How Michael Jackson almost built a giant theme park on the Detroit Riverfront

It could have happened


DETROIT – Imagine this: You walk down to the Detroit Riverfront, and see a Michael Jackson themed casino, hotel and amusement park inside of a giant dome.

It could have happened.

In 1998, Don Barden, Detroit multimillionaire and the first African American casino owner, submitted a proposal for one of the three casino licenses in Detroit.

Barden's business partner in the project was Michael Jackson. Yes, that Michael Jackson.

The billion dollar project was named the "Majestic Kingdom" -- an amusement park along the Detroit Riverfront, including an aquarium, a casino and a hotel.

The amusement park would be called "The Thriller Theme Park," and the hotel would be called "The Mansion in the Sky."

The plan also included restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

Michael Jackson himself made several visits to the Detroit area trying to drum up support for the project.

Barden and Jackson were denied a casino license by Detroit City Council and Detroit mayor Dennis Archer. Barden tried to get the decision overturned, but Detroiters voted down the proposal in August of 1998.

Eventually, the three licensees were approved for MotorCity Casino, MGM Grand Detroit and Greektown Casino.

Michael Jackson died in 2009, and Don Barden died in 2011.

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