Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Spyland – the secret is out

Developers dream of huge resort in Spain

The very idea of telling the world your espionage plans may seems a little strange, but there won’t actually be any working spies at Spyland in Spain. Unveiling their dream at a press conference during the recent IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, developers of this new theme park highlighted the role they hope it will play in a much larger, and hugely ambitious, leisure resort.

Construction on the 100-hectare park is slated to begin late 2008, in anticipation of a 2010 opening. Project co-ordinator Didier Rancher said that International Leisure Development (ILD), whose shareholders include Aristocrat Technologies and UFA Insurance, has raised $190 million towards the park’s first phase.

Rancher is the son of a French secret service agent who has been pursuing the spy park concept for around a decade. He had previously considered sites in France and Dubai, but now believes the Aragon region of Spain a better place to do business. Local government officials travelled with him to Orlando to show their support.

Rides, simulators and exhibits will reveal the history of the secret service worldwide, and guests will be able to stay inside a Pentagon-themed hotel. Although two prominent ride manufacturers participated in the press conference at IAAPA, no contracts are believed to have been signed.

Spyland is earmarked as one of up to four major theme parks (including a waterpark), 15 smaller parks or museums, 32 casino hotels, a conference centre, golf course, racecourse, commercial centre, residential areas and other facilities that would make up the Gran Scala resort near Zaragoza. Jaime Riera of Riera & Carreras Asociados, who is advising ILD on the Spanish market, says that special gaming dispensation would be granted locally to make such a large number of casinos possible.

Gran Scala is indeed a project on a grand scale. This “integrated recreation city” would feature a cluster of 16 themed areas arranged like a sundial and tracing the history of man. The 2,000-hectare development, with capacity for 35 million visitors a year, would be unlike almost anything else on earth, save perhaps Dubailand. “This will not be like Dubailand or anywhere else,” insists Riera. “We want to have our own project, and you do not get anywhere without being ambitious.”

Projected annual attendance at Spyland of five million within the first few years – enough to propel it into the European number three spot – does seem optimistic, particularly as it will not boast an established name or brand. Perhaps they should call for James Bond?

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