Wednesday, October 14, 2015

At Last the Truth About the Disneyland Australia Project

Six years ago i've posted here on Disney and more an article titled "Disneyland Australia : Finally, it was not a mirage", showing that there has been for real a project to build a Disneyland down under. And the rendering above was so far the only one available to show - in the background - a Disney Magic Kingdom. Why it never happened remained a mystery ...until now as thanks to a great article from Ann Moore in the Gold Coast Bulletin we finally know the truth.

Ann did an interview of Developer Gordon McAlister at his Runaway Bay home, and Gordon was the one who was behind the Disneyland Australia plan. As Ann says, it is a secret chapter in Gold Coast history as the park was envisioned to be build at Australia Gold Coast, on the East of Australia, in Queensland, South of Brisbane.

The day the project died “was a bitter blow,” says Gordon McAlister - who was behind the original Jupiters Casino development in the early 1980s, the creator of the SeaWorld Nara Resort and Brisbane’s Treasury Casino. And guess because of who it died? That's right, Michael Eisner.

Gordon McAlister explain what happened during the talks with Disney in the 1990's, after DLP opening: "The president of Disney theme parks absolutely loved the plan. He was really our No. 1 fan. He liked that culturally we were so similar to where Disney has come from,” he said. Disney executives flew to the Gold Coast a number of times, scouting the site and laying plans. 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.

“We got to the last meeting in Burbank, California, when 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.

“We got that close.”

So, the day this international meeting was held to turn a 810ha Coomera plot into a world centre of tourism, became the day that Disneyland Australia died. There won't be a Magic Kingdom at the Gold Coast.

Gordon McAlister said he is still hopeful Disney would one day open an Australian-based park:
“The impact that Disneyland would have had on the Gold Coast is almost unimaginable,” he said. “Orlando was in the middle of nowhere when Disneyworld was built, but look at it now. That could have been our story too.

“We estimated about five million visitors each year, which is small for Disney but huge for us. That was one of the arguments against us, that we would be too small — and yet that’s exactly what Hong Kong Disney turns over.

“Many Asian tourists would prefer to come here to do Disney than Tokyo or Hong Kong, and it would be a deciding factor for a lot of tourists from farther afield — the cherry on top that wins them over."

Let's hope it will happen one day and that our friends down under will finally have a Disney Magic Kingdom. In the meantime, there is much more to learn about the whole story in the Gold Coast Bulletin full article so make sure to jump to Ann Moore full article HERE to finally learn the whole story on this Disneyland Australia that never was.

Picture: copyright Disney, Scott Fletcher

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