VR group signs new deal with US zoo for pioneering 40-seat theatre


Salford-based immersive entertainment group, Immotion, has confirmed the signing of a revenue share agreement with Milwaukee County Zoo, Wisconsin, USA for the installation of a 40-seat VR Theatre, including pre-show.

Milwaukee County Zoo boasts an annual footfall of 1.3 million visitors, with peak summer days seeing more than 10,000 visitors.

Immotion will utilise a 500 square metre stand-alone building in the heart of the zoo to create the new attraction. The theatre will feature Immotion’s latest live-action experience, ‘Gorilla Trek,’ which was created in association with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

Visitors will be virtually transported to the mountains of Rwanda where they immerse themselves in the habitat and daily lives of the endangered mountain gorilla. Themed inside and out by Immotion’s design team, the immersive experience centre will feature an extensive pre-show where guests interact with touch-screen displays and infographics, giving them a valuable understanding of the plight of the mountain gorilla and a chance to learn more about the individual gorillas featured in the film, in addition to those in the zoo itself. The outside theming will feature giant LED walls surrounding the entrance portal, enticing visitors to the new attraction.

Work will start immediately with a target opening date of the second half of July 2022 and the contract will continue until December 31, 2026.

The installations at Milwaukee County Zoo, Pittsburgh Zoo, announced on April 27, 2022, and the additional seats to be installed at Sea Life London, announced on April 11, 2022, will take the number of new headsets installed this calendar year to 108 when completed, and the overall estate to 468.

The new seats, including motion platforms and VR headsets, will be fulfilled from stock currently held by Immotion.

Immotion said trading continues to be in line with expectations, with unaudited revenue of circa £870,000 for its core Location Based Entertainment (LBE) business in April 2022. This brings total unaudited LBE revenue to £2.7m in the four months to April 30, 2022, versus £2.3m in the first six months of 2021.

CEO, Martin Higginson, said: “We are pleased to confirm the signing of a new 40-seat VR theatre at Milwaukee County Zoo. Our team have worked incredibly hard to secure this major signing.

“The focus on both aquariums and zoos is starting to pay dividends, and I believe that once other zoos see this latest installation our order book will get even busier. Based on discussions and pipeline, we continue to be very excited at our prospects for further growth.”

Rod Findley, president, LBE and group commercial director, said: “The Milwaukee County Zoo project will be a flagship installation as we move forward with our 2022 zoo initiative.

“This experience centre will truly highlight the talents that make Immotion the leader in immersive edutainment for zoos and aquariums. From the moment the guest steps into the building, they are transported to the mountains of Rwanda – the pre-show engages them and sets the stage for an unforgettable VR journey into the heart of a mountain gorilla family.

“We could not be more proud to be working with our partners at Milwaukee County Zoo who have a clear and forward thinking vision of how to integrate new technologies into their zoo offering.”