Remembering SEGA World Sydney

There has been many SEGA World theme parks around the world from London, Dublin, and even Japan. But did you know there was also one in Sydney, Australia? The theme park opened in 1997 and lasted for almost 4 years but sadly closed in 2001.

The theme park was Sydney’s first indoor amusement park and was known as “Australia’s Own Disneyland”, and was at the time, the biggest of all of the SEGA Worlds.

It was built by JacFun PTY LTD who obtained a 99 year lease in Tumbalong Park site from the Sydney Harbor Foreshore Authority located behind Imax Theatre & the famous Center Point  Tower landmark.

The park focused heavily on Sonic the Hedgehog but other rides and attractions were also present. These included:

  • Rail Chase; an indoor roller coaster set in a mine
  • Mad Bazooka; a tank simulator with modified bumper cars. However it was replaced with an Ice Rink in 1999.
  • Ghost Hunters; a interactive ghost train with laser canons
  • Magic Motion 4D; a 4D Cinema
  • Nickelodeon TV Machine; a Children’s play area based on Nickelodeon cartoons at the time.
  • Aqua Nova; a 3D Motion Simulator about a Submarine based on an underwater mission
  • AS1 ; a motion simulator ride featuring Michael Jackson as commander

Another event the Theme Park had was a half  hour puppet show called Sonic Live in Sydney, which featured Sonic, Tails, and Princess Sally who crash land in Sydney and try to stop Dr. Robotnik from taking over Australia and turning all of the residents into robots. The shows featured three songs; “What Are We Waiting For?”, “Give Me Chaos”, and “Thank You For Being You” which were written exclusively for the show. A CD exists which was available to buy in the shop but is now sought after as a collector’s item. It was to replace a 90 minute live stage show featuring Sonic and friends in Costumes but not much is known about this previous event. Ernie Dingo also visited SEGA World Australia.

Although the park was widely successful during its time it started to lose visitors during the struggle of video game advertising in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The owners tried to gamble on the Sydney Olympics, and hoped to invite more people during the event which sadly did not happen. Thus the park was forced to close in 2001. Most rides were auctioned off to other theme parks and private owners.

After the closure, the building was taken over by a furniture company called SGA. In 2008, the iconic building was knocked down to make way for new public and private development on the Tumbalong Park site. This included replacing the SEGA World area with Office Blocks for the Commonwealth Bank.  In 2009 Jacfun PTY LTD sued the Darling Harbor foreshore Authority for deceptive conduct because they had a 99 year lease on the site which was taken from them. The court case lasted until 2012 when the New South Wales Court appealed in Jacfun’s favour, and the Sydney Harbor Foreshore Authority were ordered to pay $1.2 million for the loss of its Jacfun opportunity to negotiate a higher price for the surrender of its lease.

Although the park is long closed, 2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of its official opening. I think it was very special to have a place so close to home that was based on Sonic the Hedgehog and other SEGA games. I had been there several times. I have photos I am trying to find from our old collection to share.

SEGA World Sydney will also hold a very special place in the heart of Australian Sonic The Hedgehog fans like me.