Winnie Chan waited in line for three hours to enter one of Singapore's latest attraction but it was worth it—she left with photos of herself riding Harry Potter's broomstick and being trapped in a cage with a giant baby.
Such is the draw of 3-D museums—where optical illusions bring two-dimensional paintings to life. Popularized in South Korea, industry players are launching 3-D museums across Asia, confident they'll become major regional attractions.
"It is a booming market with new openings in China and Thailand. Competition is building but it's healthy," Winston Lo, director of strategy and finance at HK 3-D museum told CNBC. The gallery opened in the busy district of Tsim Sha Tsui last month and aims to attract 400,000 visitors in a year's time.
In Singapore, visitor numbers exceeded expectations at the Trick Eye Museum and Alive Museum, both of which opened in June. The former estimates that it has chalked up over 100,000 arrivals in its first outlet outside South Korea. It plans to expand into Hong Kong by November.
Industry players believe the experience of interacting with art pieces will get visitors to fork around $20 for a visit. The opportunity to take playful photos has a particular appeal for snap-happy Asians.
"Photo-taking is the main activity for Asian tourists, [so] 3-D museums are quite the perfect destination to take memorable photos in various fantasy scenarios," said Mandy Foo, marketing manager of Trick Eye Museum.
"Concept is the key appeal. It's fun, engaging and highly educational—the recipe for huge success," said Patsy Ong-Hahl, managing director of Adval Brand Group, the licensee of Singapore's Alive Museum.
3-D museums are also positioned to benefit from social media, according to Winston Lo: "In Hong Kong, smartphones are a way of life so news spread quickly through social media which is how many people know about us. When their friends upload pictures they find hilarious, they want to come."