Sweden's Liseberg to break ground on €200m waterpark and hotel project in 2019

We looked at a number of ways we could utilise the space and quite early on it became clear that the best option for Liseberg and the destination would be to build an indoor waterpark and in-park hotel
– Andreas Andersen

Liseberg CEO Andreas Andersen has provided an update on the park’s planned €200m (US$238.8m, £178.8m) expansion, with work on the project expected to start in 2019 as the park attempts to diversify its product offering to expand its operational season.

The historic attraction in Gothenburg, Sweden, celebrates its centenary in 2023. In the build-up to this milestone, plans for a new indoor waterpark and hotel earlier were unveiled earlier this year on 50,000sq m (538,000sq ft) of land acquired in 2013.

“This was the last available expansion area in conjunction with Liseberg,” Andersen told CLADglobal. “Our park sits in the city centre so it was pretty important for us to acquire that land.

“We looked at a number of ways we could utilise the space and quite early on it became clear that the best option for Liseberg and the destination would be to build an indoor waterpark and in-park hotel.”

The waterpark, being developed by Water Technology Inc, will operate year-round with capacity for 2,800 guests over 17,000sq m (183,000sq ft). Renderings for the indoor attraction show a galleon, with the waterpark following a historic theme based on the Swedish East India Company, which has strong roots in the city. Included in the attraction will be eight experience pools, 10 water slides, two water play areas and a restaurant that can cater for up to 400 guests.

The 453-bedroom hotel is being designed by Swedish architectural firm Wingårdhs. Targeting families, the 31,000sq m (333,600sq ft) property will be adjoined to the waterpark and will feature a main restaurant with 550 seats, a smaller themed restaurant for up to 250 people, a bistro and a 700sq m (7,500sq ft) spa.

“We’ve finished concept design and are currently between schematic and detail design,” revealed Andersen. “We have all the permits and permissions, and we’ve secured financing for the project.”

Once the design is finalised, some preliminary work – such as moving the Liseberg parking lot – will take place before the development breaks ground in 2019. A projected opening date is set between 2021 and 2023, possibly over two phases depending on construction times.

“It’s a very big investment but it’s also necessary, in the sense that it will be necessary for us to expand into other business areas if we want to keep the park running as we know it today,” said Andersen, discussing the project’s goals.

“We have a couple of challenges when it comes to our existing business model. The first is it’s very seasonal. We bring in a lot of the revenue in just a few weeks through July and August. Our seasonality is significantly more concentrated than most other large amusement parks in Europe.

“The other challenge is that we are owned by the municipality. That gives us owners with a long-term perspective, which is great. But at the same time, there are some constraints on the way that we manage the park.

“We have a lot of cultural obligations and we give a lot away to charity. We are also trying to take care of a very long history and the heritage of the park in ways most other parks don’t have to. It’s very important to us that if we want to be part of the Gothenburg community and play a central role in the cultural fabric of the city, we need a strong financial foundation to stand on. Building the hotel and the waterpark will be part of that strong foundation.”

Liseberg has invested significantly over the course of the last six years, spending €120m (US$143.2m, €107.3m) on new additions to the park to combat declining visitor numbers, something which has proved to be very fruitful.

“We were seeing a declining attendance, especially in our summer season,” said Andersen. “We’ve invested heavily in our core business – the amusement park – with new rides, new theming and investment into our Halloween season.

“This investment strategy has worked very well for us. The last three years have been the most financially successful in the history of the park, so we’re very happy with that.”

According to Liseberg, the hotel and waterpark plans will have positive effects for both local residents and tourists, boosting employment and the regional economy, and increasing tourism numbers. This will include an additional 600,000 visitors on top of the three million people that visit the park each year, as well as €50.6m (US$60.4m, £45.2m) in tourist revenue for Gothenburg.

Liseberg’s next major investment is Valkyria – a steel dive coaster by Bolliger and Mabillard – which is currently under construction and set to open next year. Based on Norse Mythology, Valkyria is part of €25.3m (US$30.2m, £22.6m) investment which also includes Loke, a Gyro Swing manufactured by Intamin.

“We have a few things in the pipeline in terms of attractions,” said Andersen. “In 2023 we celebrate our 100th birthday. We have some fun stuff planned in the build-up for 2021-2022. It’s a strategic investment, not just in the short term, but also the long-term.”

Andreas Andersen  Liseberg  expansion  waterpark  hotel  visitor attractions  theme parks  amusement park  Gothenburg  Water Technology Inc  Wingårdhs 
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