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Ardent Leisure looks to shrinking of Dreamworld’s footprint for development

Ardent Leisure looks to shrinking of Dreamworld’s footprint for development
August 27, 2019

Ardent Leisure is to shrink the footprint of Dreamworld with new plans to develop land adjacent to the Gold Coast theme park.

Having announced an investment of $50 million in new rides and attractions at Dreamworld and WhiteWater World on Friday, the Australian Financial Review has reported Dreamworld Chief Executive, John Osborne as stating that the theme park will focus on "fewer but better rides".

With Ardent undertaking a masterplan for the 57-hectare site at Coomera on South East Queensland’s M1 highway that houses the theme and water parks, Osborne, the former Chief Executive of ASX-listed Lantern Hotel Group, advised that the group is open to talking to "potential partners" about future development of land that makes up more than half of the site.

The Australian Financial Review has suggested that developing “surplus” land could give Ardent funds to continue its overhaul of the troubled theme park and company, which Chairman Gary Weiss on Friday said had completed a "transitional" year, as its annual net loss narrowed to $60.9 million in the year to June from $90.7 million in 2017/18.

Year on year comparison of the group's earnings results was impacted by the sale of two businesses, non-cash valuation losses on the Dreamworld and SkyPoint properties in the prior year, as well as impairment charges at several US entertainment centres in the current and prior years.

The Group was also hit by costs associated with Coronial inquest hearings into the deaths of four guests on Dreamworld’s Thunder River Rapids ride, non-recurring costs and further impairment charges at its US-based Main Event business.

Dr Weiss stated "in my experience turnarounds often take longer to achieve, cost more money and are often more difficult to achieve than initially (expected) as they present.

"I think Ardent is turning out very much in that category."

Ardent Leisure Group shares, which have lost 34% of their value over the past year, closed at $1.19

Ardent’s strategy for Dreamworld strategy is looking to revitalise the theme park, and attractions across the Gold Coast, with the sector having seen attendance fall by about 1.6 million people - equating to $130 million in lost revenue since the 2016 fatalities.

The opening of the Sky Voyager flying theatre attraction on Friday and the announcement of the development of a new 1.2 kilometre-long rollercoaster is key to this.

The new ride announcements also placed significant emphasis on the credentials of the international manufacturers, potentially countering perceptions that several of Dreamworld’s rides have been developed or adapted in-house.

The Australian Financial Review has reported “how the company opts to develop surplus land - either its own real estate or in combination with an adjacent vacant 47 hectares abutting Westfield Coomera, owned by the Queensland Investment Corporation - will also be crucial to the future prosperity of the theme parks.

“One possible use is a hotel (with) the provision of hotel facilities could allow a revamped Dreamworld to serve the conference and business markets, long a staple for facilities such as Disneyland.

A spokesman for QIC Global Real Estate said the state-owned institution was willing to consider a tie-up with Dreamworld.

The spokesperson advised "we are open to exploring ways to collaborate with our neighbours, in alignment with the strategic direction of our master-planning work, and we’re currently working with Dreamworld to ensure infrastructure, such as road networks, complements the long-term vision of both owners for the entire precinct.”

Images: Dreamworld from the air in 2013 (top), its planned new rollercoaster (middle) and the newly opened Sky Voyager (below).

Related Articles

23rd August 2019 - Dreamworld announces ‘new era’ with multi-million dollar investment in new rides

23rd August 2019 - Dreamworld’s long-awaited Sky Voyager takes flight

28th June 2019 - Ardent Leisure facing potential $80 million liability in wake of Dreamworld inquest

8th April 2019 - Ardent Leisure borrows $225 million for attractions investment

21st March 2019 - Dreamworld launches new Training Academy to support staff career progression

13th March 2019 - Ardent Leisure shares hit seven-year low

9th March 2019 - Dreamworld announces permanent closure of The WipeOut

22nd February 2019 - Ardent Leisure losses rise as guests fail to return to Dreamworld

22nd November 2018 - Ardent Leisure reveals theme park investment strategy

23rd October 2018 - Ardent Leisure names casino and hospitality professional as new Dreamworld Chief Executive

12th October 2018 - Dreamworld inquest delay as Ardent Leisure accused of being slow to hand over documents

26th September 2018 - Ardent Leisure facing naming challenges with new Dreamworld simulator ride

22nd August 2018 - Ardent Leisure losses grow as Dreamworld’s value declines by $75 million

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