By: Joel Bryant
In an earnings report released last week, Comcast, the corporate owner of Universal, confirmed that it has purchased 475 acres of new land in Orlando. With a price tag of only $130 million, the acquisition is an absolute bargain. While most land up for commercial sale in the heart of Orlando can reach $600,000/acre, Comcast was able to purchase this new property for only $274,000/acre.
The acquired land is actually a combination of multiple parcels located south and east of the existing Universal Orlando Resort and to the north and east of the Orange County Convention Center. The largest parcel accounts for 340 acres. This much land could fit at least two parks and a resort if Universal’s previous developments mean anything.
Interestingly, whatever Universal builds here will be completely detached from the current resort, thanks to roads and other commercial developments in between the two properties. In total, the bulk of the new land is about three-and-a-half miles from the main resort. Perhaps the inconvenient location of the new land shows the company’s dedication to expanding it’s entertainment options.
While Universal has not announced what the land will be used for, an assumption can be made that it will be something significant considering the size of the purchase. Another theory suggests that they could’ve bought the space to prevent competitors from buying the property and using it to take away business.
If the Orlando-based resort plans to seriously develop the property, it will add another project to an already extensive list of additions they plan on making. Currently, Universal is building an all new water park called Volcano Bay that is scheduled to open next year. Theme-park experts and fans expect the themed park to be a groundbreaking accomplishment. This is actually the last amount of land that Universal can develop on the original property.
Beyond Volcano Bay, Universal has announced three major attractions that are due to open over the next two years. Two of the attractions are based off of the popular film properties Fast and the Furious and King Kong, while the other is a Jimmy Fallon-themed ride that can be likened to Disney’s Soarin’. Universal has also announced a partnership with the Japanese video game icon Nintendo that will lead to new lands and rides based off of popular characters like Mario and Link.
Rumors of Universal’s plans to vastly expand their offerings have been around for years. Despite significant improvement over the last half decade, Universal Orlando is still considered the little brother of the world’s most popular tourist destination. The recent acquisition of land should go a long way in changing that.