The Wildlands adventure park in Emmen, which has had several tumultuous years with lacklustre visitor numbers, is drawing in more people this year and seeing better-than-expected financial results.
Translation by Traci White
Erik van Engelen, the director of the park, told RTV Drenthe that the park’s promising results in 2019 thus far are especially heartening in light of the threat of bankruptcy which hung over the attraction earlier in the year.
The park is not yet making a profit and is expected to continue operating at a loss for several years to come, but their investment in redesigning the habitats to feature more animals seems to be paying off in terms of visitor numbers: Wildlands is currently projecting to have 940,000 visitors by the end of the year, which is well above the final total in 2018 of 855,000, and the average mark given by visitors of their experience has risen from 6.5 to 81. Part of their newfound satisfaction is likely attributable to ticket prices being 2.50 euros cheaper.
The municipality of Emmen became the sole financier of the park in March of 2019, which followed a round of ten lay offs. 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.
The lacklustre 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. The park had predicted another loss of up to 4 million euros in 2019.
However, despite visitor numbers being up, the park is still set to undergo significant changes in the near future: the former penguin habitat will be replaced with a large bird cage (the penguins are now living in the crossing at the polar bear exhibit). A wooden house and new racoons and skunks will be added, catering will relocate in the Nortica area and the Terra Explorer feature will be removed. Works are expected to be completed by November.