Is "the happiest place on Earth" finally heading Down Under? Rumors are rife this week that plans for an Australian Disneyland may be underway.
According to Stuff.co.nz, billionaire Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man, is planning on building a major theme park on the Gold Coast, home to Dreamworld, Seaworld and Warner Bros. Movie World, among other attractions.
Wang’s company, the Wanda Group, is currently in talks with the Australian government about this development, reports the Gold Coast Bulletin.
“Wanda in Australia has already acquired the biggest cinema company in the country and theme parks are one of the things Wanda wants to invest in in the future,” Wanda Group general manager Xie Hong told the news outlet. "It is Wanda’s intention to set a theme park up on the Gold Coast, but this major project is still under negotiation with the state government."
The Bulletin noted that Xie "declined to say whether the park would have a Disney theme."
However, an interest in building a Disneyland in Australia has been mounting for decades.
Back in the 1990s, there were reportedly "secret" plans for a Disney resort on the Gold Coast. The idea was scrapped at the last minute.
"The president of Disney theme parks absolutely loved the plan. We were so far down the line, we had all the impressions drawn up, the site mapped out, the land optioned. We had the state and federal governments on our side and it all just fell at the final hurdle," Australian property developer Gordon McAlister, who claims to have been involved in the Disney plan, told the Bulletin earlier this year.
"We got to the last meeting in Burbank, California, when [former Disney CEO] Michael Eisner stepped in and said 'No, I want to go to China.' That was it, he was the boss. He wanted Disney dollars in China, he was looking at Disney as a whole corporation, not just a theme park. And that’s how Hong Kong got a Disneyland instead," McAlister continued. "We got that close."
Then in 2007, the Walt Disney Company itself proposed building a Disney resort in Sydney, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
In the end, hefty costs and other considerations shut down the "Disney Wharf at Sydney Harbour'' idea.
Currently, there are Disney theme parks in three of the seven continents, including several in North America and one each in Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Disney also has one resort in Tokyo consisting of two theme parks, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.
Clarification: Language has been amended to more accurately describe Disney's parks in Tokyo.
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