“We're constantly looking at ways of directly engaging with our audience, as well as extending fans’ enjoyment of their favourite shows and an attraction felt like a good fit,” explains Mat Way, commercial director at BBC Worldwide, about the opening of CBeebies Land at Alton Towers Resorts.
Officially opened in May 2014, the attraction (which was brought to life by Merlin) has proved immensely popular with pre-schoolers and their parents. The site currently extends across four acres and will this year welcome its one millionth visitor.
Each area has been carefully designed for some of the channel’s biggest brands including Something Special, In the Night Garden, Tree Fu Tom and Mr Bloom’s Nursery. The latest attraction to open is the Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure, which welcomes little thrill seekers on board a convoy of GUPs for a rescue mission with some of their favourite characters.
“We wanted to create somewhere to bring the magical world of Cbeebies to life,” Way tells ToyNews. “We’ve been producing a very successful touring arena show for CBeebies so we knew there’s an established appetite for fans to engage with the brand in this way.”
Something like this is a big project to take on though, and takes a considerable amount of time in the planning stages, Way explains.
“The feasibility around a project of this nature can sometimes start three to four years ahead of opening. Clearly with the considerable challenges involved in integrating multiple IP and a channel brand meant our initial creative discussion around the proposition commenced very early.”
The team were also lucky that CBeebies affords them such fantastic content to work with, and Way admits they were “spoilt for choice”.
“The IP mix needs to reflect the channel, the demographics and the range of emotions we wanted visitors to feel,” said Way. “Clearly there are some IP that present more obvious executions – like Postman Pat because its vehicular-based with iconic scenery – but we also chose IP where we injected more original thought like Charlie and Lola.”
As we’ve seen with the likes of Peppa Pig World, The Magical World of Harry Potter and Nickelodeon Land among others, attractions are clearly now part of major licensors’ thinking on extending the life of a brand even further.
“There’s no question that an experience like CBeebies Land will have a lasting impact on children and parents, deepening the engagement with both brands established at CBeebies Land and the channel itself,” Way continues.
“For the rest of 2015, we want to achieve continued excellent customer satisfaction scores, a really unique experience for the Christmas period and establish growth plans for the Land.”