After 20 years with the idea of building a theme park on land surrounding Zoo Miami simmering on the back burner, two companies are now moving forward with bids to break ground.
One proposal, dubbed "Dinosaur Park International," would be science-minded, featuring dino-centric exhibits and a museum.
The other plan, proposed by 20th Century Fox, would be more Orlando-style, with rides and attractions based on the movie studio's films, such as Ice Age and Rio. The project is dubbed "Miami Wilds" and would include a 70-acre traditional theme park and a separate 16-acre water park.
The proposals vary greatly. The dino park would cost just $15 million and would be paid in full by developers. Fox's ambitious plans would come with an estimated almost $1 billion price tag, and the company wouldn't pay for it all on its own. According to the Miami Herald, Fox would put up $800 million and would hope to get Miami-Dade County to chip in an additional $130 million. After the Marlins Park fiasco and the Dolphins' failed attempt to get public money for their stadium updates, Miamians aren't exactly warm to the idea of chipping in for private enterprises.
However, the dino park would pay only $150,000 a year in rent, while Fox would pay $37 million during the first ten years of a proposed 99-year lease. Fox also claims it would draw 3 million tourists a year and provide 2,750 permanent jobs (and more than 8,000 jobs during construction), according to Local 10.
The Fox plans would also include a 400-room hotel, a retail area somewhat similar to Downtown Disney or Universal City Walk, a movie theater that could be used for Fox film premieres, a music performance theater, and a "sports meadow."
Fox is a newcomer to the amusement park world, but over the summer it announced plans to partner with Genting Group (the firm that owns the former Miami Herald site) to build its first theme park in Malaysia. That park will feature rides based on Ice Age, Life of Pi, Rio, Alien, Predator, and Night at the Museum.
The dino option, however, would feature animatronic dinosaurs, which are always neat.
Florida's two other major metro areas, Tampa Bay and Orlando, both boast major theme parks.
Dinosaur Park International could be open two years after construction begins. Fox's plan would open in two stages: one in 2018 and the other projected for 2020.
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