Remembering Sydney’s Sega World: The little theme park that couldn’t

A decade following the closure of the indoor theme park, PC World looks at the near non-existent legacy of the ambitious venture

The Sega World facility in Sydney's Darling Harbour district in 1998. Image: Wikipedia.

The Sega World facility in Sydney's Darling Harbour district in 1998. Image: Wikipedia.

The Sonic series played an interesting role in the overall presentation of Sega World in that it mixed and matched from various iterations of the franchise. While the Sonic and Knuckles characters were immortalised as statues at Sega World, so was the character Sally Acorn, who did not appear in any of the Sonic games and instead was featured in a cartoon, Sonic the Hedgehog: The Animated Series. A small blunder that Sega World made was diverge from Sega’s official design of Sonic by having his arms miscoloured as blue instead the normal beige.

The launch of the new Sonic game for Dreamcast in 1999, titled Sonic Adventure, was a big deal for Sega and the franchise. The game was also positioned as somewhat of a reboot of the franchise. To that extent, Sega decided to redesign Sonic and the other characters in the franchise, as well as introduce new ones. Even though the new styling for the characters was introduced, Sega World did little to follow the development, as the statues based on the older Sonic franchise would remain at the theme park until its closure, and the merchandise would not be updated with the new designs either.

It is hard to know why Sega World did not update its facility and merchandise based on this development, but it is likely that lack of funds was likely the reason, as well as the departure of Sega from the partnership. Whatever the reason was, it still did not change the fact that it made Sega World feel like it was misplaced in time. The overall lack of an attractive value proposition at Sega World, due to the low number of attractions, was the main reason that the theme park failed to hit off. However, Sega’s mismanagement of its own business and the Sonic franchise certainly did not help Sega World either.

What may have been

One can only speculate how differently things may have turned out if Sega World had managed to reach its break even point at the conclusion of the 2000 Summer Olympics. Maybe the ice rink and other attractions would have been installed at the facility and helped maintain visitor numbers, and the unique red building with the glass cone as a ceiling would remain a permanent fixture in the Darling Harbour landscape. But in the same vein, one could also speculate at how different things could have turned out for Sega and its Saturn console if they had released a proper Sonic game for the console’s launch.

At the end of the day, Sega World in Sydney failed, and it did so because it seemed to be the wrong type of initiative for wrong place at the wrong time. That is why no one really mourned the theme park when it closed in 2000, let alone remembers that it even existed over a decade later.

All requests for comment for this story by Kevin Bermeister, Cameron Chisholm & Nicol, Future World Concepts, SGA, and the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority went unanswered before this story went to publication.

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Patrick Budmar

Patrick Budmar

PC World




Great story - a lot of memories revisited in there.

Wayne Godfrey


Thankyou for a great story. I visited Sega World a number of times and had an enjoyable experience. Including the Haunted Mansion interactive ride. Before Sega World the original plan for the site was Discovery Village a high tech interactive theme park with a budget of $250 million in the late 80's. The plans were drawn up and construction began and the property crash of the late 80's put paid to that. It was to include and Omni Max theatre, Circlevision theatre, Computer generated 3-D theatre, Roller coaster ride to the centre of the earth and Robotic Cabera shows and much more. it would have been an amazing addition to Darling Harbour as it was opening. Regards Wayne



This article made my day! I'm a huge fan of anything Sega/Sonic related, and Sega World Sydney has particularly captured my interest. It was just so radically different than any other venture Sega ever tried, a blend of Japanese and western influences. I do wish they would've at least kept the good ol' cube/cone. That was a perfectly good building, a work of art in my opinion. You're certainly right about information and pictures being hard to find, though. In fact, even though Sega World sold hundreds of different exclusive souvenirs in their gift shop, they are extremely hard to find now and are sometimes considered the "holy grail" for collectors of Sega memorabilia. For the past year or so, I've been diligently scouring the internet to find every scrap of data I can about Sega World, and so far I've archived hundreds of pictures, tens of documents, and a few rare videos here and there. When I get around to it, I plan on using them to make a little Sega World memorial website. Here's a few tidbits I've come across that you might find interesting: Rail Chase, the indoor roller coaster, and Ghost Hunters, the interactive ghost train, were sold to Haiiland, a rather bizzare (by Western standards) theme park in India which is themed entirely around Buddhism. The rides were somewhat re-themed to fit their new home, but it's good to know that they are still in operation today. In addition, I've found two videos that are good for re-living memories. A friend of mine sent me this video from a lifestyle TV show: And here's a commercial made in 2000, a last-ditch effort to save the struggling park. They made the risky move of undergoing very expensive renovations and improvements, completely upgrading the Rail Chase Coaster, in hopes of drawing more crowds. Unfortunately, it didn't work. Oh well. I never got to go, sadly (I live in the wrong hemisphere), but I can still visit it in my dreams. And if I'm lucky, I do. ;)



Man I really miss this place, but I miss Australia's Wonderland even more. I stumbled across this website that list all of the history of Australia's Wonderland, It's a shame that nothing like that exists for Sega World.



I'm working on a website for Sega World. If any of the companies involved in the construction of Sega World reply, it would be great if this article could be updated.



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