Wartsila Funa pushing boundaries

Pushing boundaries

Keeping entertainment systems afloat on cruises has been Wärtsilä Funa’s area of expertise. But its capabilities are not restricted to marine industry alone. Land-based projects such as theme parks, among others, are a growing market.

Text: Ercilia Photo: Christophe Viseux

Cruise ships are essentially moving amusement parks. So when Wärtsilä Funa - an audio-visual (AV) systems integrator providing design, engineering, integration and consulting services - branched out into land-based projects, it wasn’t entirely in new territory.

"Land-based projects, be it a theme park, museum, or other attraction, is a natural extension of our core competencies developed for the marine sector. Those attractions also tend to push the boundaries in terms of guest experiences – something we always need to pay attention to for our core marine business," says Paul Weber, the managing director of Wärtsilä Funa.

"Disney Cruise Lines is a great example – what you see and experience on the ship is very consistent with what you see and experience in their theme parks," he adds.

Wartsila Funa association with DXB Entertainments

While historically, Wärtsilä Funa has primarily catered to the cruise industry, its know-how in entertainment systems also extends to other sectors such as theme parks, airports, hotels, museums and specialty attractions. Prior to being acquired by Wärtsilä in 2015, Funa was already an established market leader in the marine AV sector with over 40 years of experience. 

"On any given day we will have design engineers, working on CAD (computer-aided design), to define and specify audio, video, lighting and control hardware for a project. We will also have project managers and installation technicians in the field installing the hardware we defined and specified for our clients’ projects," explains Weber.

DXB entertainments in Dubai

Middle East mega-market

Wärtsilä Funa’s association with DXB Entertainments, formerly known as Dubai Parks and Resorts (DPR), in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a case in point. The fact that Dubai is attracting entertainment magnets from world over puts Wärtsilä Funa in the right place at the right time. According to The Economist, ‘Sony Pictures and Lionsgate are among the studios collaborating with local developers, in Dubai, on a huge complex of parks that is set to open later this year’. This spells good business.

Add to that the boom in tourism, not only in Dubai but across the Middle East, and what you have is a surge in demand for entertainment. As DXB Entertainments operates big theme park projects such as Legoland, Motiongate, Bollywood Park and IMG, opportunities are galore for Wärtsilä Funa.

Take the example of Wärtsilä Funa’s work at DPR’s Bollywood-inspired park.

On Ground

Take the example of Wärtsilä Funa’s work at DPR’s Bollywood-inspired park.

“The scope of work provided to DPR in this project was to design, engineer, procure, install and turnkey commission all audio, visual and control systems for Bollywood, Motion Gate and River Land,” says David Cline, the project manager at Wärtsilä Funa in Dubai.

The 1.7 million square feet Bollywood Park houses a Taj-Mahal-inspired ‘Rajmahal’, an 850-seat theatre, for the daily elaborate dance performances. Spanning around 4 million square feet, Motion Gate is the biggest of DPR’s parks. For the first time three of Hollywood’s most legendary studios – Dreamworks Animation, Sony Pictures Studios and Lionsgate – have been brought together in a theme park.

There is little doubt that a spectacle of lights and sound is what is primary to the running of these theme parks, and it is this expertise at Wärtsilä Funa that is the cornerstone in making its high-quality, integrated systems, special. 

"We are actively pursuing entertainment related projects throughout the world. Themed entertainment, and the audiovisual equipment needed to deliver it, continues to show up in unlikely places and industries," says Weber. 

So what’s next?

“The next big thing is always confidential – but stay tuned, our clients are the ones making those announcements," concludes Weber.

Tourists at Dubai amusement park

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