Columbia Pictures and local developer Amazon Falls have confirmed that their Aquaverse theme park will open in Pattaya, Thailand on Oct 12, 2022. The development is the Sony Group’s first theme and water park and was delayed for roughly a year by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With Thai authorities having already dismantled most of their pandemic-era measures and poised to soon drop COVID from its list of notifiable diseases (expected to happen on Oct. 1) multiple large entertainment projects are now rushing to open. Carnival Magic opened in Phuket earlier this week, while another, Bangkok World, is expected to open adjacent to the Siam Amazing Park on the outskirts of the Thai capital on Nov. 25, 2022.
The Aquaverse park contains a mix of water features, land attractions, themed zones and restaurants and live shows. Themed areas based on Sony group movies include “Hotel Transylvania,” “Jumanji,” “Surf’s Up” and “Ghostbusters.”
The first phase of development covers 56,000 m2 (5.6 hectares or 13.8 acres) at Bangsaray, near Pattaya. Liakat Dhanji, chief executive and chairman of Amazon Falls, told Thai media that Pattaya was chosen due its proximity to U-Tapao Airport, high-speed trains, and easy transportation.
However, the primary mode of access is almost certainly by road – Bangsaray is situated about two-hours drive from central Bangkok – as the high-speed train lines have not yet been completed and U-Tapao airport, while modern, has few local or international connections.
The park is expected to play a part in development of Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor and give visitors a reason to stay for longer in Pattaya. The city welcomed 20 million tourists in pre-pandemic 2019.
Local media reports say that the park operators are aiming for a million visitors per year. If targets are achieved they aim to develop a second phase that could open in ten years.
For Sony, Aquaverse represents a step towards the location-based entertainment operations of Hollywood studio conglomerates Disney and Universal. “The Aquaverse park is the next step in Sony Pictures’ larger global strategy to expand location-based entertainment by utilising its globally known film and TV brands,” said Jeffrey Godsick, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s executive VP of global partnerships and brand management and head of location-based entertainment.
Paramount Pictures, meanwhile, has recently announced plans to open one of the region’s biggest theme parks in Indonesia’s resort island of Bali. The 57-hectare park is tentatively scheduled to open in 2025.
The surge of park developments underlines the anticipated growth of Southeast Asia’s middle class and the return of mainland Chinese tourists.