A South Pacific island in Northern Europe

  • 2008-09-03
  • By Adam Mullett

NOT QUITE THE ALL BLACKS: Kids take on the Haka and other Pacific islands dances at Vichy Park.

One thing is for sure, they are not going to build a Disneyland in Tallinn any time soon. Some would say the cities of the Baltics, with their cobble stoned streets, Baroque and Medieval architecture, already look like something out of Orlando Florida.  Water parks are popular, but there is no denying that there are not many amusement parks.  There are still fun things to do if water is not your thing. There is cosmonaut training in Latvia, in Lithuania you can try Polynesian dancing and in Estonia there's a cultural heritage park, read on. This week's Industry Insider is all about amusement parks.

VILNIUS - The strategy behind Vilnius' biggest amusement park is Polynesian-themed dancing and interactive activities to entertain guests.
At just a year old,Vichy Vandens Parkas is a newcomer on the Lithuanian scene but has enjoyed a good level of success. It is an outlandish choice for a theme, but it's just what the doctor ordered for the Lithuanians who go to watch the shows and enjoy the surroundings.
The entire water park has been themed from top to bottom. For a period visitors could even see Tahitian dancers doing tribal dances 's including the Haka, which was made world-famous by New Zealand's Maoris and the All Blacks rugby team.

Park officials argue that the theme and the dancing are the reasons customers choose them over their rivals, even though the actual Tahitian dancers are gone. "We are different from others because we had the Polynesians, and we continue that theme with Lithuanian dancers who were trained by them," a marketing officer said.

The fact that around 40,000 swimmers frequent the water park every year is evidence that the Pacific island theme does work 's admission prices are not cheap. Four hours in the park will set you back 64 litas (18.50 euros). If you want the extra trimmings, such as sauna or massage, you'll have to open your wallet again.
The authentic Polynesian dancers remained in Lithuania for one season and then were sent home. The Lithuanian dancers have taken over the reigns and still put on a show. Kristina Dedelyte is a dancer who has been in the troupe since the park opened. She enjoys her job and thinks the dancing complements the surroundings. "People like it. I think it's one of the reasons people come to the park," she said.

Other than the dancing, visitors can swim and use the slides and other equipment, but they can also learn other souvenir skills that they can take home. "There are games and drum lessons and dancing lessons. You can learn the traditional dances like the Haka. We also have birthdays and some kids have their birthday parties here," Dedelyte explained.

Despite being sent home to Tahiti, the dancers were very successful in marketing the water park. Office functions and exhibitions hired the showmen to dance in different places around the city.
But it wasn't enough to keep them. "People liked them, but not much. Some people were frightened by them and that's why they had to go home 's they were different from us," the marketing officer said.
Despite the loss of the Tahitians, the park is doing its best to keep the dance show as authentic as possible. Extensive training was given to the Lithuanian dancers and props were bought. "We are doing a show in a Polynesian way. We have all the actors and the clothes," the marketing officer said.

But the dancers aren't the only reason that people go to the park. "We didn't even see the dancing. I think the theme is really nice 's it is very colorful and different from other things in Vilnius," one visitor said.
To boost the authenticity of the theme, over 80 species of plants from the Polynesian region have been planted in the park. Six-meter palms top the list, complemented by vines and orchids.
The park, which is part of the International Waterpark Management group, covers a massive ground space of 25,300 square meters.

Vichy Vandens Parkas is the only water park of its kind in Vilnius but has rivals in other parts of Lithuania. Druskininkai boasts the most powerful rivals for the park.