New rides makes sense for Flamingo Land
Supplied by S&S Worldwide, Mumbo Jumbo is Flamingo Land’s new record-breaking rollercoaster, and the first of its kind in Europe. The original opened last year at Indiana Beach in America, but by tweaking the angle – from 120 to 121 degrees – the British park has been able to bag the bragging rights for world’s steepest drop. Here Flamingo Land CEO Gordon Gibb explains why Mumbo Jumbo makes sense.
We planned this ride a different way round than usual. Rather than having a beauty parade of rides and then talking to suppliers, we chose the manufacturer first and then started talking about rides. It’s more than just buying a toy; it’s a piece of civil works with serious engineering. It’s about the project rather than the ride, and what comes after it, and we wanted to work with S&S.
We could have wasted a lot of time playing poker, but our budget was our budget and I was fairly transparent with them. It was also quite an exciting time because their company structure was changing a little; similar to how Vekoma’s had when we did the deal for Velocity (our Motorbike Coaster) and Kumali (Suspended Looping Coaster). I think it was a big plus for S&S to have a project at Flamingo, and in Europe.
The world record was a happy accident. Nick [Buckley, Flamingo Land rides manager] is a real coaster enthusiast and pretty much knows all the stats from memory. He said, “If that bit was a little bit steeper you’d have the world record.” I’ve always been interested in anything like that for the marketing mileage.
Without a doubt getting Guinness World Records down for the launch was better than having a celebrity. Apart from anything else, having a load of people dressed in suits treated as VIPs at a theme park opening is inappropriate because we are more about families enjoying themselves in a relaxed setting.
There’s seems to be this unwritten rule that you can b/s as much as you want when you launch a new ride, but the Guinness World Record is scientific; it’s empirical. However, we did have a bit of fun with the name and Mumbo Jumbo is a sideways kick at all those parks that might be a bit economical with the truth when it comes to bragging rights.
Other than the launch day, we haven’t spent a penny marketing the ride yet, but probably will next season. The press seemed to come to us, rather than the other way round. Someone even sent me a copy of an in-flight magazine form China that’s got Mumbo Jumbo in it!
Because the ride was a peak season opening, we’ll probably have a better idea how successful it’s been this time next year. But just walking round the park, assessing the buzz and seeing the number of teenagers out there, I think it’s done the trick.
It’s been a good season, but it almost felt like the one that got away. You can’t help but get affected by the all news reports about the economy but I think this sector is, and I hate this phrase but I’ve found myself using it a lot lately, recession-proof. We have certainly benefited from the “staycation” trend, but when the long-range weather forecast changed towards the end of July, it seemed like everyone left the country that weekend.
What is my favourite part of Mumbo Jumbo? Not the world record-breaking part of it! That may sound a little strange to people that have not ridden it, but the outward banking where you turn to the right is really quite fun and and unusual.
Gordon Gibb was talking to Owen Ralph