Germany’s biggest theme park is targeting UK travellers with the planned launch of new routes from London Luton and Manchester Airports to Black Forest Lahr Airport in July.
Located ten minutes from the Black Forest Airport, the Europa Theme Park, which opened in 1975 and is owned by the Mack family, is located around twelve European themed villages, which play host to over 100 attractions and shows.
For example Great Britain houses the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre; a rustic amphitheatre with eclectic performances - I chanced upon a spectacular “bubble show,” performed by an enchanting artist who resembled a mad-professor in his white coat and astonished the audience with his beautiful bubble creations.
For thrill-seekers, the Europa-Park should not be missed. Rollercoasters range from ‘Silver Star’, Europe’s highest roller coaster, which peaks at 73 metres, and reaches speeds of up to 130 km/h per hour, to the water coaster “Atlantica SuperSplash”, which combines a backward ride with a splashing drop into the water from a height of 30 metres. Then there is the family coaster “Pegasus” which offers younger children the opportunity to experience the roller coaster feeling.
Europa also caters to visitors wishing to spend longer than a day, with a selection of two Spanish-style hotels and its popular Italian hotel, Collosseo. A new four star Portuguese monastery themed hotel is opening in July 2007. Spanning over 50 hectares, it is worth taking a ride on the EP-Express train to get an overview of the entire park.
There are several new developments in the pipeline, including the interactive ride ‘Atlantis Adventure’ in which laser harpooned vehicles lead its riders on a treasure hunt. The ‘science house’ is another new innovation offering 80 interactive workshops designed to deliver informative insights into science and technology.
Most recently named best theme park in Europe by the Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Europa currently attracts four million visitors per year and will no doubt increase this figure as when flights to the Black Forest Lahr Airport begin operating from London Luton on July 3rd and Manchester on July 26th.
BTN caught up with Roland Mack, one of the owning family members, whose entrepreneurship was recently recognised when he was honoured with the Tourism Committee of the German Parliament at last year’s ITB.
BTN: What differentiates Europa Park from any other theme park in Europe?
Mack: Europa-Park, which stands for the highest standards in entertainment, is different from any other theme park in Europe. Visitors can travel through 12 themed European countries and experience architecture, culture, vegetation and food of our European neighbours. The whole park is integrated into a 550 year old castle park with an authentic castle, which was built in 1442.
Europa-Park not only offers entertainment for one target group, but for all age groups. The combination of leisure park with great rides and fascinating shows, hotel resort, special events and confertainment makes Europa-Park a very special and entertaining location for holidayers.
BTN: Why is Europa Park opening up to the UK market with new flights and holiday packages at this time?
Mack: We have noticed a growing demand and interest for Europa-Park from foreign countries for quite some time. Market analysis has shown, that especially British persons are very interested in theme parks, therefore the UK market is a very interesting one for us. In June 2006, the Black Forest Aiport in Lahr, which is located just a few minutes from Europa-Park, got a passenger licence for visitors of Europa-Park. With this new possibility for international guests to reach Europa-Park, hassle-free travel also for UK visitors is now offered.
BTN: How are you specifically targeting UK visitors?
Mack: We are offering flight packages to Europa-Park at a fair price, this year from 3 July until 16 August. The package includes accommodation, flight, transfer and admission to the park. During the day, the visitors can chose from over 100 attractions, among them thrill rides, water rides, children’s attractions and shows, everything combined with a unique international atmosphere. Europa-Park is not just the largest theme park in Germany, but also the biggest seasonally-opened leisure park in the world… so there are plenty of fun and entertaining things to do here. Furthermore, they stay overnight surrounded by the luxury and fascinating ambience of our hotel resort.
BTN: Has the recent rise of group travel bookings brought a surge in demand at Europa Park?
Mack: Almost 20 % of our visitors are group travellers, most of them coming here by bus. We offer reduced prices for groups of 20 persons or more and bus tour operators can make use of a special bonus package. Many of the groups book a stay at Europa-Park for one day. Those staying for several days stay overnight in the three 4-star hotels on site or in our Tipi Village, which is especially popular with school classes. Due to the large demand, a fourth hotel will be opened in July this year. Some groups also combine their visit to Europa-Park with a trip to the Black Forest.
BTN: What other new developments do you have in the pipeline for Europa Park?
Mack: We are adding new attractions to Europa-Park every year in order to satisfy the demands of our visitors - 78 % of our guests are repeat visitors. This year we have opened a new family attraction called “Atlantis Adventure”, which is an interactive indoor ride for the whole family, as well as a “Science House”, offering a fascinating insight into science and technology. As mentioned above, we will open our fourth themed hotel in July 2007. For the future, we are planning to continuously expand Europa-Park’s large offer of leisure activities with more and more spectacular rides and attractions.
BTN: How high on your list of priorities is environmental protection?
Mack: For us the protection of the environment is very important. Almost 4 million people visit Europa-Park every year, consequently there is a high energy and water consumption. However, we try to use resources in an ecologically responsible way. For example, more and more engery-saving lamps are installed and mostly electric vehicles are used as means of transportation in the park. In addition, we have a hydroelectric power station as well as a solar power plant with a length of 300 metres. On some of the attractions, a great deal of the braking energy is transformed into electricity and fed back into the mains supply and the use of ground water for the supply of the artificial lakes and water attractions was reduced by means of centralised water treatment. Also when planning new attractions and buildings, we pay a lot of attention to their environmental compatibility and to the economical use of energy.
BTN: What is your favourite ride / attraction at Europa Park?
Mack: One of my favourite rides is definitely Europe’s highest and biggest roller coaster “Silver Star”. There’s nothing like racing towards the ground from 73 metres at a top speed of 130 km/h per hour!
BTN: How did the Europa mascot mouse come to exist? How was the Euromaus received by visitors, bearing in mind its similarity to Mickey Mouse?
Mack: In the beginning, when Europa-Park first opened its doors in 1975, we were looking for a “face” that the guests could identify with. The decision to chose a mouse was rather incidentially. At that moment we did not really think about Mickey Mouse, because Disney back then was “really far away”. However, we found out quite soon, that the guests loved the “Euromaus”. Over the years, “Euromaus” developed and also got friends and family.
BTN: Can you elaborate on the significance of your 225 year family history in amusement park attractions?
Mack: Europa-Park was founded in 1975, but its roots go much further back, because already in the 18th century, our family built wagons and carriages in the workshops in Waldkirch. As a supplier to Circus Krone, we eventually specialised in building carrousels and fairground facilities. And today, roller coasters, autoscooters and other innovative designs made by MACK Rides can be found in theme parks all over the world. Originally, Europa-Park was intended as a sort of showcase for the products by the MACK Rides company. For me, Europa-Park is such a fascinating project, that I was never tempted to leave the industry and look for a different job. I am one of those lucky persons, whose profession is also a passion.
BTN: What do you most enjoy about the theme park industry?
Mack: That our guests have a great time here. There’s nothing better than seeing a child’s eyes sparkling with joy!