A Morroccan family park has a fresh look courtesy of new investors and a management deal with the French operator Compagnie des Alpes.
For Moroccan family members of a certain age, Sindibad park in Casablanca holds fonds childhood memories. Yet a lack a lack of maintenance and poor management lead the facility to close in the early 2000s.
Set amidst a very green and wooded area close to the coast, the new look Parc Sindibad forms part of the Sindibad Beach Resort developed by the real estate companies Somed et Alliances, who won a tender to revive the site from the local government in 2010. In doing so they partnered with the Compagnie des Alpes (CdA), famous for such parks as Futuroscope and Walibi, hence the “by Walibi” signature.
“Sindibad is the stronger concept with respect to theming,” acknowledges CdA’s director of projects for Maghreb (north west Africa), Yves Delhommeau.
Working to a masterplan and designs by CdA, scenic work throughout the park was completed by Theming & Animatronic Industries (TAA), including the grand palace that stands over the entrance to the 34-hectare facility, which also includes a zoo.
“Construction of the park was not easy,” continues Delhommeau. “The site is at sea level and close to the beach. The soil is therefore very movable and so everything was built on piles. The other two challenges were the very short period of construction (a year-and-a-half) and the budget.”
A more sedate view of the park is offered on the 42m-tall Ain Roc Aerophare by Aerophile (pictured above), offering a combination of tower ride and tethered balloon. See a complete list of rides and attractions in the panel opposite. Featured animals include lions, giraffes, tigers, lemurs and other surprising species. The entertainment programme offers plenty of live music, while the F&B/merchandise offering includes various souvenir shops, restaurants and sandwich shops.
The park reopened under the Walibi banner in August, and got off to an encouraging start. “At times we had to limit the number of visitors to manage the flow,” reveals Delhommeau. Operating on a pay-as-you-go basis (a legacy of the old Sindibad regime) it’s understandable that many locals took advantage of the free admission to take a look at “their” new look park. In 2016, the target is for 1.5 million guests.
“Casablanca is a business city, the most populated of Morocco, but leisure activities and green spaces are very limited,” notes Delhommeau. “This is why this park was eagerly awaited. This market is more oriented towards locals than tourists. The middle class is growing and looking for leisure activities, nevertheless the purchasing power remains low and limits per cap spending and the amount of investment.”
As the only true theme park in Morocco, competition comes largely from shopping centres, summer beach clubs and other seaside-related activities. The nearby Morocco Mall, for example, is the largest in Africa, and a big distraction for many families.
Compagnie des Alpes will not reveal how long its co- management agreement with Sindibad’s owners is in place for, but says that it does not rule out further deals in Africa or Asia, in line with other Western operators who are offering their expertise to new park developers in emerging markets. What Delhommeau will tell us is that Parc Sindibad must be profitable independently of the real estate projects that surround it at Sindibad Beach Resort.
“We will continue to invest and in 2016 we will open a rapid river (Hydolift) from Zamperla and a 3D cinema. We also intend to complete the collection of animals with zebras, otters and monkeys. Vegetation will grow and make this park a wonderful destination.”
The Sindibad selection
Parc Sindbad’s 24 rides and attractions include the following:
• Serpent (Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter) • Aerophare (Aerophile)
• Carousel (Concept 1900)
• Pirate Ship (SBF/Visa)
• Freefall Tower (SBF/Visa)
• Crazy Carpet (SBF/Visa)
• Samba Balloon (SBF/Visa)
• Toboggan (SBF/Visa)
• Flying Chairs (SBF/Visa)
• Red Baron (SBF/Visa)
• Mini Flying Chairs (SBF/Visa)
• Tea Cups (SBF/Visa)
• Rio Grande Train (Zamperla)
• Old Timer/Convoy (Zamperla) • Mini Flume (Zamperla)
A couple of SBF/Visa rides pictured during construction of the park