Today we’ll continue our series about the Spanish Theme Park History with the seventh article. Every two weeks we’re publishing one of eight articles about the history of thirteen Spanish amusement and theme parks. Some of them no longer exist, but some others are still operating and receiving guests nowadays. In this series, we travel in time through 168 years in theme park history, starting in 1853, to our days in 2021. In this article we’ll focus on Parque Warner, the second-largest Spanish theme park.
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Parque Warner (San Martín de la Vega, 2002)
In the 90s, after the frustrated hopes of a Spanish Disneyland, the later on construction and opening of PortAventura in 1995 near Barcelona, Isla Mágica in 1997 at Seville, and Terra Mítica in 2000 at Benidorm, the capital of Spain, Madrid, also wanted its own theme park. The city already had Parque de Atracciones de Madrid (1969), but this time instead of a regular amusement park they wanted a bigger and entirely themed project. Moreover, several American theme park companies wanted to expand their business to Europe, one of them was Six Flags.
In 1996, the administration of the Community of Madrid started a search for investors and theme park companies in order to design, build and manage the park. The three considered companies were Universal, Paramount, and Time Warner (Six Flags). Finally, in October 1997 the last one became the chosen one. The park was projected on a 500-hectares rustic land in San Martín de la Vega, a small village at the outskirts of Madrid.
In 1998, Time Warner suffered a severe economic crisis and sold its Six Flags shares to Premier Parks, who later on acquired 100% of Six Flags. In January 1999, Time Warner signed the definitive development agreement for the theme park, they would develop the theme park’s conceptual design and manage it once it was inaugurated.
According to various sources consulted for the writing of this article, it was meant that the initial project would be expanded with hotels, shopping centers, and other services, also operated by Time Warner in the near future, but the only expansion the project has got so far is Parque Warner Beach, a small adjacent water park.
Because Time Warner couldn’t run a theme park without Six Flags (which had all the know-how in amusement park management), in 1999 Time Warner and Premier Parks reached an agreement: Six Flags would manage the park, could freely use the Warner Bros. brands, and would joint participation of the park’s shareholding with Time Warner.
The main park’s investors were the Madrid administration (43.6%), Caja Madrid, which was a former important Spanish bank (21.82%), Fadesa, a former real estate group (13.09%), El Corte Inglés, a shopping centers company, and NH Hotels (4.3% each), Six Flags (4%), and other smaller investors.
In May 1999 the construction of the park began. Finally, in 2002, the facilities were completed at a cost of 368 million euros. The park was scheduled to open in March 2002, but it ended up opening on April 6, 2002. On inauguration day, the park’s name was “Warner Bros. Movie World”, a name that didn’t fit with the Spanish society. The name of the park has been changed over the years, “Warner Bros Park” was another choice but, finally, the park was named Parque Warner (Warner Park but in Spanish), the current and more successful name. Parque Warner was the third Warner park in the world, joining the German and Australian ones.
During the year of its inauguration, the park didn’t reach half a million visitors, which was very far from the three million annual visits initially expected. One of the reasons that explains the attendance problem could be the low repetition rate. Also, many guests complained about the very few food options and the lack of vegetation and shade that the park suffered (it must be taken into account that summers in Madrid can be extremely hot). In 2018 the park reached 2,1 million visitors, but I can personally corroborate that the mentioned issues have persisted.
Parque Warner takes some elements from other Warner and Six Flags parks, for example, the Río Bravo water attraction is the same as the Australian Wild West Falls Adventure ride (the perfect mix of Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain), it has a Batman roller coaster clone, a Giant Inverted Boomerang, and the park entrance is reminiscent of the Six Flags Mexico one, among others. As a result, on inauguration day, Parque Warner was the most complete Spanish theme park, although nowadays PortAventura wins the competition.
The park features six roller coasters (a Steel Floorless Extreme B&M, a Batman coaster clone, a Giant Inverted Boomerang, a Roller Coaster Corporation of America wooden coaster, a Zierer Tivoli coaster, and a Mack Rides Youngstar Coaster), four water attractions (an Intamin Flume-Reverse boat ride, an Intamin Splash, an Intamin Rapids Ride, and a Mack Rides Interactive Boat Ride), and two dark rides (a Vekoma Madhouse and a Sally Corporation interactive trackless ride). La Venganza del Enigma, a 115-meter-high three S&S Turbo Drop towers is also a very relevant attraction and it’s the tallest ride in Spain (3 meters higher than Red Force).
