IT WAS a carnival wonderland filled with fun for members of the public at the Perak state Hari Raya open-house event at the Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS) in Meru Raya.
Held for the very first time at a theme park, over 50,000 visitors from near and far attended the event. Visitors were more than thrilled to attend the Aidilfitri open house because not only did they get to enjoy an array of traditional Hari Raya delicacies, they also get admission into the theme park without having to pay for a ticket.
For the first time, they get the opportunity to see the Dream Zone, one of the attractions inside MAPS that showcases DreamWorks intellectual properties such as Megamind Megadrop, Casper’s Birthday Blast, Dream Theatre, The Croods, Mr Peabody and Sherman’s Time Travel Adventure.
Other than experiencing the adrenalin pumping rides and other exciting attractions, visitors were also feted to an array of sumptuous traditional Hari Raya delicacies, from roasted lamb, lemang, chicken satay, rendang, to char kuey teow, sup kambing, wajik, and various kuih.
The opening ceremony was especially filled with much fanfare as huge drapes at the main entrance unfolded following the master of ceremony’s announcement, leading the boisterous crowd into the Animation Square Zone, where most of the fun activities, performances and food counters were.
The festive mood and aroma of the food continued into the outdoor Blast Off Zone, where more food and beverages were offered to eager members of the public.
The crowd had begun flocking to the theme park as early as noon, three hours before the official start of the event.
Other than the tasty delicacies, they were also serenaded by various performances, including shows from well-known Malaysian singers such as Datuk M. Nasir and Datuk Jamal Abdillah.
Sungkai-based businessman Charlie Mohan, 39, who attended the event with his wife and two children aged seven and nine, said: “This is a unique place to hold an open house event and I knew I wanted to bring my family along after finding out about it in the news. The place is like a wonderland with so many attractions, games and activities and my children really love it. Even I am feeling like a kid again having fun here.
“They kept telling me to bring them here again so that they could play with more things,” he said.
Kindergarten teacher Ng Cheah Mei, 29, from Kulim, Kedah, said her family took the opportunity to check MAPS out after learning about it from Facebook.
“We came in several cars, as there are more than 10 of us including several children.
“This is a really interesting way of throwing an open house and we are amazed to see such an amazing crowd. I think most people want to see for themselves what this theme park is all about.
“We had fun and the children simply loved what they what they could see and do,” she said.
Due to the overwhelming response, the event’s scheduled end was extended from the initial 6pm to 8pm.
Perak Mentri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu, in his speech, said that the state government decided to organise the event at the theme park to let people enjoy the facilities, while promoting the park.
“We will consider hosting open houses for other festive celebrations at the theme park and other parks in the state,” he said.
Also in attendance were all state executive councillors and heads of state government departments and agencies.
During a press conference later, Ahmad Faizal noted that the state government will look at ways to boost the theme park.
“We will let the theme park continue operating, and are trying to make it a great tourist destination in the state,” he said.
The new state government has been critical of the previous administration, alleging that Perak Corp Bhd, a subsidiary of state agency Perak State Development Corp, has been racking up debt.
“Although it was not properly managed before this, with effort and commitment, I am confident that we can make MAPS great again to attract both foreign and local visitors,” said Ahmad Faizal.
“We want to change the perception that the theme park was not profitable, with a tepid response from visitors before this,” he added.
Asked if investors would be brought in to revitalise the theme park, Ahmad Faizal said that “discussions are underway with several parties”.