Throughout the planning and consultation period, Attraction Source brought you the latest news and information on what was set to be one of the largest developments the UK leisure industry had ever seen. We have summarised everything we know about this ill-fated project in this helpful guide.
Set to be located on the Swanscombe Peninsula in Kent, the proposed complex was to feature a theme park, water park, entertainment district, and hotel accommodation. Originally announced in October 2012, the project made steady progress towards the submission of a special type of planning application called a Development Consent Order (DCO), which took place in December 2020. As of March 2022, London Resort Company Holdings withdrew their DCO application. Although LRCH maintained that they are committed to the project, intending to resubmit the application for a scaled down development, doubts about its future are seemingly at their highest level to date.
Once completed, the proposed theme park will boast over 50 rides and attractions based upon original concepts and popular film and television shows. Developers have formed a partnership with the British Film Institute (BFI) who will provide strategic input on how the project can best incorporate British film and talent into the new entertainment resort. The BFI will ensure that the UK’s film industry will play a central role across the resort’s attractions, building on already well-known brands, and helping British cinema reach new, international audiences. Set within a number of themed areas, so far developers have confirmed there will be up to twelve major rides, family attractions, water rides, adrenaline rides, and signature entertainment shows and cultural events.
The London Resort will be the first European development of its kind to be built from scratch since the opening of Disneyland Paris in 1992 and is being billed as one of the most ambitious theme park projects ever in Europe. Eventually, it will become a two-park resort with the first gate opening in 2024, and the second gate opening within five years. It is anticipated that around 60-70% of the attractions will be undercover.
The project will bring significant benefits to the local area, regenerating a brownfield site twice the size of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and sustaining approximately 33,000 local jobs through both direct employment on site and via the supply chain associated with the resort. Developers have also promised substantial investment in the transport infrastructure surrounding the resort with a new 4 lane dual carriageway connecting the resort to the existing A2, and the introduction of transport options utilising the River Thames.
In May 2014 the project was given a significant boost, gaining special status as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) as a project that could have a ‘significant economic impact on a wider area than a single local authority’. This means that London Resort Company Holdings, the group behind the project, can apply directly to the Secretary of State for planning permission as opposed to the usual route through the local authority. The full formal planning application was submitted in December 2020 following a final round of public consultations, and approved for review in January 2021.
With predicted visitor figures of 15 million people a year, the new multi-billion pound development will represent significant competition for the current UK theme park and tourist attractions, in particular Merlin’s southern theme park resorts: Thorpe Park Resort, Chessington World of Adventures Resort and Legoland Windsor Resort. It is yet to be seen how the existing attractions will adapt to compete with this new landmark addition.
Plans & Concept Art
In April 2021, The London Resort shared details of the first area of the theme park. Base Camp – the world’s first prehistoric nature reserve, will be located in the north west corner of the Resort. Plans for Base Camp include two rollercoasters, a large multi-media live stage show experience, an advanced simulator attraction, immersive fine dining and an ‘active dig site’ where younger palaeontologists can discover dinosaurs as they climb, dig and tunnel their way across an excavation site.
The first of two rollercoasters planned for the land will celebrate the reign of Quetzalcoatlus, one of the largest known, winged reptiles of all time. Set over 1km of track, it aims to be one of the fastest coasters in Europe. It will also go against the trend of building coasters with towering heights and big drops. Recreating what scientists believe was a typical flight path of the extraordinary beast, this coaster will stay low to the ground, zipping across treetops, skimming water and bursting through rocky canyons. A multi-launch coaster reaching speeds in excess of 70mph, the ride will replicate the hunting speed of Quetzalcoatlus which would swoop low and fast to snare prey in its long, tweezer like beak. The second coaster inside Base Camp will offer a family orientated experience. Weaving beneath the flight path of Quetzalcoatlus, through the fascinating landscape, this ride will allow for adventurers of all ages and sizes to experience a rollercoaster with just the right level of thrill.
