The popular app’s much-loved characters get a home of their own
TWO YEARS in the making, the world’s first Line indoor theme park opened last Friday in downtown Bangkok, allowing fans of the characters seen in the popular chat application to interact with their favourites in both a virtual reality world and in real-time themed photo rooms.
Called Line Village Bangkok, the Bt500-million project occupies 1,500sqm over three-storeys at Siam Square One Building, opposite Siam Paragon. The theme park completes the Line Friends store, which was opened last year to sell official merchandise.
The gigantic cute bear Choco wais customers at the front door.
Eleven of the main Line characters who make regular appearances on the chat stickers live in the new house and invite visitors into their rooms. Here you can spend time in Brown’s bedroom, Cony’s kitchen, Moon’s rooftop room, Boss’ office and Choco’s cheerful pad. Every spot demands a selfie while virtual reality and physical games provide the immersive experience.
Line’s most popular character, Brown the brown bear, waits to welcome his fans at his room in Line Village Bangkok.
“Like most Thais, the first thing I do when I wake up is grab my phone and check Line. The Line characters have become our friends. And Thais also love taking photos so Line Village Bangkok is a perfect match for today’s lifestyle,” says Rupop Shinawatra who is licensed by Seoul-based Line Friends Corp to run Line Village and serves as chief executive.
The Line application has users in more than 230 countries and territories. Line Thailand says 42 million of the 45 million Thais with mobile Internet use it – making Thailand the second-largest market in the world after Japan. Research conducted by Line Thailand also shows that Thais spend an average of 216 minutes a day on their smartphones, and 63 of those minutes are devoted to Line.
The mysterious library
“Bangkok is very poorly served compared to Japan, which has plenty of tourist attractions like Disney Land, Universal Studio and Lego Land. Line Village Bangkok has the potential to become a new business model for Line Friends Corp. The company’s insisted on the venue being in the prime shopping area of Bangkok and the space here fits that criterion. The target is social media users aged between 15 and 40, both Thai and tourists, and we expect to draw 12 million visitors a year,” he says.
The secret steps
Line Village is set up along a one-way route with 23 spots to check out. After passing the tunnel, the mysterious library and the secret steps, the most popular character – the brown bear called simply Brown – welcomes visitors to his bedroom, a cool space decked out with books and boxing and karate paraphernalia – in a nod to his favourite sports. Visitors can sit next to the larger-than-life figure of Brown on his sofa and take selfies with the bear who always wears the same unruffled expression.
The cheerful rabbit Cony invites everyone to her culinary world.
As the adorable female rabbit Cony loves cooking, visitors can hang out in her kitchen, which has loads of utensils and fitting as well as digital cooking games. Like his name, Moon - the anthropomorphic alien who is passionate about the galaxy – wears a space suit and hangs out in his rooftop room surrounded by rockets, stars and telescopes.
The stubborn and adventurous Moon shares his passion for the galaxy in his rooftop room.
“We’ve worked closely with Line headquarters in South Korea to ensure that every character and style and all content precisely matches the brand identity,” says Rupop. “The graphics, the colour code and the proportions of each character, as well as the props, and the digital and physical games are carefully conceived. All items are exclusively produced for us. Though there are 45 Line Friends stores and cafes in major cities around the world, this theme park is the first.”
The self-centred James opens up his luxurious room to visitors.
Narcissistic blond James lives in a room decorated with self-portraits and luxurious high-backed sofas, inviting visitors to sit and get close to him. Boss, a bald, pot-bellied man who is of course a boss, is found in his office decked out with glass cabinets filled with accessories like wristwatches, sunglasses, hats, perfume bottles, cameras and pens.
The strict and sneaky Boss keeps an eye on you from his office.
The new character Choco, who represents the social media-savvy, fashion-conscious young woman, has a pink room furnished with a wardrobe filled with fashionable items and a dressing table covered with the trendiest cosmetics.
“The different Line characters are cleverly designed to match different people’s style,” Rupop adds.
“The mood and tone and even the music are customised to match each character. The cheerful Cony comes with a fun beat and the sound in Choco’s room recalls the runway vibe. Boss’s office boasts the James Bond’s theme song.”
Choco’s house is dominated by fashionable items.
First introduced in 2011, the Line sticker characters were an instant hit. They’re fun to send and receive and fit into the daily routine. They are also the stars of collectible items, animated films, games and cafes. Line Thailand reckons that about 500 million sticker sets were downloaded last year. On average, it adds, every single person using Line in this country owns 15 sets.
Visitors can join the virtual reality rollercoaster ride with the Line gang.
Another highlight in Line Village is a virtual reality rollercoaster ride, developed with Samsung Electronics, for which visitors don VR headsets and join the adventurous ride with the Line gang. Two selfie machines allow visitors to capture their pictures in video format and decorate them with animated Line characters. They can be shared instantly on social media.
The selfie machine allows fans to play with animated characters and share the photos on social media.
A dim mirrored room is filled with 100 white illuminated Brown dolls in various sizes that are reflected thousands of times. The final mirror room has the animated characters popping up everywhere and the mirror is specially designed not to give a reflection when you’re taking pictures.
Illuminated white Brown dolls are endlessly reflected in the mirror.
“Line always updates its characters to match the changing lifestyles of people. Line Village, too, can adjust the digital content, the mood and tone and the props so that visitors can come back to enjoy new exciting experiences,” he says.
Line recently turned the bear Brown into a hip-hop DJ, a skateboarder and even a dino to appeal to the growing segment of young customers.
Brown, the hip-hop DJ
“Like my kids, I personally like the cunning chick Sally because she’s cute and also the main character Brown thanks to his calm personality,” says Rupop.
Visitors will also go home with an exclusive set of stickers that are available to download to their mobile devices. The motion stickers have Brown and his paws dressed in Thai traditional costumes and performing a wai. Another shows them riding in a tuk-tuk. The sticker set will change every six months.
The mirror room has animated characters in every corner.
The last spot, of course, is the store and it’s now filled with more than 2,000 items, from clothing and stationery to dolls and accessories. Also on sale are goods produced in collaboration with world-famous brands, among them a Lamy fountain pen, Swarovski necklace, Moleskine notebook, Be@rbrick doll, and Thermos water bottle. Limited-edition items available exclusively in Thailand are a wai’ing Brown doll and the whole gang in their tuk-tuk.
Line Friends store
Line Village Bangkok opens daily from 10 to 10 at Siam Square One.
Admission is Bt850 for Thai adults and Bt990 for non-Thais. Thai children pay Bt650 while foreign kids are charged Bt790. Kids under 90 centimetres in height get in for free.
Tickets are available at the door or online at www.LineVillageBangkok.com.
For details, call (095) 503 6666.