The Specialist Buyers Guide for the Theme Park Industry
This month KCC celebrates its 20th birthday! An ideal moment for CEO Mr. Yannick Maes, founder and owner of KCC Entertainment Design, to reflect on the past, the present and the future!
How did KCC start, what was the initial goal?
In 2000, karting was very popular in Belgium and the initial idea was to design and realise top notch Karting Entertainment Centres. At the same time, karting also gained popularity in Asia and in USA. After a market research, we decided to launch our approach and ideas in those regions as well. Our first contract was for a karting entertainment centre in Hong Kong followed by several locations in the USA (Dallas, Houston, …). Quickly the ‘karting entertainment centres’ business got extended with other entertainment offerings.
After HK and USA, we designed and build our first Middle East karting entertainment centre in Jeddah, KSA. IN10SO is in the large shopping mall Serafi Mega Mall. The owner of the mall invited us to design and build his indoor entertainment park he wanted in a different part of the mall. We took this opportunity, strengthened our team and designed and built, in a record time, our first family entertainment centre with the name ‘Moon Toon’. We were rookies in the business, but the park was immensely successful and had a ROI in approx. 9 months! And,… both IN10SO and Moon Toon are still successfully open today!
This was the starting point for a lot of great entertainment centres and parks designed and built by KCC worldwide. Today, our history is still reflected in our name: Karting Concept Company. We kept KCC as our brand name and this is now worldwide associated with distinctive entertainment projects.
How was the entertainment market when KCC started?
Around year 2000 the entertainment industry was mainly Theme Parks and large indoor entertainment centres build by visionary people. Indoor Entertainment and Family Entertainment Centres were still at their early stages. Developers in the MENA region were among the first to integrate entertainment in shopping malls to differentiate and to offer new types of entertainment for their visitors.
KCC was one of the pioneers at integrating fully themed high-level entertainment parcs in retail environments or as standalone destinations. It was an exciting time with a lot of opportunities but also pitfalls (we learned several things the hard way). Through hands on learning and visionary approach we gained knowledge on the mechanisms and factors which turn an entertainment centre into a success story. With that knowledge on indoor entertainment (and its organic integration with retail) we have gathered over all the years, we are now one of the most specialized companies for indoor entertainment centres and indoor theme parks. And we have extended this knowledge to other entertainment types like water parks, outdoor theme parks etc.
What are some signature projects/accomplishments for KCC during all those years?
Every project of every client was (and is) special! Each project must have its uniqueness. We consider our clients’ as our partners in creating memories for the visitors. This means we always go the extra (s)mile. Of course there are some flagship projects which have a special place in KCC’s portfolio.
• KARTING MALL in Hong Kong
KCC’s very first project. We turned a 10.000sqm old airport terminal into a full Karting entertainment centre!
• TBC INDOOR RACING in Dallas, USA
Our first Karting Entertainment Centre in USA
• MOON TOON FEC in Sefari Mall, Jeddah
Our first indoor theme park/FEC which was an immediate success and is still open today!
• HAPPYLON FEC’s in CIS
First ‘chain’ of entertainment centres designed (and build) by KCC. We developed with the owner the complete brand identity and designed multiple locations in Kazakhstan, Russia and other CIS countries.
• GO PLANET in Riga, Latvia
KCC’s first entertainment centre in a purpose-built building and our first project in mainland Europe.
Measuring 10.000sqm over 3 floors, the project was a huge success and was attraction visitors from neighbouring countries.
• TEKZONE in Avenues Mall, Kuwait
A recent project showcasing how KCC pioneers in creating unique and renewing entertainment concepts and projects. The project utilizes gamification (as a world’s first) and infuses traditional attractions with AR/VR/MR. We are very proud to see the project being used in many seminars and presentations as one of the directions entertainment is heading.
• ANGRY BIRDS WORLD in Doha Festival City, Qatar
Our first branded entertainment park and immediately with the fun birds of Angry Birds. Although understanding the true DNA of a brand is always a challenge our design team matched perfectly with the creative minds at Rovio and the clients’ desires. The project opened doors to cooperation with other brands.
• WANDA NANJING THEME PARK, Wanda Plaza, Nanjing, China
One of the most amazing projects of our company in China and one of the most successful projects of the Wanda group. Measuring 34.000sqm it is KCC’s biggest indoor project till date and with a unique integration of the local culture with attractions it’s an anchor in the mall and Nanjing itself.
• SMURFS THEME PARK in Shanghai, China
A great honour to design a park with one of Belgium’s national treasures: the Smurfs! Designing this park was a very nostalgic experience enjoyed by everyone in the team (we all watched this shows when we were ‘younger’) The park opened 3 weeks ago and we could not attend (travel restrictions) the grand opening but the pictures and movies look amazing and we are very proud on the result!
• CHOCOLATE KINGDOM THEME PARK in Guangzhou, China
Belgium = chocolate. So, when we were requested to design a chocolate kingdom we were more than prepared. The project of 18 hectares near Guangzhou in China will open later this year and will be one of the sweetest designs we have done till now. In this project KCC’s approach of ‘design for realization’ is very clear: you can put the renders of the project and a picture of the result next to each other and hardly see the difference.
What makes KCC unique as an entertainment design company?
• Experience: In 20 years of design and realization our passionate team of professionals amassed knowledge of do’s and don’ts in entertainment.
• Turnkey (Design & Build): we want to assist our clients from the first steps till the grand opening ensuring that what we design is realized as such. This results in projects where you can hardly distinguish design vs realisation
• Feasible creativity: What we design can be built within the set budget and timing. We always pay a lot of attention that each project must be unique but also profitable. The designs that we make are not just a nice picture with a “wow” effect but result in fully realizable and financially successful project. The prove of this is our many repeat customers which start with one project and end up building more.
• Adaptability: our clients are in different markets requiring different approaches each time. We understand what the clients wants, what the market wants and that time to market can be an important factor. This means adapting. Years of experience and continuous finetuning our organizational structure has also enabled us to address changes during the project in a better and faster way without compromising on the result.
What are the upcoming entertainment trends and how does KCC address those?
New technologies like AR/VR/MR are now fully available for use in the entertainment market. They open a lot of new possibilities. We embrace these new technologies and our designers love to integrate them in our design. However, we believe in a specific approach:
We do not replace everything with new technology. One of the strengths lies in fusing new technologies with existing and strong attractions, concepts and experiences.
Another advantage of these new technologies is their capacity to bring experiences, concepts and attractions together in one big unique experience. Creating a completely new level of entertainment on top of the individual attractions.
For us, merging new trends into existing proven concepts and analysing how every m² of the park can benefit of these new trends is key to success.
What do you look forward to in the next years/What are the goals of KCC in the next years?
While everyone’s world is becoming more and more digitalized and we spend a great amount of time online, we clearly see that people still love creating real memories and continuously look for new place to gather, socialize and have fun. I look forward seeing KCC address this continuous search for unique social entertainment locations and to see KCC remain a driver and pioneer in the development of these new entertainment locations.