Dubai architect seeks funding for Herbie theme park

Themed tourist attraction in early talks to be located in city’s Autodrome
The themed tourist attraction would feature cars from the Herbie Disney movies
By Shane McGinley
Sun 23 Oct 2011 01:00 PM

A
Dubai-based architect is seeking investors to launch a theme park in Dubai based
around the famous Disney VW Bug Herbie, Arabian Business has
learned.

Graham
Henderson, owner of design firm Palmerstone, hopes to attract financing to
build the project in Dubai after initial plans to bring the themed venue to Abu
Dhabi fell through.

“The
people in Abu Dhabi weren’t terrible supportive so we want to bring it to
Dubai,” he said.

“I
have a consignment of the original Herbie cars which are coming from a private
collector… I think it would work really well at Dubai Autodrome. They can’t
finance it but there is certain land available on the track we could use.”

The car
collection includes the vehicles that appeared in the movies ‘Herbie Goes to
Monte Carlo’ and the 2005 movie ‘Herbie: Fully Loaded’, which starred actress
Lindsay Lohan.

“Imagine
if you could pay for a lap in the Autodrome in Lindsay Lohan’s car,” said
Henderson. “It is better than Ferrari World.”

Initial
designs for ‘Herbieland’ include a central building in the shape of a giant
baseball, which would house a museum, workshop and café.

The UAE plans to attract 15 million tourists by 2020 under
efforts to diversify its petrodollar-driven economy. The capital is spending
billions on visitor attractions such as Ferrari World and the Yas and Saadiyat
island developments, in a bid to establish itself as a holiday destination.

Dubai
unveiled the AED335bn Dubailand development at the peak of its real estate
boom, featuring tie-ups with Universal Studios and Legoland and the
world’s largest shopping mall.

The
resort, which was originally slated to be twice the size of Walt Disney
World, stalled in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Dubailand said in August it was in talks to renegotiate four
projects in the resort and planned to unveil details of a sustainable city by
the end of 2012.

The president of UAE conglomerate BinHendi Enterprises said
in May that Dubai needed an entertainment resort on the size and scale of
Disneyland if it is to establish itself as a global tourism destination.

Though Walt Disney Company was mooted in May as a potential
partner for stalled Dubailand, the company has since said it has no plans to
open in the region.

“We continually look for opportunities to grow our business
and as a part of that process, we have conversations with many different
entities,” a Walt Disney Company spokesperson said.

“While Dubai is an attractive market, we currently have no
plans for the region.”

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