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Event Profile

London's festive fun park that's bigger than Legoland

Winter Wonderland F

It started back in 1996 as “something nice to wander through” during the festive season at London's Hyde Park and over the past decade it has mushroomed into an event so popular that in just six weeks it welcomes more visitors than any UK theme or amusement park attracts in an entire season

rom mid-November until early January, around 3.5 million people (including repeat visitors) pass through Winter Wonderland's gates. By comparison, the UK’s most popular theme park (since the infamous Smiler

accident at Alton Towers) – Legoland Windsor – attracted just 2.25 million in 2014, the most recent season for which figures are available in the TEA/AECOM Theme Index. Winter Wonderland's performance is still some way short of Munich's famous Oktoberfest, which regularly attracts over 6 million visits in just 16 days, but average spend per head is thought to be higher thanks to the prices charged at Hyde Park for rides, food and drink. Organiser PWR Events conceived the festive fun park comprising three key elements: fairground rides, including a strong continental European element; pre- bookable attractions such as a circus and other live family shows, ice rink and Magical Ice Kingdom (walk-through ice sculpture exhibition); plus extensive food and drink, including seasonal favourites such as Bratwurst and Glühwein. In doing so they have been able to create an authentic German fairground atmosphere and broaden dwell time and demographics well beyond that experienced on a “normal” British funfair. Of course being in the heart of the British capital, with good public transport links and abundant tourists, also helps. Organised in co-operation with The Royal Parks, the free-to-enter event is

effectively in “the Queen's back garden” and its location, not to mention the complex planning and infrastructure that goes into it, partly explain the prices,

TEA time again in London

The European and Middle East division of the TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) paid a visit to Winter Wonderland on December 15 as part of its second London Day Out. The event, which followed 2015's tour of The View from The Shard, London Palladium and Making of Harry Potter, also took in Merlin Entertainments' Shrek's Adventure near the London Eye and the Imperial War Museum. Over 40 TEA EME members attended the event.Here are some of them experiencing the Magical Ice Kingdom at Winter Wonderland.

with large rides varying from £4 ($5/€4.80) to £8 ($10/€9.60) each. An exception was this year's star new attraction, the München Looping five inversion Schwarzkopf coaster (pictured), as seen at Oktoberfest, an attraction the scale of which has never been seen before on a British fair, and which was well patronised as a result. Tickets to this were £9, and riders could also pay using contactless debit/credit cards. As a rule, most rides and attractions at Winter Wonderland are rethemed especially for the proceedings, with showmen spending all summer (or longer) preparing special scenic elements. Attractions are split across zones including Santa's Village, Alpine Adventure, Circus Town, Traditional Fun Fair and Pirate Island, whilst the Bavarian Village provides an Oktoberfest style knees-up, only without the 1-litre glasses of beer and dancing on benches thanks to nervous Westminster licensing authorities. Yet neither this, the lack of table service or the 9.45pm last orders at the bar seemed to put a damper on the spirits of revellers keen to get the Christmas party celebrations with gusto when Park World was in town with the TEA (see below) in mid-December.

The 10th anniversary edition of Winter Wonderland took place from November 18 to January 2. More details at



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