Sustainable Growth Shapes Austria’s Awesome Attractions
Austrian attractions have much in common. They emphasize quality over quantity, invest consistently in products and staff to meet rising expectations, give guests more reasons to return, and prioritize sustainability.
A select group of IAAPA member facility operators based in the country share their approaches with Funworld.
Familypark is riding high after launching Biberburg (Beaver Castle) last year. The €10 million flume ride from Intamin offers a four-minute-long family adventure, including a backward drop and a 17-meter-high vertical lift. Riders board eight-seat boats inside a sawmill-themed station before curious beavers cause havoc.
Familypark attracts around 700,000 visitors per season, with many from neighboring Hungary and Slovakia. “After an extremely good 2022, we are looking forward to a similar 2023,” says CEO Filip De Witte. “We have to offer a holistic package—including food and beverage (F&B) and retail—to create the best experience for our visitors. We want to invest not only in enlarging our park but also in quality products. Our staff are our ambassadors. It is vital for us to invest in them and treat them well so they treat our guests well.”
The park’s master plan proposes new zones with rides, playgrounds, shows, and services. The team wants to attract more visitors and extend the core target group beyond families with children aged 5-12.
“We plan to invest in indoor facilities to make the park less weather dependent. This will also make it possible to enlarge our traditional season,” De Witte says. Familypark has built a new solarium, adding 100 indoor seats to its Römer Restaurant.
Seasonal events are an important factor in Familypark’s growth, especially when it comes to Halloween. “In 12 days, the whole park is fully booked,” De Witte says. The park is adding new highlights to its calendar, including a four-day Jubilee Festival and plans to develop group sales packages that businesses would find appealing.
Moo-vers and Shakers
With a history in dairy farming, the Blochberger family turned to making ice cream. Soon, the Blochbergers had Eis-Greissler ice cream shops across Austria. In Krumbach, home to their cows and ice cream factory, they built a coffee house with a small nature playground in 2016.
“Demand was so great that the playground grew into an adventure park,” says Fabian Blochberger, park manager. The attractions reflect the park’s themes: ice cream, agriculture, and its homeland, the Bucklige Welt.
In 2021, the owners created a guided tour, Eis-Zeitreise, which takes guests time traveling to the ice age and the history of ice cream. Among the attractions is a flying theater that offers an exciting ride through ice cream production. Eis-Greissler also successfully introduced a Halloween event in 2022.
“This year, we are building our first roller coaster, the Buchlbahn, in the Eis-Greissler Adventure Park.,” Blochberger says. “We have chosen Gerstlauer’s Bob Coaster because it allows us to offer our youngest guests their first roller coaster experience.”
The Blochberger family plans to add new attractions yearly.
Fantasiana’s Magic Touch
Fantasiana Erlebnispark Straßwalchen “wants to create top-tier experiences,” says Simon Spitzbart, who is responsible for general management of human resources, marketing, event management, and control.
The family-run theme park has more than 100 experiences, including 20 major attractions. Fridolin's Verrückter Zauberexpress coaster made by Art Engineering in 2021 was one of the park’s best investments, according to Spitzbart.
He says with a minimum height requirement of just 90 cm, the multi-launch coaster has generated “tremendous feedback” from guests. In 2022, the park opened Pendula, a Wild Swing also by Art Engineering.
Fantasiana Erlebnispark has performed consistently over the past decade, Spitzbart says, with double-digit annual growth in guests. The team at Fantasiana Erlebnispark wants to continue delivering sustainable growth and plans bigger investments.
Swarovski Kristallwelten (Swarovski Crystal Worlds) “transports visitors into a sparkling wonderland of imagination,” says Managing Director Stefan Isser. The attraction has welcomed more than 16 million guests since its 1995 debut.
Post-pandemic, Isser has noticed an “increase in people's desire for extraordinary and meaningful experiences” and a resurgence in group tourism. “In 2023, we expect to welcome approximately 550,000 visitors from all over the world. More than 30% of them will be tour groups.”
