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Profile - May 2017

Golden Fleece

Raising the baa at Skånes Djurpark with Shaun the Sheep Land

by Juliana Gilling

Aardman Animations’ first Shaun the Sheep Land is changing consumer attitudes at Skånes Djurpark in Sweden. The attraction’s launch last June contributed to a record year for the park, with a 32 percent increase in visitor numbers during high season and 19 percent overall. The zoological park ended the 2016 season with 149,000 guests.

Season-pass sales reached 10,000—an increase of more than 300 percent. Park CEO Kasper Schumacher is already reporting strong sales this year, and says he expects an increase in guests in 2017.

Håkon Lund, owner at Lund Gruppen Holding AS, which operates Skånes Djurpark, is proud of the way Shaun the Sheep Land is translating into “higher visitor numbers, longer stays, increased per-cap spending, and super guest satisfaction feedback.”

The attraction has enabled the park to win over price-sensitive customers, allowing it to raise entrance charges. Historically, Skånes Djurpark was one of the most inexpensive parks to visit in Sweden. “Even though it was reasonably priced, people complained about the cost being too high,” says Lund. “Now, what we’re seeing is guests are very happy to buy a higher-quality experience for a higher price. We are getting comments about the park being a very favorable economic option.”

Lund plans to keep the price rises modest: “This is a turnaround project.
First, you have to gain the guests’ trust and show that they are getting value for money.”

Shaun the Sheep Land represented a total investment of around k4 million. The new offering occupies 20,000 square meters and gives guests the opportunity to meet Shaun the Sheep in person and take a spin on a Massey Ferguson tractor track (Metallbau Emmeln). 2016 also saw the introduction of a water-play area from Vortex.

“One of the greatest benefits with Shaun the Sheep is that it’s a cross-border story—that’s very important for us,” says Lund. The popular animated brand has the potential to extend the park’s reach, and has also caught the imagination of Swedish, German, and Danish visitors.

“I think that’s the strength of a non-verbal storyline. We haven’t needed to alter the story or adapt anything to make sure that guests from different cultures, with different languages, are all getting the same benefit,” says Lund.

Bringing Shaun the Sheep Land to life has also had the added effect of making guests participants in the animals’ story, rather than simply spectators. The wildlife park is home to more than 85 species, including wild boar, elk, bear, lynx, and grey seals, so operators have to be sensitive to animal welfare. Lund wants to parlay the interactive and animal-based storytelling possible in Shaun the Sheep Land into other kinds of visitor experiences in the park.

He reveals Skånes Djurpark’s team is working with Van Riswick on an “intricate treetop walk within a large enclosure,” which will be rolled out for the June high season. Lund hopes it will “give guests an even stronger feeling of being in nature and a closer encounter with the animals, just like it would be in the wild.”