European amusement parks: numbers show a bright future

What are the keys to success in European parks?

According to the TEA annual report 2018, the top 20 European amusement parks keep moving up the ranks when it comes to attendance. The Disney parks in Paris didn’t show any increase in attendance but were stable after their boost in 2017 due to their 25th anniversary. On the other hand, other European amusement parks such as Efteling (Netherlands), Tivoli (Denmark), Gardaland (Italy), Europa Park (Germany), and Alton Towers (United Kingdom) made their way up the charts showing a positive increase in attendance growth. In Spain, the Parque Warner in Madrid, thanks to the expansion of their water park, their strong marketing campaigns, and the idea to introduce packages and passes to turn a park visit into a resort experience definitely helped this growth. This last technique proves to be one of the keys to the success of a park. As a matter of fact, in 2017, Merlin’s UK parks have introduced (besides new attractions) the same technique to grow attendance and recover from the decline they had to face a few years ago, which affected other theme parks across the United Kingdom that were operated by the same company. But by changing strategy, and also thanks to good weather, the British-based park operator managed to find the solution to increase attendance in its parks. In Italy, Gardaland added a new land dedicated to the popular Pig from the TV cartoon for small children: Peppa Pig Land. This new area in the park is greatly responsible for the rise in attendance to 2.9 million. As a matter of fact, the popular pig’s IP proved to be successful worldwide being loved by adults as well as children. Futuroscope (France), is foreseen to show an increase in the future, despite the struggle it had to face last year to keep the attendance. The fact that the park is opening new kids’ land with 21 new attractions will likely be the reason for this rise. Apparently, when it comes to attendance growth in Europe, one of the keys to success is to expand the park and make it into a destination park. It all lays in offering the visitors a longer stay, by adding hotels, extra gates, seasonal events, etc. Expanding into new countries is another strategy to grow attendance. A good example would be the French historical theme park Puy du Fou. This park while adding new attractions to its original location, brought its brand in countries such as Spain.  

Wrap up

While we wait for this year’s data, we can assert that as of now the future of European amusement parks definitely looks brighter than ever. Here are some of the strategies that are proving to win the market:
  • expanding their offer, transforming a park visit into an actual resort experience. This strategy was able to make Merlin’s UK parks recover from the decline it faced a few years ago;
  • introducing more IP-based attractions. Gardaland’s Peppa Pig Land, for example, helped the park reach a peak of 2.9 million people;
  • opening new areas and attractions dedicated to kids, as Futuroscope did, is another interesting strategy that is foreseen to show an interesting rate increase;
  • expanding into new countries, when possible, has proved to be a winning strategy for European amusement parks, like in the case of the French theme park Puy du Fou.
  [Source: TEA annual report 2018]

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