Cirque du Soleil's 'Amaluna' boosts local economy

A Cirque du Soleil unicyclist in “Amaluna.” - Courtesy Photo
A Cirque du Soleil unicyclist in “Amaluna.”
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

While Cirque du Soleil’s run of “Amaluna” at Marymoor Park in unincorporated King County outside of Redmond provides the area with a few months’ worth of entertainment, there are other benefits to having the Cirque in town.

“Amaluna,” which will be in town through March 24, could infuse about $10 million to $15 million into the local community.

Jamie Reilly, company manager for the show, said the money covers various expenses including local taxes, fuel costs, site rental fees and accommodations for performers and workers while they are in town.

“We contract more or less 6,500 room nights for one (show run),” she said, explaining that a “room night” is the number of people on tour, multiplied by the number of nights of lodging needed.

Reilly said they strive to find corporate apartments to rent to ensure show employees have a kitchen and other housing amenities so they have some sense of normalcy while on tour. With 120 permanent workers — 52 artists and 68 support staff — staying in Redmond, “Amaluna” is more than just a traveling show. Reilly described them as “a small village” complete with generators, schools and four full-time traveling chefs.

“We buy food locally to feed 120 people,” she said, adding that the chefs prepare about 400 meals per day for everyone.

“Amaluna” also relies on local support. Reilly said they hire 200-300 people locally to work as ushers, janitors, prep cooks, receptionists and other customer service positions. These workers — though temporary — are vital to the “Amaluna” operation, she said, as they would not be able to set up for the show in the short timeframe they have between shows. Reilly said the local staff play a large role in their operation because they have local knowledge and can help with logistics such as providing guests with directions and knowing what’s in town.

“They know where to go to buy the stuff (we need),” Reilly said. “We don’t have that local knowledge.”

In addition to the direct financial impact “Amaluna” has on the community, the show also brings in money through show goers frequenting local shops and restaurants.

“We have definitely seen an increase in restaurant traffic since the show started Jan. 31,” said Redmond Town Center’s senior marketing manager Christina Henning. “With Cirque du Soleil and other regional events occurring almost annually, our restaurants have learned what to expect and are well prepared for additional traffic with extra staffing, product, etc.”

She said a number of retailers and restaurants are also offering special discounts to “Amaluna” ticket holders throughout the show’s run. For example, customers can present their “Amaluna” ticket at Macy’s any time for a one-day savings pass. At Matts’ Rotisserie and Oyster Lounge, ticket holders can receive a free appetizer on the day of the show they are attending. All special offers and restrictions are listed on the Redmond Town Center web site and distributed to patrons onsite at the Grand Chapiteau.

Because “Amaluna” brings in people from all over the Puget Sound region, Henning said it gives them an opportunity to “introduce Redmond Town Center, and Redmond as a whole, to an audience beyond (their) typical trade area.”

Erika Vandenbrande, economic development manager for the City of Redmond, agreed. She said out-of-town visitors will often take the opportunity to make a night of their trip to see “Amaluna,” going out to dinner beforehand, do some shopping and maybe spend the night at a local hotel, which is very beneficial for Redmond.

“People begin to understand a bit about what Redmond is a bit more,” she said.

Vandenbrande added that although Marymoor Park is in King County, it is a key asset for Redmond and the Eastside as it provides entertainment, delight and a vibrancy to the area.

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