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Developers look east of London for new theme park plan

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Published: October 8, 2012 at 12:55 PM

I've grown so skeptical about announcements of new theme parks that I hesitate to post stories about them anymore. (See, Dubai) But here goes anyway. A French cement firm and a British developer have announced that they will build a US$3.2 billion theme park on the site of what used to be a large cement works east of London.

The park would be built in north Kent, between Dartford and Gravesend, just south of the Thames River and adjacent to the Ebbsfleet International train station. The developers have signed a licensing deal with Paramount Pictures to create a Paramount-themed studio park on the site, where the developers also plan hotels, restaurants, and a water park.

Opening date? 2018. But the developers are still looking for investors, and for government approval and financial support. So excuse me if I don't get too excited just yet. Unlike Disney or Universal, Paramount no longer has a theme park creative team, so any developer licensing with Paramount would still need to hook up with a design firm to create the theme park. I've not yet heard any word about designers that might be working with this group. Paramount's got some interesting IP, but as I've said before, it's the not the franchises you have as much as what you do with them that's important for theme parks.

Thoughts?

Readers' Opinions

From David Brown on October 8, 2012 at 1:06 PM
This story is in our newspapers today in the UK but like you Robert I'm not going to get excited just yet.

Even assuming it does get the go-ahead I'm still not certain I can get excited as when you actually look at the plans it's not so much a theme park that's planned as a resort, and there is a difference... According to reports the resort will include "a water park, a roller coaster, music venues, Europe's biggest performing arts centre, cinemas, hotels and restaurants". There's also talk of a training academy, a country park and a science and education visitor facility.

Disneyland it ain't......

From Chad H on October 8, 2012 at 2:23 PM
A Waterpark in London? Seems like a really bad idea unless they build it indoors. Other than maybe 3 months a year you're not going to be wanting to be out shivering in all that - the few water rides in Thorpe Park had comparatively low lines to other rides when I visited last month - although a small fortune was made in those shacks with the oversized hair dryers to dry you off.

Over all, just that bit Suggests to me they haven't really looked at the market and are just trying to do what American parks do - American Park resorts have a water park attached, so they must too.

However, putting it on the Eurostar line by Ebbsfleet International is a good move. Allows you to look at Disneyland Paris in combined trip, and if they ever do get trains through the channel tunnel beyond Paris and Brussels it will open up the range of the park to even more possible customers. On the London side, St Pancras station is very well connected - Many of the underground lines have stations within walking distance (or just under the station) in addition to UK national rail terminuses serving almost all points north of London.

It of course does have a lot of competition beyond the Mouse on the same rail line; Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures, and Legoland Windsor are all within the London basin. There's also rumours that WB's Harry Potter experience is a beachhead that will eventually turn into another Warner Bros Movie world, not to mention the regular tourist attractions of London.

All in all, London doesnt seem the most obvious choice for a Florida/California/Queensland style grouping of theme parks, but good luck to them.

From Tony Perkins on October 8, 2012 at 9:25 PM
Believe it when I see it, and I doubt we'll ever see it.
From Kelly Muggleton on October 9, 2012 at 1:14 AM
I can be there in 45 minutes....whadda ya mean 2018? Whadda ya mean highly unlikely? Whadda ya mean Ive heard it all before??

Seriously if this did get the go ahead and was seen through, I would happily take a day off work to go when all the kids are in school.
It would be excellent.

Can I just ask - it says it would be the biggest covered water park in the UK, anyone know if Splash Landings water park at Alton Towers is currently the biggest?

From Zena Sharpe on October 9, 2012 at 1:17 AM
would make a nice addition to join Chessington, Legoland and Thorpe Park down there. We need something more central! As for the comment regarding the water park only being open 3 months.... i dont know as we've had 3 weeks of nice weather this year! lol. It will def. have to be indoors.
I love your comment too Rob about its not the franchise but what you do with it that counts.
No use having amazing movie themes if you do a naff ride to go with it!
From Ben Reeves on October 9, 2012 at 2:02 AM
I am in agreement with everyone to be honest. I can't see it being an amazing attraction, not only that what about our customer service levels? As a Brit, when I go to Florida and visit WDW, IOA, Universal and the like the service levels are excellent, everyone smiles and wants to help (or almost everyone) However even Rob commented recently about the service at his DLP trip not being the best and unfortunately compared to America I don't think that our standard of service and care in Europe compares. I remember my last trip to DLP there was children swimming in the fountain to the point that the fountain had gone a murky white colour and their parents didn't care at all. Legoland looks ran down since my first trip their, likewise with our other parks. As for a waterpark I couldn't see that working unless it was covered, similar to the waterpark that was going to be dropped into DLP. However, I do hope I'm wrong, being a Kent native it would be nice to see a big attraction come to the area!
From Rob P on October 9, 2012 at 8:28 AM
David's right. It's going to be , if anything comes of it at all, more of a multi-complex than a theme park.
I'm only a few minutes away from the proposed site and can bear testimony to the doubts about an open air water park.........it's simply not going to happen. We enjoy a week or two of clement weather each year and that's just not a viable business proposition whether it's in US Dollars, UK Pounds or Francs.
I'm not completely sceptical about the plans but I doubt if it'll be a theme park as we know and love them.
From Kelly Muggleton on October 10, 2012 at 1:20 AM
Quite a few people commenting on the water park. In every report I have read its been referred to as the 'largest indoor water park'.
Common sense dictates they couldnt even plan it open air I would hope.

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