Filled with fantasy and adventure, the Jumanji franchise has been theme park material since the story first captured our imagination in 1995. After Dwayne Johnson breathed new life into the beloved tale, Sony Pictures is making it a reality. The studio is joining forces with Merlin Entertainments to develop attractions based on the film. The theme parks will be located in Europe, the United Kingdom, and North America.
The first attraction based on the Dwayne Johnson franchise will be a Jumanji ride. Jumanji: The Adventure will launch in April at Merlin’s Gardaland Resort in Italy, along with themed hotel rooms. Drawing inspiration from the new movies, Merlin Entertainments’ press release describes the ride as a dark adventure that will transport guests to the fantastic world of Jumanji. An exhilarating adventure awaits them on a journey filled with pitfalls, surprises, and dangers of the wild jungle. The ride will be followed by a second attraction which will be launched sometime in 2023.
Speaking about the Dwayne Johnson Jumanji-inspired theme parks, Merlin Entertainments’ Chief Development Officer Mark Fisher said the company is excited to be taking their relationship with Sony Pictures Entertainment to the next level with this strategic partnership. “Sony is one of the top movie companies on the planet and Jumanji is a multi-billion-dollar brand which has appealed to guests of all ages, for over two decades,” Fisher said in a statement via Deadline.
He added that the Merlin team is already hard at work, developing brilliant creative concepts, which will bring to life the blockbuster movie across their parks. “We can’t wait to deliver thrilling rides and experiences for guests and film fans alike! The game is certainly on,” Fisher added about the Dwayne Johnson movie-related project. Head of Location Based Entertainment at Sony Pictures Entertainment Jeffrey Godsick also expressed his excitement about the new venture. “Merlin is the ideal company to bring the world of Jumanji to life. I am very pleased to expand our relationship with their great team,” he said via The Hollywood Reporter.
Loosely based on the 1981 children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg, the Dwayne Johnson-less Jumanji was directed by Joe Johnston from a screenplay by Jonathan Hensleigh, Greg Taylor, and Jim Strain. The story revolves around a supernatural board game that releases jungle-based hazards upon its players with each roll of the dice. In 1969, Alan Parrish became trapped inside the game while playing with Sarah Whittle. Decades later, Judy and Peter Shepherd play the game and unwittingly release adult Alan. After tracking down Sarah, the new friends race to finish the game to reverse all the destruction it has caused.
The film, led by Robin Williams as Alan Parish, was a massive hit with fans and spawned an animated television series that ran from 1996 to 1999. Two indirect sequels were released in 2017 and 2019 with Dwayne Johnson in the lead. Set 21 years after the events of the first movie, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle follows the adventures of a group of teenagers who find the video game version of the Jumanji game. Once they start playing, the very Breakfast Club group of acquaintances find themselves trapped in the game as adult avatars. Once inside, they seek to complete a quest alongside another player who has been trapped since 1996. Due to its success Jumanji: The Next Level was released in 2019.