SegaWorld

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SegaWorld London's official logo

SegaWorld and Sega Park are names referring to one of a number of theme parks and arcades worldwide, including installations in the United Kingdom, China, Australia and Japan. The parks sought to promote Sega games while providing entertainment based on its licenses, while the Japanese Sonictown in an Joypolis park (sometimes otherwise known as 'SegaWorld') created an entire world based on Sonic the Hedgehog alone. Currently, The only SegaWorld arcades that remain open are in Japan.

SegaWorld London (Funland)[edit]

Upward view from within Rocket entrance escalator
Downward view from within Rocket entrance escalator
SegaWorld London's Rocket Entrance, during the April–May building work.

In 1994, Nick Leslau and business partner Nigel Wray acquired the Piccadilly Trocadero.[1] They arranged a deal with Sega to open an indoor theme park inside the building.[1] Construction began in January 1996.[2]

London's Sega theme park kicked off at the height of its mascot Sonic the Hedgehog's popularity on September 7, 1996. It featured a number of indoor rides, coin-op arcade machines and a Sega merchandise shop. Initially its hours were 10 a.m. to midnight every day but Christmas Day.[2] It was heavily promoted in the UK's Sonic the Comic, where competitions were run to win items from the SegaWorld shop, and out on the streets where tokens could often be found for discounted or free entry, and free t-shirts were distributed.[citation needed]

Leslau says that he became discouraged by the deal on the theme park's opening day:

Sega could not deliver what they said they'd deliver. . . . It looked amazing, but their rides were not capable of delivering the number of people they needed to deliver to support the operation. People were queuing for ages. . . It was a question of over-anticipation and under-delivery.[1]

Leslau and Wray bought back the lease on the Trocadero in 1997.[3] In 2000 they renamed the whole establishment "Funland", after Segaworld was making a loss of £2.4 million a year.[4] Funland was originally the arcade in the basement floor next to the Pepsi Max drop, which shared the same building as SegaWorld.[5]

After taking over SegaWorld, Funland shut their basement arcade and the top floors remained open, along with McDonalds on the 3rd floor until autumn 2002 when the main entrance known as the Rocket Escalator, was shut. At that time the dodgems were moved from the 3rd to the 1st floor and a new lower ground floor was re-opened. The arcade was arguably the largest and most popular in England with games in 2011 including DJMax Technika, Pump It Up Fiesta, Pump It Up Pro, Street Fighter IV, and Initial D Arcade Stage 4.[6]

The name SegaWorld later referred to the basement arcade in Hamleys' Regent Street branch, featuring none of the rides and entertainment of its Trocadero predecessor, as a SEGA-dedicated coin-op den, which then became the Game Zone arcade, and finally stripped and replaced with a franchised 'Game' outlet at the end of 2003. In May 2011, the Rocket Escalator was completely removed during building works for the hotel that will use the top 2 floors of the building.

Funland closed on 3 July 2011, following a long running dispute with the landlord over rent.[7] The manager of Funland confirmed the dancegame cabinets, including Pump Fiesta EX and Para Para Paradise 2nd Mix would be moved to Las Vegas Arcade, in Soho.[8] Other Funland machines moved to The Heart Of Gaming arcade in North Acton.[9]

Sega Park Brighton (Leisure Exchange)[edit]

This Sega Park Opened in 2002 and is located opposite the Brighton Wheel. Some of its Machines included Tekken 5, Outrun 2 and a few others, The arcade closed in 2006 and then reopened as Leisure Exchange, This did not last very long and in 2007 the arcade closed and has remained Empty ever since. The machines have since been obtained by other arcades like Sega Park Southampton and Leisure Exchange Bournemouth.

SegaWorld/Park Bournemouth (Fun Central)[edit]

Originally opened on the 24th July 1993 as SegaWorld, it was the first arcade to be opened up by Sega's European department known as 'Sega Operations UK'. The original floor plan design failed a fire safety check (entrances and exits & layout of machines being main factors) and the site was closed for 2 weeks.[citation needed] During this time, the floor was lowered and the entrance adjusted.

