Grizzly Adventure - the new leisure environment

Grizzly Adventure - the new leisure environment

Oskar runs off. He already knows the animals, but when he sees the high red tower, glittering in the sun far behind, it is up there where he wants to get. Only a few moments later, the six-year-old boy stands at the entrance to a huge area which is titled Grizzly Adventure, a playable gold mining town full of climbing paths, water games, a high mining tower, a gold panning site, an Indian camp and a sawmill. Wherever he goes, there are entrances and playing options everywhere. Oskar keeps running, discovers a small path cutting through a rock, stops for a moment, turns the crank handle on the wall and thus sees the illuminated shape of a bear lying deep behind in the cave - and quickly hurries away. Back again outdoors, Oskar finds himself in the midst of a rocky gorge where children are climbing up and down whereas he prefers to use the ladder to get up to the top of the tower from where he is offered a fantastic view over the entire playing area.

Behind the already climbed "Grizzly Mountain", there is a second area, the so-called "Grizzly Bay", including four water basins with different playing options all of which focusing on Canada.

The entire playing area of approximately 10,000 square metres belongs to the Jaderpark in Jaderberg, in immediate vicinity of the North Sea coast. The long-established park was founded in the 1950s as a private zoo. In the 1990s, after a change of ownership and the subsequent reorganisation of the area amusement rides were also added to the programme offer in addition to the zoo. With 200,000 to 300,000 visitors each year, the Jaderpark is a small to medium-sized German leisure park. Over an area of around 17 hectares, the residents of the neighbouring towns of his area and its surroundings as well as tourists can enjoy a diverse leisure programme, including 600 animals of 120 different species.

Leisure parks like Jaderpark provide fun for all generations. So that is what it makes so important to bring the whole family. In addition, the Ludewigt family, who are the owners of the park, find it very important to offer their guests playing areas which can always be rediscovered and thus motivate the visitors to come back again. Such playing offers should motivate towards more exercise and at the same time offer options to relax in addition to the entertaining fun offered through the amusement rides. Both this aspect and the multigenerational design approach of the play equipment are the key components when creating a sustainable playing area.

At best, only such amusement rides should be integrated that require low staff levels because the aspect of economic efficiency is also important for the park owners.  Because in contrast to the traditional amusement rides, a play area which is suitable for all generations and playable by themselves, generally requires less staff which, from the point of view of the operators, makes this project an even more profitable investment.

The well-established businesses of enclosures on the one hand and amusement rides on the other hand have already created a good basis. In 2014, the owners decided to extend their park offerings by another module suitable for all generations.

Hence, over several years the park owners developed a concept of different construction phases together with the company Kinderland Emsland Spielgeräte and the designer Gert Eussen.

The gold mining town "Grizzly Mountain" was the first additional module which was opened in 2015. Over an area of 6,400 sqm grassland, a completely new outdoor area has been designed which looks like a typical Canadian mountain landscape and also includes a canyon and a mine factory of which a 16-metre high climbable mining tower forms the centre.

Over 2.3 million euros were invested by the park owners. The climbing facility is suitable for 3 to 99-year-old visitors. "Usually, the fathers always want to climb together with their children", says Horst Ludewigt.

The elaborate and well-thought out pathways let the visitors repeatedly find new ways and convey the feeling that there are still a lot of ways left to be discovered. The climbing, balancing, crawling and sliding facilities of different designs and functions over an area of 6,400 sqm were created by using different materials such as concrete, timber, rubber, steel and ropes. Thus, once you will find yourself at a dizzying height and in the next moment in a dark cave, then you are on a path offered to both children and adults and the next time the path becomes too narrow for adults so that the young visitors can continue discovering this place on their own.

The tower, which is visible from far away, has become a recognition feature of the park.

As the Jaderpark depends on both season and weather conditions, it was also important to consider facilities which would attract the visitors even in wet weather. In addition, the concept includes catering trade at each play and resting area where the visitors could take a break, look around, meet and interact with other players.

The entire area is encircled by a 140-metre long obstacle course of different climbing levels. Different animal footprints help the visitors to find their way.

Here, both parents and children can play next to each other, each in his or her own way and on his or her own level of play.

Despite of the bad weather during the 2015 season, Jaderpark recorded a slight increase in the number of visitors. According to the operators, this is due to the investment in the gold mining area.

"Oh, look! I also want to go on the raft!" Oskar observes from the mining tower what's going on in the "Grizzly Bay" area. Splash! A boat rides down a ramp at very high speed, flies a short way in a straight line and splashes into the water so that the spectators along the edge get wet and start squeaking and laughing. Oskar is flabbergasted. But then he decides to climb down quickly and runs towards the water. He finds himself in a raft and punts it across the rectangular harbour basin. Another child has watched him and shouts: "Mind! Water!" And the cannon starts shooting water from the edge of the basin and Oskar finds himself in the thick of the happenings.

