The Once-Popular Theme Parks in Malaysia
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THEME PARKS feature a variety of attractions such as rides and games, as well as various events for entertainment purposes, and have become increasingly popular among Malaysians, especially those with families.
There are more than a dozen theme parks in Malaysia. However, at least seven of them have stopped operations due to various reasons.
The country’s first theme park is Mimaland, which stood for “Malaysia In Miniature Land”, located in Gombak, Selangor.
The park was famous for its large-scale dinosaur replicas and surrounded by tropical rainforest.
It had a lake for boating and fishing, attracting thousands of visitors every year. Other attractions included a pool, said to be the largest in Southeast Asia.
However, a series of unfortunate events led to the park’s closure in 1994.
According to reports, a Singaporean tourist drowned in the pool in January 1993. In 1994, development in the area caused a minor landslide and safety became a major concern.
Mimaland has been abandoned ever since its closure, but thrill seekers occasionally go there for adventure, despite the area’s dilapidated condition and stories of haunting.
Speculation was once rife that Mimaland would be redeveloped by a joint venture between MPHB Capital Bhd’s 98.2 per cent unit, Mimaland Bhd, and Magna Senandung Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Bandar Raya Developments Bhd.
The proposed joint venture was to involve developing seven parcels of leasehold and freehold land measuring about 131 hectares.
New Straits Times reported in 2011 that the project would include eco-friendly hillside, courtyard and waterfront landed homes set amid natural waterways, valleys and water bodies with mature forest views, with prices starting from RM500,000.
However, in August 2015, the joint venture was terminated. No reason was given for the cancellation.
For property analysts, the cancellation did not come as a “big surprise” as the proposed Mimaland redevelopment project had faced complex technical issues and there had been delays in securing approvals from various authorities.
STARLIGHT EXPRESS THEME PARK, THE MALL (1987-2006)
Starlight Express theme park was located at the iconic The Mall, which was part of the Putra Place Complex opposite the PWTC building and Seri Pacific Hotel at Jalan Putra in Kuala Lumpur. Putra Place was also home to the five-star Legend Kuala Lumpur hotel.
The theme park was popular with children who visited the place after school or on weekends. It was basically “the place to go to”, with The Mall being the largest shopping centre in Malaysia then.
Starlight Express featured thrilling rides such as a swaying pirate ship, Matter-horn and a roller coaster built into the wall named Tornado which then changed to Horror Express. With newer malls entering the market, The Mall lost its appeal.
Sunway Group bought over the Putra Place Complex in 2015 and renamed it Sunway Putra Mall (comprising Sunway Putra Hotel and Sunway Putra Tower) afteramajor refurbishment. The refurbishment project costed more than RM1 billion and took two years to complete.
MINES WONDERLAND THEME PARK, SERI KEMBANGAN (1997-2011)
Mines Wonderland is part of Mines Resort City (now Mines Wellness City), a development by Country Heights Holdings Bhd (CHHB). Mines Resort City was built from the late 1980s on a site which was once the world’s largest open-cast tin mine with a massive hole in the ground measuring 2km long, 1km wide and 200 metres deep.
The park attracted large crowd as it had many attractions to keep a whole family entertained. Among the most popular were the water taxi and cruise along the 60.7ha lake, the Light Fantasy Show and Ice Factory.
Unfortunately, the theme park closed in 2011. CHHB founder Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew had planned to build a tri-tower on the site, but that did not materialise.
Lee then decided to sell 15.2ha of the area - the site of the Mines Wonderland theme park.
SAFARI LAGOON (1998 - 2007)
Safari Lagoon was the country’s first rooftop water-theme park. Opened in 1998, it was the third-biggest theme park in Southeast Asia.
The park, costing about RM28 million, was situated on the seventh floor of the Pandan Safari shopping mall in Pandan Perdana, at the border of Cheras and Ampang.
It featured animal sculptures and lush greenery for a safari look, as well as a variety of facilities including water slides, wave pools and a playground.
Despite its popularity, the park closed in 2007.
It was reported that the park had operated without a licence for nine years. The illegal operations came to light in January 2007 after a freak accident took place at Safari Lagoon.
The theme park has been left abandoned and in dilapidated and eerie conditions. The mall has also been deserted and become an eye sore since it stopped operating in 2015.
DESA WATERPARK, KUALA LUMPUR (2000 - 2016)
Desa WaterPark in Taman Danau Desa, Jalan Kelang Lama closed on September 30 2016 after 16 years of operation.
The most popular attraction at the park was Thunderbolt, one of Asia’s longest uphill water coasters.
Desa Water Park, operated by Berjaya Group, was popular in its early days, probably because the Klang Valley lacked water parks back then.
But when more such parks, like Sunway Lagoon, were built, Desa WaterPark started to lose its visitors.
The 16.99ha land that housed Desa WaterPark and was owned by Kuala Lumpur City Hall was sold to Aset Kayamas Sdn Bhd for a mixed development project.
The project would include high-end bungalows, multi-storey towers and condominiums as well Federal Territories Affordable Housing.
Aset Kayamas has said the gross development value for the project is RM6 billion to RM7 billion.
WET WORLD WILD ADVENTURE PARK, PENANG (2013 - 2014)
This theme park was located at Moonlight Bay, Batu Ferringhi in Penang and was touted as one of Asia’s first seawater adventure parks.
It featured several attractions, such as rock climbing, running tracks and trampolines, and stood out because everything was made out of bouncy inflatables floating on the water.
Unfortunately, less than a year in operation, the park closed rather abruptly. There were complaints that the public beach was not accessible and admission tickets were too expensive.
This article originally appeared on The New Straits Times. Written by Kathy B.