Disneyland style park is non starter

A THEME Park would not be viable in the Isle of Man – but there is potential for a small-scale themed attraction.

That's the conclusion of a report to be laid before next week's Tynwald sitting.

Following a suggestion by then MLC George Waft, Tynwald approved a motion in July last year calling for the then Department of Tourism and Leisure to investigate ways of establishing a theme park to provide a facility for younger children and their families.

The tourism department approached KW Reader and Sons, former owners of the Crescent Leisure Centre and operators of Dunes Adventure Island in South Shields. Merlin Entertainments, a leading operator of family entertainment venues, was also contacted to see if they would be interested.

But Economic Development Minister Allan Bell MHK says in his report to Tynwald that the inquiries concluded that a theme park would not be viable due to the limited population catchment and level of potential income set against the investment needed to design, built and operate such a facility.

The report says it is difficult to estimate the cost of building a theme park.

The new Harry Potter-themed extension to the Universal Studios Park in Orlando is estimated to cost in the region of 134 million while the Thomas Land extension to Drayton Manor cost about 5.5 million.

'Not only is it expensive to build a theme park but the operation costs are high,' says the report.

It suggests that to be financially viable a theme park would require a population in excess of seven million within two hours' drive.

The report says: 'People will not travel to the island to visit a sub-standard product when they can go to an established, good quality theme park closer to home.

'Not only are theme parks often closed during the colder months, the high cost of electricity, higher minimum wage and the low number of people living in the surrounding area mean it would be difficult for this to become a viable business without significant ongoing investment from government.'

The report says that the DTL received no interest even in discussing the proposal from Reader and Sons.

But it says there may be opportunities to build a small-scale themed attractions in areas such as Jurby airfield, the Wildlife Park, Knockaloe or Laxey Glens – and this should be considered in future strategic planning policy.

But even such smaller scale developments could impact on existing businesses, the report points out, and given current retail policy, 'the potential for private sector development or joint investment is limited'.


Send your comments to newsviews@newsiom.co.im


I was under the impression that the IOM was already a bizarre version of Fantasy Island. A golden pensioned bunch of clowns porking away at the tax payer funded trough to the music of Happy Days Are Here Again.

PAUL, Douglas

'Disneyland style park is non starter' not really news is it considering it was the most ridiculous, idiotic 'idea' that most of us have ever heard. Have you any idea how many people go through the gates of Disney in a day? More people than live here that's how many. Jesus CHRIST I can't believe this even got discussed. What a total waste of tax payers money. Bottom line is - someone needs firing over this.


Does the stupidity of our Government know no bounds??! Of course the Island is too small for a 'Disneyland style park'. How much did this investigation cost?? I would happily have told them that for nothing. On the other hand the Govevernment will not consider a realistic leisure development at Summerland!! How can that even be considered sensible?! All we need is a decent multi screen cinema, bowling alley and a ice rink and small arena. Then there would be plenty to do!! Bring on the election.


They should look at Robin Hill on the Isle of Wight and Greenwood Forest on Anglesey or is that not as nice a place to visit as the new Harry Potter World at Universal in Orlando? Robin Hill and Greenwood stay open for most of the year, and is run by private enterprise. Government needs to stop looking outside it's borders for tourist trade and provide for it's own community. The Steam Packet has ruined the tourist trade to the Island, as has Flybe with its ridiculous prices. I know, why not get the OFT to investigate like it did Manx Gas ... oh yeah.


I am not sure that the figures are necessarily correct, I am fairly sure that they don't include the fact that we already have a Disney/Alton Towers sized car park, at the Home of Rest for Old Horses, which could be used (that's when its not full of cars visiting the Gee-Gees!


Facilities for younger children and families... Summerland perhaps ?? How much did this report cost to produce ? It was pretty obvious to everybody (except perhaps our Government) that this is a non-starter. So let's get this right – we have a population of approx 75,000 and we approach the owners of Alton Towers to ask them if they want to build a theme park here, having just told a developer that we don't want them to spend millions on a new facility at Summerland. Astonishing performance chaps.


Why don't they look at what we have already and expand on that, Centre parks is a massive attraction and it has all weather attractions as well as mountain biking and masses of outdoor activities you could also bring in the attractions we already have such as the venture centre, Mooragh park, climbing, lots of sea based activities, walking, horse based events. Amazing what you can offer if all of these activities got together as one amazing offer of a holiday. Also a Centre Park style pool and indoor activities centre would be a huge attraction all year round for everyone not just on the Island. When people go on holiday they want something to do especially if the weather is poor.


