Swedish park celebrates record year
Astrid Lindgren's World, the 33-year-old theme park and theatre in Sweden, welcomed a record number of visitors in 2013, with more than 27,000 people visiting during the nine days the part was open over autumn, bringing the total attendance in throughout the year to more than 475,000.
Located in Vimmerby, south-east Sweden, Astrid Lindgren's World is themed around books from the famous Swedish, including Pippi Longstocking, Karlsson-on-the-Roof and the Six Bullerby Children.
After investing a record SEK95m ($13.6m) building a brand new area in the park, Mikael Ahlerup, managing director at Astrid Lindgren's World, said: "It has been a historical year in every way. We could not have received stronger confirmation that the direction we have chosen to go in is the right one than this year's record number of visitors.
"The investment in the new Emil in Lönneberga setting - which turned out great - has, along with our fantastic members of staff, been two strong contributing factors to this year's success.
"In addition, on December 4 we could be named as 'the best experience in Sweden' by the foreign market. This clearly shows that the appreciation of our work reaches far beyond the borders of Sweden."
Ahlerup added: "I am now leaving after 10 years with the company, and personally it feels great to hand over a company that has the wind at its back and is appreciated by our guests. I will take many great memories with me from my time in Vimmerby."
Istralandia Aquapark opens in Croatia
Istralandia Aquapark, Croatia's first waterpark, has opened its doors near the city of Pula, at the southern tip of the Istria Peninsula.
Developer Istrakop teamed with Polin Waterparks and Pool Systems to build the $13m waterpark, which features a 27m-high Kamikaze waterslide and a 2,500sq.m wave pool - the largest in the Mediterranean.
The facility pulls its water from local groundwater wells, and recycles 90% of it. The additional 10% goes through a biological purifier.
Istralandia offers a wide variety of entertainment options. Foam parties, dancing, cycling, diving and synchronised swimming provide fitness opportunities in the water, while Latin American dance classes, bowling, badminton and beach volleyball allow guests to get some exercise on land.
All water rides and attractions have been designed by Turkey-based Polin. In addition to Kamikaze, these include Flying Boats, a Black Hole and Family Rafting Slide combination ride, Kids' Multislide, Octopus Slide, Mini Pirate Slide and the Clown Shower.
Aqua Tower, Polin's multi-level waterplay structure, features a pirate-theme and includes waterslides, valves, water cannons and many other attractions designed for children.
Disney eyes Middle East market
Walt Disney Company Parks and Resorts is looking to attract high-spending Middle Easterners to its resorts amid declining consumer spending across the world.
Speaking to Abu Dhabi daily, The National, Claire Bilby, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Disney Destinations International (DDI), said: "We have visited Dubai, Doha and Kuwait. We have partners in each of those cities and are talking to them about how we can market and sell to consumers."
Julien Munoz, DDI's director of international sales and marketing, said the firm had been focusing on the growing Middle East market over the past two decades.
"Standards are high when they travel, so for us it's a way to keep being in competition," Munoz said. "The Disney brand is a strong one in this market. We have 51% of consumers that have a strong affinity with the brand."
Florida waterpark proposed
The first waterpark in Florida's eastern Manatee County has been proposed for Tom Bennett Park.
The aquatic centre and waterpark, which would cost up to $20m to build, would feature a roller coaster that blasts riders through water and a 20,000sq.ft wave pool with simulated tropical beach.
It would create 200 temporary jobs during construction and up to 140 permanent jobs once the park opens, developers stated.
The draft proposal calls for a dense tropical jungle theme, wave pool with simulated beach, sand volleyball courts, water slides, single-person thrill slides, multi-person tube rides and a toddler play pool.
Middle East developer seeks $4bn loan
Meraas Holding, a property firm that is developing some of Dubai's most ambitious real estate projects, is in talks with banks to raise up to $4bn, reports suggest.
The group has launched a number of projects in recent months, including a complex that will house five theme parks - including the first outside North America by Six Flags Entertainment Corporation - and an island featuring a giant Ferris wheel.
According to reports, Meraas is looking to 'front-load' its debt plans so that it raised as much cash before construction began on the projects.
Kalahari Resort to open next year
Kalahari Resorts, home to one of America's most successful family-owned indoor waterparks, is coming to the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania.
The third largest indoor waterpark in the US opens its doors next year, and operator Kalahari Resorts and Conventions is currently taking reservations for guests who want to be among the first to enjoy the facility.
Kalahari Resorts in the Pocono Mountains will join two existing venues in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, and Sandusky, Ohio.
