Unraveling the Theme Park Dreams in the Desert

Dubai could have become the world capital of theme parks – if all announced and proposed projects would be realised, including amongst others a Universal resort, a Paramount resort, a Marvel comics park, a Dreamworks Studios park and many more. After doubts about the feasibility of this cluster of leisure projects (including the climate challenge, pricing, travel affordibility, employee-availability, …) couldn’t derail the projects, the current economic climate might do just that. As recently posted the SeaWorld parks have been put on indefinite hold and question marks seem to loom (even if only unofficialy) over many of the other projects. According to reports the Formula 1 theme park project “F1-X” in Dubai, which has more than 50% of its construction already completed, got suspended in February as well – due to the “drying up of liquidity from banks and financial institutions”. However, according to the Marketing Director of F1-X “The project is founded on a strong business model that withstands recession whilst allowing for the future growth of Dubai”. The company believes that a financial partner will come forward to capitalise on the opportunity of a half constructed theme park and a project “founded on a strong business model that withstands recession whilst allowing for the future growth of Dubai”. In fact, the company believes that the recent suspension will only delay the opening till 2010…

Considering this series of bad news from Dubai it is worth looking across the border into Abu Dhabi, where just 90 minutes by car frum Dubai, two other projects had been announced: a Ferrari theme park and a Warner Bros. theme park.

And – unfortunately one could say – there is bad news for Abu Dhabi as well. Nikki Finke just yesterday reported that the Warner Bros-Abu Dhabi Media overall deal is renegotiated. Her reporting concentrates on the the $500 million included in that overall deal to jointly fund movie and video game projects. However, the news is of interest in regard to the Abu Dhabi Warner Bros. park as well. It too was part of the overall deal. BusinessWeek’s LA Bureau chief Ron Grover in his report states amongst other “Sources in Hollywood and the financial industry say that Abu Dhabi Media and the Time Warner-owned studio are in talks to restructure their agreement but are not close to a resolution.” So what does that mean for the theme park. Well, according to the report by Grover: “a hotel and theme park—which Warner Bros. plans to license to the Abu Dhabi-owned ALDAR real estate development firm—is being redesigned and won’t break ground this year as planned.” So not all is lost … but it does sound as if some heavy reconsidering is going on that may in the end turn out to have the same effect as the suspension that such projects as the SeaWorld resort already saw themselves fall into.

With at least some of the resort and theme park projects in the deser being put on hold, suspended, being reconsidered or “redesigned” it seems more and more that the decision of Disney not to jump onto this desert-ship (camel ?) just because everyone else in the business did – and despite some voices just asking that or wondering about Disney’s perceived passivity in this regard – could turn out to have been the right decision. Afterall it allowed the mouse to concentrate on the expansion in Asia, where reports indicate the Shanghai project may soon move to the next step…

Be Sociable, Share!

2 Responses to “Unraveling the Theme Park Dreams in the Desert”

  1. Formula 1 NOT coming to DLRP | DLP.info - Disneyland Paris News & Rumors Says:

    […] P.S.: for the Formula 1 fans reading this news it might be of interest, that the Formula 1 theme park in Abu Dhabi, called F1-X, has been “suspended” earlier this year – more details on that can be found on a recent update on the theme park projects in Dubai und Abu Dhabi published on the Mousekingdom Blog. […]

  2. Gary Says:

    I would like to correct the above. The theme park on Yas Island connected with the Yas Marina Circuit is actually “Ferrari World” and is ongoing and due for completion by summer 2010. The F1-X project you refer to is actually in Dubai

Leave a Reply