Good Lord! Whatever happened to common sense? How much did the report cost? Isn't the government supposed to be trying to make savings – what a waste of money.


I thought our fools on the hill already have a theme park. It's called "Throwmoneyaway Land" the general theme is to find out which lame brain department is going to waste taxpayers money on the next hair brained scheme.


M - Great idea of having a "Centre Parks Island"


MANXIELAND could be the themepark name and incorporate all the Thomas the tank engine steam train rides. Tear round the TT as a pillion passenger, Smoke a kipper in Peel,, Swim with the seals, and Basking sharks! The ideas are only limited by the imagination of the tourist board and others in charge of the islands economy!


Canals, railways, bridges and transport routes have played critical roles in developing communities (in our case the need to diversify). The report highlights the market size and travel times, again pointing out the obvious weakness in our transport system to/from our Island which may never be overcome. Perhaps our Reserve Fund could invest in improving ease of getting to the IOM?


Holding out for the mighty corner cutting Dandara/Heritage Brigade again, Mr Bell!??

Once again, thousands spent on costly consultants when the Island's own accounts department are all qualified accountants with supposedly years of experience in diverse areas of Finance. I'm sure the Gov't could have obtained the report at less of an expense to the tax payer, but it's a duck blind for the truth anyway. We all know who's getting in there anyway.


Now that the Theme Park study is out of the way, perhaps the Govt can get back to finalising the World Cup and Olympics bids... by the way, here on the Continent we've now got gas powered bendy buses, with two bendy bits, making them a 3rd longer... I demand to know whether the IOM Govt has considered these yet!!! They're gonna need bigger and bendier buses to get the extra tourists for the Olympics around the Island to see the attractions. Maybe they could do a feasibility study on teleporters, they were able to do it on Star Trek 40 years ago, why is the IOM so far behind ?


You can almost hear Orlando breathing a sigh of relief from here! I also think one Blackpool is enough for anyone.


Is this a late April Fool or something?? Is this serious?? They decide not to build a family leisure and entertainment complex on the Summerland site, yet have a report into whether the IOM should have a 'Disneyland' style theme park??? I could have conducted that report for them, for free, and come up with the same answer!! No doubt it cost thousands of our tax paying pounds to come to that conclusion. This Island is crying out for a leisure complex, and that's not necessarily just young people. People of all ages would benefit from a multiplex cinema, bowling alley and anything else that was included. I have really lost faith in this Government. Perhaps they need to spend more time listening to the views of the tax paying public, and less time instructing consultants to provide reports on ridiculous ideas.


Quote from the Isle of Man Tourism website: 'The Isle of Man is a beautiful Island with breathtaking scenery, unspoilt beaches and a relaxed pace of life.' So where does this giant maze of metal mess fit into the picturesque scenery we hold so dear? 'Oh yes this is Laxey, and up there is the Laxey Wheel, surrounded by a rollercoaster' ... honestly what planet are these MHK's on? It's bad enough that they waste a majority of tax payers money on trivial matters, how many times a year do the roads really need resurfacing? Or for the wages of a man who holds the 'go' sign at roadworks? Use it on what matters most, the education department, the hospital (yes, talking of the hospital, why buy ground breaking, potentially life saving equipment such as scanners for cancer, and then have nobody qualified to use it) ... on what the island has, I could tell you that a few glens could do with some of the government money, put it into Groudle Glen railway for example ... into the wildlife park ... bunch of bloody squanderers! Monkeys could organise a government and make better decisions than these so called intellectuals can!


Is this a re-post from 01st April? Could this government be anymore embarrassing! What next Seaworld in Port Erin!


I agree with most of the other commenters. It's pretty obvious it's a non-starter and worrying to think that money was wasted reaching this conclusion. If the isle of Man is serious about getting in to tourism in a bigger way (and I am not certain it is), it will take a strategic and systematic approach and a lot of effort. You cannot do it bit by bit and must look at the whole package that visitors need – not just individual attractions but also transport, accommodation, food etc. The Isle of Man certainly has the potential and is close to large markets but it is a very competitive world.


Crazy idea. The Government should do first things first. A ferry this weekend to the Island costs 164.90 one way for a car! That's for a 3 hour journey. Dunkerque to Dover costs 20.00 one way for 2 hours. If you want people to come to the Island, don't let the highwaymen of the Steam Packet company rip everyone off. 30.00 each way, that should be the charge. No more, no less, no subsidies. Norfolkline would do it.


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