In addition to the large indoor waterpark, it will also include a seasonal outdoor waterpark, a 450-room hotel, a 30,000sq.ft family entertainment centre, 65,000sq.ft of flexible meeting space, a spa and 10 unique dining experiences.
New waterpark planned near Montreal
Montreal will soon have a new attraction to talk about, as developers prepare to break ground on a new waterpark and leisure facility in the municipality of Sainte-Adèle.
Planned to open in September 2016, the La Rolland project will take up 84ha of land.
It will offer 60,000sq.m of accommodations for short stays and 24,000sq.m of facilities dedicated to leisure and sports activities as well as catering and an indoor tropical waterpark.
La Rolland is currently in development by Jamco Ventures and its international team. M2Leisure is the overall project consultant for the development and operations of this new family oriented resort destination.
M2Leisure's program for La Rolland includes 800 lodging units, providing an offering for short breaks and holidays.
The facilities consist of a three-pavilion village centre featuring an iconic indoor waterpark set at 29 degrees Celsius 365 days a year; a sports and leisure centre; shopping; restaurants and more.
The project is in line with the latest leisure market trends, according to M2Leisure, showing a growing preference for family oriented and proximity-based resort destinations, accessible near major urban centres.
The opening of the resort is planned for September 2016.
Carnival Group swings to profit
Carnival Group International Holdings, an operator of all-encompassing large-scale leisure and entertainment complex projects, has announced its unaudited interim results for the six months ended June 30, 2014.
The group has turned around its business to achieve a profit during the period under review, with profit attributable to owners of the company reaching HK$8.6m ($1.1m), mainly attributable to the increase in gain from sales of properties and the reduction of selling and administrative expenses and finance costs.
During the period, Carnival expedited a transformation of its business and is planning for the launch of its integrated tourism project in Qingdao, eastern China. Set to open in mid-2015, the Rio Carnival complex is targeted at China's growing consumer markets.
To cater for growing demand of visitors to high-end tourism sites, the project comprises integrated facilities including discount shopping centres for international premium brands, indoor and outdoor theme parks, hotels, a themed restaurant area and a convention centre.
Commenting on the group's current strategy, King Pak Fu, chairman of Carnival Group, said: "Driven by China's continuous economic growth and the increasing spending power of its families, the demand for leisure and entertainment has continuously risen.
"In light of this, Carnival Group International has created a new concept of integrated tourism and shopping in the Greater China region. We aim to design, develop, operate and manage large-scale tourism and shopping complex projects featuring a theme park, hotel, shopping and leisure functions in major cities of China."
King said the group is currently studying the feasibility of replicating similar large-scale tourism projects in the first- and second-tier cities or key provinces and cities outside Qingdao to capture the opportunities brought about by the strong consumption power, particularly the escalating demand for tourism and shopping in China.
Ferrari World hosts China summit
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi kicked off the 2014 Chinese Visitor Summit in true championship style with an adrenaline-fuelled welcome event on August 25.
The delegates, comprised of 90 influential Chinese buyers and media representatives, were treated to an exciting Ferrari World Abu Dhabi event to mark the official opening of the two-day summit.
The guests were invited to immerse themselves in the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi experience as part of an organised tour of Abu Dhabi's hottest leisure destination, Yas Island. Representatives from Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and the regional travel and tourism industry joined the delegation.
The tour showcased the significant entertainment and leisure offerings and unique meeting, incentives, conferences and exhibitions facilities that combine to make Yas Island a key destination for both tourism and business.
A welcome reception celebrated the synergy between Ferrari's eponymous logo, the 'Prancing Horse', which is emblazoned on the park's roof and considered the largest Ferrari logo ever created, and 2014 as the 'Year of the Horse' in the Chinese zodiac calendar.
Guests were then invited to brave Formula Rossa, the world's fastest rollercoaster and take a leisurely ride on Viaggio in Italia, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi's beautiful aerial tour of Italy's most breathtaking scenery.
Chicago Surf heads to the beach
The first and only surf park within Chicago's Cook County will open next year at Montrose Beach.
Located on the banks of Lake Michigan, the Chicago Surf facility is being developed through a partnership with American Wave Machines (AWM).
AWM will install a 16ft SurfStream surf machine at the venue.
The surf park at Montrose Beach will also include a beachside café and large patio seating, offering guests to chance to enjoy a front row seat to the surfing action.
Created by Chicago native K.C. Hoos, Chicago Surf is the first and only concept of its kind in the city.
Himself a surfer, Hoos wanted to offer surf enthusiasts and adventure seekers an out-of-the-box way to enjoy the Lake Michigan waterfront during the city's precious warm weather season.