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Landmark Entertainment to Design ‘Oz’ Park : Resort: Pending a feasibility study, the North Hollywood firm would help create a $300-million theme park in Kansas based on ‘The Wizard of Oz.’

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Landmark Entertainment Group, a North Hollywood-based firm that creates theme parks, said it has been selected to design a resort and theme park in Kansas City, Kan., based on the classic 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.”

The project, backed by a group of politically connected Kansas politicians, is dependent on the outcome of a feasibility study. If the investors get the green light, the resort should open in late 1995 or early 1996, Landmark said.

Investors in the project include K. C. Theme Park Inc., which is headed by Los Angeles entertainment attorney Robert Korey. Other backers are Kansas City restaurateur Gus Fasone, ex-Kansas Lt. Gov. David C. Owen, and Richard Docking, brother of former Kansas Gov. Robert Docking.

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Landmark, as the principal designer of the theme park, will be in charge of developing the attractions and rides at the 60-acre complex. Goddard said the contract could be worth $100 million for the 110-employee firm. Privately held Landmark, which claims to be the largest independent designer of theme parks in the country, had revenue of more than $50 million last year.

Crucial to the building of the park has been permission to use the characters from the MGM film. Turner Home Entertainment, which acquired “Oz” as part of its 1986 purchase of MGM’s film library, sold the rights to Landmark last December.

That paved the way for local government agencies to release $450,000 to help fund the current feasibility study.

Fasone said the private investor group has optioned 1,000 acres in the Kansas border city for a project the could cost at least $300 million to build. The group also wants to construct a neighboring hotel and golf course that could bring the total tab to more than $500 million.

Although the idea for a theme park in Kansas based on the “Wizard of Oz” film and L. Frank Baum’s famous children’s book has been kicking around for years--Kansas is the mythical “home” of Dorothy--plans have have never gotten this far.

The large Little Rock, Ark.-based investment bank, Stephens Inc.--which employs Owen--would help provide financing. Construction would be done by J. E. Dunn Construction Co., one of the biggest contractors in the Midwest.

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