Micro parks are a macro trend
Second Peppa Pig Theme Park planned for Texas
Theme parks are typically designed as full-day experiences. Sure, you could plan to spend less time, but generally there are enough coasters, shows, and other rides and attractions to fill a whole day–or more. Recently, however, a bunch of new theme parks have broken with convention. Known as micro parks, these places occupy much smaller footprints than their larger peers and limit the number of things to do so that they can be comfortably visited over the course of a couple of hours.
More often than not, the target audience for a micro park is families with young children. Little ones usually don’t have the stamina or the attention span to power through a long day on a midway (as evidenced by the inevitably cranky or deep-in-slumber toddlers frequently found in tow with their stressed out parents at parks).
A perfect example of this trend is Peppa Pig Theme Park, the third gate at Legoland Florida Resort (which also includes Legoland Florida and Legoland Water Park). Opened about a year ago, the 4.5-acre park is aimed at preschoolers who go gaga over the porcine TV star along with her British family and friends. Now comes word–and even more evidence that going small is having a moment in the industry–that another Peppa Pig Theme Park is in the works for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
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No details about the Texas park have been revealed other than its planned opening date will be in 2024 and that it will feature some rides, play areas, and shows. It’s likely that it will be similar, if not nearly identical to Peppa Pig’s Florida hangout. That park has five rides–six, if you count the kid-powered bike tour. The highlight is Daddy Pig’s Roller Coaster, a very mild ride from Zamperla that includes a gentle tire-propelled launch in the middle of its short layout. How short? Passengers get two passes through the course, and it still lasts barely a minute. To get to the coaster, guests wind their way through a very cute facsimile of Peppa Pig’s house.
In addition to the mechanical rides, there are interactive play zones, a Fun Fair with free pint-sized carnival games, and a cinema where kids can chill out and watch episodes of Peppa’s popular program. The folks at Coaster101.com produced a great video which demonstrates that it is entirely possible to see and do pretty much all there is to see and do at Peppa Pig Theme Park in less than one hour.
The new park will be located adjacent to NRH2O Family Water Park in North Richland Hills, Texas. Like the original Peppa Pig park, it will be built and operated by Merlin Entertainments. The global attractions company already has a presence in the region with a Legoland Discovery Center and Sea Life Aquarium in nearby Grapevine. Six Flags Over Texas (which is decidedly neither a micro park, nor geared to wee ones) is also close by in Arlington.
The area is becoming something of an attractions hotbed with the recent announcement that Universal would build a new park in Frisco, Texas. That project will also be a micro park and targeted to youngsters, although it will be bigger than Florida’s teeny-tiny Peppa Pig park, and its demographic will be older–probably more in line with the under-12 crowd that is Legoland’s sweet spot. The City of Frisco gave the official green light to the Universal park earlier this week.
Other micro parks under development include Katmandu at the new Falcon’s Resort by Meliá in Punta Cana, which is set to open next week, and Mattel Adventure Park in Arizona. That project has been delayed and is now supposed to open in 2024. Sesame Place, which is located near San Diego and is based on the same-named park near Philadelphia, also opened last year.
Have you been to Peppa Pig Theme Park? What do you think about the trend to build micro parks?
I want a Universal park near me! Arthur, can you put in a good word with the brass over there?
I absolutely love the idea of micro parks, especially if they are located in smaller metro areas that lack a major theme park or FEC. These harken back to the era when you could find a ”Kiddieland” park in or around most major cities and I hope they are successful and proliferate as such.
I sorely miss my hometown’s park, Boyle’s Joyland, ever since its demise in Topeka in the early ‘90s. We, unfortunately lost so many of these small parks, I think, partly due to recession, partly due to safety concerns, and also because the owners became too old or died and had nobody who wanted to keep them going. I think now there is a greater opportunity for these larger companies to invest the money to build the smaller parks and realize a greater return on their investment in a shorter amount of time.
Selfishly, though, as an enthusiast, I hope that some would consider including a handful of attractions that would appeal to all ages: a mid size coaster, log ride, dark ride, and flats, paired with an admission structured for those who wouldn’t utilize the kiddie offerings of those parks. It is a concept that, if done well, could be very successful.