IPM co-editor Judith Rubin interviewed representatives of Adventure World Warsaw to find out details of this ambitious new resort and themed entertainment facility set to open in 2014.
IPM: What are the funding sources for Adventure World Warsaw?
AWW: In line with the investor agreement, this information must stay confidential until we start construction work on AWW. Full financing for the project has been guaranteed by the investor and is conditioned only by providing the building permit, which will be achieved most probably in June 2012. Las Palm has spent over 11 mln euro on the project so far. We believe this amount of financial resource shows our determination and serious intentions to bring the first amusement park in Poland at this scale.
IPM: Is this correct: Groundbreaking in July 2012, opening in 2014?
AWW: Yes, these are the latest dates according to our revised schedule from December 2011. Start of construction has been so far delayed by half a year due to formal issues not depending on Las Palm company, which is leading the project. But together with the Mayor of Grodzisk Mazowiecki, we are successfully overcoming these obstacles, within which the greatest challenges were the land re-zoning and funding of the existing and future roads. We anticipate the various positive decisions to be made between February and July 2012 which will allow us to start the ground works.
IPM: Who owns the land on which AWW will be developed?
AWW: Las Palm has signed preliminary agreements with the private land owners who are mostly farmers. The ownership will be finally moved to Las Palm by purchasing the land next year after the zoning plan is agreed by the local authorities which is anticipated to happen in April 2012.
IPM: What is the site like in terms of location, accessibility, topography, climate?
AWW: Grodzisk Mazowiecki is a perfect location for this park. The main advantages are: all media being available at the construction site (electricity, waste collecting etc.), perfect railway connection from Warsaw (two rail lines between Grodzisk and Warsaw), easy motorway and expressways access (A2 motorway which will be finished in 2012 and well-developed local roads), easy access to the main international airport in Warsaw and much more.
Secondly, we get huge support from the local authorities who are very actively involved in the process of creating the park. Last but not least, Grodzisk Mazowiecki lies in the very heart of Poland, which will make the park easy to access from the surrounding countries. AWW will be a destination park and we are targeting also at foreigners and Poles who want to come and stay for more than just one day. In terms of climate, Poland has a moderate climate with both maritime and continental elements. This allows us to use the open-air theme park with five islands from April to November. Combined with the Winter Area open 365 days a year, it gives us a year-round, everyday possibility for the whole family to have fun and spend time together.
IPM: Has a feasibility study been conducted, and if so, by whom?
AWW: There has been a feasibility study conducted by one of the 4 most recognized consulting companies in the world, together with our cooperating specialists with many years of professional experience in the industry.
AWW: The first group will be Poles that inhabit the 250km radius area around the park. This group includes almost 11 million people. The location of the park is easily accessible both from Poland and its neighboring countries. Grodzisk Mazowiecki commune, where the resort is being built, is only a 30 minutes drive from Warsaw, which has an international airport with well-developed flight network that will bring in foreign customers. Apart from that, the park is located by the international A2 highway (Berlin-Moscow) which will be finished by the time we open. That means that the park will be easily accessible by car from different regions of Poland or from Germany, Ukraine, Slovakia or Czech Republic.
IPM: Major themed entertainment developments of this kind are generally considered to point to local middle-class population growth with attendant disposable income and demand for leisure activity. Has Poland enjoyed this kind of growth?
AWW: According to this year’s research executed by Ernst & Young and Oxford Economics research institute, Poland is among the 25 Rapidly Developing Markets, which will influence the global economy in the coming decade. The economic growth despite tough global economy tendencies is to be owed to middle-class population growth, which is drawn by the foreign investment and foreign capital input.
According to an estimate carried out 4 years ago by Millward Brown SMG/KRC, there are 500,000–600,000 people in Poland with a household income of over PLN 7,000 (taking the "grey economy" into account), which represents 2–3 percent of adult Poles. Travel and tourism are important to them, according to the survey. We believe this demonstrates that we have chosen the perfect moment to develop Adventure World Warsaw in Poland.
