ITV to recreate I'm A Celebrity jungle for theme park in Salford

By Ian Youngs
Entertainment & arts reporter

image copyrightJames Gourley/ITV/Shutterstock
image captionHarry Redknapp was crowned king of the jungle in December 2018

It's a long way from the Australian rainforest to Salford Quays, but ITV is to recreate the I'm A Celebrity jungle there for a new visitor attraction.

The indoor I'm A Celebrity... Jungle Challenge will offer a "multi-sensory adrenaline adventure" from next summer.

The venue, part of a £26m leisure development, will include replicas of Base Camp, Croc Creek and Snake Rock.

But ITV said visitors won't come into contact with animals or insects - or be required to eat any bugs.

Bush tucker might be on sale for those who want it, however.

The broadcaster is finalising whether live creepy crawlies will be involved in the experience at all.

But William van Rest, ITV's director of games, live and merchandising, said any animals would likely be virtual.

image copyrightJames Gourley/ITV/Shutterstock
image captionVisitors won't face the same ordeal as Emily Atack did in this trial in 2018

The programme has been criticised by campaigners, including Chris Packham, who recently called on it to stop "abusing animals".

Most of the attraction will be a 90-minute "action-packed challenge" involving such things as zipwires, parachute drops, climbing walls and mazes. On their way, visitors will collect stars in an attempt to be crowned king or queen of the jungle.

Members of the TV show's production team have been involved in designing the venue and its activities, according to van Rest.

He said: "It's inspired by the show, and we're trying to create a jungle as closely as we can. Some of the games within I'm A Celebrity are things like treetop challenges, and one of the team who helps create the games for I'm A Celebrity is helping us with this."

The attraction is part of ITV's More Than TV strategy, which also includes tours of its Coronation Street and Emmerdale sets and its daytime studios at Television Centre in London.

There is also a Ninja Warrior-themed aqua park near Windsor, and Ninja Warrior family adventure centres in Stoke and Wigan.

Van Rest said: "It's tapping into the market of viewers wanting to have experiences with TV brands, and operators recognising the power of the brands and the emotional engagement audiences have with the brands.

"I'm A Celebrity is one of our biggest entertainment brands, and this is in the heartland of our audience. We think it's really exciting, and it's the first time we've done this sort of immersive experience."

The 2,500 sq m I'm A Celebrity... Jungle Challenge will be part of the new Watergardens development next to the Lowry Outlet Mall in Salford, Greater Manchester.

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