Let's Talk
Image Alt

Pico Play

Pico Play celebrates award win and project pipeline


Versions of this article appear in Blooloop and AusLeisure.


Behind every giant octopus is a dedicated team of professionals with the skills to design it, construct it and attach it to a building. Leading that team is Greg Holt, Pico Play’s Creative Design Director and resident expert in turning imagination into reality. Internationally regarded as “the fun-makers”, Pico Play is a global leader in the planning, design, development and construction of world-class themed attractions and entertainment. So, when Ripley’s Believe It or Not approached Pico Play with a plan to mount an enormous orange octopus over the entrance to its Gold Coast, Australia attraction, Mr Holt and his team rose to the challenge.


Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Gold Coast, Australia


Working with the company’s engineers and manufacturers, the design team conjured a fibreglass and steel structure, embedded it with lighting effects and draped its tentacles securely over the entrance. More than eye-catching sea creatures, Pico Play is an industry leader in developing end-to-end leisure and entertainment solutions across theme parks; water parks and surf parks; zoos and nature parks; aquariums and marine parks and family entertainment centres to deliver unforgettable guest experiences.


International projects including a contract to design and build a new attraction in Vietnam’s Sam Son, the largest theme park under construction, as well as Australian projects such as theming sections of Dreamworld’s new Steel Taipan rollercoaster saw Pico Play named the June 2022 winner of the Tourism, Hospitality and Events category at the Gold Coast Business Excellence Awards.


Mark Eady, Jessica Farias and Greg Holt in Gold Coast Business Excellence Awards


“We offer the full suite of design work from concept design and master planning to construction and manufacturing drawings,” Mr Holt says. “What this means is we have creative concept artists who can illustrate an idea – like a vision for a new themed attraction or an iconic sculptural element – and instantly, a client understands what the vision looks like; through to technical designers who come in and structurally engineer the idea so it’s safe and holds its shape. “That’s the hard work behind the scenes that nobody sees but it’s so important because we need to give our builders the correct drawings and precisely scaled construction documentation to turn the vision into a reality.”


While Pico Play is based on the Gold Coast – Australia’s theme park capital – the company’s reach is global. Mr Holt’s team is currently working on 20 projects across the globe with staff based throughout the Asia-Pacific region.


Floating Gardens Concept


Plans are also underway to expand Pico Play’s presence in the region with a new regional office and fabrication facility opening in the Vietnamese port city of Hai Phong this year. “A large number of our design team works out of the Malaysian office in Kuala Lumpur which is a great central base for our designers to easily undertake site visits across Asia and really understand the lay of the land,” he says.


Long before the first site visit or concept drawing, Mr Holt advocates for a comprehensive feasibility and market study, a service Pico Play provides to a world-class standard. “A feasibility and market study is hugely important from a design point of view as it identifies the target demographic, the per capita spend of this market, a realistic project budget and the client’s expected ROI. “Once we have all that information, we can progress confidently to the concept stage and design something realistic, buildable and ultimately in the client’s best interest. “Clients invariably want the biggest, best, never-been-done-before attraction and we need to use the data in the feasibility study to design a concept that will give them a point of difference as well as a return on their investment.”


Mr Holt started his international career in Macau more than two decades ago as a concept artist and designer on casino fit-outs before branching into theme parks and attractions. He spent seven years in Malaysia in the themed entertainment industry before joining Pico Play’s Gold Coast office in 2016. “One of the greatest benefits of living and working in Asia is the ability to understand different cultures and recognise the importance of cultural sensitivity, not only in design but when interacting with people in general,” he says. His long and varied career has given him an eye for spotting trends and predicts two that will significantly shape the future of design across the industry. The first is a move toward developing unique IP rather than licensing existing IP, such as film franchises, comic book stars or beloved cartoon characters.


Greg Holt, Creative Design Director at Pico Play


“The use of existing IP can be very expensive and tightly controlled so when we develop new IP for a client, we get to create the characters and decide how to portray them and tell their story so a guest can easily understand,” Mr Holt explains. The second trend sees the production of technically-detailed 3D models in the initial concept stage. “CGI models and renders used to come in the later master-planning stages but clients are increasingly asking for them in the early concept stages so they can clearly visualise what we want to do,” he adds.


Pico Play is part of Pico Group, a global leader in total brand activation specialising in engaging people, creating experiences and activating brands.
For more information about Pico Play, including its feasibility studies and creative design services, visit pico-play.com