If you want to ride a Matterhorn-like roller coaster themed around the “Ice Age” movies you’ll have to fly to Malaysia.
Twentieth Century Fox has broken ground on its first theme park there, appropriately named Twentieth Century Fox World. When it opens in 2016, the park will feature more than 25 rides based on the studio’s franchises, including “Rio,” “Alien vs. Predator,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Night at the Museum,” along with themed restaurant and merchandise outlets.
The Malaysian resort is expected to be the first of several 20th Century Fox Worlds the studio will build through its consumer products arm as the company expands into the theme park biz primarily through licensing deals with other resort operators.
While many of its franchises will be featured, Fox won’t be able to offer attractions based on “The Simpsons” or Marvel’s X-Men since those are licensed to Universal’s parks. One based on “Avatar” is also being built at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.
SEE ALSO: Disney Reveals Look of ‘Avatar’ Theme Park at Walt Disney World
“The Simpsons” ride at Universal Studios Orlando this summer received an update with new eateries added to a themed Springfield area, through which Fox receives a percentage of the sales of items like Duff Beer from Moe’s Tavern.
Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products brokered the deal with Resorts World Genting, a pact that was first announced in July.
However, the first details of the park’s name – to serve as the brand of more planned theme parks from Fox around the world – and experiences that will appear inside the new resort, were revealed Tuesday morning from Malaysia in a ground breaking ceremony attended by the country’s prime minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak.
“The opening of the first Twentieth Century Fox Theme Park at Resorts World Genting takes our rich history of storytelling to a whole new level and will provide an exceptional entertainment experience,” Godsick said. “People from around the world will gather here in Malaysia to become part of the story and to experience the magic and adventure of their favorite Fox properties.”
The first Twentieth Century Fox World will essentially replace an existing 25-acre park – Genting Highlands – that’s already operated by Resorts World Genting. That park will be leveled with the company investing more than $300 million to theme the new attractions around Fox’s films. Company initially planned to invest around $125 million.
Fox operated a smaller amusement park before, converting its production studio in Sydney into the Fox Studios Backlot Theme Park, which operated for a short time before shuttering in 2001.
But the Malaysian park “will be brand new from the ground up,” said Jeffrey Godsick president of Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products. The theme park operation is overseen by Greg Lombardo, VP, of global location-based entertainment at Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products.
While Disney and Universal Studios essentially dominate the U.S. theme park biz, Fox chose to look overseas for opportunities to expand the exposure for its brands. It paired up with Resorts World Genting when the company was looking for more themed experiences to attract tourists to its nearly 30-year-old resort.
“There’s saturation in the U.S. market,” Godsick said, with the company finding “tremendous opportunity” in China, Korea and other markets in Asia – territories who are becoming increasingly important for Hollywood’s film releases.
“We have valuable brands that audiences love and only get to experience in certain forms, generally through films or television series,” Godsick said. Theme parks enable the studio to expand its franchises and enable guests “to experience our brands in a much deeper way,” he added.
In Malaysia, Resorts World Genting also operates six hotels with over 9,000 rooms, 200 dining and retail outlets and casinos, which along with the theme park, attracts nearly 20 million visitors a year, with international guests coming from China and across Southeast Asia.
That number helped persuade Fox to set up shop in Malaysia.
“We know there’s an audience that is really large,” Godsick said. “To find a venue that has that much traffic and a partner willing to work closely with you is rare.”
In addition to overhauling its Malaysian resort, Resorts World Genting also operates vacation destinations in Kijal and Langkawi, as well as resorts in the Bahamas, and casinos in New York City and across the United Kingdom. Its casino in Malaysia is the only one in the country.
But Genting may be best known for building and operating the Universal Studios theme park in Singapore, giving it considerable experience in designing attractions based around Hollywood properties.