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Branded Attractions
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LICENCE TO THRILL
Branded contents for parks and attractions PART 2
Following last month’s feature on branded attractions, Park World talks to three organisations keen to develop quality
experiences for theme park guests. First, Merlin Entertainments’ Mark Fisher explains why some of its in-house attraction
brands are stronger than external intellectual properties, then Paramount Pictures’ Mike Bartok reveals the company’s
plans for a return to the attractions industry. Over the page we talk to the team at London-based licence owner,
Entertainment Rights, which recently entered into a partnership with 3DBA Branded Attractions
Merlin’s brand magic
Ultimately though, Merlin is all about developing our own strong brands,
so any IP would have to add significant value and be seen by our visitors
Merlin Entertainments has become one of the world’s
as a natural fit or extension of our own brand experience. Some good
largest attractions operators, second only to Disney, by
examples here would be the new Bob the Builder 4D show this season at
building and acquiring a strong portfolio of “chainable”
the Legoland parks, the James Bond set in Madame Tussauds in London,
brands, including Sea Life, Madame Tussauds and
Madagascar themed weekends at Alton Towers or visiting stage shows
Legoland. Mark Fisher (left). Merlin’s managing
featuring characters like Barney the dinosaur.
director of resort theme parks, explains the group’s
Some of our own brands are potentially intellectual properties in their
philosophy, and its approach to incorporating intellectual
own right. Indeed, Madame Tussauds is a stronger and older brand than
properties from the outside world.
any of the IP within it. Rolling out three of our ‘midway’ attractions globally
each year – Madame Tussauds, Legoland Discovery Centres, Sea Life and
M
erlin Entertainments is all about building strong branded
The Dungeons – is at the heart of Merlin Entertainments’ growth strategy.
attractions – brands which have a recognisable, defined core
Patently it is easier to take an established brand to new territories than it
proposition, values and attributes, and which can be replicated
is to create new local ones; you are ‘selling’ an established branded
across borders and in new markets, but also reflect the individual locations
experience that people may already know and which is recognised as
they are in.
unique. That said, Merlin has
Madame Tussauds, for example, is about getting up close and personal
been equally successful in
to ‘celebrities’ through wax figures – but the style and figures within our
developing local brands like
eight attractions worldwide varies place from to London to New York to
Alton Towers – now a
Shanghai etc, as does the fish ‘stock’ within the various Sea Life aquariums
successful short break resort
or even the sets within each Legoland.
destination with a theme
Intellectual property does have a role to play inside our attractions, and
park, two hotels, waterpark,
we look at all opportunities and assess them both in commercial terms
spa and conference facilities.
and/or how they add to the visitor experience. Some IP owners are looking
for a revenue-driven partnership, while others are looking for exposure in
Bob the Builder’s appearance
an appropriate environment, and this will dictate the level of our
at Legoland is described by
investment, which can be relatively small.
Fisher as a “natural fit”
Paramount’s park strategy
We are very excited right now about the Paramount Movie Studio Park under
development in Incheon, South Korea. We had a groundbreaking ceremony in
It has been almost three years since Paramount sold its
December last year and the park is scheduled to open in late 2011. We have
North American theme park chain. However, the company
several other theme parks, attraction complexes and retail dining entertainment
still views the attractions industry as an important arena for
centres under development in places such as China, Japan and the UAE.
guests to engage with its licensed properties, and in the
coming years a number of new branded entertainment
An artist’s impression of the new park
outlets will open around the world carrying its name. Here
in South Korea
Paramount Pictures’ executive vice-president of recreation,
Mike Bartok (pictured), reveals his company’s
approach to the theme park market.
T
heme parks and attractions are a unique opportunity for consumers to
experience and interact directly with our licensed film properties. As parks
and other themed attractions aim to offer a higher level of guest
experience, they will become more dependent on strong IP.
The quality of the attraction is “Paramount” to the leveraging of our film
properties, so we look for operators that can help us deliver a world-class
experience. Given that Paramount used to own and operate theme parks in
North America, we have significant capabilities to evaluate operators.
I believe a number of territories have a local guest demographic ready to connect
with our characters and properties. We look at markets that have strong responses to
our films, as well as markets that do not yet have a “Movie Studio Park” offering.
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