The Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS) opened this week in Ipoh, Perak.
The unveiling of the RM520mil (S$169 million) theme park project by Animation Theme Park Sdn Bhd is a historical event and proud occasion for all in the Silver State as MAPS is poised to become the first animation-centred theme park in not just Malaysia, but throughout Asia.
Sprawled across 21ha in Bandar Meru Raya, MAPS features more than 40 attractions, based on both international and local characters, in six themed zones, said Animation Theme Park Director Ramelle Ramli.
"This is where visitors will experience not just many of the country's attractions, but also those from Asia and other parts of the world.
"MAPS will house Asia's first Smurfs animation attractions, the world's first La Cremeria Cafe, and The Home of BoboiBoy, which is also a first in the world, and South-East Asia's first permanent car and bike live stunt shows.
"The Dream Zone will also feature the world's first Megamind, The Croods, Casper the Friendly Ghost, and Mr Peabody & Sherman attractions.
"And that's not all, the Megamind Megadrop, which descends 52m within three seconds, is Malaysia's tallest drop tower," Ramelle said.
Upon entering the theme park, visitors will be greeted by the Dream Parade, a gathering of all animation characters featured in the park, along a street full of colour-pop buildings at opening and closing time.
Ramelle said the main attraction at the zone is also the pride of Malaysia - BoboiBoy characters and friends.
"Join your beloved characters in an exciting 4D motion adventure on the Floating Island at the BoboiBoy 4D Adventure Theatre. With the green screen, visitors can strike a pose and have their superhero moments captured.
"The Home of BoboiBoy also consists of the BoBoiBoy Hero Academy, a walk through interactive experience where fans get to discover the true superhero within themselves.
"BoboiBoy's grandfather is also part of the action through the presence of Tok Aba's Kokotiam, which is also a first in the world, offering hot chocolate among other delicious treats," he said.
Also found in the square are the Space Face Fancy Dress area and an original MAPS animation creation, The Adventurers Cartoon Factory.
Live Action Zone
For those in need of an injection of adrenaline, catch South-East Asia's first thrilling car and bike live stunt show at the Stunts Legends performance.
Hold on tight onto your seats in the 2,000-seat custom-built area and hear engines roar as the show features a talented cast of stunt performers in adrenaline-pumping vehicle acts, enhanced with special effects.
"There will be three live shows daily with storylines to them," said Ramelle, who foresees the arena becoming a popular venue for those dreaming of a unique wedding setting.
Fantasy Forest Zone
This area, dedicated to children aged three to 12, features the Cave of Wonders where they can embark on a mystical journey through ancient civilisations or marvel at the Upside Down Pyramid and discover and solve the mystery of this gravity-defying masterpiece.
"All the attractions in this zone are connected to the Forest's HQ Treehouse.
"Kids will learn knowledge about the universe by exploring the library of artefacts to unlock the secret code of the Fantasy Forest. Everything has a story behind it," he said.
Outdoors, there is the Coliseum Water Playground and child-friendly rides like the Fantasy Carousel, the Whirling Wizard and the Red Baron.
Covering a third of the entire theme park, this is the area where characters from Dreamworks Animation studio come alive.
The Megamind Megadrop is only one of the mind-boggling attractions here.
Join Megamind, the most brilliant super villain the world has known, and his live band rock the 400-seater Dream Theatre in the MegaMind Rocks Musical, or travel back in time at Mr Peabody and Sherman's Time Adventure attraction as well as the Mr Peabody and Sherman's Sculpture Walk.
"The Croods Crazy Chase, which is set inside a cave, is a family-friendly indoor roller coaster, whereas Casper's Birthday Blast! is a laser tag game.
"Before moving on to the next zone, remember to meet your favourite Dreamworks characters and have your photographs taken with them at the Cloud Stage," Ramelle said.
Blast Off Zone
A Smurf-tastic experience awaits fans of our little blue friends who are no more than three apples tall at the first Smurfs attraction in Asia.
"Watch 'Papa Smurf's Rainbow Spell' at The Smufts Theatre, an interactive animated live show with super cool effects.
"For the little ones, there is The Smurfs Playland where we have family-friendly indoor rides and attractions, and meet and greet sessions with Papa Smurf and Smurfette," said Ramelle.
Near the theme park's largest restaurant, the 500-seat Starship Restaurant spread over three storeys with different themes on each level, are more rides for the daring.
Swing out into the sky on suspended chairs on The Adventurers Hyperspin, step onto a powerful space disk and be strapped onto motorcycle-like seats that face outwards on The Space X-plorer, or simply have a bumping good time in a bumper car challenge with The Adventurers Bumper Blast.
On the Smog N'Clog Asteroid Attack, experience gravity-defying tricks as your spacecraft swings up with great speed, leaving you upside down and dangling in space only to plummet back down equally rapidly.
To make it a more memorable experience for visitors, Animation Theme Park has looked into the tiniest of details, Ramelle said.
"Rain or shine, the fun goes on as 60 per cent of the theme park is covered. When it gets too hot, there is always a themed restaurant to hang out in.
"At MAPS, we have 10 themed restaurants serving local and international delicacies as well as house specialties like the Mega Tower Burger available at The Metrocity Diner.
"At the Coral Kingdom, our restaurant within the Fantasy Forest Zone, we have also created a magical marine-themed playground for the little ones to run free while the grown ups relax for a bit," Ramelle said.
Senior citizens and the disabled do not need to worry about having to walk the entire theme park as motorised wheelchairs are available for rent.
Meanwhile, there is also free high-speed WiFi in the theme park so visitors can share their memories on social media instantly.
"Visitors can also catch a glimpse of themselves as our MAPS iTV transmits live footage around the park on its giant screen at the MAPS iTV Broadcast Stage.
"The live telecast will also be beamed onto the MAPS website as well as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube," he said, adding that the entire theme park is a selfie haven with realistic 3D paintings all around.
In celebration of MAPS' opening and also Hari Raya, those visiting the theme park any day until July 2 will receive a mystery gift.
"We are expecting about 7,000 visitors a day during this long festive season.
"On a daily basis, 5,000 holders of our Annual Pass and Perak Pass will be given priority to experience MAPS on a first-come first-served basis. They can book their visits on our website prior to that," he said, adding that MAPS has about 23,000 Annual and Perak Pass holders.
"Their passes are valid for a year and can be utilised immediately at MAPS," he added.
Those who did not manage to get their hands on the Annual and Perak passes, need not worry as MAPS is running other promotions as well.
Adult tickets are priced at RM131 while entry for children (aged three to 12 years) as well as senior citizens (aged 60 and above) and disabled persons (with proof of OKU card) is at RM104 each this week.
Tickets can be purchased at the MAPS website. Each entry comes with a 50 per cent off for kids meals at the Croods Caveteria or 20 per cent off for other food and beverage within the park except push carts and the candy shop.
"We also have an on-going promotion for Malaysians with MyKad at RM148 per adult ticket and RM117 for children, senior citizens and the disabled," added Ramelle.
MAPS is open from 10am to 6pm on weekdays and from 10am to 10pm on weekends, public holidays and school holidays.