In 2012, the Al Humaidi Family in Kuwait, through KEH Investments, began the project known as The London Resort. From the outset, the project plans outlined a grand ambition for a park that would become England’s largest. The promise of the park and its cutting-edge rides, distinct attractions, restaurants, hotels, and more, earned it top billing. For Kent and the UK, The London Resort would be the country’s answer to EuroDisney, now known as Disneyland Paris.
Disneyland Paris opened 29 years ago in 1992 and The London Resort is set to open in 2025. So the Al Humaidi Family’s answer to Disney from Kuwait has been a long time coming. But that hasn’t dampened Englander’s enthusiasm for what will be a premier English theme park.
On the contrary, the wait for a park of The London Resort’s magnitude has only served to build anticipation. Even if, for many of the new resort’s younger guests, the chance to host Disney passed before they were born.
The UK Missed its Chance to Host Disney
When Disney’s theme park operations decided to expand to Europe, the company considered 1200 potential locations. Britain was one of the considered locations, along with Spain, Italy, and France. But lacking a sufficient site, Britain wasn’t selected and Disney went to France. Recognizing the economic benefits of hosting Disney, France provided a financial deal for Disney. France was rewarded when Disney decided to build their park in Marne-la-Vallee, a rural town not far from Paris.
Numbers provide the best idea of what the United Kingdom missed out on when Disney went to France.
Today, the park operates six roller coasters, with another coaster set to open in 2023. Disney Paris visitors can also enjoy two rides, the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast and the Phantom Manor. Sprawled across the grounds are several attractions including Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more. The park’s total size is 126 acres and it boasts six hotels with more than 5000 total rooms. Finally, there are also two themed resorts where guests can stay and visit restaurants.
In 2012, Disneyland Paris attracted 11.2 million visitors alone and 250 million over its first 20 years. Also, in the 20 years from 1992 to 2012, the park generated 50 billion euros in indirect and direct added value. On top of that, the park also generated 37 billion euros in tourism-related revenue. By its 20th anniversary, Disneyland Paris had emerged as the largest single-site employer in France’s Ile-de-France region. Each year, the park generated 55,000 jobs and gave many tourists their sole reason for coming to France. In 2010, almost 5 percent of the 76.8 billion tourists that visited France visited Disneyland Paris.
Al Humaidi Family in Kuwait Offers New Opportunity
Along with Chief Executive PY Gerbeau and a team of contributors, the Al Humaidi Family in Kuwait conceived The London Resort. It’s planned to be a 465-hectare park with themed areas, rides, hotels, an esports arena, a water park, retail, and restaurants. While the numbers aren’t realized, the park’s developers expect the park to be a major boon to the region.
In a response to the Planning Inspectorate, Gerbeau said the project would deliver at least 50 billion euros of economic growth by 2029. That would compare favorably to the 68 billion euros in economic activity that Disney Paris created in its first 25 years.
As construction and operation get underway, thousands of direct and indirect jobs will be created. Early estimates indicate that The London Resort will create 48,000 total jobs by 2038. And half of those jobs will be filled by the surrounding communities of Thurrock, Gravesham, and Dartford. Tourism to the region will benefit greatly too. Independent analysts suggested that by 2038 the park would attract 12.5 million visitors each year.
Perhaps best of all is the broad spectrum of opportunity the park will provide. Businesses of all kinds and sizes will benefit from the increased economic activity in the region.
Britain has a long history of theme park entertainment. It boasts six of the world’s 35 pre-1939 roller coasters. Today, that tradition stands strong. Britain is home to several world-class parks including Alton Towers Resort, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and Drayton Manor, to name a few.
Yet, as the Al Humaidi Family in Kuwait noticed when planning The London Resort, England lacks a crown jewel. The London Resort will be that jewel. The project plans aren’t public but several sneak previews provide an idea of what to expect.
When it opens The London Resort will feature seven themed lands with various attractions, rides, and exhibits. Included among these themed lands will be roller coasters, live stage shows, an aquarium, and advanced simulators. The park will also host four hotels with a total of 3550 rooms and a water park. In a nod to the growing popularity of eSports, a three-story eSports arena will also be built.
Remaining Questions for The London Resort
Along with their development team, the Al Humaidi Family in Kuwait is pushing ahead with The London Resort. The latest announcement indicates that the park will open its doors by 2025. But several obstacles have sprung up, as they always do with large developments. Like Disney Paris during its development, The London Resort developers must overcome these obstacles. Chief among them is the ongoing efforts from special interest groups and the economic calamity of the pandemic.
But Chief Executive PY Gerbeau is resolute. In response to the naysayers, he explained “The London Resort is going ahead, as planned.” In time, Gerbeau and the park owner’s vision will be realized. And finally, the United Kingdom will have a resounding answer to Disney Paris.