OUT-OF-HOME: Theme-park conglomerate Merlin Entertainments has signed a first-of-its-kind deal to develop a new attraction based on reality TV series I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! for the UK’s Thorpe Park Resort.
It is the first TV-programme brand licensed by Merlin, Europe’s leading theme park operator, for Thorpe Park, which has the exclusive UK licence. And it is the first time ITV has issued UK theme-park rights to the show. The series’ comedian hosts, Ant and Dec (pictured), will support the accompanying marketing campaign.
Thorpe Park, based in the Surrey region, opens on12 March this year and the new attraction, called I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! Maze, is scheduled for 27 March. I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! is a TV game show set in a real-life jungle and features modern-day almost-famous names and faces being subjected to gruesome indignities to survive the non-accommodating surroundings.
Some of the challenges participating celebrities are expected to endure include eating jungle survival meals such as cockroaches, green ants, crickets and roasted spiders. It is one of Britain’s favourite TV shows, with an average of 10 million viewers watching the 14th season on ITV, the UK’s largest ad-funded public broadcaster, last year. The format, which has been localised over the years in several countries, including Australia and German, seems ideal for a theme park setting.
But Thorpe Park’s visitors need not worry about swallowing wriggly insects and bugs as part of their entertainment.
According to Merlin, the Thorpe Park version has been jointly adapted by Merlin’s Magic Making creative department and ITV Studios into “an interactive jungle adventure” that has participating visitors negotiating their way in and out of tunnels, caves, chambers and creepy crawly corridors. They can win prizes if they are able to survive “jungle trials” such as the Catacombs of Doom, the Chambers of Horror, and the Celebrity Cyclone finale.
Last year, an attraction based on Angry Birds, the triumphant mobile game developed by Finland’s Rovio Entertainment, was launched at Thorpe Park. Called Angry Birds Land, it is located in a Thorpe Park area devoted to all things Angry Birds, including an immersive 4D animation cinema plus rides such as King Pig’s Wild Hog Dodgems and Detonator: Bombs Away.
Unlike rival international theme-park operators such as The Walt Disney Company or NBCUniversal, Merlin does not own intellectual property in TV shows or movies that it can exploit in-house.
Merlin has, instead, chosen to excel at “second-gate” attractions. It takes its existing popular out-of-home entertainment brands, like Madame Tussauds, Legoland, The London Eye, Alton Towers Resort and the Sea Life aquarium, and creates extensions or variations that would appeal to another demographic segment. This approach enables it to boost the number of potential visitors to the same park.
Thorpe Park records an estimated 2 million visitors annually, and Merlin’s theme parks, hotel resorts and attractions worldwide attract about 60 million visitors yearly.