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Universal plans to double Orlando resort size with 4th park

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

ORLANDO, Fla. >> Universal Orlando officials said today that the resort is doubling in size with plans for an “epic” fourth theme park, but they offered almost no information on when the new park will open, what it will hold or how much they are spending.

The secretive nature of the new park is “because of competitive pressure,” Universal Parks & Resorts CEO Tom Williams said at a news conference with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his boss, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.

“You are aware of the competitive nature of this Orlando marketplace,” Williams said. “We’re all battling for the time of visiting guests to come to our location and to share details of what we have in mind with the competition is something we have no interest in doing.”

The announcement is the latest salvo in the war for dominance between Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando in America’s theme park capital.

Despite the lack of details, officials with the theme park resort promised the new park would be epic. To that end, they’re calling the new park Universal’s Epic Universe.

“Last I heard, a universe is bigger than a world,” said Williams, making a dig at Disney World.

The new park will be located on a 750-acre site separated by a few miles from the current Universal Orlando property that is home to the Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure parks, as well as the Volcano Bay water park.

More than 14,000 workers will be hired on top of the existing 25,000-person labor force in Orlando. They will be paid a starting minimum wage of $15 an hour, officials said.

The company also has theme parks in California, China, Japan and Singapore.

Comcast purchased NBCUniversal almost a decade ago. During that time, Comcast has put more money into theme parks than any other part of the company, Roberts said today. That investment had paid for Harry Potter-themed lands and rides based on other franchises, such as “Fast & Furious.”

The fourth park will be the biggest investment the Comcast NBCUniversal has made in its theme park business, Robert said. It will have a park, hotels, restaurants and shops, and more details will be released as the project gets under way, officials said.

“I don’t think there’s been announcement like this in over 20 years here when you hear the scale,” Roberts said.

Universal recently had been acquiring hundreds of acres of land near Orlando’s convention center in its aim to topple Walt Disney World’s dominance in Orlando.

Universal’s announcement comes weeks ahead of the planned opening of a Star Wars land at rival Walt Disney World. An identical attraction opened earlier this summer at sister park Disneyland in California.

Earlier this summer, Universal also debuted a new ride based on the Harry Potter character, Hagrid, which had fans waiting for hours to ride it.

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