Universal may be planning 4th theme park in Orlando

'Disney And More' post renews speculation Universal Orlando is building again

By Erik von Ancken - Anchor/Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - The often-accurate theme park blog "Disney And More" has renewed speculation that Universal Orlando is hurriedly designing and soon to start building a fourth theme park.

Universal Orlando Resort includes Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay water park.

The blog cites a "very reliable insider source" whose past tips have been previously accurate.

Disney And More said the new theme park is code-named "Project 314."

"I have no clue what Project 314 is but that is currently taking place and they are recruiting a ton of creative people to get this park started," the blogger wrote.

Over the last several years, Universal has acquired more than 500 acres of land along Destination Parkway to Sand Lake Road in Orlando, more land than the Universal Orlando Resort currently sits on.

Universal, which declined to comment about the speculation, has obtained permits to begin clearing the land.

Duncan Dickson, one of two theme park professors at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, said it's not a question of if, but rather when.

"You could put three theme parks in there, build a bunch of hotels, water parks, there's a lot you could do in there," Dickson said. "I do know Universal Creative is looking for some talent so there seems to be things working under Universal Creative, bring on new people, maybe that's a harbinger of new things coming."

Disney And More said likely additions are "Ministry of Magic" from the Harry Potter prequels, Pokemon, and Nintendo.

"Super Nintendo World is going to be there, which is so far no big surprise and even logical. Digging deeper into Nintendo land there should be a Zelda ride, a Mario kart ride, a Donkey Kong roller coaster, and play areas," the blogger wrote. "Also the center point will be Peach castle."

Disney And More said Universal's forth theme park should be finished by 2023.

Read the full q&A with Dickson below:

News 6: What is speculation and what is true?

Dickson: Everything is speculation. The only truth is Universal owns a lot of land undeveloped that they're probably going to develop fairly soon.

News 6: Why is there suddenly a buzz about a fourth theme park? 

Dickson: Well, if you look at it Islands of Adventure is the last theme park we had here, that opened in 1999 so it's almost been 20 years. Attendance is good. Hotel occupancy is up, it seems to be a good opportunity.

News 6: What could we see in a fourth Universal theme park?

Dickson: I don't know about "Lord of the Rings" but they did buy the Nintendo IP, so they're got all that Nintendo IP, Zelda, Mario and all that. Intellectual property. They also have Dreamworks, in 2016 they bought Dreamworks so they have all of that IP. "Madgascar," "How to Train Your Dragon," "Shrek," "Kungfu Panda." Right there, you've got four new lands.

News 6: Sounds like it makes sense?

Dickson: It makes great sense, it's just when are they going to do it. And what's your take on it? I can't get anything out of the people at Universal, they won't talk.

News 6: Is it believable, is it likely? 

Dickson: Oh yeah. Well they didn't buy the land to leave a horse farm, they're going to do something with it.

News 6: Is Disney driving this? Does Universal need to do this?

Dickson: Both Disney and Comcast need to increase shareholder value. By adding a fourth gate, by adding new attractions like Disney is doing with Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land it adds shareholder value.

News 6: Why not just add on? Why build a new park? 

Dickson: Because you get so crowded in your current space that you want to lower attendance numbers in your current space, and overall increase your attendance by adding another gate.

News 6: Any guesses as to when? 

Dickson: If they started moving earth today it would be two years.

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