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The Warsaw Voice » Business » January 26, 2012
Business & Economy
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Poland: Theme Park Central?
January 26, 2012   
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In recent years Poland has gained a reputation as Europe’s prime business process outsourcing (BPO) hub. This is largely due to foreign companies opening their business services centers in this country. Now it is possible that Poland will become a regional entertainment center thanks to two giant theme parks planned near Warsaw.

Adventure World Warsaw, the biggest year-round theme park in this part of Europe, is due to open in the spring of 2014 in Grodzisk Mazowiecki near Warsaw. The complex, occupying about 240 hectares, will include the theme park itself, two hotels, an aquatic park, and an entertainment section with movie theaters and restaurants.

The park will have five zones whose names at the design stage are Adventure Harbor, Creature Lagoon, Castle Island, Land of Legends, and Polski Plaza. Visitors can expect attractions such as roller coasters, water slides, swimming pools with artificial waves, interactive fountains, boat rides and merry-go-rounds.

The first stage of the project will cost about 400 million euros. Funding will come from an international consortium of private and institutional investors. To coordinate the process of construction and then management of the park, the investors have established a special company called Las Palm. “In the first stage of the project, we expect Adventure World Warsaw to have about 2 million visitors per year,” says Peter Jan Mulder, chairman of the board at Las Palm.

Adventure World Warsaw will generate about 1,000 new jobs in the Grodzisk Mazowiecki area. The park is the first stage of the planned project. Stage two will involve the construction of a second theme park, a large entertainment/leisure center, a conference and business center, and a luxury spa.

More than 100 experts from around the world are involved in work to establish Adventure World Warsaw. The team includes companies such as AGS Architects, Jora Vision, Vekoma Rides Manufacturing, Hafema and International Destination strategies. This last company has many years of experience in the theme park industry. The Las Palm company has already spent more than 11 million euros on work to launch the park.

Before construction begins on Adventure World Warsaw, the company says it is busy completing all the necessary paperwork and permits. The first challenge pertains to land secured by the investor. “We are expecting the decision changing the land status from agricultural to development to be issued in February,” Mulder told journalists in December.

Las Palm expects that after formal issues are settled, the construction permit will be issued in June, allowing earthworks to start in the development area in July 2012.

In September 2011, the project team was joined by Steven Shaiken, who was appointed Executive Managing Director of the Adventure World Warsaw project. Shaiken has over 40 years of experience in the entertainment and recreation industries, gained in international corporations such as Universal Parks and Resorts and Royal Caribbean International, as well as in the Starwood and Hilton hotel chains.

“My roots are in Poland; my great-grandparents and grandparents were born in Białystok, so I consider my participation in such a huge project related to Poland as an exceptional honor and an extremely inspiring professional challenge,” Shaiken said. “In two years’ time, when we open the park, we will begin a new chapter in the history of this country.”

At a Warsaw press conference, the company also announced a plan to build a similar theme park in the United Arab Emirates—Adventure World Abu Dhabi, based on the Adventure World Warsaw theme park concept but taking into account local culture and history. This will be the largest family entertainment theme park in the Middle East, the company said. “The park will be developed in parallel to the investment project in Poland, but Adventure World Warsaw will be the first of the two to be opened,” said Mulder.

Adventure World Warsaw will have competition on the Polish market, because an even bigger theme park is set to be built in Mszczonów, not far from Warsaw. Global Parks Poland—a company founded by a business group owned by the Greidinger family, known in Poland for its Cinema City multiplex chain and developer Ronson Development—has announced a plan to invest about zl.2 billion to build a theme park on a 700-hectare site.

The Mszczonów theme park, called Park of Poland, will offer visitors a roller coaster and a huge water park that, thanks to the local hot springs, will be open throughout the year. Other attractions will include a modern hotel complex and extensive conference and business facilities. The park is expected to draw nearly 5 million visitors a year, and they are expected to spend about zl.1 billion in the area. These figures show that the magnitude of the project will be comparable to that of Europa Park near Berlin, which attracts a similar number of customers.

According to market experts, both parks stand a good chance of commercial success provided they offer complementary rather than similar services. For example, in Florida in the United States, Disney World and Universal Studios Florida function next to each other. In Poland, such attractions are unavailable. Every year some 120,000 Poles travel to visit theme parks abroad, mainly to Germany and Disneyland near Paris, France. A lot, however, will depend on whether the crisis has eased by the time the parks open. Otherwise Polish families may not be able to afford to visit them, especially as theme parks are not the cheapest way of enjoying leisure time.
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