Merlin Entertainments, one of the world’s largest attractions operators, announced Thursday that it has entered into a “formal multi-territory exclusivity agreement” with Sony Pictures Entertainment that will allow it to, “develop and operate attractions, rides, lands, retail outlets and themed hotel rooms based on the studio’s box office hit Jumanji film franchise,” according to a company news release.
The first immersive Jumanji-branded experience is already set to debut on April 2 at the Merlin-run Gardaland Resort in Italy, which lies west of Verona on the shores of Lake Garda. Thanks to its deepened partnership with Sony, Merlin can continue to bring Jumanji experiences to its theme parks and water parks across Europe, the U.K. and North America. The British-owned company said that the next one is already in development for a different, undisclosed theme park property and is slated to open sometime in 2023.
The attraction will be entitled ‘Jumanji – The Adventure’, a dark ride designed to appeal to guests of all ages, which will plunge them into the fictional world of Jumanji. Riders will be swept into an exhilarating adventure through the hostile jungle, where they’ll encounter plenty of surprises, pitfalls and dangers. The attraction’s launch will also coincide with the opening of fully Jumanji-themed hotel rooms.
Harkening back to the recent film’s plotline, ‘Jumanji – The Adventure’ will transport riders aboard vehicles that speed along a track through the mysterious jungle, on a “mission” to find a sacred jewel and return it to the temple to save the world of Jumanji. Of course, they’ll encounter “hazards, obstacles, and special effects” along the way. Highlights will reportedly include a massive animatronic hippo rising out of a swamp, menacing spiders dropping into the vehicle and a cave-dwelling, “roaring” stone giant.
According to the Daily Mail, Aldo Maria Vegevani, Gardaland’s CEO, remarked on the upcoming attraction last October, “’It will be a key investment of over €20million for the realization of the world’s-first Jumanji-themed attraction that will be one-of-a-kind worldwide, also, for its hi-tech features and unique, impressive theming.
“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,” Mark Fisher, Chief Development Officer for Merlin Entertainments, said in a statement. “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!”
“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,” said Jeffrey Godsick, Executive Vice President of Global Partnerships and Brand Management, and Head of Location-based Entertainment at Sony Pictures Entertainment.