IPM: What will differentiate AWW from comparable visitor attractions in Europe? Will it be distinctively Polish in nature, and if so, how?
AWW: There will be a part of the Theme Park – an Island called Old Poland (previous working name was “Polski Plaza”) which will be a wonderful combination of the most beautiful and engaging Polish legends and fairytales, together with the old traditional architecture which can be seen at the Old Town in Warsaw or other Polish cities. There will be, for example, Twardowski’s Mansion of Magic. Guests will enter the house of Pan Twardowski. This character from a famous Polish myth received magical powers from dark forces and likes to fool the guests with these powers. His biggest trick is to actually spin the house. The rest of the park, especially the other four themed islands, will refer to other cultures and historical eras, like: the ancient Egypt, the medieval kingdom, the magical lagoon…
IPM: How is this development being received by the community and the region?
AWW: The community is looking forward to developing the park. Firstly, the whole Grodzisk Commune is known as a great destination for any investors. The local authorities, especially the Mayor of the City of Grodzisk – Grzegorz Benedykciński, who has been in charge for almost 20 years, are very helpful and actively involved in the process of creating the park. What is very important, there were no protests or complaints about this project, which is especially important for us as we wish to bring people happiness, not problems. Moreover, the land owners wish to sell their parcels while the price for one square meter is very attractive comparing to the market prices. Besides, due to rapid development of the A2 motorway, their land won’t be a good place for cultivating grain in the next years, that is why now is such a good moment to sell it.
IPM: Is your new Executive Managing Director, Steven Shaiken, relocating to Poland? Is this a permanent position for him?
AWW: As soon as we begin construction, Steven Shaiken will take up residence in Poland. He has committed to a minimum of three years with the project. His ultimate goal is to train and mentor local management to assume full management of the park.
IPM: Steven Shaiken has experience with marine leisure & hospitality (cruise ships) as well as land-based projects. What does he bring from his Royal Caribbean experience to this position?
AWW: According to Mr Shaiken, the basics of hospitality are summed up in a few key words: SERVICE and delivering the BRAND PROMISE. He states that during his entire career, not only with Royal Caribbean, the guest experience has been the overarching mind set for himself and his entire team.
IPM: The recent announcement of a comparable development in Abu Dhabi by the same team is intriguing. But AWW hasn’t yet completed its permitting process. What do you have to tell the skeptics in regard to announcing a second ambitious development when the first has not yet broken ground?
AWW: We are consequently moving forward with the AWW project but it must be taken into consideration that the formal issues in Poland must take some time to be finalized - which doesn’t mean they are too hard to manage, especially when you have the determination and strong partners, like the Grodzisk authorities, who support you. We are looking positively to the next coming months which will be crucial for the project. What must be remembered is that the two projects do not depend on one another. They are being concurrently developed and, what is important, in different market conditions. What is really amazing is that the concept of the park has so much potential that it will be adopted in the next country.
IPM: Is an “Adventure World” brand being created?
AWW: Without doubt, the entire team’s goal is create and expand the brand called Adventure World Warsaw.
IPM: Please talk about the retail and hospitality areas of AWW: How will they be incorporated into the overall guest experience? How will they be made to be unique, and profitable?
AWW: All areas of AWW, including retail, hotels, entertainment, etc. will provide an immersive experience that supports each component of the park and the guests' day(s) within AWW.
IPM: What will be the signature attractions within AWW? Can you give some details on one or two of them in terms of the guest experience, design and technology?
AWW: Each attraction should be considered a part of our signature. The imaginative story lines will capture the guests' intrigue and propel them toward the next attraction, all with the goal of creating an indelible memory.
IPM: Will Adventure World Warsaw be licensing any IPs that will be applied to attractions?
AWW: At this time we are in discussions with several significant IPs on a confidential basis.
IPM: This is a sizable project. Individuals and companies with relevant products and services will want to participate. How can they get in touch?
AWW: We have created a special mailbox to contact us in cooperation matters: email@example.com. We have been gathering offers for the past few months and will make use of them on the next steps of the project.