Exclusive: Worlds of Adventure CEO reveals five year plan, including overseas expansion
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Exclusive: Worlds of Adventure CEO reveals five year plan, including overseas expansion

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It’s always interesting when you launch a new industry into a market and when we launched, there was no culture for a major theme park in Dubai
<IMG src="https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/THUMB21364_121835.jpg" />
Credit: IMG

The owners of IMG Worlds of Adventure – the world’s largest indoor theme park – have ambitious plans for the brand over the next five years, with plans for an even bigger second park in Dubai and to take the concept overseas as part of a global expansion.

In an exclusive interview with Attractions Management , Worlds of Adventure CEO Lennard Otto said that business was booming at Worlds of Adventure following a successful debut year for the visitor attraction.

According to Otto, the park has reached set targets, drawing a strong mix of visitors from international and domestic markets visiting the park, with key regions including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Russia and India.

“It’s always interesting when you launch a new industry into a market. When we launched, there was no culture for a major theme park in Dubai,” said Otto.

“There’s been a lot of education, adjusting and awareness for the market from our end – along the way we had to make some changes to our business model for the park.

“In terms of overall user experience, we’ve seen excellent results on all of the platforms from a ratings standpoint, so we’re in line with where we want to be.”

Worlds of Adventure’s owners, the Ilyas & Mustafa Galadari Group, have set out a five-year plan for the park, with the addition of new attractions every year. In the short term, plans include an increased focus on younger children, with a large soft play area and an adjustment to height restrictions, enabling younger children to safely use more of the park’s rides. A 12-screen cinema operated by Novo is also scheduled to open during Q3, with visitors not needing to enter the park to access the offering.

Beyond internal expansion at the park, IMG’s biggest current development is Worlds of Legends, a second theme park opposite Worlds of Adventure roughly 30 per cent larger than the existing 1.5 million sq ft (139,354sq m) theme park.

According to IMG, the park will be housed inside a temperature-controlled environment like Worlds of Adventure, only the new park will feature a retractable roof that can be opened or closed dependent on weather and temperature.

The new park will feature more IPs than Worlds of Adventure, with nine zones representing different brands, including Ubisoft, Mattel, Nickelodeon, Saban, The Pokémon Company, Cartoon Network, Toei Animation and TV Tokyo, in addition to IMG’s own Legends of Arabia and Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure.

“We’re currently in the design phase of the project,” Otto revealed on the new park’s progress. “We expect the design phase to be completed towards the end of 2017 or start of 2018. Once that is done we’ll make the public announcement for timelines in public construction and opening, as well as investment and scale.”

The park’s initial success has drawn the eye of a number of developers, according to Otto, who said that there are plans to take the concept worldwide, with an eye toward possible locations in China and Russia.

“When we launched the park, our focus was on being the indoor experts. We invested a lot of time and effort from day one to grow the business internationally,” he said.

“We want to take our brands and this concept worldwide. It doesn’t matter if it’s rain or snow, hot or cold weather, an indoor concept gives you a year-round business model, which is more and more important in today’s economy.

“We’ve seen so much demand since opening, not only within the MENA region, but also in the Far East and Central Asia, particularly China and Russia. We’ve seen demand from these countries and more and more developers are approaching us to come in as a partner or and operator.”

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The owners of IMG Worlds of Adventure – the world’s largest indoor theme park – have ambitious plans for the brand over the next five years, with plans for an even bigger second park in Dubai and to take the concept overseas as part of a global expansion.
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JP Lennard
JP Lennard