Wildlands Adventure Zoo in Emmen announced that it was laying off ten employees. The park only drew in 855,000 visitors last year, which was far less than the 1.2 million they had been aiming for.
Translation by Traci White
The park opened in 2016 and attracted 1.4 million visitors in its first year, but attendance numbers have been in decline ever since: in 2017, the park had 1.05 million people come through its gates. Even though numbers lagged behind in 2018, the park still ended the year with around 15,000 more visitors than their revised prognosis had predicted: the boost was attributed to the popular WILDnights campaign over Christmas break.
The lackluster visitor numbers have meant that the park is operating at a loss. It was made known last fall that the park would likely be 8 million euros in the black by the end of 2018. Wildlands is already anticipating that 2019 will be more of the same: a loss of four million euros.
Cross between theme park and zoo
An investigation into the financial situation of Wildlands determined that the park failed to respond to the evolving expectations of what visitors wanted to see in the park. The fact that Wildlands is a cross between a theme park and a zoo was also somewhat confusing for potential visitors, and the people who did come to the attraction felt that the animals were not visible enough and that ticket prices were too high.
Even though the park underwent a leadership change several months ago, its interim director Eric van Engelen has announced additional measures to try and turn the tide, such as lowering ticket prices and adapting the animal habitats to make them more visible. Dagblad van het Noorden reports that the park’s polar bears will be temporarily relocated elsewhere in the coming months while a new path is built through their current home.
Several less full areas of the park will also be converted into animal habitats, and a new walking path with be created between the Nortica and Serenga zones of the park so that visitors do not have to walk the same route twice.