Brunei`s 15-year-old Jerudong Park Playground may no longer be enjoying its glory days of yesteryear, but it is now rebranding itself as a family-oriented theme park to attract visitors, despite public perceptions of its dwindling image and loss of major rides.
“We are moving towards a more family-oriented theme park, focusing on rides and events that draw in mum, dad and the children as they are our main target market,” said Russell Finney, general manager of Jerudong Park and Country Club. This is a more feasible choice as bringing in “white-knuckle rides” for adrenaline junkies, such as rollercoasters, are not only expensive to bring in, but also costly to maintain, he told The Brunei Times.
“We refurbished what used to be the Simulator building, that was sold off, into a performance stage where people can come in and enjoy shows by either local acts or by our hired staff of performers.”
He said that performance-based events and activities not only brings customers to the park, but it also brings back a stable demand of children and families because they enjoy what the park has to offer. “This performance stage is also inexpensive and easy to maintain plus we use materials that are already available in this country as well as employing local staff for the lighting and sounds and even performing,” he said, adding they have been assessing what could and should be done with the park for the past two years.
“With rollercoasters and other adrenaline filled rides, it caters to a very unstable market of teenagers and adults who may get tired of it after 10 or a dozen-so rides. However, with playgrounds and shows like these, it could be there for 10 years and you would still see children coming back because it never gets boring for them, that is the type of attraction that we are focusing on right now.”
He further said that what they hope to achieve with the direction of the theme park is a family friendly place where people can have their outings and have a good time. Finney identified the local weather was a problem in increasing the park`s attendance as Brunei rains 35 per cent of the time.
“We see the theme park attendance drop especially during the wet season as not a lot of people like to get on the rides in the rain. It is pretty difficult trying to have a constant influx of theme park goers in such a tropical climate.” However, he said that there were instances where people visit despite the rain, especially during weekends, where the park gets a high number of customers.
The general manager remarked that Jerudong Park is not alone in the list of world theme parks that are in a state of declining appeal. “What we are seeing now is that these theme parks are evolving and mixing elements of eco-tainment and edutainment as their main attractions to bring in more demand.”
“People nowadays, especially children who are very aware and conscious of the times, want to have interactive attractions that are ecologically friendly and contain educational value and those are the things that we are currently focusing on,” he added.
Finney also assured that all rides and attractions are maintained and scrutinised on a regular basis to the manufacturer`s specifications and a team of people was set up to constantly maintain the park and manage the conservation of the surrounding landscape. Security personnel are usually on standby even though the park rarely sees any acts of violence, he said. “Teenagers do come here in the evenings, but they`re pretty harmless as all they do is hang out, and we rarely hear any reports of misbehaviour from them in the park.”
Jerudong Park plans to bring in local artistes Zul F and Maria, as well as the top 11 finalists of P2F to usher in the new year. There will also be a fireworks display and a performance from the Giggles clowns who are part of the Jerudong Park act. “The future of Jerudong Park has to be a logical balance between what is Brunei`s fun park which will attract people, and what is a fair and reasonable price that will make them want to return frequently.” Finney said. By Faez Hani
Source: The Brunei Times