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Amusement parks: attractive destinations that still growing

Despite the numerous closures in 2020 and 2021 for amusement parks, the number of visitors to these sites seems to be on the rise again. And a several parks are unveiling ambitious development plans for the years to come.

On the French market, Futuroscope is announcing the beginning of a strategic stage in its Vision 2025 plan. This involves the "resortisation" of the park with the arrival in spring 2022 of a new themed hotel as well as a new restaurant offering a new concept in France. All these new features are accompanied by strong ambitions, to conquer new markets and extend the length of stays in order to position itself as a "European leisure destination".

The new Futuroscope hotel, called Station Cosmos, will immerse visitors in a world dedicated to science fiction and high tech. Presented as an upmarket family hotel, it will house 76 rooms with a design similar to spaceship cabins. Particular attention has been paid to every detail in order to offer the most immersive experience. An adjoining themed restaurant serving breakfast and a lounge bar called the "Bar des Pilotes" complete the offer. In addition, the property is certified High Environmental Quality (HEQ).

The restaurant is also themed and presents itself as an experiential offer. The Space Loop, accessible to non-visitors and non-residents of the park's hotel, offers its customers the opportunity to order via touch screens and then receive their food thanks to a system of rails with loops that pass through the restaurant.

Futuroscope is also inaugurating a new attraction this year, called Tornado Hunters, which will combine technology and sensations. This new attraction is worth 20 million euros. In addition, the Arena Futuroscope will open in the spring, a hall dedicated to culture, sport and entertainment, and to the organisation of corporate events. The park is thus becoming a complete entertainment destination.

The Efteling Park in the Netherlands is also planning to expand with the construction of a new hotel and a new theme area by 2024. Work on both of these projects will begin this year, on the occasion of the park's 70th anniversary. The new hotel will be the largest hotel in the Efteling with 143 rooms, two restaurants and a spa. The new area will also increase the park's capacity.

Despite the temporary closure, we don't want to sit back and do nothing, but use this opportunity to prepare for the future. Last year, the 'Efteling Universe' development plan was officially approved. It includes frameworks and possibilities for expansion outside the current park boundaries. However, we will focus on development within the theme park first, as this involves less financial risk. These investments for the next two years are also in line with our vision for 2030. 

Fons Jurgens, Managing Director of the Efteling

The amusement park sector is a very competitive market, particularly in Europe, where each park competes with each other to develop ever more impressive attractions. For example, the Red Force attraction at PortAventura World in Spain holds three European records: the highest roller coaster, the fastest and the highest drop. In Germany, at Phantasialand, there is the F.L.Y attraction which is the longest "flying" roller coaster in the world. Or The Smiler attraction in the English park Alton Towers, which holds the world record for the number of inversions with 14 loops.

A very dynamic sector also outside Europe, as illustrated by the upcoming opening of the Studio Ghibli theme park in Japan. This park is located in Aichi Prefecture, about 300 km west of Tokyo and will open on 1 November 2022. With a total cost of 264 million euros, fans of the Japanese animation studio will be able to immerse themselves in the worlds of cult films such as "My Neighbour Totoro", "Princess Mononoke" and "The Moving Castle".

Across the Atlantic, the NBCUniversal theme park reported encouraging revenue figures, reflecting the return of visitors to amusement parks. The theme park division's revenues increased 191.3% over the same quarter last year, despite the lack of international travellers. The theme park division had the most profitable fourth quarter in NBCUniversal's history due to increased visitor spending.

Marine theme park retailer SeaWorld is confident that international tourism will recover and has offered to buy theme park operator Cedar Fair LP for $3.4 billion. Cedar Fair confirmed the offer in a statement, adding that its board of directors would review the proposal.

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