Theme parks proposed at Zoo Miami

Dinosaur Park International, 20th Century Fox propose theme parks at Zoo Miami

MIAMI – Two companies are competing to build an entertainment complex at Zoo Miami.

Dinosaur Park International and 20th Century Fox proposed theme parks, a project that County Commissioner Dennis Moss said was 20 years in the making.

"For a very long time," he said. "We started these conversations after -- really -- Hurricane Andrew. It's been that long."

Dinosaur Park International proposed an open-air museum with hundreds of life-sized dinosaur replicas and interactive activities, including a sandbox fossil dig. It could open two years after breaking ground.

20th Century Fox proposed Miami Wilds, a theme park with rides based on its blockbuster movies. It would include an Ice Age-themed water park; 30,000 square feet of space for stores and restaurants; an outdoor space for concerts and sporting events; and, a 400-room hotel. The 158-page proposal states Miami Wilds is the "most significant leap forward for direct leisure tourism development in Miami-Dade since the revitalization of South Beach more than two decades ago."

"Really a serious destination point for tourists and for residents in the community," said Moss. "I think we are at the point now that we are really going to have something happen out of Zoo Miami that the community has been waiting on and hoping for a really long time."

According to the proposal, Miami Wilds would create 8,258 construction jobs and 2,750 permanent jobs. The theme park would be opened in two phases: the first opening in 2018 and the second opening by 2020.

"I don't necessarily see that it would have to come in the form of you know traditional taxpayer support," said Moss. "Making it a community development area is a potential. We have a fund that was approved by the voters for economic development for game-changing kinds of events so those are the kinds of things we are going to look at to try and help with infrastructure type of development in the area, but at the end of the day the investment needs to come from the developers who are going to be required to put their hard money into our own version of Universal Studios and it will be a very exciting time for our community."

A newcomer to the theme park business, 20th Century Fox opens its first park at Resorts World Genting in 2016.