The November issue of IAAPA’s FUNWORLD Magazine has a feature discussing the theme park and attractions industry in Australia and that includes an interview with me regarding Odyssey Parks & Resort’s Worlds of Wonder theme park destination resort for Sydney. The attached has the feature and the magazine is available online at IAAPA’s website, www.IAAPA.org, and will be distributed to attendees at this month’s IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando.
Worlds of Wonder
Songcheng and Sanad’s resorts aren’t even the largest announced foreign investments in the sector. That honor belongs to Odyssey Parks and Resorts, which has billion-dollar plans to resurrect a Sydney amusement park called Wonderland Sydney that closed in 2004. Odyssey Parks CEO Ammar Khan—a self-made millionaire and property developer—used to work at Wonderland Sydney as a ride operator.
Khan’s initial plan to replace Wonderland Sydney has blossomed into a proposal to build “the largest theme park resort in the Southern Hemisphere.” Master plans for Worlds of Wonder call for two theme parks (one, fantasy; the other, adventure), two resort hotels (both with year-round water park facilities), and an entertainment and shopping district.
“There’s a big gaping hole in Sydney’s market,” says David Bakas, an 18-year Walt Disney World veteran who is Khan’s right-hand man.
Odyssey Parks doesn’t want to create an “off-the-shelf”’ theme park, Bakas explains, but rather a world-class destination with Oz-type resorts and immersive attractions. After calculating the infrastructure costs to accomplish something like this, they realized a single park would not cut it.
Like its predecessor, Worlds of Wonder will be built in western Sydney. The area is changing rapidly, though, thanks to the construction of the city’s second airport. While the themed resort is still in its early stages with government approvals and financing pending, Bakas expects it to open by 2022.
Qualifying timelines with a note about permits is a common refrain from Australian attractions developers. As one company wrote Funworld: “Progress is always subject to the government’s approval of planning, construction coordination, etc.”