Port Coquitlam company riding high in Asian theme parks

From the mountains to the coastline, Metro Vancouver is known for its many attractions. However, large theme parks are not among them. But despite the absence of a major amusement park on Canada’s west coast, Port Coquitlam’s Dynamic Attractions is making B.C. the international supply hub for theme park rides around the world.

The company recently sold one of its ride systems to two separate theme parks in Asia owned by an undisclosed theme park conglomerate.

These were the first contracts awarded under a five-year strategic cooperation agreement announced in May with the Asian theme park conglomerate.  Dynamic Attractions is expecting to sell a third ride system to an additional theme park by the end of the year, bringing the deal total to $93 million.

The name of the theme park, the ride and the country could not be disclosed because of a confidentiality agreement. The company has previously delivered rides to Asian countries including China, South Korea and Russia.

Dynamic Attractions’ customer base is focused on large, global theme park operators. The company is absent from the smaller amusement park market.

The majority of the top Asian theme parks are in China, which claims 11 of the top 20 parks, according to a 2017 report from the Themed Entertainment Association. Of the top 10 major global theme park operators, number four, five and six are Chinese, behind Walt Disney Attractions, Universal Parks and Resorts and Merlin Entertainments, the owners of LEGOLAND. The state owned Overseas Chinese Town Enterprise (OCT) comes in at number four and owns the popular Happy Valley brand theme parks, which operate six of the top 20 theme parks in Asia. OCT is the largest major theme park owner and has the capacity to use three versions of the same ride in separate parks.

The fifth and sixth largest theme park groups in the world are Fantawild Group and Chimelong Group, respectively.  Each of these companies only have two theme parks in the top 20 as well as other smaller parks and water parks that could possibly also house the third system.

While the type of ride also remains confidential, Dynamic Attractions’ communication director, John Kageorge, said that it will change the way people think about story telling dark rides, like Disney World’s It’s a Small World.

“It changes a whole genre of theme park rides that people have become quite familiar with over the years,” said Kageorge. “That type of ride system will no longer be perceived the way it used to be for the last 50 years.”

Kageorge says that the system brings four new technologies to rides that have never been used before. All of which were developed here in the lower mainland. The company’s website advertises the SFX coaster as the world’s most exhilarating dark ride. The SFX coaster combines new track technologies that allow passengers to do a backwards 360-degree loop, a straight launch into the air and an inversion element amongst other things. It combines this roller coaster like movements with the story telling features of a dark ride similar to a motorized haunted house ride.

“These technologies do not currently exist on any ride in the world,” said Kageorge.

Regardless of who the buyer is, Asia is proving to be an expanding market for Dynamic Attractions and the roughly 100 companies across Canada including the Lower Mainland that provide software, glasswork and other aspects for the ride systems. Kageorge says that the requests from Asia have definitely increased and that the Dynamic Attractions’ team is spending the first week of June in Hong Kong to meet  with theme park leaders. The company recently opened an office in Shanghai and is also currently developing projects in Malaysia, China and Japan.

OCT parks has the greatest attendance growth of the top 10 largest theme park corporations  in the world rising by 32.9% in 2017 to 42.9 million people from 32.3 million in 2016. The second largest attendance growth was Fantawild at 21.7%, increasing its attendance to 38.5 million in 2017 from 31.6 million in 2016. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Chimelong Group had the third largest growth at 13.4%.

“As the big players continue to invest large sums on iconic attractions that’s good news for us,” said Kageorge.  “Because the phone will keep ringing in Port Coquitlam for more innovative engineering and rides that will ‘wow’ people.”