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[Infography] At the heart of the European roller coaster

Thrills attract visitors. While the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris continues with a fanfare and the announcement of an investment of 2 billion euros, its competitors are cultivating their international profiles and continue to boost the market. This is a good opportunity to check which amusement parks are the most visited in Europe.

Infography | In the heart of European roller coaster


Compagnies des Alpes

Compagnies des Alpes is a French company, subsidiary of the Caisse des dépôts et consignations created in 1989. Originally, it was focused on the operation of ski areas as the world’s leading ski lift operator, but being too dependent on the ski season, it diversified its activities from 2002 to include amusement parks with the purchase of the company Grévin & Cie.

In 1998, the company Parc Astérix bought the large aquarium in Saint-Malo before launching in 1999 an exchange offer for the Musée Grévin-France Miniature group with the aim of creating the first French leisure group. This operation involves the exchange of shares between shareholders of the two companies. The company then becomes Grévin & Cie. In 2002, Compagnie des Alpes acquired Grévin & Cie via a takeover bid and created its leisure park division.

Main acquisitions in Europe:

  • Parc Astérix in Plailly (France) with 37 rides and two hotels (2002)
  • Futuroscope in Chasseneuil-du-Poitou (France) with 10 hotels (first shareholder since 2011)
  • Walibi Belgium in Wavre (Belgium) with 38 rides and seven hotels (2006)
  • Bellewaerde Park in Yvres (Belgium) with 30 rides (2006)
  • Walibi Rhône-Alpes in Les Avenières (France) with 32 rides and 5 hotels (2006)
  • Walibi Holland in Biddinghuizen (Netherlands) with 37 rides (2006)

Euro Disney

Euro Disney is a "société en commandite par actions" (SCA) which operates the Disneyland Paris leisure complex and its outbuildings through its subsidiaries, and is developing, in partnership with the State and local authorities, sector IV of the new city of Marne-la-Vallée, Val d’Europe.

The State and The Walt Disney Company are leading together the development and planning of Val d’Europe within the framework of a unique public-private partnership in France. The State being represented by Epafrance as the developer of the territory and The Walt Disney Company being represented by Euro Disney as the main developer. The result is a desire for architectural unity for all the districts of the communes of Bailly-Romainvilliers, Chessy, Coupvray, Magny-le-Hongre and Serris which adjoin the tourist complex.

The shareholders:

  • The Walt Disney Company (72.34% through EDL Holding Company)
  • Prince Alwaleed (4.95% through Kingdom Holding Company)
  • Morgan Stanley (5.52%)

Looping Group

Looping Group is a European group of leisure and holiday parks with regional roots. Its primary shareholder is the Belgian investment fund Ergon Capital Partners, itself a subsidiary of Groupe Bruxelles Lambert.

In 2011, the leisure parks division of Compagnies des Alpes and the H.I.G. investment fund will be working together to create a new leisure park. Capital France, in partnership with founder Laurent Bruloy, sold control of seven leisure parks for 29 million euros (35.8 million dollars).

Main acquisitions in Europe:

  • Fort Fun Abenteuerland (Germany) with 26 rides and 25 keys (2017)
  • Isla Magica (Spain) with 27 rides (2013)
  • La Mer de sable (France) with 26 rides (2015)
  • Parc Bagatelle (France) with 40 rides (2010)
  • Avonturenpark Hellendoorn (Netherlands) with 30 rides (2010)
  • Pleasurewood Hills (UK) with 25 rides (2010)

Mack Rides

Mack Rides is a German roller coaster design and construction company. The founding family also owns Europa Park.

Mack was founded in 1780 by Paul Mack. The company was specialized in the construction of stands and other mobile constructions for the entertainment industry, from circus to organ transport. It was in 1920 that the company began designing roller coasters for fairgrounds. In 1975, Franz Mack founded Europa-Park with his son Roland Mack, which serves as a showcase for their various productions.

