Great World City is a mixed-use development that includes retail shops, offices, and serviced apartments, built on the site of a former amusement park. It opened in 1997 and is currently undergoing a refurbishment to enhance its design and vibrancy. A retail link is also being built to connect the mall with the Great World MRT station.
The shopping mall received its namesake from the former Great World Amusement Park, which was a popular haunt for many Singaporeans growing up from the 1930s. Along with Happy World and Gay World, these three amusement parks provided leisure and entertainment for many Singaporeans, especially those from a middle or low-income background. The park sat on a 300,000 square foot land owned by Lee Choon Yung, a relative of the philanthropist and businessman Lee Kong Chian, who developed it into an amusement park for low-income families.
During the Japanese Occupation, the park was used as a camp for Prisoners-of-War (POWs) and was subsequently renamed Dai Segai, it was popular for performances, boxing matches, and gambling. After the war, the park was upgraded with new cultural programs, cinemas, and carnival rides under the Shaw Organisation, that included Bangsawan (Malay opera) and Cantonese and Peking opera.
In 1958, Great World had a grand reopening which was graced by the actress Elizabeth Taylor. The amusement park went on to become the site of several festivals and international trade fairs, as well as a favourite source of entertainment for local residents. In its heyday, the park had up to 50,000 people visiting in a night.314 With the dawn of other sources of entertainment like television and pasar malams (roadside night markets), the Great World, alongside its counterparts New World and Gay World, experienced a decline in visitorship. The park was eventually closed in 1964 but the cinemas and restaurants remained in operation until 1978.