Sega World Sydney joined its sister theme park SegaWorld London as a high-profile failure. What went wrong?
Sega World Sydney was a joint venture between Jacfun, a property consortium led by Kevin Bermeister (born 1960), and Sega. Kevin Bermeister was the general manager of the park.
Sega World Sydney was modelled on Sega’s Joypolis indoor theme park in Yokohama, Japan. The park was fitted out at a cost of AU$50 million. It occupied 10,000 sq metres of space. Unlike SegaWorld London, there was only one virtual reality ride. Alongside it was a rollercoaster, a ghost train and a dodgems.
Bermeister confidently announced that “Sega World will make existing theme parks look old-fashioned”. It was anticipated that the park would attract 1.2 – 1.5 million visitors in its first year.
The Sydney park was expected to function as an anchor site from which Sega could establish similar sites across Australia and South East Asia.
Opening and closure
Sega World Sydney was opened in March 1997 at Darling Harbour. In the first full month of opening the park attracted under 70,000 guests. Sue Williams of the Sydney Morning Herald reported in November 1997, “it is not the virtual reality attractions that catch your eye; it is the virtual emptiness of the place”.
Sega paid $36 million to exit the joint venture in 1999.
It was hoped that the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney would boost attendance figures, however the park recorded just 400,000 visitors for the year. The park struggled to attract guests outside of holiday periods, despite active discounting. Opening hours were shortened in an attempt to reduce costs. The park was closed in November 2000.
The Sega World Sydney assets were sold by auction in 2001.