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Pico Play recreates The Wizard of Oz for Warner Bros. Movie World

World’s first Wizard of Oz land is set to open in late 2024. The project includes two new roller coasters, unique ride themes, and immersive visitor experiences.
Written by
Rebecca Hardy
Published on
26th March, 2024

Pico Play, a global leader in the planning, design, development and construction of world-class themed attractions and entertainment, has revealed that it is partnering with Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment and Village Roadshow to recreate The Wizard of Oz in a theme park for the first time.

At Pico Play’s fabrication plant in Johor, Malaysia, a group of 95 artists and engineers are meticulously crafting the lands and realms from the famous 1939 film. These include the busy streets of Emerald City and the eerie forests of the Wicked Witch of the West.

The project is expected to open at Warner Bros. Movie World in 2024.

Homage to the iconic movie

Pico Play and Village Roadshow’s Warner Bros. Movie World have collaborated for the first time on this pioneering project in Australia’s Gold Coast. The project includes two new roller coasters, unique ride themes, and immersive visitor experiences.

Darren McLean, executive director of Pico Play, describes the company’s innovative approach to the project, which includes impressive facades, sculptures, projections, and audio: “We want to offer guests more than just a rollercoaster ride. The experience is more than the ride itself. There’s a story, there are characters and there’s excitement, anticipation and entertainment leading up to the rides.”

Wizard of Oz Design

The new area is themed around the movie’s beloved locations and characters, with sets which pay homage to key scenes. The immersive experience will transport visitors from Dorothy’s house in Kansas to the famous Yellow Brick Road.

McLean describes the project: “The load station for Flight of the Wicked Witch, a suspended family coaster soaring 19 metres high, mirrors the Wicked Witch of the West’s castle complete with flying monkeys, vultures and haunted trees.

“Guests will load and unload for the Kansas Twister, a family boomerang racer rollercoaster with dual tracks, amid a re-creation of Dorothy’s Kansas farm as the tornado comes through and whisks her off to the land of Oz.

“The stories and the characters are so rich and perfect to recreate for a theme park environment.”

The design replicates the original film’s innovative use of colour. Sepia tones are reflected in the Kansas sequences, while the Witch’s Wasteland evokes the movie’s monochrome palette. The land of Oz then dazzles with bright colours, from Munchkin Land to the Emerald City and the Poppy Fields.

McLean says: “We are also crafting sculptures of Dorothy and Toto, Tin Man, the Lion and Scarecrow, strategically placed for guests to link arms with them for a photo opportunity, recreating the iconic image of the characters, poised to embark on their journey down the Yellow Brick Road to the magical land of Oz.

“Scenes from the movie will also be projected in queueing areas and we are recreating the original soundtrack with a local sound studio to be played in different areas.”

Synergetic collaboration

Before building began in early 2023, Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment personnel travelled to Malaysia to inspect and approve specific aspects of the project’s design.

Bikash Randhawa, COO of Village Roadshow Theme Parks says that the multi-million-dollar redevelopment has revitalised the retired Arkham Asylum area, and is one of the largest investments in its 30-year history.

“There is a wonderful synergy between Village Roadshow Theme Parks and Pico Play, with both organisations sharing a passion and dedication towards delivering world-class experiences,” Randhawa comments.

“The Wizard of Oz precinct is different from anything we’ve previously undertaken at Movie World. Our goal is to extend the storytelling from the film and make this one of the most beautifully designed precincts in any Australian theme park.

“We engaged with Pico Play to expand on this concept and they truly helped us to bring
our vision to life.

“The precinct will have incredible theming and state-of-the-art technology complementing the physical ride elements providing a unique and world-class guest experience for visitors to Movie World.”

Innovative approach

Pico Play’s use of Glass-Reinforced Concrete (GRC), a unique material developed by the firm in Australia, is crucial to the development of the new area’s cutting-edge storytelling techniques.

The innovative material enables the team to create sophisticated designs, forms, and textures. This approach uses panels which can be connected and engineered to fulfil Australian and international standards.

Over the next six months, 50 shipping containers will bring each item from Pico Play’s Malaysian plant to Australia, ready for installation. The arrival of the first shipments has heightened anticipation for both industry professionals and park visitors.

Before the precinct debuts in late 2024, Pico Play—which is renowned for providing the best end-to-end service in the industry—will install and test every component, including the sound and visuals.

Earlier this month, Pico Play announced that it is creating more than 50 new jobs in response to a new pipeline of projects. The recruitment drive will enhance the firm’s expertise and meet the international demand for its services.

Versions of this article appears in Australian Leisure and Blooloop.

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