Parque Warner has had very few novelties during its history apart from the water park, new shows, and character meet and greets, the most relevant one was in 2009: “Correcaminos Bip, Bip”, an awesome family-friendly coaster.
Finally, there is evidence that Parque Warner is preparing something new for the upcoming future. Some think that it will be a Batman-themed Intamin Blitz Coaster, but for the moment this is pure speculation. We’ll see, it actually would be a very interesting and needed addition to the park. We’ll be paying attention to what happens with this new project, just in case!
Sources used for this article:
Ayuntamiento de San Martín de la Vega. (n.d.). Historia San Martín de la Vega. https://ayto-smv.es/el-municipio/historia/
Captain Coaster. (n.d.-a). Correcaminos Bip, Bip. https://captaincoaster.com/es/coasters/correcaminos-bip-bip-parque-warner-madrid
Captain Coaster. (n.d.-b). Tom y Jerry. https://captaincoaster.com/es/coasters/tom-y-jerry-parque-warner-madrid
Discovery Line. (2020, November 27). Nueva Montaña Rusa en Parque Warner Madrid? YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lrUNcZqq_8&ab_channel=DiscoveryLine
DREAM COASTER. (2020, November 2). ¿POSIBLE NOVEDAD PARQUE WARNER? YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3GOa4Z1w2w&t=3s&ab_channel=DREAMCOASTER
EcuRed. (n.d.). Parque Warner Madrid. https://www.ecured.cu/Parque_Warner_Madrid
Expansión. (2019, June 2). Port Aventura y Parque Warner, entre los parques de ocio más visitados de Europa. https://www.expansion.com/empresas/transporte/2019/06/02/5cf3fa36e5fdeabe518b46f0.html
Movie World Australia. (n.d.). Wild West Falls Adventure Ride. https://movieworld.com.au/attractions/wild-west-falls-adventure-ride
PA-Community. (n.d.-a). Cataratas Salvajes en Parque Warner Madrid. https://www.pa-community.com/parques/parque-warner/atracciones/cataratas-salvajes
PA-Community. (n.d.-b). La Aventura de Scooby-Doo en Parque Warner Madrid. https://www.pa-community.com/parques/parque-warner/atracciones/la-aventura-de-scooby-doo
PA-Community. (n.d.-c). La Venganza del Enigma en Parque Warner Madrid. https://www.pa-community.com/parques/parque-warner/atracciones/la-venganza-del-enigma
PA-Community. (n.d.-d). Oso Yogui en Parque Warner Madrid. https://www.pa-community.com/parques/parque-warner/atracciones/oso-yogui
PA-Community. (n.d.-e). Rápidos ACME en Parque Warner Madrid. https://www.pa-community.com/parques/parque-warner/atracciones/rapidos-acme
PA-Community. (2018, June 13). Los orígenes de Parque Warner Madrid. https://www.pa-community.com/articulos/el-origen-de-parque-warner-madrid
PA-Community. (2020a, August 13). ¿Es posible ver Parque Warner en un día? https://www.pa-community.com/articulos/es-posible-ver-parque-warner-en-un-dia
PA-Community. (2020b, August 13). Historia de Parque Warner Madrid. https://www.pa-community.com/articulos/historia-del-parque-warner
Parque Warner. (n.d.-a). La Venganza del Enigma. Parque Warner Madrid. https://www.parquewarner.com/experiencias/atracciones/la-venganza-del-enigma
Parque Warner. (n.d.-b). Sobre el Parque. Parque Warner Madrid. https://www.parquewarner.com/prepara-tu-visita/informacion-relevante/sobre-el-parque
RCDB. (n.d.). Superman: la Atracción de Acero – Parque Warner Madrid. https://rcdb.com/1366.htm
S&S. (n.d.). Turbo Drop. http://s-s.com/rides/turbo-drop/
Themeparks Experts. (n.d.). themeparks experts | Historia Parque Warner Madrid. https://www.themeparkexperts.com/parque-warner-madrid/historia-parque-warner-madrid/
Turismo Madrid. (n.d.). SAN MARTÍN DE LA VEGA. https://www.turismomadrid.es/es/descubre/las-vegas/7159-san-martin-de-la-vega-1.html
Vekoma Rides. (n.d.). Mad House | Vekoma Rides Manufacturing BV. https://www.vekoma.com/mad-house