By 05/10/2012 Read More →

Reflections on the German park industry

by Olaf Mordelt

As the end of the 2012 season approaches, I believe that, once again, the German amusement park and attractions industry can be proud of the steady growth achieved throughout these turbulent economical times.

This year, some great new thrill attractions emerged around the country. Aimed at the younger generation, they greatly improved the marketing potential of the parks in question.

However, many parks have also identified a need to improve the theming of their existing rides, attractions or themed areas. Not only does this make attractions “trendy again” but by re-designing the entrance areas, shopping, food & beverage, it creates a much better first impression.

In the years to come, I predict we will see more and more retheming. This will be particularly important for those parks with overlapping catchment areas and target groups – such as those in the highly competitive area around the Dutch/Belgian border. Strong theming is one sure way to stand out from the competition.

By adding more accommodation possibilities, with new hotels, bungalows and apartments, venues from Hansa Park in the north to the unstoppable Europa-Park in the south have been able to extend the visiting period as well as the spending behaviour of their guests. This in turn has allowed them to generate extra profit, which may be used in the near future for new attractions, infrastructure and other investment. This will ultimately be beneficial for the suppliers. I anticipate further hotel investment, but it’s important for parks to make sure this in keeping with their existing theming and target market.

A great variety of special events are now staged each season at Germany’s amusement parks, but Halloween and Christmas still remain an important way of attracting new groups who would not otherwise be interested until now in visiting such venues.

An emerging group of visitors that operators should be aware are the “always young seniors”. They may not want to use the major thrill rides anymore, but they are keen to dwell on their “nostalgic yesteryears” – and have both the time and money to do so. Make sure you cater to them at your facility.

At One World Studio we have been thinking about new attractions and concepts that may be used by amusement parks of any size to address some of the trends above. Feel free to approach us at the upcoming trade shows – including EAS in Berlin – to talk about them in more detail. Overall I’m very much looking forward to the steady creative growth of our industry and wish all parks that dare to invest this winter success in the 2013 season and beyond.

Olaf Mordelt is founder of One World Studio, a Berlin-based provider of turnkey design and management of theme park, FEC and other attraction concepts. Boasting 27 years’ industry experience, he is a member of both IAAPA and the German park suppliers’ association the VDV.