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PW MAY19 31-33 Industry Influencer.qxp_Layout 1 24/05/2019 15:39 Page 32


Industry Influencer www.parkworld-online.com


On the


weather… Our outdoor members had a cracking Easter but I have to balance it as we have a lot of indoor members who struggled through last summer with four or five very hot weeks and unfortunately the same has happened so far with February half term and Easter, so they are struggling a little bit. There are some crossover indoor


attractions, like Kidzania, which is like an indoor theme park to a certain extent but based on children, but unless you have very good air conditioning people tend to turn away from the indoor attractions when our weather seems to be heating up so much. The balance is shifting, there are


more peaks and troughs but generally it’s getting warmer and warmer, as everyone is very aware of with the recent protests and that has to be something the indoor industry has to address, there’s no point in not discussing it. I have a theory on what I think


“The Eye is still hugely popular and The Dome in its new


version is a great asset to London as well,” says Paul, so all’s we’ll that ends well!


Next steps Paul was at The London Eye for about six years, “by which time we had won a 25 year extension to its original 5 year license and Merlin had become the sole owner.” Having had a very successful run there, he decided it was time to move on and returned to Merlin to look after projects


further afield, including similar wheel projects in cities in the US, including Chicago, New York, Las Vegas. “One of my projects was a shopping mall in New


Jersey; we were putting a wheel on the side of it and a Lego Discovery Centre inside, but then came the crash and it folded. “Later we were planning to put a $250,000 wheel into Vegas, but neither the money nor theappetite was there, so


that along with an earlier project in Chicago folded too. I’m glad to say that the wheel has now been built, but it took them 8-10 years to do it.” Paul returned to the UK and carried out some more


projects for Merlin at Madame Tussauds in the studios at Acton. “At that time we were only working on five new


Merlin attractions in a year, but they must have more than trebled that by now, especially with the expansion into Asia,” he says. In 2011/2012 Paul left Merlin and set up on his own,


consulting on some smaller wheel projects in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Cape Town.


32


will happen with it eventually - if we continue with this going forward we will eventually, as a nation or as a group of people visiting attractions, become re-educated in that we will expect it to be warm instead of everything rushing out to a theme park or if it’s really warm just to go and sit on a to the beach. We will just log that fact that it’s


warm. Over a period of time and I think it will take 5 years, people will start to say, actually I’ve had enough of the hot weather I want to try and find somewhere nice and cool indoors where I can sit and enjoy myself as I’m not worried as actually In can go out next week or the week after and the sun will still be shining. At the moment we are


desperate to get the sunshine as we think it’s going to rain next week or the week after but if you can guarantee it then those attractions that have very good indoor facilities whether they invest in air con, eventually that will come round, the problem is that re-education process will take half a generation to do, it might take 5-10 years before people realise we can guarantee the weather, let’s go and try some nice cool indoor attractions like they do in the states.


Then eight months to a year later came the call from


Balppa: “I knew them all well and had been a member as an operator. So I had an interview and joined up, that was six and a half years ago now.”


Making changes The industry, like many others at the time was struggling a bit. “We were coming out of the crash and when times are hard everyone is more inclined to think about themselves, but of course we can achieve so much more together.” On what his vision for the association was, Paul says, “It


was about putting in more seminars and more opportunities for networking and transferring that into the political environment, so more lobbying and talking to politicians. “We wanted to promote ourselves as an association as


well as our member businesses that have been there for generations. These form the backbone of our membership and we see them continue to develop for the benefit of the next generation, the local community and the industry, rather than for the benefit of the shareholders.


MAY 2019


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