Theme World: Proof of Universal's new water park
Ken Pilcher blogs about Orlando-area attactions
February 16, 2015
First Proof of Long-Rumored Universal Water Park
A busy Monday in Theme World. Digging through hundreds of pages of filings on the South Florida Water Management District reveals the first confirmed details on Project 533.
That's Universal's long-rumored new water park.
That is a contour survey showing the outline of the proposed park and its features. Fortunately for me, there are words too. I'll paste the full passage below -- but here is the most-important part:
"A tall "volcano" with slides will be constructed in the southern portion of the site.
There will be a series of low-rise buildings constructed throughout the site. Pool shells will also be located below grade with the deepest such feature being at the wave pool next to the Volcano equipment bunker.
The site is located to the south of the recently opened Cabana Beach Resort. The property occupies a plan area of some 25± acres, being bounded by Turkey Lake Road to the west and the I-4 ramp to the south/east.
Have a diagram! The highlighted area is the site of the proposed park.
It is also right next to the already-under-construction Sapphire Falls Resort.
There I've labelled everything for you.
We know from the filing there are plans for a giant volcano icon.
Conveniently, Universal has trademarked a name for use with water parks: Volcano Bay.
While that MAY be the tentative name for the water park, there is another option. Universal first trademarked "Wondersea Island" for use in a water park in 2011. An on-line search shows they just refiled that trademark last year.
As expected, Universal had a "No Comment" when we asked about the project. That's not unusual. Universal famously did not announce "Diagon Alley" until it was more than half-built. There's also a really big building under construction in Islands of Adventure that may have people going ape when they find out what goes inside.
As aggressively as Universal is expanding, I'd expect construction to start sooner than later. The faster its built, the faster the new water park helps lure guests to stay (or stay longer) at its rapidly expanding resort hotels (which are co-ventures with Loews Hotels).
It's a strategy straight out of Disney's playbook. Speaking of which, Disney successfully operates two water parks at the same time: Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach.
The question now, is what Universal's second water park would mean for its first:
Wet 'n Wild isn't just the oldest water park in Central Florida (opening in 1973) -- it is considered the first water park in America, if not the world. Universal bought it in the late 90's, but just bought the land Wet 'n Wild sits on in 2013. Purchase price: around $31 Million. Back then, I said Universal must have long-term plans for that land. I believe those plans will start becoming clearer once the new water park opens.
More soon in Theme World. Tomorrow, we find out the grand opening date for I-Drive 360's Orlando Eye, Madame Tussaud's & SEA Life Aquarium.
Meanwhile Here's a link to one of the documents Universal filed with SFWMD
And below is the most-relevant text.
"The project is a proposed water theme park to be constructed to the south of the recently opened
Cabana Beach Resort. The site is a vacant tract of land that occupies a plan area of some 25±
acres. The site is generally triangular in shape, bounded by I-4 to the south, Turkey Lake Road
to the west and the new hotel to the north. A generalized plan view of the area under
consideration is included on Figure 1.
We understand that new construction will include slides and pools plus various recreational
facilities. A tall "volcano" with slides will be constructed in the southern portion of the site.
There will be a series of low-rise buildings constructed throughout the site with several
containing equipment pits. The site is to be graded by cutting and filling, the full extent of which
is not known to us at this time. We do however understand that some construction elements will
be located several feet below the water table.
The largest below grade construction will be the bunker that is associated with the Volcano. The
finished floor slab of the bunker is understood to be elevation +117 feet, some 20± feet below
existing grade. Pool shells will also be located below grade with the deepest such feature being
at the wave pool next to the Volcano equipment bunker.
Foundation loads for the most part are expected to be relatively light for most buildings and
slides. (Assumed to be on the order of 100 to 200 kips for isolated column pads with strip
footings carrying in the range 3 to 6 kips per linear foot). The volcano, which will be built with a
steel framework, will be more heavily loaded with the structure carrying between 600 and 1,000
kips. This structure is also likely to be subjected to very high uplift loads. Some of the below
ground structures may need to be designed to resist permanent unbalanced hydrostatic pressures,
with anchor piles possibly being needed for such purposes.
Associated with the project will be at-grade pavement areas to include service/access roads and
surface parking. Buried utilities will be constructed/provided to support the new project. A
retaining wall will be built along a portion of the property line next to the I-4 on ramp. This wall
will be up to 8 feet high
As noted earlier, the site is located at the south end of Universal Resort, to the south of the
recently opened Cabana Beach Resort. The property occupies a plan area of some 25± acres,
being bounded by Turkey Lake Road to the west and the I-4 ramp to the south/east."
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