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USHAKA MARINE WORLD (article first published : 2003-10-20)

Africa's first marine theme park is about halfway through construction at Durban's Point Precinct. The opening of this world-class entertainment and tourism destination is scheduled for the end of April 2004. However, a final launch date is expected to be announced only early next year.

Russell Stevens, uShaka Management Company Chairman says as the construction phase reaches conclusion, a readiness assessment can more easily be made. “We don’t want to announce a date now, only to have to disappoint people in the New Year. We would rather know exactly where we are in terms of completion, plan for a two-week ‘soft-opening’ period or trial phase and prepare fully for any eventuality of the public launch. This process has proved immensely valuable for many other similar entertainment developments around the world”.

The hard-marketing drive began this month with the launch of a billboard and television advertising teaser campaign, giving the public an idea of some of the attractions of uShaka Marine World.

These include a 16-hectare freshwater and seawater theme park currently being developed at a cost of over R700 million. There will be five distinct areas within the park known as Treasure World, Sea World and Dolphin World, Beach World and Wet ‘n Wild World.

Sea World will be one of the 10 largest aquariums in the world by water volume with about 17,500 cubic meters of water, (Atlantis has 28,000, Beijing has 20,000, Sea World San Deigo and Orlando both have 22,800).

The park will house about 12,000 marine animals and exhibits representing life in the Western Indian Ocean with about 200 different species, some not found anywhere else in the world. Half-a-kilometre of themed viewing galleries will guide visitors past seven massive aquarium tanks and 25 smaller tanks.

It will also house the largest collection of sharks in the southern Hemisphere and the largest dolphinarium in Africa, with the largest dolphins to be found in any dolphinarium in the world. Durban’s much-loved and world-famous Gambit will have pride of place.

There will be a specially designed seal stadium and penguin rookery and a marine life rehabilitation centre. A snorkel lagoon offers a unique opportunity to swim with fish, and explore underwater treasures in a safe environment. Other attractions are a unique tank diving experience and a touch-and-feel turtle pool.

The recreation of a 1940’s steamer shipwreck offers unique “on-board” restaurants. Numerous conferencing and eventing facilities are contained within the steamer shipwreck and aquarium, around Sea World’s islands and at Beach World.

An adjacent beach is set aside for adventure sports activities such as windsurfing, volleyball, beach rugby and soccer, surfing, jet skiing, kite surfing, paddleboat rides, dolphin viewing chargers and national and international beach sports events. Dozens of restaurant experiences will cater for all budgets, many with spectacular views over uShaka and Durban.

A large and varied shopping experience focuses on fun products such as clothing and apparel, outdoor and sporting equipment, arts and crafts and more.

“I was part of a media tour round the construction site and the design studios,” says artSMart editor Caroline Smart. “uShaka Marine World certainly looks as if it’s going to be one of Durban’s most exciting attractions for both residents and visitors. Their promise that visitors will discover a unique world of adventure, above and below the water doesn’t appear like false hype. All the elements are there for a fascinating and impressive experience.”

More information from Kim Hardy on 031 562 8127 or 082 551 5533 or e-mail: Pr@threecities.co.za




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