Zimbabwe’s Disneyland plans ‘inappropriate’

via The Telegraph – Zimbabwe’s Disneyland plans ‘inappropriate’

Africa tourism experts have described a plan to build a Disneyland theme park on the Zimbabwean side of the Victoria Falls as “completely inappropriate”.

By Adrian Bridge

The idea for the development was announced by Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwe’s tourism and hospitality minister, on the sidelines of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly, which Zimbabwe is co-hosting with the town of Livingstone in neighbouring Zambia.

Mr Mzembi told New Ziana, the official news agency, that the government was planning to spend $300m (£193m) on the theme park, a venture which he described as a “Disneyland in Africa”.

The scheme was met with sceptism by Africa tourism specialists.

“Zimbabwe is a country that often struggles to do the basic things it needs to do and this cannot be a sensible suggestion,” said Chris McIntyre, managing director of Expert Africa, a UK-based specialist tour operator. “People go to Zimbabwe because it actually offers something that is authentically African: they are not going to want to go there for a Mickey Mouse experience. It would be completely inappropriate.”

His views were shared by Lisa Grainger, an Africa specialist and a regular contributor to Telegraph Travel, who earlier this year wrote about the very special allure of the Victoria Falls.

“It sounds like a crazy idea to put a money-making theme park beside one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World,” she said. “It would be like building a casino beside the pyramids. The reason people visit the falls is because it’s unspoilt and natural: it’s a glorious part of the Earth. Not because they want to buy candy-floss and be immersed in an American-style theme park.”

Mr Mzembi suggested that in addition to the theme park the project would entail shopping malls, banks and exhibition and entertainment facilities such as casinos.

“We have reserved 1,200 hectares of land near Victoria Falls international airport for hotels and convention centres,” he said. “We want to create a free zone with a banking centre where even people who do not necessarily live in Zimbabwe can open bank accounts.”

In addition to the United States, countries which have also opened Disney theme parks include France, Japan and China.

Tourism used to be one of Zimbabwe’s main revenue earners and officials in the country hope that it will be again. However its attempts to assure people that the country is now safe and desirable to visit have been hampered by continuing controversy over the human rights record of President Robert Mugabe, whose re-election last month is contested.

The decision to allow Zimbabwe to co-host the UNWTO conference was condemned by UN Watch, an independent human rights group, as a “disgraceful show of support – and a terribly timed award of false legitimacy – for a brutal, corrupt and authoritarian regime”.

Hillel Neuer, head of the Geneva-based group, said: “Amid reports of election rigging and continuing human rights abuses, Zimbabwe is the last country that should be legitimised by a UN summit of any kind. The notion that the UN should spin this country as a lovely tourist destination is, frankly, sickening.”

President Robert Mugabe’s status as UN “leader for tourism” has also been widely condemned.



  • comment-avatar
    jongwe power 9 years ago

    Wow! We’re planning to recreate Disneyland here? I wonder what we shall name the park. Graceland II? Gogo Nehanda’s Go-Go-Grande Fun Park? F.U.Britain Land? Jambanjaworld?

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    ZimJim 9 years ago

    “Cloud Cuckoo Land” perhaps?

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    Teresa Clatworthy 9 years ago

    A Banana Republic to a Disneyland Disaster. What’s another Theme in the Park?

  • comment-avatar

    They failed very simple things to do over the years. These include:

    1. Construction of Kunzvi Dam
    2. Cleaning of Lake Chivero.
    3. Provision of water to Bulawayo.

    And now they dream of what? Sorry, maybe a Graceland II where looting run wild.

    Cry my beloved country…

  • comment-avatar

    Create some artificial caves in Harare CBD…maybe that might work…Nxa!!!

    • comment-avatar

      Theme park- seriously? What about the more important matters – essentials such as clean water, zesa, good roads, jobs, housing, an improved education and health system for the citizens of this country…? Hurumende ngaitipe maserious priz tapota!

      • comment-avatar
        jongwe power 9 years ago

        Who cares about those things? Bring on the fun! Water Tank spraying games, re-enactments of the land reform, Gukurahundi roller coaster rides, 3D virtual Liberation War simulation games.

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    What a crazy idea. Zimbabwe’s charm has always been its natural beauty, its lack of over commercialisation in natural areas and its wild life. We must build on what we have. A ‘Sun City” type development and gaudy theme park gives us the cold shudders. Come on Mr Mzembi!

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    Zvichapera 9 years ago

    Not so long ago 4000 people died of cholera because of brokendown infrastructure which up to now has not been fixed and now this, where is the money coming from? Stolen diamonds maybe, are these the people who represent the 61 percent?

  • comment-avatar

    y dnt u just make Grace the tourist attraction..

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    Colin 9 years ago

    Another Mickey Mouse idea from the clowns at Zanu PF.

    • comment-avatar
      Chasura 9 years ago

      thats lack of planning really, when the whole country has industries falling and someone thinks of picnic.remove silly war vets in animal farms first to show you know what you are doing.silly

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    Phunyukabemphethe 9 years ago

    Disneyland and yet you are anti-America, what hypocrites we have in our midst!!

    Leave American things and carry own with your Gukurahundism – primitive arsehooles!!

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      Jacob 9 years ago

      That’s the irony of life. Those you whom you despise you wish to emulate with asinine ideas such as this. If the dude wants a theme park come up with an original idea.

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    Here they go again, these prophets of doom! You are wrong. There are many in the region who desire to go on holiday and can not afford to go to Paris. Notwithstanding the prohibitive costs, there is also the issue of visas in view of how the Europeans have become absolutely paranoid and are enforcing anti-immigration policies to the extreme possible. Africa is realizing an emerging middle class which can spend a bit on their children. The adults enjoy the serene natural environment but by the end of the day the kids would have had enough of the rainforest. What harm is there in taking an Indiana jones or mission 2 ride. This will be a 40 hectare park a bit removed from the Zambezi and the national park so it won’t disturb anything. I can see some getting worried for fear that it will be a success and Zimbabwe must not succeed.

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    Peter Macklyn 9 years ago

    What a particularly stupid man. Did he think we would all be overjoyed with this stupid idea?

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    Pachokwadi 9 years ago

    That is the Waste Idea one can have. Instead of allowing the Victoria falls resort area to regenerate to its once marvellous natural state you come up with this Disney land crap. People don’t come to vic falls to get a feel of the west. They come because they miss the good feel of nature vic fall is naturally gifted with. Who goes to a pub to get a feel of how good it feels to be in the church?