Even if you’re a recidivist traveller in our fast-changing, inter-connected world, there’s never any shortage of new sights and delights to shake up the travel landscape, adding fresh temptations to proven destinations across the planet. Here’s a look at some of the big new openings and attractions, set down for 2019. Two of the dominant themes are showpiece new museums and legacy attractions, spinning off the blockbuster movies and smash-hit television.
The Museum of the Future, Dubai. The ultra-showy metropolis of the United Arab Emirates is not the kind of place that stands still for long. Ahead of hosting the 2020 World Expo, Dubai’s eagerly-awaited Museum of the Future is where you can say Hello Tomorrow in this futuristic showcase of design and products that we’ll all be supposedly using in the next few decades. Part-museum, part-showroom, a feature attraction will be the glitzy demonstration space where you can see prototypes in action, firsthand, before they go to market. In a city that dotes over edgy architecture, the museum will be styled as a gleaming silver oval, slathered in Arabic calligraphy. It’s set to swing its doors open in the latter part of the year.
Speaking of the Middle East, and not to be outdone, the National Museum of Qatar opens in Doha in March. After numerous delays, the 52,000-square-metre facility will tell the story of the rise of this oil-rich nation. It's housed in a building inspired by the desert sand rose, designed by the distinguished French architect, Jean Nouvel.
Also on the museum front, the new Petra Museum. With hotels, restaurants and a new theatre and convention centre already in the works, Jordan's Rose City is set to offer an accentuated experience beyond the spell-binding Petra Archaeological Park. Across eight galleries, the new interactive Petra Museum will offer insight into the history and culture of the glorious site.
The much-hyped new opening in New York this year is the Statue of Liberty Museum. Since 9/11, heightened security has meant fewer people have had access to the pint-sized existing museum beneath the statue on Ellis Island. The new much bigger facility has three gallery spaces dedicated to the history of Lady Liberty with exhibits including her original torch.
It’s awards season in Hollywood and finally the Oscars will soon pay homage to their heritage and screen legends, from the golden age to the present day, with their own purpose-built museum. Currently, there’s a variety of scratchings of Hollywood loot parked up in various pokey museums, all over LA. But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is about to change that with the full red-carpet experience at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
The Academy has been actively amassing its collection for over a decade. There’ll be everything from scripts to costumes, a full-sized shark model of Jaws, Shirley Temple’s Juvenile Oscar and a rather pair of ruby slippers, which have been parked up at the Smithsonian in DC for decades. Promising glitz and glam by the caseload, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is set to open in November, on Wilshire Blvd. Designed by Renzo Piano, it will be the largest museum of its kind in the country.
It’s possibly the most lustily-awaited big reveal of the year – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Walt Disney’s original park, Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, has the honours of getting first dibs on this colossal new attraction, which will also open at Disney World in Orlando, several months later. This is Disneyland’s biggest undertaking since the park first opened over 70 years ago and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will stretch over fourteen acres. Older areas like Big Thunder Ranch have already been wiped out to house this monumental new addition. Themed around Batuu, a far-flung outpost on
the Galaxy’s Edge, the starring thrill-ride will be the chance to fly the Millennium Falcon. This epic addition to the Disney realm of ultimate escapism will be a tractor-beam for every Kiwi who identifies as Jedi at census time. Just imagine the size of those queues!
If you’re a Game of Thrones junkie, counting down to its final season in April, here’s something to look forward to. There's already an unofficial Game of Thrones trail along Northern Ireland's wild coast. But after a decade of filming in the country, HBO has announced it will turn a whole heap of sets into visitor attractions. How very Hobbiton.
After more than 20 years, Universal Studios in Burbank recently shut down its Jurassic Park Ride to make way for Jurassic World. It's still under wraps, but Universal promises "never-before-seen dinosaurs, enhanced storytelling, lush scenic design, an entirely new colour scheme and uncompromised state-of the art technology". The last time I rode the ride, it broke-down mid-stream, and my brother and I had to be rescued by park operators, under the menacing gaze of T-Rex. At first, I thought the real-life rescue was just part of its schtick.
Finally, if striking architecture is your bag, Bangkok’s towering skyline is set to be ignited by the Candle. As its name would suggest, the candle-shaped Bangkok Observation Tower, will soar 459 metres above the heaving, steaming streets of the Thai capital, revving up the Chao Phraya riverfront, with a host of cultural insights and the biggest views across Bangkok. Operated as a not-for-profit, proceeds from the new national landmark will be deployed to social causes. To put it into context, it will be over 130 metres higher than Auckland’s Sky Tower. The Candle is scheduled to light up late this year.
Mike Yardley is our Travel Correspondent on Jack Tame Saturday Mornings.