Merlin Entertainments, a global leader in location-based entertainment with brands including LEGOLAND, Madame Tussauds and SEA LIFE, has entered into a formal multi-territory exclusivity agreement with Sony Pictures Entertainment to develop and operate attractions, rides, lands, retail outlets and themed hotel rooms based on the studio’s box office hit Jumanji film franchise across Merlin’s Resort Theme Parks and Waterparks in Europe (including the UK) and North America.
The first Jumanji experience to be launched as part of the agreement will be the world’s first Jumanji ride, which will open in April this year at Merlin’s Gardaland Resort in Italy, with a second activation already in development at a different theme park for a 2023 launch.
Merlin is teaming up with Oceaneering and Framestore for the development of the Jumanji ride at Gardaland. The attraction will be called “Jumanji – the Adventure” and will transport guests to the fantastic world of Jumanji, where an exhilarating adventure awaits them: a journey full of pitfalls, surprises and dangers through the wild jungle. The new “Jumanji – the Adventure” attraction will be a dark ride for adventure lovers of all ages, designed to appeal to a wide audience of families, teenagers and young adults. “Jumanji – the Adventure” will open in April 2022, and will be complemented by the simultaneous launch of fully themed Jumanji hotel bedrooms.
The deal supports Merlin’s broader global strategy to engage and work with leading IP and brands across its global estate, with existing successful partnerships including LEGO, Marvel, Peppa Pig and CBeebies. The agreement is also a pivotal step in Sony Pictures’ larger global strategy to grow and expand location-based entertainment by utilising its strong global film and TV brands to create opportunities for audiences around the world to immerse themselves deeper into the studio’s stories.
The collaboration further builds on Merlin’s successful relationship with Sony Pictures Entertainment, which has already seen the previous roll out of two “in-attraction” themed experiences including the Ghostbusters 5D ride at Heide Park in Germany and the Ghostbusters experience at Madame Tussauds New York.
Chief Development Officer for Merlin Entertainments, Mark Fisher, says: “We are excited to be taking our relationship with Sony Pictures Entertainment to the next level with this strategic partnership. Sony are one of the top movie companies on the planet and Jumanji is a multi-billion-dollar brand which has appealed to guests of all ages for over two decades. Our Merlin team are already hard at work developing brilliant creative concepts, which will bring to life the blockbuster-famous Jumanji film across our Theme Parks and Waterparks. We can’t wait to deliver thrilling rides and experiences for guests and film fans alike. The game is certainly on!”
Jeffrey Godsick, EVP of Global Partnerships and Brand Management and Head of Location Based Entertainment at Sony Pictures Entertainment, adds: “Merlin is the ideal company to bring the world of Jumanji to life. Their commitment to strong storytelling, quality of craftsmanship and fantastic guest experiences ensure that fans of Jumanji will be fully immersed into the worlds of our films and have an unforgettable experience. I am very pleased to expand our relationship with the great team at Merlin.”
Ranked Europe’s top and the world’s second-largest tourist attraction operator, Merlin runs more than 135 tourist attractions in 24 countries across Europe, America, Asia and Oceania.
Following on from the original Robin Williams film in 1995, the adventure continues in the brand-new film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) and Jumanji: The Next Level (2019), starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan. The film franchise’s continued success has made it Sony’s biggest wholly owned film franchise of all time. Taking over $2.1bn at the global box office, the Jumanji film franchises are popular with both family and teenage audiences globally.