Mainly young children can play in the next "harbour basin". Here, some different watercourses, which can be filled by different water pumps, have been created with a meticulous eye for detail. The water course can also be controlled through the small gates and locks which is perfect for the young discoverers. In addition, especially in this basin, numerous rubber ducks are available to be sent on their journey.

"We are faster!" Loud laughing of a big family attracts attention towards another basin. Brothers, sisters and parents on two different ferries are playing tug of war, pulling each other from one side to the other. Between the rafts, dexterity is more important than strength because of the shaky bridge built from pontoons that enables the visitors to cross the basin on foot.

This playable port area was created and built one year after the successful inauguration of the Grizzly Mountain play area.

Four harbour basins, with many details adapted to the era of gold diggers on the Klondike River, provide the visitors with different playing options and water experiences: large water basis with rafts for punting and pulling contests, a shaky bridge, water cannons, flying boats, the tidal paddling facility for the youngest visitors, obstacle climbing through the port facilities and much more. And around, the "harbour buildings" and other port facilities offer possibilities to take a break and look around.

However, all target groups will find a place at this area which enables them to experience water in a playful way jointly with others. Just like in the adjacent play area, here again there are lots of opportunities which invite either to play with others or on one’s own.

When the water facility was designed, special consideration was given to the wind directions and water quality which allows the visitors to enjoy their games even in stormy weather conditions.

Particular attention was also given to the design of the functional buildings, because in leisure parks it is often the case that colourful thematic facades cannot be walked on, nor is it clear what they should represent or why they are there. Hence, in the "Grizzly Bay" area, for instance, a building with a complete water technology system has been created. The design of the building includes an external part which refers to the port whereas the windows and holes in the facade give the visitors an insight into the pumping station. Thus, even technology becomes an adventure. In addition, changing rooms were included into the design concept because in this park area nobody and nothing remains dry.

1.5 million Euro were spent for the construction of the second section. Usually, the visitors stay here for quite a long time. Some groups said that they have only come because of the water adventure facility. Besides, there is only one person at the integrated "flying boat" amusement ride, who is responsible for the entire play area. Thus, the wish of the operators to provide a high-quality stay with little staff, has certainly been fulfilled.

 

Final considerations

A conclusive thematic development of the individual areas is part of a nice leisure park experience. At large theme parks, such as Disneyland, the current trend goes clearly towards immersive virtual reality experience which makes the visitor with all his senses dive into another world by means of digital electronics.

In particular small parks can hardly compete with that. Nevertheless, well themed play areas which appeal to the senses in an analogue manner and thus allow real role playing, can also provide immersive experience.

However, this is the difference between play areas at leisure parks and public playgrounds. That is to say, the elements which make a sawmill to a real sawmill are not just painted on the wall or recreated timber figures. The sawmill of the leisure park play area has a real saw blade hanging from the ceiling, of course without any injury risk, but nevertheless visible enough to motivate the visitors to invent creative playing options.

The Jaderpark contains many such decoration elements. On the inner wall of the mine, there are real helmets and real tools and the harbour buildings are equipped with real fishing materials and real buoys. It is the many little details which make a perfect and intense play experience.

However, some interactive elements have still been included into the play areas. For instance, in the dark mine there is a crank which produces enough energy to turn on the light and allow the sound of an explosion. Over and over again there are "speaking" columns, informing the visitors about further playing options. All these objects generate their own energy and need no additional electric power.

After some hesitation, Oskar manages to leave the Canadian play area. The path leads him to the lions.

One year after the Grizzly Bay was opened, another play area has been built. One of the already existing playgrounds has been restructured and converted into a theme play and observation place. The place in front of the lion enclosure has thus been rebuilt and declared the Palace of the Lions. When the design of this small area was planned, both the already existing enclosure and the creation of a barrier-free play area which offers play experience to everybody, regardless of age or physical handicaps, were the most important aspects.

Here, both standard devices, such as a carousel or a seesaw for wheel chair users which have been decorated according to the thematic focus and also some unique devices were installed, such as the tunnel of senses with bright colours, decorated in oriental style, in which the atmosphere constantly changes depending on the way the light falls in. The design of the visual axis and walking routes considers the lion to be part of the game. In addition, it was consciously decided to avoid complex and hidden paths in order to guarantee accessibility. Thus, an additional interesting and precisely reflected place has been created which constitutes another unique selling proposition for the park visitors.

However, it is planned to expand Jaderpark in the coming years by creating further playing and thematic areas.

For this season functional buildings and a new entrance area have been created in detailed accordance with the thematic focus by giving the visitors insights in the respective functions.

When Oskar leaves the park, he smiles happily and says: "Let’s tell them at the kindergarten to come back to the park all together!”

 

 

Photo: ESF Emsland Spiel- und Freizeitgeräte GmbH & Co. KG

 

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