July 2015 

Super-Powered SuperPark

How the Nordic FEC chain is planning to spread its wings in 2016 and beyond

by Juliana Gilling

SuperPark Kiipeily

The July 2015 edition of Funworld profiles Level 257, Namco’s new Pac-Man-inspired family entertainment centre (FEC) in Chicago’s suburbs. In Europe, SuperPark is one of the rising stars in the FEC sector. SuperPark CEO Juha Tanskanen shares the thinking behind the fast-growing Finnish group.

Whether they’re bouncing on trampolines, diving into foam-pools, tubing down artificial ski slopes, or swinging golf clubs like Rory McIlroy, guests at SuperPark’s indoor activity parks are guaranteed to get moving. “We do interactivity parks,” says SuperPark CEO Juha Tanskanen.

The SuperPark group first made its ambitions clear in the FEC market when it opened the Angry Birds Activity Park in Vuokatti, Finland, in December 2012. Spanning almost 9,000 square metres, it was the world’s largest Angry Birds Activity Park at its launch. The indoor, all-weather attraction was a welcome addition to an area known for active vacations featuring extensive skiing, dog sledding, and hiking nearby.

SUPERPARK

Harnessing the power of the Angry Birds brand, created by Finnish entertainment company Rovio, was a coup for the fledgling business: “Angry Birds was a very important part of our history,” says Tanskanen. SuperPark looks likely to benefit again from its association with the brand with the global release of Rovio's animated Angry Birds feature film slated for 2016 (www.rovio.com). The visibility of the Angry Birds Activity Park gave the company a prime platform from which to launch its own SuperPark concept.

In addition to the Angry Birds venue, the group now owns and operates two SuperPark-branded indoor activity parks. The first opened in the Finnish city of Oulu in April 2014, followed by a second site in Vantaa in January 2015. Since then, SuperPark has struck licensing deals with external operators for a spinoff SuperCorner concept. A 600-square-metre SuperCorner debuted at the ABC Pitkälahti service station in Kuopio in April 2015.

SuperPark jalkapalloflipperi

SuperPark is also developing the consulting arm of its business. The group has worked on a 4,800-square-metre activity park at Seinäjoki—themed around Finnish TV stunt stars The Dudesons—that opened in August 2014.

SuperPark’s indoor activity park concept is based on three core principles: making physical activities fun for children, bringing families together, and encouraging wellness. Tanskanen, together with development manager Taneli Sutinen, wanted to create an FEC that involved everybody.

For €19 (under 4s go free) visitors can enjoy SuperPark’s three main attractions under one roof. The Adventure Area is filled with activities—from climbing walls to soft play—for families with children aged 2-8 years old. In the Game Arena, guests can try sports including ice hockey, baseball, football, and basketball. Teenagers love the adrenaline-fueled Freestyle Hall, which offers skateboarding, BMX biking, trampolines, and skating. There’s also a Robson’s restaurant open to the public (without a SuperPark ticket).

“SuperPark is a hybrid business model. We can accommodate small kids, families, and teenagers in the same place and they can all watch each other,” says Tanskanen. “One of the best things is when I go to our parks and I see children, who don’t normally move much, jumping around and smiling. They’re happy because one minute they are doing something different with their families and 10 minutes later they are trying something else.”

SuperPark skeitti

Visitors spend on average 4-5 hours at a SuperPark: “All that time you must be active—and that’s a long time,” says Tanskanen. “That’s our big vision: active, year-round family fun.” SuperPark is also targeting tourists, school groups, businesses, and other organisations.

Both the Oulu and Vantaa sites occupy 7,000 square metres and can host around 1,500 guests at the same time. Future SuperParks could range from 2,000-6,000 square metres. “Normally the investment is about €2-3 million and the turnover for one park is about €3 million, which is what we are getting now,” says Tanskanen. In a relatively small country, with 5.4 million inhabitants, each SuperPark attracts a respectable 150,000 visitors a year: “We are happy with that,” says Tanskanen.

He expects SuperCorners to cover 500-1,500 square metres and cost in the region of €500,000-1 million: “That means it’s easier to invest, but of course you can’t get so many people inside.” A third branded concept, for even tighter spaces, is also in the cards. 

Last year, the group’s turnover topped €6 million and Tanskanen expects it to reach €9 million in 2015/16. The next step is to open another two or three SuperParks and two to four SuperCorners in Finland in 2016. “We also want two to three new SuperParks in the Baltic countries next year,” he confirms.

Tuubima¦êki

From there, he hopes to roll out the brand in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe. Tanskanen is looking for “partners and possibilities” to help make that happen. His belief in the SuperParks brand has been reinforced by the number of interested investors and operators visiting Finland to see the venues firsthand.

Tanskanen sees potential for the products in large cities, shopping malls, tourist resorts, leisure facilities, and entertainment centres. Smaller SuperPark offerings could find a home within the parks and attractions industry. “Amusement parks and bigger entertainment places may be our partners in the future,” he says.

SuperPark’s strategy anticipates creating 10-20 SuperParks and the same number of SuperCorners by 2020. If all goes to plan, the goal is to achieve a turnover of €30-40 million within five years. Currently, 49 percent of the company is owned by SuperPark’s management, while investors hold the remaining 51 percent.

SuperPark is committed to reinvesting in existing properties every three years, although Tanskanen emphasises that people’s experience is different every time because of the active nature of the FECs. He draws parallels with Finland’s ski resort business, which attracts people multiple times a year, even though it offers essentially the same experience. “In our parks, you make the fun, together with your families,” he says.

One of the biggest challenges SuperPark faces is to raise brand awareness, according to Tanskanen, an entrepreneur who also runs marketing companies: “Our business is only two and a half years old. We are so young that people don’t really know us yet. They may be thinking, ‘Is SuperPark something sporty? Is it a game park? Is it an amusement park? Is it a place for small children to play in?’ But every year a few hundred thousand people visit SuperParks and that’s helping to spread the word that we are indoor activity parks. There are millions of people who don’t know our brand yet, but they are coming.”

Vaijeriliuku

SuperPark’s team is making full use of social media to promote the attraction’s story and philosophy. The parks have invited sports stars including Paralympian athlete Aleksi Kirjonen and BMX riders Niko Ihander and Andre Jesus to make appearances, posting videos of their exploits on YouTube. Besides regular YouTube films and video blogs, SuperPark’s dedicated social media staff are producing content for channels including Facebook and Instagram, using the hashtag #sprprk.

Tanskanen enjoys being part of a growing business based on strong values. He sees SuperPark as a simple way of getting children off the couch, away from computer games, and leading healthier and more social lives: “It’s a very important mission. It’s fun to make a good business that makes families and children happier.”

www.superpark.fi

Juliana Gilling is a contributing editor for IAAPA’s Funworld magazine, covering the European attractions industry. Contact her at julianagilling@gmail.com.