A food funfair

A food funfair

9 August 2021 Off By Facto Edizioni

/ FICO Eataly World reopened at the beginning of July with a new business model that promises great results /

07 07 07: that was the chosen date for FICO Eataly World’s reopening. After a long pause due to the pandemic, the Italian food-themed park near Bologna reopened to the general public on July 7th at 7 p.m. And it reopened in a new form. “FICO started a new relaunch plan that redesigns and refocuses the visitors’ experience, becoming an experience park, a themed park that touches on all 5 senses and combines passion for food and fun,” explained the new CEO Stefano Cigarini. Today the park features 30 attractions, 7 themed areas, 26 restaurants and street food joints, 13 food processing plants with multimedia shows, and an animal farm. “A special day out for those who like to taste good food and enjoy life’s pleasures,” added Cigarini.

While the pandemic represented a hard blow for many parks, for FICO it became the chance to rethink its offer, its format and its business model after the first two years of operations had less than stellar results. After dazzling announcements, when the park was expected to receive 6 million visitors per year, FICO had a turnover of 38 million Euro in its first year, more or less breaking even, and went down to 30 million in 2019. This doesn’t mean to say that the idea of a theme park dedicated to the agri-food and gastronomy sector in Italy was a bad idea (Cigarini himself, in a recent interview, compared it to one of those brilliant ideas that only seem obvious in retrospect). However, next to the positive experiences, areas of potential improvement also emerged clearly; and to work on those the park called Cigarini, a man who has “the ability to build experiences,” as he demonstrated in his roles as Marketing Director for Universal and CEO of Cinecittà World, among others.

The major revolution is surely the new pricing model. Before, entrance to the park was free and visitors paid for eating at restaurants and also for rides and experiences, but only few people went for those (only 2% of visitors chose a guided tour). Now, visitors pay an entrance ticket, choosing either the access to the food park alone, with everything it has to offer, or a premium ticket that also includes a tour with four tasting experiences or a course on one of Italy’s great food products (Pasta, Pizza, Gelato, Wine and Mortadella). “I am well aware that the visitors’ numbers will drop, no matter how cheap the ticket,” said Cigarini, but “you cannot visit a place like FICO in a passive way. If you don’t pay, you don’t look for interesting things.”

And there is certainly no lack of interesting things in the new FICO. The park covers an area of about 15ha, divided in 7 themed areas dedicated to Italy’s great food products. There are, once again, 60 agri-food chain operators offering good food and, most of all, themed experiences, including the biggest food consortia, such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, San Daniele, Mortadella Bologna, Aceto Balsamico di Modena and Carne Razza Maremmana Bio. Also still present are the 13 food processing plants, now coming to life with new multimedia shows: animated projections on their external glass walls allow visitors to see how work is carried on inside, how the food processing works, and which machines are used; after each show, visitors can go inside the plants to see things for themselves. There are 5 new multimedia attractions developed in cooperation with science magazine Focus, meant to allow visitors to discover the primordial elements linked to the relationship between human beings and food: they are the rides of Fire, Earth, Sea, Animals, and From Earth to Bottle. There is also new, magnificent scenery between the different areas, and new games, rides and attractions dedicated to food inside each area, all of them designed for a…

Continue reading Games & Parks Industry July/August 2021, page 56

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