We had fun putting together a list of projects that were announced, got media and people excited but never got built or ended up in limbo. China dominates the list; property developers love a big announcement but rarely have funding or a good business plan in place.
Children’s World – Changsha, China
One of China’s biggest developers – Evergrande – announced the US$7 billion Children’s World using characters from China’s deep trove of myths, legends and literary masterpieces. With this price tag, needless to say it never materialized.
BBC Earth and Top Gear – Hainan, China
The two attraction projects designed by Zeitgeist Design and Production with a budget of US$1.5-billion were to be part of a wider resort in Hainan, which was going to feature three theme parks, a waterpark, 11 museums and 26 hotels. They were never built.
Pingtan Art Museum – Pingtan, China
Asia’s largest museum on an island was to feature a glorious futuristic architecture by MAD architects from Beijing and to be a cultural link between China and Taiwan. That link never got built and instead MAD converted its vision into a dynamic small-scale lamp!
Journey To The West Theme Park – Wuzhen, China
Stephen Chow announced the 173-acre amusement park based on his blockbuster movie in 2013 in a line of Chinese property development projects spinning off from hit films such as the Huayi Brothers Movie World in Suzhou, which eventually got built and opened in 2018.
Jurassic Dream – Daqing, China
Designed by Thinkwell as one of the world’s largest indoor theme parks in the remote city of Daqing, the park was supposed to open in 2014 but still stands half built surrounded by high-rise residential buildings. This is a typical example of local governments falling for developers’ scams.
Dufan Ocean – Jakarta, Indonesia
Ancol announced in 2014 they would build Dufan Ocean into the world’s largest marine theme park but to this day nothing has been built although Ancol is enjoying record visitorship in a booming market.
Disneyland – Central Java, Indonesia
In 2017, Indonesian media announced the first Indonesian Disneyland may be developed in Central Java, which got millions of Indonesians very excited. It turned out to be fake news denied by Disney and in fact a non-branded theme park planned by MNC Group.
Nickelodeon Undersea Resort – Palawan, Philippines
Nickelodeon announced in 2019 an “undersea attraction and resort” on Palawan island that would let fans “interact with the brand and the iconic characters they love”, including SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer. It was later scrapped following fierce criticism.
Lionsgate Movie World – Jeju, South Korea
The studio announced in 2017 that it would be opening Lionsgate Movie World, a 1.3 million-square-foot theme park designed by JRA and part of Jeju Shinhwa World in South Korea. But following several restructuring of Jeju Shinhwa, the project was shelved.
Happyland – Long An, Vietnam
In 2011 all eyes were on Vietnam with the flashy groundbreaking ceremony for the US$2.2-billion Happyland project with the participation of Joseph Jackson, father of late ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson, as the investor of the project. Later, Joseph Jackson pulled out, many facilities were abandoned in the early stages of construction and the project finally opened in 2019 as a very small amusement park.
Do you think any of these projects should have been built? If we were to pick one we would go for Jurassic Dream. Actually we always thought a park that looked like Isla Nebular would be the ultimate immersive theme park experience.