Disney Files Lawsuit Against Theme Park for Tarnishing Its “Family-Friendly” Image

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Genting SkyWorlds Theme Park in Malaysia and Walt Disney World Resort with Mickey Mouse and the rest of the gang inside Magic Kingdom

Credit: Inside The Magic

A new theme park faced multiple lawsuits against Disney and Fox after Disney made it clear they were against the park for not following the “family-friendly” Disney image. Here’s what went down.

Genting SkyWorlds Theme Park in Malaysia
Credit: Genting SkyWorlds Theme Park in Malaysia

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The Theme Park Lawsuits – Genting Skyworlds Theme Park in Malaysia

Genting SkyWorlds is an enticing amusement park in Resorts World Genting, located in the scenic Genting Highlands of Malaysia. Initially conceived as “20th Century Fox World Malaysia,” this ambitious venture was envisioned as a cinematic wonderland, brought to life through a licensing partnership with 20th Century Fox. However, a significant shift occurred during the transitional phase of Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox, leading to a noteworthy transformation in the project’s direction.

Amid these significant developments, the licensing agreement with 20th Century Fox underwent a thorough reevaluation. This evaluation ultimately culminated in the park’s rechristening as “Genting SkyWorlds,” following a mutually agreed-upon settlement between Genting, 20th Century Fox, and The Walt Disney Company. This pivotal resolution paved the way for retaining select park attractions inspired by 20th Century Studios and Blue Sky Studios properties, now operating under a licensing arrangement with Disney.

Concurrently, various other planned worlds and rides underwent a process of creative reimagination, resulting in the birth of original concepts that seamlessly integrated with the park’s ethos of innovation and adventure. This dynamic evolution underscores the park’s commitment to offering visitors a captivating and transformative experience that captures the essence of imaginative exploration.

Aerial photo of Genting SkyWorlds Theme Park in Malaysia
Credit: Genting SkyWorlds Theme Park

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The Lawsuits Between Genting, Disney, and Fox

On November 26, 2018, Genting Malaysia took legal action by filing a substantial $1.75 billion lawsuit against Disney and Fox. This lawsuit alleged that Fox had taken steps to renege on their commitment to license the theme park. Disney was also named as a defendant in this legal battle, with Genting Malaysia contending that Disney’s executives, amid their impending acquisition of Fox, exerted significant influence over the project.

Disney’s reservations stemmed from concerns about having “no control” over the park’s operations and its proximity to a casino, which clashed with Disney’s “family-friendly” image. In response, Fox dismissed the theme park lawsuits as baseless, asserting that they had opted out of the agreement due to Genting’s persistent failure to meet agreed-upon deadlines over several years.

In a countermove, Fox initiated a $46 million countersuit against Genting on January 23, 2019. Fox’s argument hinged on placing the blame squarely on Genting, citing their “incompetence, inexperience, and blatant disregard for contractual obligations” as the primary reasons for the project’s collapse. Fox contended that Genting frequently altered established plans on the whims of Genting Group chairman Lim Kok Thay, resulting in structural issues such as excessively tall buildings and oversized parade floats, which compromised the project’s feasibility.

An aerial photo of Genting SkyWorlds Theme Park in Malaysia
Credit: Genting SkyWorlds Theme Park

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Genting, in response, asserted that Fox’s countersuit was a diversion tactic to shift attention away from their shortcomings and lack of experience, vowing to demonstrate that Fox’s termination was both unwarranted and improperly influenced by Disney and Fox’s parent company, Twenty-First Century Fox.

On July 26, it was announced that Fox and Genting had settled their respective legal disputes. As part of this resolution, Genting secured a license to utilize specific Fox intellectual properties, while the remaining attractions within the park would be based on non-Fox intellectual properties. Additionally, the outdoor park underwent a name change, evolving from 20th Century Fox World to Genting SkyWorlds, signifying a fresh chapter in its development.

Other lawsuits have also been filed against other theme parks; for Genting SkyWorlds Theme Park, it would seem the dust has settled, and the park is fully operational as of this year, despite numerous theme park incidents, including most recently, where guests were left fearing their lives on a roller coaster after it malfunctioned.

Other parks like Cedar Point, Action Park (Class Action Park), Icon Park, Cedar Fair, Six Flags Great Adventure, and more have faced lawsuits from guests. The lawsuits have been due to horrible deaths due to negligence from a park operator, liability issues from a theme park accident, a roller coaster accident, a personal injury lawsuit, false, targeted advertising, an amusement park injury, an amusement park accident, and more. A ride operator must be adequately trained to ensure the safety of all guests on any amusement park ride. Premises liability or product liability are things theme parks should be aware of at all times.

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