Theme Park Tourist reveals why they believe Universal Orlando is secretly planning on building a 3rd theme park. With new land purchased back in December 2015 and other factors, they all point to a new park being planned. So only time will tell.
The video below talks about what attractions would be cool, and different ideas for the park.
Though it has been nearly two decades since Islands of Adventure opened at Universal Orlando Resort, fans have always been excited by the prospect of a third Universal park joining the lineup at this growing resort. However, as the years went on and Universal began building up its on-property hotel inventory, those who were hoping to see another theme park in this area started realizing that the resort was quickly running out of space. A third Universal park seemed all but impossible given the space constraints just three short years ago.
However, it the situation at Universal has changed substantially in just the last year, and now it looks all but inevitable that a third park will join the lineup at Universal Orlando Resort sometime in the near future. And thanks to some recent developments, we might have a good idea about where that park might be located, and what it could look like as well…
1. The Unnoticed Land Purchase of 2015
In the final weeks of 2015, only a day before Christmas, it was confirmed that Universal quietly closed on 450 acres of undeveloped land spread across multiple parcels four miles from the current location of Universal Orlando Resort. You can see these parcels relative to Universal Boulevard above. Interestingly, this land has already been zoned by Orange County for use for hotel rooms, residential units, and most tellingly, theme-park style attractions.
Now while you might think a big land purchase like this (which effectively doubles the area of Universal Orlando Resort) would be big news, as mentioned previously, Universal worked very hard to keep this development tightly under wraps, only confirming the project during the busiest part of the holiday season, when everyone was distracted. And even though the purchase was completed over five months ago, Universal is still refusing to comment about this land purchase. But of course, since the transaction happened in Orange County, the sale is now a part of the pubic county record (and has appeared in parent company Comcast’s year-end financials), so even if Universal isn’t quite ready to say anything about this new land purchase yet, we know it did happen, and it seems highly unlikely that the resort would sink $130 Million in to a land acquisition that they weren’t planning to develop in the near future.
Land on Universal Boulevard was rumored to the site for an expansion of Universal Orlando Resort. via Comcast Corp. confirms Orlando land purchase for Universal theme parks? – Orlando Business Journal
Of course, only a few months prior to this development, something else major was revealed: Universal surprised fans by announcing that it was developing attractions for its family of parks based on unspecified Nintendo properties. However, in the months since this announcement was made (which was almost exactly a year ago today), no updates have been released about what kinds of attractions are being created or perhaps more importantly, where these attractions will go. After all, both Universal Orlando Resort parks are a bit short on space and while there certainly is a case to be made for demolishing the KidZone area at the back of Universal Studios Florida, there hasn’t been any real traction on such a drastic removal.
However, in the context of the land purchase above, it seems logical to think that perhaps Universal could be holding back any announcement of Nintendo-themed attractions because there is something bigger on the horizon. Which leads us to our next (and most recent) point of evidence that Universal is indeed developing a third park….
Though Universal has had a licensing relationship with DreamWorks for over a decade thanks to Shrek 4-D, parent company Comcast’s recent acquisition of this animation company means that the universes of popular film series like How to Train Your Dragon, Kung-Fu Panda, Madagascar, and of course Shrek are now “free” to use, which means Universal can create attractions and lands based on them without paying a fee or going through a lengthy approval process (like they’ve had to do with Warner Bros. with the Harry Potter license, for instance).
While that might not initially seem like a huge game changer, with Universal working diligently with partners like the aforementioned Warner Bros on whatever is next for the Harry Potter license and of course Nintendo, it would be useful for Universal to have some “in house” IP as well that can be developed, approved and constructed with total freedom. Not only will this give Universal more flexibility to develop attractions, but more importantly, it means they can speed up the development and construction of attractions based on these properties, which is crucial when we’re talking about developing an entirely new park.
Put another way, the difference between developing an attraction based on a licensed property versus an in-house IP is like the difference between Disney developing PANDORA: The World of Avatar and Star Wars Land. If the former does indeed open in 2017 as projected, it will have been six years between the initial announcement of the project and the grand opening. Much of that massive amount of time has been spent in development, with Disney Imagineers collaborating with James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment in an effort to make sure the licensed property is used in Disney’s Animal Kingdom in a way that is consistent with the tone of the overall Avatar franchise. Contrast this with something like Star Wars Land, which requires no collaboration and was quickly developed and announced, and is estimated to be opening in around three years at Disneyland (and possibly Disney’s Hollywood Studios as well).
While there are plenty of factors that have contributed to the various delays with the Avatarproject over at Walt Disney World, the fact is when a park actually owns a license, they have the freedom to use it however they want, which would help substantially when talking about development for a brand new park.
So what do you think? Are you convinced that Universal is indeed working on a third park, or are you still skeptical? And if you do think Universal is developing a new park, what kinds of rides and attractions would you like to see?
— TPU (@TPUJosh) April 27, 2016