In December 1993, it was split into various sections:

  • Ground floor: Various arcade machines (most notably a pair of R360's), and a raised area to the right that housed the 'Sega Shop', which sold various video games, consoles, t-shirts and other merchandise (closed in 1995).
  • Middle section: Reception area (taken out in 1997), more arcade machines and two karaoke rooms.
  • Back section: Four half size bowling lanes (removed from site in 1994), and a Burger King restaurant (closed in 2001).

The Sega World name was changed to 'Sega Park' (and was reduced in size, other half is now a casino) in 1998 due to Sega opening the substantially larger 'Sega World London' in the Trocadero in 1996 (it took two years to change the signs). Sega Operations UK sold most of the Sega arcades and the rights (for five years) to the Sega Park name to 'The Leisure Exchange' on the 31st of March 2000, marking the end for Sega Operations UK on the same date (Sega Europe handled the overseas arcades).

In early 2005, an attempt was made to relocate the arcade to a smaller premises nearby, however local police raised objections on the grounds of "potential high crime and disorder"[10] 'Sega Park Bournemouth' was renamed 'Leisure Exchange and Quasar Elite' in 2006 (changed to 'Amusements' in 2010 and currently trading as Fun Central) with more fruit machines than video games.[citation needed]

Fun Central continues to be in operation to this day and includes various UFO catchers, penny pushers and fruit and ticket machines.[11] 'Fun Central' has a few notable arcade machines: Ferrari F355 Challenge (still with Sega Park sticker attached) and a 3 way link setup of Outrun 2 Special Tours (SP) DX.[12] Newer additions as of February 2013, include a Daytona USA twin sit down and House of the Dead 4, which were both sourced from Sega Park Southampton. The arcade has also been recently refurbished and have added a Cafe and more arcade games.

SegaWorld Sydney[edit]

Main article: Sega World Sydney

SegaWorld Shanghai[edit]

Little is known of Shanghai's SEGA arcade. According to reports sent into Sonic cultist site UK Resistance,[13] the basement arcade in Xu Jia Hui Shanghai still operated a series of UFO Catcher machines and SEGA arcade machines long after the demise of its Western equivalents. The arcade was adorned with artworks and fascias dating back to Sonic's heyday, on top of a largely Dreamcast-era look in meeting with some of the newer machines. Games featured in the arcade, identified by photographic records, included OutRun, Time Crisis, House of the Dead and an installation of the cult oddity Waku Waku Sonic Patrol Car for younger patrons. Most notably, it has Initial D Arcade Stage version 4. As of October 2009 it also has Taiko no Tatsujin 12 (Asia version), Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3, and Mario Kart Arcade GP despite those being Namco properties.

As of September 2007, there is another Sega arcade on the 9th floor of the New World shopping mall, despite the recent revamping of the adjacent food court. There are now multiple signs near and in the mall itself in an effort to promote the arcade, a marked contrast from the past where its presence was only known by the noise that emanated to adjacent floors. It is now known as Players Arena (though it retains images of Sonic and many Sega cabinets) and has expanded to two floors (due to the addition of large-scale rides and photo booths). Like the Xujiahui arcade, it also has multiple Namco games due to their popularity. Citing poor sales, it has shut down on February 2011.

Sega Park Southampton[edit]

This Sega Park opened in the summer of 1996 and was located on the first floor of the Bargate Shopping Centre in central Southampton. It closed on 30 January 2013 after all traders inside the shopping centre were given notice to leave due to the ongoing sale of the property.[14] the machines were sent to other arcades nearby including Fun Central Bournemouth.

Sega Park Colindale[edit]

This Sega Park was housed in the Oriental City Shopping Centre and had opened as a Sega Dome in the early 1990s. It became a "Sega Park & Casino" when every other Sega Dome and Sega World in the UK were changed due to the Sega World in the Trocadero Centre opening. It closed for good on 1 June 2008 when Oriental City closed due to the sale of the building by new owners.

