Where? Middletown, Ohio. One theory on the origin of the city’s name is its location approximately halfway between Cincinnati and Dayton in southwest Ohio. It is to be called “Hollywoodland.”
The development would cover 50 acres along the Great Miami River and contain a large variety of entertainment venues. For example, a Marriott “destination” hotel with a connected convention center and associated restaurants and bars is planned. Another hotel is described as a family hotel with water park. Still, a third hotel is planned, described as a “boutique” hotel built from a renovated historic downtown Middletown building.
From the amusement standpoint, there are several plans in the works. In addition to the already-mentioned water park, an indoor amusement park is planned. Virtual reality experiences, “entertainment-based rides,” and immersive entertainment experiences are among the attractions planned for the indoor amusement space. A concert and performance venue hopes to attract national acts and touring Broadway productions. As one may predict, restaurants, retail outlets, and other smaller entertainment ventures are also planned for the area. Surprisingly, plans for a movie studio with pre- and post-production capabilities, soundstages, and other support infrastructure is also planned. Living spaces including luxury apartments and condominiums are also in the works.
To wrap your head around this proposal, think Gaylord Hotel and Conference Center + Great Wolf Lodge + Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park + shopping mall + mid-sized performance venue, dropped down into the downtown of a small Ohio city. Fifty acres is half of the area that Disneyland park (just the park) in Anaheim covers.
There are quite a few steps between this proposal and reality. It is estimated that the area could attract 3.5 million visitors to the 48,000-person population of Middletown. This is roughly the amount of visitors to seasonal amusement park Kings Island in pre-pandemic 2019. Currently, the biggest draw to the area is the Middletown Hot Air Balloon Festival, which attracts around 30,000 people over two days each summer. From Interstate 75 to the Great Miami Riverfront is about five miles. These five miles of road would need an upgrade, as well. Residents, especially those currently living literally right next to the proposed development, are very concerned how it might change the complexion of the community as a whole.
Right now, the proposal is in the hands of the five-member City Council. A vote is set for Oct. 21, 2021 and could pass with a 3-2 or a 4-1 vote, depending on how they ultimately classify the proposal. The Hamilton Journal News is reporting that currently, three are for the proposal, one is against, and one is undecided.