Image via Falcon's Creative Group
Katmandu Punta Cana
During the 2019 IAAPA Expo, Orlando-based entertainment design company Falcon’s Creative Group held a press conference to announce yet another new partnership. Falcon’s was coming off a year of other impressive collaborations, including ones with with PBS
and one of China’s largest developers
So when Falcon's revealed the new deal was with little-known Spanish resort Katmandu Park
, many observers were left scratching their heads. Two double-eared, yeti-like creatures were present for the press conference, and the media were given publicity bags that included headbands celebrating the creatures. However, few in attendance seemed to know who or what they were.
Image via In The Loop | YouTube
What was clear coming out of that awkward press conference was both Katmandu and Falcon’s were envisioning something far bigger than what had been previously realized in Mallorca, Spain. A new park was announced for Punta Cana, the first amusement park for the Dominican Republic.
The Katmandu Group, also based out of Orlando, was clear in their intentions of creating a chain of resorts similar to the one they had in Spain. Their liberal use of the term “theme park” is a bit of a misnomer, as this resort is more in line with the former Nick Hotel or Great Wolf Lodge-style am
Entertainment offerings include the typical 7D Theaters, mini-golf, ziplines, mini water park and other activities for which such resorts are known. A large, upside-down building overlooking the resort bears remarkable resemblance to the ones at WonderWorks locations.
Inside is a similar lineup of small exhibits and Mystery Spot style attractions. The iconic upside-down building is in the middle of the property, surrounded by numerous other items. Together the items form a makeshift ‘Best Of’ list of International Drive style attractions, including a fire breathing volcano, a perilously located jeep on the edge of a cliff, and multiple 4D attractions.
Image via Katmandu Park - Mallorca
Expedition Golf at Katmandu Park in Mallorca, Spain
Now with a successful resort and budding lineup of fun characters, Katmandu was leaning on Falcon’s to move the concept into that true destination level amusement park resort. That began with Falcon’s rethinking the layout of the resort. A larger, multi-story highly themed shopping village welcomes guests and sets the mood for the Nepalese meets steampunk-themed resort. The upside-down building is still present, but it is now surrounded by other equally well-themed spaces, all set to various stories building out of the Katmandu storyline.
Two of Falcon’s large-scale attraction concepts will be used in the new park, helping sell the idea that this is truly a theme park. A dark ride will tell the backstory of Katmandu and, as Falcon’s acknowledges in its 2019 press release, “will bring sophisticated technology and storytelling previously only available to much larger theme parks.” Joining the dark ride will be a Suspended Theater, Falcon’s multi-screen flying theater concept. Adding these impressive new rides will help bring a new level of legitimacy to the Katmandu name, but it does little to help introduce people to the characters the attractions are based on.
Like the confused media at the event last year, many non-European audiences may not be familiar with the various yeti-like creatures and the backstory
the resort is themed around
. Now Falcon’s has announced how it plans to address this. Working with Falcon’s Creative Group, Eric Calderon will adapt Katmandu Group’s theme park intellectual property into an animated series.
Calderon is known for his work
on animated series such as Afro Samurai, Transformers, the Beavis and Butthead movie, Sluterra, Cartoon Sushi, and Linkin Park’s Breaking the Habit music video. Formerly serving as the Director of Development for MTV Animation, Calderon has worked with many of the biggest names in the animation industry. While at MTV Calderon helped develop shows like Daria, Celebrity Death Match, and The UnderGrads. He also wrote every episode of Transformers: Titans Return and helped realize Netflix's Magic: The Gathering animated series.
“We are thrilled with the vision that Falcon’s has for expanding Katmandu’s IP and creating new forms of media that will have global reach. It’s also fantastic to see Eric Calderon recognize the strength of our IP as a standout from the crowd,” said Scott Demerau, Chief Executive Officer of Katmandu Group, LLC. “As we at Katmandu, along with our partner, Meliá Hotels International, expand the Katmandu universe beyond our parks into a resort-style hotel brand, kids’ camps and themed experiences, we are incredibly excited to move forward with world-class animation development from these imaginative leaders.”
Little is known regarding the upcoming animated series, but Falcon’s confirmed
that it is part of a larger plan of “transmedia storytelling activations in new global entertainment destinations, immersive attractions and branded merchandise.” It’s not uncommon to see an intellectual property represented in a resort setting. Despite losing the Orlando resort, the Nickelodeon name is still found at resorts
around the world, including one in Punta Cana. The singular timeline for launching the merchandise, attractions, and other aspects is rarer. Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner did use a similar approach
when promoting new animated films.
Image via Falcon's Creative Group
Katmandu Punta Cana
It is a gamble, and one that few companies today are willing to take, but Katmandu Group has the success of its existing resort to use. In the end, if one aspect of the intellectual property launch isn’t successful, the company still has more to offer than other family-focused destination resorts, most of which feature little to no unique characters or immersive storytelling aspects.
There are currently two entertainment destination resorts under development, Punta Cana and in Tenerife, Spain. Falcon’s is involved with the master planning, attraction design, ride experiences and interactivity for both locations.
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