Situated at the edge of an underwater cliff, a luxury dining venue will combine first-rate cuisine, fine wines, with a view to die for. Floor-to-ceiling windows will wrap the dining room, offering guests a front-row seat to the flora and fauna of the prehistoric oceans just beyond the glass. Throughout the meal, schools of ancient fish may swim past the windows, darting from predators as they emerge from the inky blackness beyond. At regular intervals, something with a bit more bite may come into view. Ichthyosaurs loves to feed at this depth, and diners will have an unobstructed view as fish, otherwise assumed to be the hunters, become the hunted beneath the ocean’s surface.
The below plans were published with the Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report in June 2020. These show the logistics of The London Resort in finer detail, including development areas north and south of the peninsula. Two further concept art images were published in July 2020 showing the view of the Resort from Pilgrims Way, and the arrival plaza and hotels. An impressive overview image of the Resort at night was published in October 2020, revealing further details of the individual areas of the destination. The final image was released in December 2020 with the submission of the planning application to the Secretary of State.
These images were released at the start of December 2019 and revealed the names of the six proposed lands which will make up phase one of the theme park.
Additional concept images were published by Rethink Leisure & Entertainment in 2017 which include a new overview of the Resort, a charming themed land featuring a flag tower and the Swanscombe Brewery, a Wallace & Grommit area by Ardman Animations, and also Camp Rabbids, adventure, and fantasy themed lands.
The initial details of four hotels with a total capacity of up to 3,550 rooms were published as part of the Development Consent Order that was accepted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate in January 2021.
Although it is not known exactly what types of rides and attractions will be included, previous consultations, as well as concept art released during December 2019, indicate the theme park will cater for as wide a range of people as possible, from young families right through to thrill seekers, as well as including rides which are fully accessible.
London Resort Company Holdings have formed a number of partnerships with high profile names in the film and television industry which will enable them to pick from a wide selection of popular Intellectual Properties to base their attractions on. Based on concept art, consultation documents, and partnerships agreed so so far, it is expected that the Resort will feature attractions based on brands from Paramount Pictures, BBC Worldwide and ITV Studios.
- 12 Major rides
- Family rides
- Water rides
- Thrill & adrenaline rides
- Signature entertainment shows
The DCO and consultation documents outline plans for a wide variety of ancillary facilities and attractions. The aim is to make The London Resort a destination for businesses, multi-day breaks and individual days and nights out, maximising its potential target market.
- Water park
- Theatre hosting ‘West End quality’ shows
- Indoor event space capable of hosting exhibitions, conferences, music and sporting events
- Restaurants and bars available to both ticketed and non-ticketed guests
- Live music venue
- Creative business space
- Visitor centre and training academy
- Wildlife habitat creation and environmental trails
The resort has been confirmed to feature six themed lands. Details released during December 2019 provided the first details about the names and concepts for each of these areas.
Guests will enter The London resort via a grand plaza that will lead visitors and hotel guests through “the High Street” which will feature shops, hotels, a convention centre and a “first-class” water park.
The Studios will be where guests start their journey. A gritty, modern-day warehouse district, The Studios will practically roar with the exhilarating thrills of big blockbuster features, and feature a winning combination of explosive action, high-octane car chases and high stakes espionage.
The Woods will be an enchanted realm where the boundary between reality and fantasy dissolve and springtime reigns eternal. Both the young and young-at-heart will be invited to step through the pages of a storybook and embark on an adventure which puts a fresh spin on fables and fairy tales.
The Kingdom will be a realm of swords, sorcery, dragons and legend. A place where England is a dark and ancient land, a place of threatening and imposing castles and mystical Arthurian legends.
The Isles will be a land of giant creatures, mythical beasts and adventures at the crossroads of imaginations and reality. Jaw dropping architecture will combine with magnificent rides and 21st century technology.
The Jungle is where the past starts to blend with the future. Ancient ruins of a long-lost civilisation are seen pushing up through the treetops. An overgrown environment, full of ancient secrets, strange mystical artefact and surprising discoveries will be transported to the present by inquisitive explorers.
The Starport will be dedicated to futuristic experiences, alien encounters, and big thrill rides. A bustling 23rd century landing zone, it will launch visitors into thrilling science-fiction adventures, leaving them mesmerised at things that should be impossible but are not.