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Monday, December 09, 2013 | This article is listed in the sections Interviews, Magazine and Amusement parks.

Creating winter properly!

Europa-Park wearing its winter evening dress
As soon as the last day of the peak season ends, it takes less than 20 days for Europa-Park to open its annual winter season with around 2,500 fir trees, several kilometres of garlans and fairy lights, around 10,000 Christmas ornaments and countless decorative gifts and ribbons. This time, visitors have the chance to get enchanted by this festive atmosphere until the 6th of January, 2014.

It goes without saying that the tranformation from Germany's largest theme park to a Winter Wonderland entails a high degree of organisational effort. We wanted more exact information. To this end, we talked to Stephan Hercher, head of design and stage settting at Europa-park, about the preparations that needed to be done for this winter season.

Parkscout: When does the preparation work start for Europa-Park's annual winter season?

Stephan Hercher: Actually, the winter season has become a year-round business by now. In January we visit several fairs, such as Christmasworld in Frankfurt, in order to make purchases for the following winter. Invitations to tender are put out in spring and summer, then the last orders are placed in September. Bearing in mind that we only have around three weeks to put the park into its winter dress, we prepare everything in advance and store the decoration in a hall of 60 x 20 metres, so that we can start as quickly as possible at the right time.

Hercher © Europa-Park
© Europa-Park
Stephan Hercher, head of design and stage setting
Needless to say, we do have a certain amount of material on storage, but it is extended on a continuous basis. For example, we bought the merry-go-round "Eden Palladium" dating back to 1927 last year which, of course, needed to be decorated for the winter season. Many more fields also roll up their sleeves for the winter season. You can imagine so when thinking of categories such as shows or attractions.

Parkscout: Where do all these fir trees come from and are they orderd by Europa-Park?

Stephan Hercher: There are a lot of foresters in the Black Forest region who plant these fire trees for the holiday season. We buy these that grew too big for private use – in other words, fir trees with a height of around three metres and more. To avoid bottlenecks, we sure keep looking out for other sources, but we do not order anyone to plant them for us. The fir trees inside are artificial due to fire protection guidelines.

Parkscout: Another question preying on our minds: How is it possible to get the giant decorative ribbon around Eurosat?

Stephan Hercher: A giant steel structure is assembled on the ground and covered by a coloured tarpaulin before it gets lifted up to the globe where it will then be fitted and tied with strong ropes at the highest and lowest points. This procedure takes us two days.

Parkscout: It is a sure thing that one always has to be aware of snow and ice in winter, which is indeed a beautiful sight, but a real challenge for the park regarding the risk of slipping …

Stephan Hercher: Since we are obliged to ensure public safety, we clear the beaten paths on days like these. For this purpose, we operate two vehicles equipped with snow shovels, and our cleaning employees spread salt on the paths in order to secure these. Our gardeners are very supportive, too.

Parkscout: Could you perhaps conclude this interview by saying a nice anecdote relating to the winter season?

Stephan Hercher: Once we really had a very cold winter. We used fountains to keep the water moving to avoid that the sea freezes. As a result, it did not take too long until veritable icebergs circled them. We once furnished our swarm lake with a marvellous styrofoam castle where these fountains were also installed – with the same result. The weight of the ice eventually made the castel tip over.

© parkscout/MV/AF

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