Amusement park boom?

Photo: archive of Radio Prague

Czechs want to be entertained and are willing to pay for it. That is the conventional wisdom at the moment according to daily Mladá fronta Dnes. Recently, the paper interviewed the former head of the Prague Zoo, Petr Fejk, who is reportedly looking for investors in a 200 million crown project just outside the capital. According to the former zoo man, Czechs don’t want Disneyland but something more. Others, meanwhile, have been even quicker to get in on the action.

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
Amusement or theme parks are currently 'in' and many investors have already got their foot in the door. As it stands, Czech families looking for something to do at the weekend, already visit science centres and parks like Wikyland near Brno or Prague’s Fun Park Žirafa. And there are plenty more to choose from.

But, one of the representatives of Wikyland suggests investors might want to think twice before launching new centres in the promise of untold profits. He told news website iDnes that while theme parks do make money the return only comes “years after” the initial investment. The current ‘boom’ in new or potential centres is in part, he suggests, the result of some newcomers not fully understanding the market. Wikyland opened in 2014, iDnes writes, and it had one competitor while now there were several. According to the site, dozens of new sites have opened in the Czech Republic in recent years.

Another who is sceptical about those looking to open new amusement centres is Jiří Machálek, the owner of eight Dinoparks (five in the Czech Republic, two in Slovakia, one in Spain); he told iDnes that many newer sites didn’t really fulfil the definition of theme park at all, expressing the view many didn’t deliver on their promise. He told the daily his Dinoparks have done well: 1.5 million visitors per year. The attraction? That the park features real-moving models of the “terrible lizards” which once walked the Earth.

Petr Fejk’s own plans have been described as a “megaproject”; according to iDnes the former zoo director is hoping to create the largest amusement park in central Europe, complete with some 50 rides and attractions including the largest rollercoaster in the country. In the interview published at the weekend, he suggested that his theme park needed to be in good taste and offer ‘more’. What ‘more’ will turn out to be is still very much an open question. Mr Fejk is reportedly in negotiations with potential investors and partners but no details, iDnes made clear, are known yet.