SegaWorld Japan[edit]

Entrance to Sega World in Festivalgate (extreme left), October 2004

Currently, Japan is the only country where a SegaWorld arcade can be found. Most of them are operated by Sega themselves.

SegaWorld Locations currently operating in Japan

  • Fushimi, Kyoto
  • Nara
  • Imafuku, Osaka
  • Apollo, Osaka
  • Takefu, Fukui
  • Fukui
  • Yokohama, Kanagawa
  • Festivalgate in Shinsekai, Osaka, (opened in 1997 and closed in 2004).

SegaWorld/Sega Park Tamworth[edit]

Strykers Bowl in Tamworth, Staffordshire was home to a SegaWorld arcade from the early to mid 1990s. It was situated in a large upstairs area, which had previously housed a Quasar laser tag centre.

During the late 1990s, SegaWorld was moved to a much smaller downstairs location and was renamed as Sega Park. The upstairs location was converted into an Arena Health and Fitness gym.

In 2001, Strykers Bowl was sold by then owners Leamore Leisure Ltd. to Namco Operations Europe Ltd. During the process of the sale, the Strykers Bowl Became a Namco Funscape and the Sega Park arcade was renamed as Namco Station, names that the location has since retained.

SegaWorld Birmingham[edit]

A Blockbuster outlet in Erdington, Birmingham had a SegaWorld arcade in the 1990s, situated on the first floor. The Arcade was later converted into a tanning salon, and currently trades as UTC Gym.

SegaWorld Wolverhampton[edit]

Located in a former AMF bowling alley in Bushbury, called Strykers. During the 1990s, it was home to SegaWorld arcade. The Bowling Alley itself closed in 2013 and was destroyed by a fire in December of that year.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Guardian (London) - Final Edition July 29, 2011 Friday The Friday interview: Entrepreneur hopes his ship will come in with quay development: Property mogul Nick Leslau has done the deal of his life - for historic St Katharine Docks in the heart of the City BYLINE: Julia Kollewe SECTION: GUARDIAN FINANCIAL PAGES; Pg. 31
  2. ^ a b Automatic, Rad (May 1996). "I Don't Think We're in Kansas Anymore". Sega Saturn Magazine (7) (Emap International Limited). p. 43. 
  3. ^ The Daily Telegraph (LONDON) July 18, 2007 Wednesday PRIVATE EQUITY Merlin conjures up leaseback deal But questions could be raised over aggressive private equity methods, writes James Quinn BYLINE: James Quinn SECTION: CITY; Pg. 3
  4. ^ The Times (London) February 3, 2000, Thursday Chorion cuts its Trocadero losses BYLINE: Ian Cundell
  5. ^ "UK's Funland Acquires Segaworld; Takes Over The Trocadero Location | Amusement Business | Professional Journal archives from". AllBusiness.com. 2000-02-14. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  6. ^ "Where is now located the Initial D Arcade Stage 4 that once was at London Funland?". UK Arcade Racers. 2014-02-13. 
  7. ^ "Funland Trocadero Closes". Coin-Op Community. 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  8. ^ "Trocadero Games to go to Las Vegas. (In Wardour St)". Coin-Op Community. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  9. ^ "The Heart Of Gaming". UK Arcade Racers. 
  10. ^ "Sega Plans On Hold After Unfair Claim". Dorset Echo. NewsQuest Media Group. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Fun Central website
  12. ^ http://www.funcentral.co.uk/games_info/ Fun Central games
  13. ^ "UK:RESISTANCE: ALL OF THE PHOTOS WE GOT SENT ON AUGUST 16 AND 17, 2006". Ukresistance.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  14. ^ "City Shopping Centre Faces Closure". Southern Daily Echo. 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2013-01-31. 

Websites[edit]

https://sites.google.com/site/segaexchange/ Unofficial Tribute site