New theme park in PJ shopping centre offers 12 attractions to urbanites of all ages

Muhammad Daud (centre) at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of Escape Challenge park at Paradigm Mall in Petaling Jaya. With him are Chua (left) and Sim.

THE newly-opened Escape Challenge is an indoor adventure theme park in Klang Valley that offers outdoor play and retro-eco fun.

The rides and attractions in this indoor playground are designed to suit the needs of the urbanites to escape from their sedentary lifestyle.

The 3251.61sq m facility in Paradigm Mall, Petaling Jaya creates the ideal environment where family and friends can bond over leisure activities.

Sim Choo Kheng, the founder and chief executive officer of Sim Leisure Group, a Dubai-based company involved in designing and building theme parks, said the first phase of Escape Challenge cost almost RM4mil.

“It is retro-eco version of a theme park, where children and adults of all ages, can reconnect with nature and discover, or as the case may be, rediscover their childhood, ” he said.

Sim has been involved in the theme park industry for the past 30 years.

His idea to build the theme park came from his childhood as a “kampung boy”.

The first Escape Theme Park, a fun outdoor destination with exciting rides and games hosted in a natural environment, opened in 2012 in Penang.

“This is like a prototype on how to put attractions inside a mall. We are targeting the urban population to take part in leisure activities at a mall, ” he said.

Sim, who is also the brand’s chief escape officer said: “It took us about a year to build Escape Challenge due to the lockdown and movement control order (MCO). It probably took six months for physical work to build the park.”

On the Escape Challenge at Paradigm Mall, he said they offered 12 attractions.

“We expect to grow in the next couple of years. We want to bring more than 20 attractions in two years (for this park), ” he said.

He added that the two theme parks were the showcase for the Escape brand as part of its global expansion plan.

Sim said the company was in the midst of negotiations to build similar parks in Thailand and China, while it had already signed on to develop the Escape Park with a partner in Sri Lanka.

At the opening of Escape Challenge in Paradigm Mall, Sim said he was optimistic of the theme park being a crowd-puller.

“I want people to think differently. If we have something good, it will draw a crowd, ” he added.

Sim said the company worked with WCT Malls Bhd, which manages the shopping centre, and the latter was receptive to the group’s ideas.

“We love the ‘can do attitude’ of the management, ” he added.

WCT Malls Management Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Selena Chua said they were thrilled to introduce Escape Challenge, saying it was ideal for families to enjoy outdoor activities and spend quality time together.

“The birth of Escape Challenge Park strengthens Paradigm Mall as a wholesome family mall that caters to the needs and wants of the community not only through shopping and dining, but also through its enriching experience.

“The park provides a variety of adrenaline-filled activities alongside customised team-building programmes professionally curated for any corporate establishments. They can also organise birthday parties here, ” she added.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) secretary-general Datuk Dr Noor Zari Hamat said, “As one of the latest additions among the tourism products in Malaysia, we applaud the efforts by the park in ensuring full compliance of the relevant standard operating procedures set forth by the government to stem the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The opening of Escape Challenge is very timely especially in promoting inter-state travel or domestic tourism.

“We are certain it will be added to the tourists to-do list when international tourism resumes.”

His speech was read out by the ministry’s tourism policy and international affairs division senior director Muhammad Daud Mohd Arif at the launch.

“Escape Theme Park in Penang was the most recent (2016/2017) winner of Motac’s Tourism Award for Man Made Attractions (theme parks) and this year it was ranked in the top 10 of attractions worldwide by TripAdvisor.

“It was ranked the top 50 places to visit by Time magazine in 2019.

“In addition, Escape Theme Park is also the Guinness World Records holder for the longest tube water slide measuring at 1,111m, beating the previous record holder from Germany of 356m, ” said Noor Zari.

Other than that, he said Escape Challenge had many first-of-its-kind activities, such as their proprietary attraction called the Banana Flip, which launches the riders from capsule at 14m high into a giant airbag below, ” he said.

Among the attractions of Escape Challenge is Monkey Business featuring 56 obstacles across three different levels for guests to climb and navigate, such as rope courses, ziplines and Tarzan’s swing.

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