Dreamworld may supersize with 'Disneyland expansion'

OWNERS of icon Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld want to super-size the site with accommodation and entertainment to turn it into Australia's Disneyland.

Dreamworld parent company Ardent Leisure sent shockwaves through the city yesterday with a statement to the stock exchange appearing to suggest Dreamworld's footprint was under threat.

But Ardent CEO Deborah Thomas later clarified to the Gold Coast Bulletin any redevelopment would be on unused land and enhance Dreamworld, not detract from it.

Dreamworld's owner Ardent Leisure is reviewing its site Master Plan and wants to look at adding retail, hospitality and accommodation to "complement" the existing theme park.

"We aren't selling or closing Dreamworld," she said, adding Ardent would invest to create a "more attractive and entertaining theme park".

"We are considering opportunities external but complementary to the park that could include retail, hospitality, accommodation and entertainment precincts, similar to Universal Studios and Disneyland in the US.

"There is 25 hectares of land at Dreamworld that is not being used.


Could Dreamworld be converted into Australia's Disneyland?
Could Dreamworld be converted into Australia's Disneyland? Contributed

Ardent Leisure CEO Deborah Thomas said the Dreamworld owner is exploring options to develop unused land at the theme park site on the Gold Coast as it continues to invest in the park itself. 

"We are exploring options to develop that unused land, while continuing to invest in a world-class theme park."

The Ardent site is 60ha with Dreamworld and WhiteWater World across 35ha.

Ms Thomas said some areas would not be suitable for development and remain as open green space.

The site review would take anywhere from a few months to a year and was about understanding council's and the Government's strategic plan for the area and working with them, she said.

The revelation of Dreamworld site's potential expansion was warmly welcomed by Gold Coast leaders and comes seven months after a river ride malfunction killed four people in the darkest day for Australian theme parks in 30 years.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the potential expansion was exciting news for the city.

"I'm sure this will result in the theme park evolving to the next level,' Cr Tate said.

Northern Coast councillor Cameron Caldwell said Ardent Leisure controlled a significant site in the city's north.

"A lot of it is undeveloped and the council would consider any development opportunities proposed."

Ardent's earlier statement to the Australian Stock Exchange said a review of its Master Plan for Dreamworld's site would consider the impact of "recent events" in reference to the tragedy and feasibility of rezoning parts for alternate use.

It prompted Dreamworld CEO Craig Davidson to clarify Ardent's priority was the "recovery of Dreamworld" and Tourism Minister Kate Jones to make a statement in Parliament saying she could confirm the park was "here to stay" and committed to the "long term".


1974: Founder John Longhurst buys land at Upper Coomera with plans for a theme park.

1981: Dreamworld opens on December 15.

1986: The Thunder River Rapids Ride opens.

1989: Longhurst sells the park to Dreamco and visits it for the last time.

1995: Tiger Island opens.

1997: The Tower of Terror opens, the tallest ride of its kind in the world.

1999: Dreamworld sold to current owner Ardent Leisure.

2001: Park becomes the host of landmark reality tv series Big Brother.

2011: Buzzsaw opens as park marks 30 years.

2016: Four people die in accident on the Thunder River Rapids ride. Park closed for six weeks.

News Corp Australia

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