National Geographic Encounter has announced plans to develop up to 10 new locations in Saudi Arabia for Ocean Odyssey, an immersive walk-through adventure across the ocean from the South Pacific to the coast of California.
It has partnered with KBW Ventures and the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia, with Riyadh the first location to open in 2019.
The announcement follows the opening of National Geographic Encounter’s flagship location in New York City’s Times Square.
SPE Partners, creators and developers of Encounter, and its partner the Peterson Companies will engage a world-class global team of Academy, Grammy, and Emmy award-winning artists on the Saudi venture, a statement said.
“We are excited to bring this iconic brand and immersive experience into Saudi Arabia and provide premium entertainment in our country,” said Faisal Baraft, CEO of the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia.
Alexander Svezia, co-founder and managing partner of SPE Partners, added: “We aim to combine the power of technology with the awe of entertainment to advance science and conservation, and KBW shares that vision. The General Entertainment Authority’s mission, to create a vibrant society and provide exciting entertainment and tailored experiences in Saudi Arabia, aligns perfectly. We are excited to bring ‘entertainment with purpose’ to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, founder and CEO of KBW Ventures, said: “When I first visited National Geographic Encounter and saw that the experience brings people around the globe into the natural world of wildlife, I knew that this was the future. We also believe in Encounter’s ‘entertainment with purpose’ ethos, especially with our current work with Future Oceans, an organisation whose mission is to protect all marine wildlife.”
National Geographic Encounter consulted with dozens of technologists and scientists to create a new kind of immersive experience that guests can walk through to share ocean encounters with friends and family.
Guests will get up close with dozens of species, including sea lions waiting for a playmate, sharks up to 20 feet long, a 50-foot Humpback whale, and a battle between two ferocious Humboldt squids.
The coral reef was built from a process called photogrammetry, where more than 1,300 photos were taken on location in the Solomon Islands. The 2D photos were then used to construct 3D models of coral.
Once visitors “resurface” to land, they can go even deeper on their adventure in Exploration Hall, hearing breathtaking stories from National Geographic photographers and deep-sea explorers.
Audiences can also enjoy a gaming challenge to clean up their own piece of the ocean and play with holograms of the sea’s greatest wonders and mightiest creatures.
Rosa Zeegers, executive vice president, Consumer Products and Experiences at National Geographic Partners, said: “Encounter has been wildly successful, and has proven to be a powerful new storytelling platform for us that perfectly embodies our passionate belief in entertainment with purpose and is a natural extension of our brand. These expansion plans are very exciting, and we’re looking forward to delivering this one-of-a-kind experience to our important Middle East audience.”