Notable attractions built for other amusement parks:

  • Trace du Hourra at Parc Astérix (France)
  • Runaway Mine Train at Alton Towers (United Kingdom)
  • Odin Ekspressen at Tivoli Gardens (Denmark)
  • Exploring in Mirabilandia (Italy)
  • Helix in Liseberg (Sweden)
  • Pulsar in Walibi Belgium (Belgium)

Merlin Entertainments

Merlin Entertainments, founded in 1998, is since 2007 with its new subsidiary Tussauds Group, the second leisure group in the world behind the theme parks division of Disney. The company is majority owned by the Blackstone Group investment fund.

Tussauds Group manages a portfolio of leisure centers for several brands, including the Madame Tussauds wax museums, the Legoland parks, the Sea Life aquatic centers and the various British parks: Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures.

Main acquisitions in Europe:

  • Gardaland in Castelnuovo del Garda (Italy) with 34 rides and two hotels (2006)
  • Heide Park Resort in Soltau (Germany) with 40 rides, a hotel and a holiday camp (2007)
  • Thorpe Park in Chertsey (UK) with 24 rides and a hotel (2007)

Legoland is a chain purchased in 2005 from the Lego group including the theme parks Legoland Billund (Denmark) and Legoland Deutschland (Germany) as well as the German amusement centers Legoland Discovery Centre located on Potsdamer Platz in Berlin and Legoland Discovery Centre in Oberhausen.

Parques Reunidos

Founded in 1967, Parques Reunidos is a major Spanish leisure group managing numerous leisure parks, amusement parks and entertainment centers.

In 2007, after acquiring Warner Park in Madrid, the group was sold to the British investment fund Candover Investments, now renamed Arle Capital Partners. In 2015, the investment fund Arle Capital Partners wants to sell the group and is asking a minimum price of 2 billion euros (2.4 billion dollars). Potential buyers include the Chinese groups Wanda and Fosun. This sale is not recommended by external financial advisors following the uncertain political situation in Spain after the December 2015 elections.

Main acquisitions in Europe:

  • Attractiepark Slagharen, Slangaren (Netherlands) with 40 rides (2012)
  • Bobbejaanland, Lichtaart (Belgium) with 50 rides and a campsite (2004)
  • BonBonland, Holme-Olstrup (Denmark) with 65 rides (2007)
  • Mirabilandia, Savio (Italy) with 27 rides (2007)
  • Movie Park Germany, Bottrop (Germany) with 40 rides (2010)
  • Parque de Atracciones de Madrid (Spain) with 43 rides (belongs to the Community of Madrid)
  • Parque Warner de Madrid (Spain) with 39 rides (2007)
  • TusenFryd, Vinterbro (Norway) with 31 rides (2008)

The other amusement ride manufacturers are Intamin AG (Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Paris), Vekoma Rides Manufacturing B.V (Stuntfall at Warner Madrid), Bolliger & Mabillard (Shamballah at Port Aventura) and Zamperla (Discobélix at Parc Astérix).

Notable investments:

Europa-Park: The Mack family plans to build its own water park including a 6th thematic hotel with 304 keys for 150 million euros (185 million dollars) and to add new roller coasters by 2020

Futuroscope: The French park will pay 6 to 7 million euros for a gain of around 140,000 visitors by 2022. Modernization of the pavilions and reorganization of the buildings is also underway for an investment of 54 million euros. (66.7 million dollars).

Liseberg: An investment of 22 million euros (27.1 million dollars) has been set up to create new theme shops, rides and restaurants (2017 to 2018).

Parc Astérix: From 2017 to 2020, a development of family attractions and its hotel offer is planned (+450 rooms) for 100 million euro (123.6 million dollars).

Port Aventura: The Spanish park recently invested 100 million euros (123.6 million dollars) in the Ferrari Land site.

Puy du Fou: This year, the French park has planned a new attraction Le Mystère de la Pérouse, the renovation of the Café de la Madelon and structural investments for the park and various shows for a cost of 25 million euros (30.8 million dollars).

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