Another attempt at a theme park in Sydney’s Western suburbs is on the cards for the State Government as Wet ‘n’ Wild has applied to build a $80m recreational complex. The new theme park will be located in Prospect, just a few minutes drive away from the Wonderland Sydney theme park which closed its doors in 2004 after 19 years of operation. Will this proposed theme park last longer than 19 years?
The theme park operator, Village Roadshow, has prepared a 3 stage development that will take 15 years to complete for the 25.5 hectare site. Interestingly, the Concept Plan also incorporates a proposal in Stage 3 to build water ride towers up to 35 metres in height and ancillary buildings up to 12 metres under the Draft Complying Development Code. If the Draft Code becomes legislation, this will mean a private certifier could approve these works.
According to the Environmental Assessment Report prepared by Sydney based planning consultancy JBA, the applicant suggests that the proposed theme park will replace a family visit to the beach. “The principal theme in the design of the water theme park is the creation of an environment that embodies and reflects Australian Surf-Beach Culture which has a universal image to which teenagers and families have a strong affinity.”
I’m sure Bondi and Manly beach-goers can testify that the only authentic beach culture is at the beach itself. So Wet ‘n’ Wild has to prove them wrong and create a world-class recreational centre. But do Sydney-siders and tourists want another theme park?
Barclay Crawford from the Daily Telegraph first publicised this proposal in September 2010 in the article “Wet ‘n’ Wild Sydney planned to cost $80 million”. The current NSW Premier Kristina Keneally conveyed an encounter in early 2010 she had while visiting the Gold Coast theme park.
“Ms Keneally said she had taken her sons to the Gold Coast Wet’n'Wild in January this year and met a family from Camden who asked when they could get a park in Sydney. “This will offer families in Western Sydney the opportunity to visit a world class attraction just down the road,” she said.”
Operational Details and Viability
The economic viability of such an enormous land use and investment is often questioned by the community. In the JBA prepared report, the operations of the theme park will be limited during the cooler winter season. Surely investing $80m into a theme park requires a comprehensive feasibility study. As indicated before,Village Roadshow projects a 15 year building plan and obviously anticipates Wet ‘n’ Wild to survive longer than Wonderlands 19 year stretch around the corner.
Here are the vital statistics on how Village Roadshow expects the theme park to operate;
- Approximately 925,000 visitors per year
- Between 9,000 to 10,000 visitors per day in the peak summer period
- Operational period between September to April and will be closed over four months during the cooler season
- Several low attendance weekdays (1,500 to 2,000 visitors)
To compensate for the cooler periods it appears that the theme park will incorporate an events area dedicated to holding concerts, sporting and cultural events. So from an urban design perspective, the proposal aims to maintain pedestrian activity throughout the calendar year.
A water theme park relies on a ridiculous amounts of water to operate, in fact, 102 million litres will be used annually. However, if rainwater tanks are not utilised, 155 million litres of water will be used. According to the Water Cycle Management Plan prepared by Brown Consulting, a number of sustainable measures will be implemented to recycle water including;
- Irrigation for landscaped areas will utilise 95% rainwater
- Rainwater will supply 67% of water for toilet facilities
- Efficient water filters for pools will save approximately 90 million litres of water per year
Beach vs Artifical Theme Park
We know that economic factors are not necessarily the determining factor when the State Government make decisions on Major Projects. The acoustic and traffic impacts as a result of the proposed theme park need to be assessed thoroughly. The water recycling management plan is a great demonstration of how water theme parks are taking necessary measures to operate sustainably.
If Wet ‘n’ Wild proves unsuccesful, then expect another barren site transformed into a business park, just like what occured following the failure of Wonderland around the corner. The fundamental question worth raising is could $80m be spent more wisely on essential facilities and infrastructure for Sydney’s future?
Kristina Keneally’s market research on a Gold Coast holiday offers little evidence to support an $80m recreational facility. I only hope that if Wet ‘n’ Wild does get the green light, it only makes positive waves in Sydney’s West.
The community consultation for Sydney’s Wet ‘n’ Wild closes on 25 March 2011. If you would like to see the plans and other documentation supplied by Wet ’n’ Wild, or make a comment visit the Department of Planning’s website.
Read my thoughts on the Redevelopment of Sydney’s Fish Markets where I also criticised the economic viability of such a Major Project.
Images Source: Department of Planning
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