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Sun 23 Oct 2011 01:00 PM

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Dubai architect seeks funding for Herbie theme park

Themed tourist attraction in early talks to be located in city’s Autodrome

Dubai architect seeks funding for Herbie theme park
The themed tourist attraction would feature cars from the Herbie Disney movies

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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sonnydubai 8 years ago

And it isn't even April Fools day.......Ferrari World is empty most of the time, how on earth would this work?

Original Joe 8 years ago

As a 10 year resident of Dubai, this has got to be one of the most embarrassing ideas I have heard. Not Universal Studios, not SeaWorld, not Six Flags, but....wait for it...Herbie the car themepark!!! This is unbelievably STUPID!!!

Domnal Mc 8 years ago

I am personally convinced that a Teletubbiesland adjacent to a Thunderbirdsland connected by a ThomastheTankEngineLand steam railway would bring in maybe hundreds of visitors each year.

Imagine being pulled around the combined park by Thomas the Tank Engine, driven by La La whilst watching animatronic Brains puppets shout "ah ah ah ah ah it's not going to work Mr Tracey".

Red Snappa 8 years ago

To be perfectly honest this is the wrong way round at the moment, take Dubailand they're looking for outside entities to invest in building the theme parks.

Money's too tight to mention to start injecting it into Herbie's World. Anyway it's way outdated, isn't it the same era as Mary Poppins 1960's/1970's? Apologies it moved to TV 'Herbie Fully Loaded' 2005, it's just not a massive crowd puller.

Anyway it would be maximum irony to locate it at the Autodrome and I'm sure that Union Properties want to see money coming in the other direction at the moment.

66 bug 8 years ago

Well ...

Nothing wrong in being able to dream on, despite the reality, is there?

As for "stupid" ... much more "stupid" ideas are actually built and exist around here. It is a personal opinion and view, so don't discredit anyone's idea. You would not like your ideas called "stupid", would you?

I for one would be happy if this goes forward, as a diehard classic Beetle and Herbie fan. Lighten up, people. We need feel good stuff coming our way, there is enough doom and gloom.

Pat Barnes 8 years ago

Herbie is owned by Disney. Without their licensing, which is unlikely, this will go no where. Sure he can market it as a car display with cars featured in the Herbie movies, but anything else will cause lawyers to descend.

Chris 8 years ago

Ferrari World is having a hard enough time. This is a limited appeal, boring, outdated idea. Who would go? And why? It's insulting to think that investors in Dubai would even blink at this idea. There's one thing to invest in "if-they-build-it-they-will-come" scenarios, but this is ridiculous. On top of that, it's not even NEWS! Can Arabian Business report I'm looking for investors for my Jello Museum? Please??

This architect should be ashamed.

JACCK 8 years ago

If there's one thing that Dubai expats, and ex-Dubai expats, are good at, it's being snide - although I do appreciate the humor in the Teletubbies/Thomas the Tank Engine comment.

First of all, most of the Dubailand projects were of a scale that boggles the mind - I worked on one that featured an 8000 room hotel, with over 50,000 hotel rooms in total in this one Dubailand development ('nuf said). Say what you want about HerbieLand, but my understanding is that it's not intended to be some huge thing - it's of a modest scale that just might work.

Graham may be a bit of a dreamer, but he has a personal enthusiasm for the project that comes from a love of cars in general and air-cooled German ones in particular - he's certainly not alone in that regard. This is an honest little project that would give tourists one more thing to do in this town. Compared to the numerous ill-conceived and over-scaled projects that were celebrated in Dubai's media in the past, this one is d'gas.

Chirs 8 years ago

The article says "theme park" so it's difficult to understand the scale. If someone was proposing an auto museum that's one thing, but a Herbie the Love Bug Theme Park is something else entirely.

Regardless of the scale of some of the previous plans proposed once-upon-a-time, this idea is equally absurd.

Louie Tedesco 8 years ago

How about having a look around here and completing some of those construction works that have been on-going for years.

Drive around Dubai with eyes-open and you will see abandoned road construction sites that have been around for so many years that no one can remember when they were started.

Opposite Karama, directly underneath the elevated Metro line, there have been plastic barriers and cones sitting for years! One could write volumes, whether sites are on Sh Zayed Road or elsewhere throughout the entire city.