While Nintendo’s Super Nintendo World might be the video game theme park most people are making plans to visit in the near future, it sounds like Sony very much wants to get in on some of the IP-to-destination attraction action while the getting’s good.
During a recent interview with Variety tied to the opening of the new Jumanji rides at Chessington World of Adventures in England, Merlin Entertainments (which runs multiple parks, including Chessington and Legoland) CEO Scott O’Neil and Sony Pictures partnerships executive VP Jeffrey Godsick were emphatic about how this new era of theme parks is being defined by technology “merging with IP which is merging with imagination.” Translated into more regular English, what the companies seem to be interested in is capitalizing on even more of Sony’s sizable IP catalog with heavily branded attractions, a move O’Neil says Merlin has identified as being integral to success in the “location-based entertainment” business.
“There’s always room for creative expression and individual attractions,” O’Neil said. “However, there is a flight to quality, and in the consumers and our guests’ mind, some of that quality is tied to ‘Is this a brand I know? Is this a brand I love?’”
As Variety notes, World of Jumanji is the latest development to come out of Merlin and Sony’s partnership from last March that gave Merlin the rights to create Jumanji-themed attractions in a variety of its parks across North America and Europe. World of Jumanji comes after the launch of Jumanji The Adventure, a “motion vehicle dark ride” in Italy’s Gardaland resort, and the $21 million that went into the new attraction speaks to how the company’s rides are growing in scale.
Of course, Jumanji’s just one piece of Sony’s IP. But Ghostbusters, which Godsick implied Merlin may also be tapping into again following Ghostbusters 5D for Germany’s Heide Park, is another, and the company is very well aware of how well-received Super Nintendo World has been. Godsick also noted that, with this partnership, Sony is “looking at everything across the board — not just in movies — in all of the IP content that we have.”
O’Neil’s insistence that “it’s not lost on us what’s been really successful,” with regard to Universal and Nintendo’s partnership, could be interpreted in a few different ways. But given what the companies are doing with Jumanji and Sony’s continued attempts at parlaying its games into viable film franchises, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if we were to start hearing about PlayStation-centric theme parks sooner than later.