For those in need of a little pep in their step, enjoy a fresh cup of coffee, tea or other home-grown refreshments while on the go.

Capitol Couture: This luxurious upscale clothing store features many of the Capitol’s most celebrated fashion designers. At the Capitol Couture Collection, you can try on a variety of extravagant formal wear inspired by some of Panem’s most fashionable citizens from the world of The Hunger Games to model and take home.

About Lionsgate Entertainment World
Lionsgate Entertainment World, Asia’s first movie themed indoor interactive experience center, is one of the key attractions in Novotown – an integrated tourism and entertainment project in Hengqin invested by Hong Kong Lai Sun Group. Spanning across 22,000 sqm of premium indoor space, Lionsgate Entertainment World is set to bring to life some of Lionsgate’s most successful film franchises, including The Hunger Games; The Twilight Saga; The Divergent Series; Now You See Me; Escape Plan; and Gods of Egypt, with over 30 interactive and immersive attractions and rich entertainment offerings.

Released on behalf of Lionsgate Entertainment World by GHC Asia
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