Storytelling, theming and immersion

Attractions use themed storytelling to immerse guests in an experience says Karen Stanley, Senior VP EMEA of International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions


Intricately themed rides, attractions and park areas create a more immersive or intense experience for guests. This year, in particular, a lot of theming is focused on well-known television characters and stories, where successful intellectual properties were further developed into the themed world of an amusement or theme park.

The immersive theme park experience drives attendance which continues to make a robust economic footprint. Amusement and theme parks generated estimated revenue of €5.2 billion in 2014, of which 80 per cent is attributable to spending in the parks, 15 per cent to hotels, and 5 per cent to sponsorships, corporate events and other income streams.

Rate of investment

Each year visitors to the amusement parks expect something new. In order to deliver, investment is paramount to the success of the sector. Such investment in wonderful immersive experiences creates environments that provide families and their children with memories that last a life time.

Amusement parks continually invest in the development and improvement of their attractions, in enlarging accommodation, additions of swimming resorts and leisure pools, and new shows and entertainment.

This rate of investment has not reduced even during difficult economic times and very often it stays within Europe as most suppliers of new rides are based here

This investment and focus on improvement by the industry matters because behind the fun and escapism of a day spent in an amusement park or attraction, there are some hard economic facts and figures:

• 157 million guest-visits a year in Europe
• 55,000 full-time employee equivalents in the EU
• €10 billion in direct and indirect economic impact
• €1.2 billion paid in direct and indirect taxation.

The amusement and theme park industry is also a sector that is capital intensive; they need to invest in new and existing rides to keep guests coming back to parks and attractions. Capital expenditure for European theme and amusement parks is estimated to equate to around 12 per cent of industry revenues.

This rate of investment has not reduced even during difficult economic times and very often it stays within Europe as most suppliers of new rides are based here.

In fact, it’s often overlooked that the amusement and theme park sector, and its associated supply chain, has a long and proud European heritage. Many parks have very long historical relationships with the European community.

Take, for example, Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen opened in 1843 or Tibado in Spain that will celebrate its 100th anniversary soon. Europa-Park in Germany, the second largest amusement park in Europe, is owned and managed by a family that has been in the business of amusement park rides since the 18th century. There are many more stories like this in our industry, which underlines the deep roots that this sector has in Europe.

Europe also boasts incredible diversity. The sector ranges from world-class destination parks, such as Disneyland Paris, to small and medium-sized theme or amusement parks, attractions, water parks and family entertainment centres. Collectively they constitute a thriving European industry.