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Will The London Resort Rival The Magic Kingdom?

An artists impresson of The London Resort When it opens

Written by Ryan

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11th January 2020

We’re going to take a step back from helping you plan your Orlando trip for just a moment and gaze into the future. Will a new multi-billion-pound entertainment resort proposed for London, The London Resort, rival The Magic Kingdom?

The London Resort was initially announced way back in 2012. Traction on this new park initially was very quick but recently things have been very quiet. The park’s developers have been enduring a roller coaster ride of their own to get this project off the ground.

Map showing the location of The London Resort near Dartford
The London resort will be close to Central London with proposed transport by road, rail and water taxi. Image © The London Resort

What new Mega Theme Park?

Unless you follow theme park news closely you could be forgiven for not even realising this large Nationally Important Infrastructure Project has even been in the planning stages since 2012. Media coverage has been somewhat sketchy, so what will this proposed Disneyland rival include?

The new 300+ acre theme park is just part of phase one of The London Resort that could eventually encompass 535 acres. There are also plans for hotels, an entertainment district and a water park. So confident are the planners, a second gate is already being talked about years before any dirt has been moved on the first park.

Where Is This New Fantasy Land?

Ariel view of the proposed site at Swanscombe
Ariel view of the proposed 535 acres shows there is plenty of land for development on the former landfill site. The main park will fill the left side while the waterpark will be just right of centre. Image © The London Resort.

Situated on a brownfield site in the Swanscombe Peninsula in London, near Dartford. As a Nationally Important Infrastructure Project, road and rail improvements around the area will help with traffic flow for locals and visitors. Sandwiched between the A226 and River Thames only 17 minutes from London St Pancras, the park will be within easy reach for millions of people.

Who Will Feature In The London Resort?

Originally titled Paramount Park it was to be the first Paramount Park in Europe. Paramount pulled out of the project in 2017. Everything then went silent for a couple of years. The developers approached some of the UK’s biggest media companies and have agreements from the BBC and ITV to use some of their most popular brands. Paramount is now back on the team as consultants and will be licencing some of their properties to be made into attractions.

A Familiar Face Joins The Team

PY Gerbeau’s name may not be that well known but his past achievements speak for themselves. He and his team specialise in turning around long-delayed visions. CEO of a struggling Disneyland Paris back in it’s ‘EuroDisney’ days before joining the biggest white elephant development of our capital, The Millennium Dome Project.

PY has been brought into The London Resort to see it through the tricky financing and planning stages. We are already over 7 years on from the initial announcement about the park.

You may not agree with some of his decisions in the past but he certainly has a clear vision for The London Resort. When a project this size has been mired in planning red tape and design changes one clear vision is vital to getting this park built and open.

He states that The London Resort will be at the forefront of theme park technology and innovation. It will also one of the most sustainable on the planet with wildlife habitats along the river part of the planning. Rides and attractions will be innovative and flexible. Brands from across film, television, music and entertainment, as well as literature, are being handpicked to create unique experiences never seen before. Taking account of London’s climate, it’s estimated that 70% of the attractions will be undercover.

Artist rendering of the main entrance to The London Resort dominated by a Paramount Pictures Arch and Uninion Jack covered dome.
An artist rendering of the main entrance shows a giant Paramount Pictures arch under a Union Jack coloured translucent dome.

What About The Rides?

Little has been given away on exactly what rides will be included but the developers are looking at adding world first attractions to really put this park on the map. Aardman Animations and The British Film Institute were attached to the project but have subsequently pulled out.

Popular BBC properties could include Top Gear, Sherlock and Doctor Who. Paramount could bring rides based on Mission Impossible, The Italian Job and Star Trek. With ITV also being involved we could see a Coronation Street themed attraction being opened.

The latest artwork released by the resort gives us a glimpse of what is currently being planned. As with all concept designs nothing is guaranteed.

The Immersive Lands Of The London Resort

To go with this new vision The London Resort has released some new concept artwork. It gives us our most detailed glimpse of what future guests can expect.

An overview of the lands of The London Resort
This illustrative master plan released by the company shows how each of the lands will connect with each other. Image © The London Resort

The park is going to feature 6 immersive themed lands. We will break them down here and give our own thoughts about what you may find in each land. The lands are:

  • High Street
  • The Studios
  • The Woods
  • The Kingdom
  • The Isles
  • Starport

The High Street

The covered High Street will take you on the start of your journey from the car parks right to the main hub of the park.

Your entrance to a wonderful new world of discovery. As the main point of entry, here you will find a mix of shops, restaurants, cafes and park services.

Three interconnected domes take visitors to the main hub of the park. The central dome allows people to split off and explore Starport and carry on to The Jungle. Carry on and come face to face with a large Arthurian castle, the focal point in The Kingdom section.

Once out of The High Street wide pathways split left towards The Isles or head right for The Studios and The Woods. Lets head around the park for a peek at what may be waiting for us.

The Studio

The largest area, The studios will likely feature a selection of dark rides and water based action.

This “gritty, modern warehouse district” will likely be home to some of Paramount’s biggest hits. No names have been mentioned but this land will feature “a winning combination of explosive action, high-octane car chases and high-stakes espionage“.

