Busch announces Worlds of Discovery in Dubai

Posted Thursday, February 28, 2008 2:49 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Busch Entertainment Corporation (BEC), the family entertainment division of Anheuser-Busch Cos., today announced an agreement with Nakheel PJSC, one of the world’s largest property developers, to create the Worlds of Discovery – SeaWorld, Aquatica, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove – on The Palm Jebel Ali in Dubai.

BEC and Nakheel, a key company in Dubai’s transformation into one of the fastest growing cities in the world, reached agreement earlier this month on the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding that calls for the phased construction of four theme parks on the second of the company’s three Palm man-made island developments.

Nakheel will invest the necessary capital to build and operate the parks. BEC will license its brands to Nakheel and operate the parks under a management contract.

Worlds of Discovery will occupy a section of The Palm Jebel Ali known as “the Crown,” which will resemble a giant killer whale when reclamation work is complete. Nakheel’s plans for The Palm Jebel Ali, currently the world’s largest man-made island, also call for the development of commercial, residential and shopping districts, as well as resort hotels and restaurants.

BEC President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Atchison announced the deal today with Nakheel’s Chief Executive Chris O’Donnell in a ceremony at SeaWorld Orlando’s Shamu Stadium. Also present were BEC Chief Marketing Officer Joe Couceiro and Marwan Al Qamzi, Managing Director of The Palm Jebel Ali.

“Dubai has become one of the world’s leading tourist destinations, and a key part of the strategy has been attracting world-class entertainment brands to the emirate. We have already concluded partnerships with major brands such as Trump, Cirque du Soleil, and Atlantis, and the partnership with BEC is a further example of Dubai’s growth as a city of global prominence,” O’Donnell said. “We are extremely honored that The Palm Jebel Ali will become home to the first Worlds of Discovery theme parks outside of the U.S., which is not only a major coup for Nakheel, but for the whole of Dubai.”

“We are delighted to sign this unique partnership with BEC. SeaWorld, Aquatica, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove are incredible entertainment experiences that have thrilled millions of families since opening,” Al Qamzi said. “Worlds of Discovery will become the attraction of The Palm Jebel Ali and I am already excited about the prospect of opening the doors to our very first visitors.”

The Worlds of Discovery project will be phased and includes SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Discovery Cove and, the company’s newest theme park brand, Aquatica. Worlds of Discovery on The Palm Jebel Ali will also include a variety of other family activities, including resort hotels, spas, shops and restaurants.

In addition to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, plans call for the construction of a Discovery Cove similar to the park adjacent to SeaWorld Orlando in Central Florida. Discovery Cove in Orlando is an all-inclusive, reservations only park that features a variety of animal interactions and resort experiences, most notably swimming with bottlenose dolphins, rays and exotic fish. The first Aquatica, SeaWorld’s waterpark, opened this week in Orlando.

Preliminary design work and site planning is underway, with the first phase expected to open in 2012.

More than 300 million cubic yards of sand and 10 million tons of rock have been used in the construction of The Palm Jebel Ali, with the island adding more than 52 miles of coastline to Dubai. Reclamation of the island is nearly complete and Nakheel has already begun putting an infrastructure in place that will eventually support a population of more than 280,000 people.

BEC President, Jim Atchison, said the partnership provides tremendous growth opportunity for both companies: “Dubai has emerged as one of the world’s great travel destinations. Thanks to the vision of companies like Nakheel, the future for this city and this region is bright. We’re thrilled to be joining the tourism community in the emirate and look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with Nakheel.”

The Worlds of Discovery in Dubai will be designed and managed by BEC. The parks will be staffed by a combination of BEC expatriates and executives trained in BEC parks in the United States and workers recruited regionally.

SeaWorld Dubai will include many of the attractions visitors have come to enjoy in BEC’s U.S. operations, including killer whale, dolphin and sea lion attractions and marine themed rides. BEC will provide all animals for the parks developed in Dubai.

Read the press release on the official site.

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