Founded in Bulgaria in 1998, Walltopia has since grown to become a global leader in the design and manufacturing of climbing walls and active entertainment products. Bryony Andrews, editor of GlobalAmusementsandPlay.com, caught up with head of sales Zlatimira Bancheva to find out more about Walltopia, and to understand what features make an adventure play installation successful in today’s entertainment landscape.
BA: Who is Walltopia’s target market, and how do you ensure that you are catering to their needs?
SC: Our clients are big investors as well as middle and large scale businesses from all over the world. They belong to the Indoor Climbing, Active Entertainment, Mountain and Summer Resort and Amusement sectors. Our years of experience have helped us understand their businesses and how their facilities actually operate.
We invest constantly in research and development of products that optimise their operations. We have a scientific approach to our work and our main priority is the safety of the users and visitors of our customers.
We deliver thrilling experiences with the highest level of safety. We are also including in our portfolio more and more products that combine sport with fun and education – the focus here is on our Active Entertainment range and gamification opportunities that bridge pure fun or sport with edutainment.
What are your stand-out or ‘visitor favourite’ adventure play products?
What’s interesting is that the more offerings you have, the better you’ll serve your customers and will give them more reasons to come. In that sense, any adventure hub we’ve designed and installed, makes me dream of a family trip. It’s a great mixture of ropes courses, fun walls, slides, artificial caves and the Rollglider – a free flight experience that both children and adults like the same.
How do you cater for different age ranges?
Most of our products are designed in a way that can be appealing to a wide age group. This is usually done through the choice of theming (for the Fun Walls for example) or the choice of difficulty levels (for the Ropes course and Ninja Course).
“Active entertainment brings us back to what’s important in life – movement and relations.”
In your opinion, what are the current trends in visitor entertainment and how are they influencing demand for adventure play?
We definitely see Аctive Entertainment as the biggest and most promising trend today. The way we live, spending so much time working or commuting or just sitting in front of our phones, drastically decreases the time we spent being active or the time we spend with our friends and family in a present, engaging way. This is where Аctive Entertainment comes in. It brings us back to what’s important in life – movement, relations.
Can you tell us about some standout recent projects or installations – ones that have proved particularly successful or interesting?
We would point out Angry Birds in Qatar where we installed an Adventure Hub combining 12 themed Active Entertainment attractions for different ability levels that cater to the whole family. Also Adventure HQ in Singapore – a recent installation that will open this summer. It is an Active Entertainment centre of more than 2000 square metres, fully equipped by Walltopia. Lionsgate in Zhuhai is another great example – a gamified Ropes Course placed in the area of the Divergent movie. Slagharen is a great theme park and resort in The Netherlands where we created a standardized Adventure Hub with Ropes Course, Rollglider (our aerial roller coaster-zip line offering) and Climbing Walls. Summit Ropes in USA is the world’s biggest Ropes Course with the biggest number of obstacles in the world. Oxigeno Costa Rica is a tropical themed Adventure Hub in a shopping mall, to mention a few.
Can you share some common challenges that you face when planning or installing and explain how you overcome them?
We have 22 years of experience which makes for a long list of challenges we’ve seen and overcome, and that helps us be prepared for almost anything. For instance, we’ve had quite a few cases where once on the site, we understand that the information we had for space did not match perfectly with what we see. Although this has not been our mistake, as the client is the one providing the needed technical documentation, we look at it as a problem for both.
If our crew has to make repairs on the spot to match the real dimensions, the client may lose time, money, or make peace with a part that is almost but not fully perfect. That’s why we were among the first to start offering 3D Laser Scanning for obtaining precise dimensions of an indoor or outdoor space.
What can the industry expect from you for 2020 and beyond? Do you have further expansion plans?
No other company on the market is currently capable of doing such heavily themed and complex projects like the Walltopia projects. That’s why we are confident and able to promise that there are no projects we wouldn’t take upon. We also feel that Gamification has been the buzz word in our industry for quite some time. Not just because digital is everywhere now and people subconsciously demand it in any service, but also because this may be the long-awaited key for FECs and amusement parks achieving repeatability. It enhances the experience for visitors and empowers the operator to bring them back for more.