According to the Orlando Sentinel, Universal’s parent company, Comcast, purchased a new 101-acre parcel of land in Orlando this week for $27.5 million. This property is adjacent to the previous 475-acre parcel that was acquired in December of 2015 for $130 million. This now massive piece of property sprawling over 570 acres lies just a few miles south of the current Universal Orlando Resort area, right next to the Orlando Convention Center. To put into perspective, the current layout of the land is big enough to put the current resort within it several times over. This announcement comes on the heels of a new surface parking lot being made on a small piece of this property. Universal has not had any official statements on what the land is being used for, but it is safe to assume that Comcast is planning a new extension of Universal Orlando Resort.
As of right now, Universal Orlando has virtually maximized all the land the current resort has to offer. With the additions of Sapphire Falls, Cabana Bay, Volcano Bay Water Theme Park, and the new Aventura Hotel (opening in 2018), Universal no longer has any land to expand within the borders of the resort. Several months ago, Universal submitted plans for the addition of two or three off-site hotels located on the former site of Wet ‘n Wild. Details about these new properties are expected to be revealed in the coming weeks, based on a statement made by the CEO of Loews Hotels, the company that owns and operates all of Universal’s hotels. The new hotels mark the first expansion of the resort that is not in the immediate vicinity like the current hotels on property. This trend is very likely to continue with the 570-acre plot of land.
Without an official confirmation we cannot be 100 percent certain what Comcast has planned, but, we are almost absolutely looking at another area with multiple hotels, a new theme park and a new shopping center akin to CityWalk. What signs point to this conclusion? There are several key points that back this. It is no secret that Universal is in an arms race with Walt Disney World, as the destination is in the midst of its largest and most rapid expansion in its history thanks to the financial backing of Comcast, and Universal has shown no signs of slowing down. With this in mind, we now can expect multiple attractions to open in the next few years. Once all of the new attractions like Nintendo (rumored to replace Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone), new Harry Potter expansions, and other rumored concepts come to pass, the current resort will be in pretty good shape. Despite this, the need to expand is evident, as new attractions bring more and more guests. Additionally, it should be noted that Comcast is developing a multi-park Universal resort in Beijing with a very similar set up as Orlando. It is clear that the purchase of land this size is meant to fit a whole new resort much like Universal Beijing as direct competition to Walt Disney World here stateside. As for when this land will start being developed, the previously mentioned parking lot is likely just the first stage of work before infrastructure can commence. Keep in mind, however, that Comcast may be in the process of acquiring a few more pieces of land, as some of the parcels are separated from each other.
Stay informed on all the latest with this new property and everything else in the theme park world right here at WOU.