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The Blue Planet Aquarium, Copenhagen: Storytelling with the Human Touch


Northern Europe’s largest aquarium opens in Copenhagen end of March 2013

The end of this month marks the opening of The Blue Planet, the largest and most modern aquarium in Europe, in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 10, 000 square meter attraction presents life under water from all over the world: Birds from the Faeroe Islands, the damp heat of the Amazon jungles, the grand lakes of Africa and a coral reef. The highpoint of The Blue Planet is 'The Ocean'Mikkel Sonne, featuring the aquarium's largest tank with over 900, 000 gallons of water and a 16 meter long tunnel through the tank, giving the visitors the opportunity to feel what it is like to walk on the floor of the ocean. The pane tank is made of acrylic 45cm thick in order to withstand the enormous weight of the water.

By Mikkel Sonne (left), owner of Hello! Experience Design, former Head of Design and Development at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen and Blooloop blogger.

Related: Rob Hicks, Director of Displays Development SEA LIFE, Merlin Entertainments/ David Kimmel, COO Georgia Aquarium on Exceeding Expectations/ Interview with Ted A. Beattie, CEO, Shedd Aquarium  

The ambition of Denmark's new planet is to be than just an aquarium. Every area of the attraction is themed with set pieces, ambient music and show lighting, adding extra excitement to the already beautiful displays. The aim is to attract a broad range of visitors, from families to school groups, tourists of all ages, solo visitors and couples – and to achieve this the Blue Planet uses some pretty unconventional tools.

The Blue Planet Aquarium,  Copenhagen: Storytelling with the Human TouchThe building is in itself an attraction. Designed by Copenhagen based architects 3XN, the project was chosen out of 38 designs from all over the world. The characteristic round shape of the building, built directly on the beach, was inspired by whirlpools, giving associations to swirls of fish, birds and galaxies. The stunningly different space is sure to appeal to visitors interested in the best of contemporary Scandinavian design, and the Blue Planet also has facilities for meetings, parties and functions as well as a restaurant, shop, auditorium and temporarily exhibition space.

The Blue Planet is bound to change landscape of leisure attractions in Denmark and Southern Sweden, and managing this ambitious project is CEO Dorte Gleie (below). Dorte who has more than 10 years experience in the industry where she, among other jobs, has been Senior Vice President at Tivoli responsible for both F&B and the daily operation of Scandinavia's biggest tourist attraction.

Dorte Gleie CEO of The Blue Planet Aquarium,  Copenhagen,  Denmark

Aiming at 700, 000 visitors per year, Dorte uses all her experience in the new position. 'What is going to set The Blue Planet apart from other attractions is not only our spectacular and immersive displays. It is also the staff and the level of service we provide' she explains. 'We want to become one of the 5 top visited attractions in Denmark, and in order to reach that goal we have to surpass the visitor's expectations in every way.'

The Blue Planet Aquarium,  Copenhagen: Storytelling with the Human TouchWhether or not the personnel is working backstage or dealing directly with the visitors they all have to engage with the visitors on a daily basis. 'The human touch is of paramount importance to The Blue Planet. We don't employ 'hosts' or 'guides' or 'shop assistances' We employ storytellers. Each and every member of staff will be trained to a high standard of service and in-depth knowledge of the aquariums exhibits.'

The Blue Planet will implement a daily programme of tours, talks and other initiatives to engage the visitors, ensuring that no two visits are alike. 'We are developing an app for people to use before, during and after the visit, which together with our comprehensive website will present a wealth of information on our animals. Research also shows that people are very interested in what goes on behind the scenes, so interviews with the animal keepers, the divers and so forth will be an integrated part of all our communications with the visitors'.

Situated east of the city centre, The Blue Planet is a 10 minute metro ride from the city centre. The attraction is also close to Copenhagen Airport, also only 10 minutes away – which presents a unique chance for entertaining transit guests awaiting their next flight. 'Copenhagen Airport is a huge North European hub, and we are currently discussing the possibility of offering a trip to The Blue Planet for guests in transit', Dorte says. 'An average visit will last 2-3 hours, the perfect experience for exploring something new and different from the usual airport shops.'

The Blue Planet officially opens its doors on March 22nd.

Image: Credit 3XN

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