Following a significant expansion in 2015, Swarovski Crystal Worlds offers the 18 Chambers of Wonder artist collaboration and an extensive garden for guests to explore. In 2020, the attraction worked with TechnoAlpin to create a wintry Chamber of Wonder, featuring a crystalline tree designed by Tord Boontje and Alexander McQueen, indoor snowfall, all in a world chilled to temperatures of -10°C.
“This feature captivates our international guests, some of whom have never witnessed or touched snow before,” Isser says.
In 2021, Swarovski Crystal Worlds unveiled The Art of Performance, showcasing outfits belonging to stars such as Elton John and Dita Von Teese. Now, it plans to unveil a spectacular new Chamber of Wonder.
“These investments continually elevate and diversify the Swarovski Crystal Worlds experience,” Isser says. Seasonal activities boost repeat visitation and revenue. A six-week summer festival with Circus Roncalli is in its fifth year.
“Future guests expect flawless service,” Isser says. He believes attractions must “leverage visitor data to offer personalized and customizable experiences, from personalized products to tailored itineraries and recommendations based on visitors’ interests.”
Thomas Beinhardt, Lukas Beinschab, and Dmitriy Klinchev are the CEOs behind Elite Experience. The trio embarked on a mission in 2018 to bring the best entertainment experiences to Austria. They started with escape rooms, opening their first venue in Vienna.
“Elite Experience has expanded, opening one to two new locations each year. Our most ambitious project is the opening of a 50,000-square-foot facility in Austria’s Westfield Mall SCS, planned for the first quarter of 2024,” Beinhardt says.
The team also plans to launch a 10,000-square-foot Munich venue in the summer, combining escape rooms with a dessert bar—NomNomNation.
Elite Experience’s founders prioritize investing in people and their own product development. “This allows us to maintain control over the quality and uniqueness of our offerings, ensuring an exceptional time for customers,” Beinhardt explains.
They used their time during the COVID-19 pandemic to develop new attractions and build sites. During the pandemic, the company retained all employees, and the team has since grown to 100 people.
“As restrictions eased, Elite Experience was well-prepared to reopen venues with sufficient staff. The high-quality experiences they provided resulted in excellent revenue generation,” Beinhardt says. Elite Experience saw a surge in local customers and focused its marketing efforts on attracting and retaining them.
Beinhardt, Beinschab, and Klinchev travel extensively to see world-class facilities firsthand. “There are countless opportunities for the attractions industry to flourish,” Beinhardt believes. “Discerning customers appreciate well-crafted experiences that provide exceptional value.”
A Capital City Park
The Ferris wheel at the Prater amusement park has stood as a familiar sight on Vienna’s skyline since 1897, and the landmark park continues to evolve. “The Vienna Prater consists of 80 entrepreneurs who operate 200 attractions and 50 restaurants,” explains Silvia Lang, president of Wiener Praterverband. “Cooperation and teamwork are an important part of our daily work.”
The Vienna Prater celebrates 150 years of the Vienna World’s Fair this year. The park has produced a podcast series, an interactive app-based game, and engaging social media videos. “New projects such as a trampoline park, JumpWorld.One, the Panorama Vienna, and a large roller coaster (named Vienna Looping) are in the works,” Lang says.
Panorama Vienna will be a towering cylinder-shaped structure where images from Vienna’s past will come to life in grand scale. In addition to new attractions, there is a particular focus on making the Prater greener, from planting trees for shade to using hydropower, photovoltaic systems, and converting to LED.
To date, 2023 show signs of success for the Prater, with sales up 20% compared to 2019. To inspire more guests to visit, the park is hosting speed dating, Halloween, and winter market events this year.
The park also connected with potential visitors by placing its Prater Truck in a parade during the Vienna Pride festival. A Facebook post encouraged users to like the message and tag a friend to be entered into a drawing to ride aboard the truck with friends during the parade.
Next year sees the opening of the Pratermuseum, a space defined by modern architecture that will host events and exhibitions, financed and managed by the City of Vienna.
The Prater’s diverse lineup ensures it remains relevant. “The wide range of offers, available all year round with free admission, is our way to success,” Lang says.