Launch - Fit & Fun - March 2018


Funtopia Focuses on Healthy Growth

Versatility is the hallmark of Funtopia, a brand of adventure entertainment centers and sister company to the Walltopia climbing-wall business.  

Funtopia has expanded to include eight sites across five countries on four continents since making its debut in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2013. Funtopia facilities operate in the United States, Australia, Bulgaria, Malaysia, and the Middle East. The newest site, Funtopia Maribyrnong, opened in Melbourne, Australia, in August 2017. Contracts for a further six facilities have been signed, including three parks due to launch in Australia, the United States, and the Middle East by mid-2018, as well three more to open by the end of 2018 (in Pakistan, Australia, and the United States). “We expect to sign 10 more contracts in the next year,” says Ruzha Karaatanasova, CEO of Funtopia.

At first, Funtopia harnessed the fun of climbing walls, but the team soon added a broader range of physical activities with interactive elements. “We found it valuable to have a variety of attractions,” explains Karaatanasova.

Funtopia’s guests might find themselves climbing a beanstalk, jumping across skyscrapers, crawling through caves, experiencing a freefall, swooping across zip lines, or exploring a soft-play obstacle course. The idea is to stretch people’s imaginations and develop their skills. Children can participate in a series of challenges, completing different levels. “It keeps them interested,” says Karaatanasova. “Our mission is to help grow healthy, happy kids.” Karaatanasova believes Funtopia’s “joyful,” physical brand of fun can serve as a counterbalance to the sharp rise in children’s “screen time.”

Funtopia’s sites have grown to accommodate the increased offerings. Compared to the first Funtopia (500 square meters), new locations typically cover 1,500-2,000 square meters. The latest venue, Funtopia Maribyrnong, is 1,600 square meters (Karaatanasova would expect an attendance of around 200,000 visits per year for a 1,400-square-meter facility). Average investment works out around i700-i1,000 per square meter.

Funtopia is spreading quickly, mainly through franchises. Karaatanasova is confident Funtopia can drive footfall and add entertainment value at destinations like shopping malls. “In five years’ time, I would like to have 100 locations at least,” she says. Meeting the needs of each new market is a “serious challenge,” according to Karaatanasova. But she is proud of Funtopia’s versatility and the fact that its franchisees from many countries benefit from shared knowledge.

Funtopia now has two head offices, one located in Bulgaria and one in North America (headed by general manager Yassen Nikolov), to manage the growing operation. “We’re seeking new partners globally to become part of our family,” says Karaatanasova.