EAS 2017 Recap - November 2017

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Breakthroughs in Berlin

EAS 2017 showcases new projects, insightful perspectives

by Juliana Gilling

Inclusivity and optimism were the hallmarks of IAAPA’s Euro Attractions Show (EAS) 2017 in Berlin (Sept. 24-28). Around 12,400 attractions industry professionals from 100 countries came to Germany’s capital to share knowledge, new ideas, and networking opportunities. 

IAAPA President and CEO Paul Noland hailed the show’s successful return to Berlin as a sign of the “health of our industry.” He paid tribute to Karen Staley, the driving force behind IAAPA Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) operations for several years. Staley, now senior vice president of IAAPA North American Operations, hands over the IAAPA EMEA baton to Jakob Wahl. Wahl believes that “everyone—from attractions of all kinds and sizes—can take something home from EAS.”

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The opening ceremony at EAS 2017 featured presentations by IAAPA leadership, live performers from Europa-Park, and a “What’s New?” recap

EAS Mixes Business and Pleasure

The opening ceremony showed how the industry likes to rock ’n’ roll, with live performers from Europa-Park and a “What’s New?” recap of 2017 debuts. Highlights included Europa-Park’s “Voletarium,” Legendia’s “Lech Coaster,” “Symbolica” at Efteling, Puy du Fou’s La Citadelle hotel, “Turbo Track” at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, and “Ikaros” at Gröna Lund. “This is a thriving, growing industry; we are constantly reinventing ourselves,” said 2017 IAAPA Chairman of the Board Greg Hale. EAS is an opportunity to “find new ways to drive the business of fun,” he added. In Europe alone, the industry’s economic impact amounts to more than i19.2 billion. 

EAS continues to grow: six halls hosted 542 companies from around the world. The conference rewarded attendees with the most extensive education program to date, featuring 100 attractions leaders including Christoph Andreas Leicht of Hansa-Park; Fernando Aldecoa, general manager, PortAventura World; Paul Chatelot, director of prevention, safety, and environmental standards at Disneyland Paris; and Dr. Andreas Knieriem, CEO of Zoo Berlin. 

CEOs, including Eddie Kemsley from KidZania London, spoke of the value of online ticket sales and dynamic pricing. Indoor attractions are another way forward for Andreas Sievering from Fort Fun and Robert Dahl from Karls Erlebnis-Dorf, a strawberry farm turned park. 

Seminars ranged from safety to revenue generation, intellectual property (IP), human resources, and dining. EAS is a broad tent, and water parks and family entertainment centers (FECs) had their own dedicated forums. There were interactive “Lunch and Learn” sessions and EDUTours to German attractions. Fun-filled receptions took place at the resplendent, 17th-century Charlottenburg Palace and—for young professionals climbing the career ladder—atop the Berlin Radio Tower. A post-tour took 40 participants to Europa-Park, Tripsdrill, Legoland Deutschland, and Munich’s Oktoberfest.

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Leaders Focus on Market Opportunities

EAS Leadership Breakfast speaker Christoph Kiessling of Loro Parque Group treated the audience to a trip through time, charting an attraction heritage that began 45 years ago when his father, Wolfgang, launched Loro Parque in the Canary Islands. He previewed forthcoming launches, including the Poema del Mar aquarium, opening in Las Palmas this December, and Siam Park Gran Canaria. The Gran Canaria park features the “Tree of Life” and the “first vertical water park,” which integrates ProSlide water slides and restaurants in one structure. 

As well as adding and renewing attractions, the Kiesslings have always been open to new possibilities. They started nighttime openings to spread attendances, employed solar energy, commercialized their behind-the-scenes “Discovery Tour,” and introduced VIP Villas at Siam Park. 

“People have money to spend, and if you create opportunities, they will happily take them,” said Kiessling.

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Parks Reveal Expansion Plans

Operators from Walibi Belgium and Toverland in the Netherlands revealed glimpses of the future. Compagnie des Alpes is investing i100 million in Walibi Belgium, positioning it as the country’s top family park. “We want to be the park of real sensations for all ages,” explained Walibi Belgium CEO Jean-Christophe Parent. 

In the next five years, the park will be divided into eight individually themed zones (Worlds of Walibi). Plans contain four coasters and 10 new rides.

The master plan includes a new entrance area and a kids’ zone for the Aqualibi water park, which will undergo a Caribbean-style revamp. There will be new Tiki-themed and African-themed zones, an adventure trail, and a flagship interactive dark ride from Alterface. Themed restaurants will enhance the experience.

Toverland is opening a €30 million expansion in 2018. It consists of a new entrance and a themed area called Avalon, home to the wizard Merlin. Merlin will protect parkgoers against the ice-witch Morgana’s dark magic with the help of “Fēnix” (Phoenix), a Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) coaster that will take flight in summer 2018. “It will be the longest wing coaster in Europe and the first of its kind in the Benelux,” said Pieter van Holsteijn, a designer at Toverland.

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Andreas Andersen of Liseberg presents “Valkyria” at the “What’s New in the Industry” Lunch and Learn.

Learn from the Best

“Lunch and Learn” participants heard from operators who had already launched attractions. Andreas Andersen, president and CEO of Liseberg in Sweden, is halfway through applying a “Myths and Legends” theme to an existing area of the park. This year, Liseberg added “Loke” (Intamin Gyro Swing), named after the mischievous god of Asgard. In 2018, “Valkyria,” a B&M Dive Coaster, arrives.

Andersen, who will become IAAPA Chairman of the Board in November, talked about the challenge of “packaging a two-year project into Liseberg’s marketing” and attracting new guests without alienating existing ones. Commercials for “Loke” contextualized it as part of the wider portfolio of attractions. Liseberg also released a point-of-view trailer for “Valkyria,” achieving 2 million views on YouTube. 

Kim Schäfer, head of sales and marketing at Tropical Islands water park resort in Germany, handled an uncertain opening date for the Amazonia outdoor area by devising a year-round, teaser marketing campaign. His team made full use of Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, invited key influencers to the attraction, and launched the key campaign five weeks before the opening date. 

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Bernard Giampaolo of Mirabilandia discusses show and street animations during the “Festivals and New Events” session.

Innovations and Inspirations

Bruno Vanwelsenaers, managing director international at Tomorrowland, was among the headliners at the festivals and new events session. Vanwelsenaers said Tomorrowland—held annually in Boom, Belgium—had “changed the festival industry.” 

Tomorrowland beat queuing by mailing entry bracelets in advance in beautifully themed boxes (240,000 of them); festivalgoers go online to activate the bracelets. Tomorrowland is also a cashless festival because visitors can load spending money onto the bracelets. 

Tomorrowland “pays a lot of attention to food,” said Vanwelsenaers. At one restaurant by the main stage, a two-star Michelin chef caters to the happy few. Tomorrowland also set out to become a “worldwide media phenomenon,” offering radio and television broadcasts, and livestreams of the festival.

Vanwelsenaers’ presentation showed how EAS brings together players from across the leisure and attractions industry. “EAS is an amazing show. It grows and grows, which shows how important the industry is to this region,” said Amanda Thompson O.B.E., managing director at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. “It’s where you can see everything exciting in Europe. The whole of Europe comes together to collaborate, and that is so important.”