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In a major expansion of its brand identity, Discovery Communications, owner of Discovery Channel and Learning Channel, plans expanded retail/theatrical mini-theme park complexes in the top 20 to 25 U.S. markets.

The company will likely spend a total of $300 million to $400 million on the project, said John Hendricks, Discovery's founder and president-CEO.


A longtime dream of Mr. Hendricks has been an educational theme park. But such a park, done right, would probably cost at least $1 billion, he said, so he has modified the plan.

"We'll probably do it in conjuction with a partner, maybe a Sony or United Artists," he said.

Mr. Hendricks envisions the complexes featuring an Imax theater to screen big-format educational films, a fun zone with arcade-type videogames and hands-on exhibits similar to those found in a science museum, plus a restaurant.

The complexes also will include a retail store, similar to the ones Discovery has in malls.

Besides supporting Discovery Channel and Learning Channel, Mr. Hendricks said, the com-plexes will cross-promote new channels Discovery is planning.


These include Animal Planet-all animals, all the time-and channels about history; children's information and educational material; science; and home and living. The last channel would be based on programming now found on Discovery Channel during the day.

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