IN A twist of fantasy and imagination, dinosaurs are walking the land again and roaming among mankind’s buildings.
Over 200 life-size, animated and screaming dinosaur replicas are now on Level Five, in Komtar, Penang.
The Jurassic Research Centre is among more than 15 new attractions that will transform the 31-year-old building into Penang’s rave, new amusement and entertainment hub.
A realistic depiction of a bunch of compsognathus or ‘chicken dinosaurs’ feeding on a downed Stegosaurus at the Jurassic Research Centre on Level Five in Komtar, Penang. – Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star
When THE TOP@Komtar opens officially on Dec 18, visitors will be able to view the spectacles, but a taste of it is already visible to the public.
At the junction of Penang Road, Macalister Road and Datuk Keramat Road, passers-by can partially see a family of brachiosauruses grazing peacefully on the Level Five podium.
“Most of the dinosaur replicas will be able to move their heads, necks, tongues, tails and even eyeballs. They will also scream or grunt,” said Only World Group operations director Kenny Yap.
What can be seen at the street level belies the other staggering displays inside.
A bunch of compsognathus or ‘chicken dinosaurs’ makes a din while feeding on a downed stegosaurus along one corner.
A berserked tyrannosaurus bears down on an abandoned Land Rover, screeching at the top of its lungs.
There are pterodactyl-type dinosaurs everywhere in the Jurassic Research Centre.
Current scientific consensus places the origin of dinosaurs at between 231 and 243 million years right up till 66 million years ago.
Their past existence have inspired endless movies, books and art forms.
“People will always love dinosaurs for the simple reason that they are not around anymore.
“What will be even more dramatic is if you see them in their original sizes,” Yap added.
The inspiration to turn the long ago open space on Komtar’s Level Five came from OWG chief executive officer Datuk Seri Richard Koh.
“When I first went up to Level Five and walked about, something about the design of the base of the Komtar tower made me think of science.
“The place also had a somewhat isolated feel and I connected the feeling to the dinosaur world, which no longer exists but is always a joy to explore,” he said.
OWG chief operating officer Datuk Jean Koh, who is also Richard’s wife, echoed the thought.
The cages in the Jurassic Research Centre add a touch of reality.
“There is an ageless quality to Komtar and we find the base of the tower a perfect place for dinosaurs to ‘roam’,” she smiled.
This is not the first time Richard, who is from Klang, has done something to Level Five.
“In 1995, I created a roller coaster park on this level for six months. So I already have a feel of what this place can become,” he said.
OWG is a listed company specialising in F&B and building leisure attractions. In 2012, it won a 45-year lease of five levels in Komtar and is now tasked with using about 300,000sq ft of floor space to revitalise the building.
Besides the dinosaur replicas, visitors will also see archaeology digs with half-unearth fossils, actual-size dinosaur fossils, and even eggs and embryo.
This special attraction will let visitors capture special images of them being attacked by a tyrannosaurus in the Jurassic Research Centre.
“We will even have a special act where scientists are trying to heal a sick stegosaurus. This will be especially exciting for the kids,” said Yap.
Visitors will not be able to touch the replicas, lest damage comes to them, but an up-close check by The Star shows that the replicas are made of a rubbery material, finely crafted to make them as good as the real thing.
More attractions are coming, including the 40,000 sq ft Top Boutique Aquarium, a world of aquatic animals and interactive experiences for everyone to learn about the conservation of marine flora and fauna.
“We are transforming Komtar into a place for families to have fun and learn new things and for tourists to get a one-stop feel of Penang without having to travel everywhere in the state,” said Richard.
For details, visit thetop.com.my.