Rank launches theme park war
Wednesday 16 August 1995
Popeye and Spiderman are to go into battle with Mickey Mouse and Pluto in the battle of the Florida theme parks.
Battle lines were drawn yesterday when Rank Organisation, the British leisure group whose interests stretch from bingo to Butlins holiday camps, announced that it is to invest pounds 270m in developing its second theme park in Orlando.
The deal is a joint venture with MCA, the US entertainment group.
Rank and MCA have already combined to open one centre in Florida called Universal Studios Florida, which was completed five years ago.
The new attraction, scheduled to open in 1999, will be called Universal's Islands of Adventure.
Rank and MCA are calling the combined centre Universal City, and plan to turn the joint attractions into a genuine rival to Disneyworld.
Rank said yesterday: "In addition to the main park, Disneyworld has the Epcot Centre and Pleasure Island, which enables it to promote itself as a destination centre and sell four- or five-day tickets. With Universal City, we will be able to do the same thing."
Rank first announced it was to build a second centre two years ago but only yesterday did it confirm the level of investment or the attractions that will form the park's core.
Universal Islands of Adventure will feature five themed islands based on well-known films and cartoon characters.
These will include Jurassic Park and Popeye together with his fellow "Sweethaven" residents and wife Olive Oil, an island based on the Marvel comic characters such as Spiderman and another called "Seuss Landing", based on the popular children's books characters of Dr Seuss.
All will have rides, restaurants and shops. Stephen Spielberg will continue to act as a creative consultant and MCA will manage the centre.
Other attractions will include a 12-acre entertainment areas with themed restaurants, nightclubs and a 16-screen cinema. Hotels, a water-based recreation complex and an 18-hole golf course are also planned.
Rank is funding the investment from the pounds 620m it realised in February when it reduced its stake in the Rank Xerox photocopier group from 49 to 29 per cent.
The total cost of the new theme park is estimated at $2bn.
It will be part-funded by bank credit of $1.2bn, with MCA and Rank jointly contributing the rest. The partnerships' first centre, Universal Studios Florida, is a movie-based theme park that opened in 1990. Total revenues in 1994 were $317m and operating profit was $51m.
Rank is seeking shareholder approval for the deal, which includes a buy/sell provision under which Rank may either buy MCA's stake or sell its own stake to the Americans. An emergency general meeting will be held on 3 October.
Investment Column, page 18
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K - £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been we...