Looking at the illustrative plans released by the developers, The Studio section has the largest area of any of the lands. Immersive dark rides take up a lot of space so we could expect 1 or more dark rides tied into some big-name properties. Zooming in on the illustration, 3 large show buildings can be made out but exactly what will fill them remains a mystery.

Water features prominently at the end of The Studios including a large lake and water surrounding a building of some sort. At the very end of this section, a mysterious show building has what appears to be a track of some sort. Could this be a next-generation family thrill adventure or something else entirely?

The Woods

Likely home to a lot of fun for young adventurers, The Woods sits between The Studio and The Kingdom.

Sandwiched between The Studios and the larger Kingdom area, The Woods is “an enchanted realm where springtime reigns eternal and the boundary between reality and fantasy dissolves“. The Woods will likely focus mainly on young adventurers by putting a fresh spin on beloved bedtime stories, fables and fairy tales.

2 show buildings can be made out as well as possibly some small outdoor flat rides. Bordering the edge of the land a long strip type building could be for shops and fast food establishments.

The Kingdom

A stunning Arthurian Castle dominates the Kingdom Area. Perfect for night time shows.

Second largest in area behind The Studios, The Kingdom will be “England as a dark and ancient land, a place of threatening and imposing castles and mystical Arthurian legends“. The Kingdom will be an immersive realm of swords, sorcery, dragons & legend.

From the plans, 2 roller coasters can quite clearly be made out. One possibly intertwined with the icon castle shown in a separate artist rendering. As well as the 2 roller coasters, 2 show buildings and a smaller one with a large outdoor track can be made out. The path leading back to The Woods looks to be surrounded by plenty of expansion area. Out on its own, there appears to be a show amphitheatre. Behind the castle, a courtyard may house gift shops and restaurants.

Artist rendering of King Arthur's Castle with roller coaster track behind and fireworks exploding overhead
The only artist rendering released so far of any of the lands appears to be for The Kingdom Area. Could the wide pathway and centrepiece castle provide a spectacular backdrop to a nighttime show?

The Isles

The Isles will likely become home to a water ride or hybrid attraction.

A place of jaw-dropping architecture that blends seamlessly with 21-century engineering to create magnificent rides. The Isles will be “a land of giant creatures, mythical beasts and adventures at the crossroads of imagination and reality“. 

4 gigantic show buildings look to dominate this area so expect at least a dark ride and maybe an indoor roller coaster akin to ‘The Mummy’ at Universal Studios.

The back of this area is home to the largest show building and looks to feature a spectacular drop into water. The back of the building, not visible once in the park, may give a clue to the future of this attraction. Could we be welcoming a hybrid roller coaster to the park?

The Jungle

The small Jungle area could be home to one of the largest roller coasters in the park.

The Jungle area will be based around a long lost mesoamerican civilisation whose ruins adorn the treetops of this lush land. Explorers young and old will find and overgrown environment brimming with secrets to uncover and mystical artefacts to find.

Almost half of this land looks to be taken up with possibly the largest of the roller coasters in the park. The track incorporates itself around the temple ruins that will likely form a major focal point of this area. The other side of the main walkway houses 2 enormous show buildings.

Pathways appear to criss-cross this land leading people to explore every lush corner for hidden treasures.

Starport

Starport could be an area of 2 halves with an outdoor roller coaster and other indoor attractions.

A futuristic 23rd-century landing zone will launch visitors into thrilling science fiction adventures that are out of this world.

Aside from a roller coaster taking up much of the area including over both entrance walkways, Starport looks surprisingly barren of any clues. Most of it appears to be undercover aside from the roller coaster.

When Can We Visit The London Resort

The initial projected opening date in 2019 has already passed and the current plans require planning consent being given which should be sometime within the next year. Assuming there are no major hiccups with planning, construction could begin in 2021 with a possible opening date in 2024. A second phase, depending on visitor numbers once it has opened, could be as soon as 5 years later in 2029.

Will The London Resort Be Worth The Wait?

Plans do change and a lot of information is still being withheld such as anything specific on the rides. Should this park finally get the green light, it will be a very exciting time for London and the UK. It will become one of the largest construction projects in Europe employing up to 6300 construction workers to bring the dream to reality. The park and hotels will require up to 11300 people, both full and part-time paid, bringing much-needed investment into the local area.

How Will The London Resort Compare To Disney World?

With only a fraction of the land available, it is tough to compare to the entirety of Disney World. The London Resort won’t have 4 theme parks but there are talks of a second gate already. Throw in over 3500 hotel rooms and a water park just for the first phase along with the main park then it is something to get very excited about. Will it rival Disney World? Not even close but it could equal the Magic Kingdom which opened in 1971. A lot of the rides in The Magic Kingdom are now getting on. If the designers of this park really do manage to bring some next-level immersion to The London Resort it could be a blueprint for theme parks to aspire to for years to come.

The London Resort is still a long way from being a reality but it will bring a little bit of magic to our doorstep and that is something to get very excited about between trips to Disney.

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