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Universal Studios Russia - will it happen?

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Published: April 12, 2012 at 11:26 AM
Universal Parks & Resorts is slated to build a 37-acre indoor theme park (its first) as part of a planned new entertainment development in Moscow.

The Orlando Sentinel's Jason Garcia has what few details are available about the plan - which includes a water park and CityWalk-like shopping complex. At 37 acres, the theme park portion would be the smallest of the Universal theme parks, 12 acres smaller than Universal Studios Singapore, which is part of the Resort World Sentosa development in that southeast Asia nation.

No details yet on what will or will not be in the park, through Garcia reports construction could begin in 2014 with an opening in 2018.

Universal now has traditional, outdoor parks in Hollywood, Orlando and Osaka, Japan, as well as in Singapore. Universal's been part of announcements for theme parks at two other sites in recent years, in Dubai and South Korea, but both project seem now to be stalled, at best.

So if the Russia park happens, it would be Universal Studios' first second* theme park in Europe (*update: Universal used to own a stake in Spain's Port Aventura), a market that's been led by Disney and Merlin Entertainments theme parks in recent years.

Readers' Opinions

From 65.51.160.190 on April 12, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Rob this will be the second universal park in Europe "if it ever happens", first was "Universal's Port Aventura". Though, in 2004, NBC Universal (Universal Studios' parent) sold all interest in PortAventura.
From Eric Malone on April 12, 2012 at 12:46 PM
I'll be amazed if it happens. Russia isn't exactly the place I would put a theme park, no matter how 'popular' the city it's built in/near is. But, hey, Universal gotta take a gamble here and there with all that Potter money, eh?
From Skipper Adam on April 12, 2012 at 1:16 PM
That sounds so small. It will be hard to make that a destination park.
From Robert Niles on April 12, 2012 at 2:06 PM
I'd be surprised is Universal was fronting any of the money for this. A typical deal for this sort of thing would be a licensing deal where Universal gets a cut of the income, and possibly a fee upfront for design services. But who knows what the specifics are here?
From James Koehl on April 12, 2012 at 2:54 PM
I think, if done properly, it might be successful. Russia does have amusement parks in most cities, but they are not "theme" parks and are mostly very small, very old and very antique, with most rides limited to rusty spinners. Also, being where Russia is, most rides are closed through the winter. An indoor theme park, regardless of size, would fill a void that Russians are now beginning to discover. Moscow has an "official" population of 11,500,000 with another 2.8 million permanent "guests" or undocumented. That is certainly enough to support a relatively small indoor park year round, esp. one with no competition.
From Rob Pastor on April 12, 2012 at 3:12 PM
Robert's probably right about Universal not using their own money. Russia is not really safe for foreign investment at this time. Their mafia style government seizes businesses & imprisons businessmen at a whim. So the deal is probably primarily a rights deal. There's a lot of oil & gas money available in Russia now, so the wherewithal for an internal financing of the project is present.
From James Rao on April 12, 2012 at 4:22 PM
Another park I will probably never be able to visit. =(
From Robert Niles on April 12, 2012 at 4:28 PM
But James, at Universal Studios Russia, you don't visit the park, the park visits you!

(Forgive me, couldn't resist.)

From Rob Pastor on April 12, 2012 at 5:02 PM
Robert: Imagine the potential for themed rides....* Escape From the Gulag....Crime & Punishment...Tortures We Know & Love...and more
From James Koehl on April 12, 2012 at 5:11 PM
Universal Studios Russia (using a lyric from the Streisand version of "A Star is Born") where admission is free- you must pay to get out. Lots of bribes to the security guards at the gates.
From Sylvain Comeau on April 12, 2012 at 5:12 PM
Hmmm...how will they keep out the Russian Mafia? Not to mention loads of corrupt officials looking for bribes just to let the park stay in business...
From Rob Pastor on April 12, 2012 at 5:17 PM
+1 James.
From Chris Markham on April 12, 2012 at 5:37 PM
Another site has some concept art for this park, and it does indeed look pretty small. From the concept art, it looks like the park will have the typical 'staple' Universal attractions (Mummy, Jurassic Park, Pantages Theater) and some other interesting stuff, like a condensed version of Seuss Landing and some kind of racing style ride, which might be Fast and the Furious themed?

The concept for the park entrance also looks quite elaborate, having you enter through a large movie theater exterior and proceeding into a theater, exiting through a movie screen. There also also several screens behind that, featuring Universal's big movies, like Kong, Fast and the Furious, Cat in the Hat, Jurassic Park and others I can't make out.

Of course, this is early concept art, so who knows what the final park will actually look like, if it even comes to fruition. Either way, it's interesting to see something new from Universal.

Here's a link to the site with the concept art... Hopefully linking to other websites is okay here, otherwise feel free to remove the link/my comment:

http://parkrumors.com/universal-galactica-park/

From Dominick D on April 12, 2012 at 8:17 PM
There's probably gonna be the Universal staples (E.T., Jurassic Park, Mummy, hopefully Jaws), plus in my dreams, I'd like Suess, The Simpsons, and Animal Actors.
From James Rao on April 12, 2012 at 8:18 PM
Fair enough, Robert, but it will have to visit me in Kansas City! ;)
From Mike Seary on April 13, 2012 at 2:48 AM
In soviet Russia, movie rides YOU!
From Joseph Catlett on April 13, 2012 at 5:30 AM
My biggest concern over a Universal or Disney style theme park in Russia has to do with the concept of economics. Namely disposable income and the amount of it. Theme parks are a luxury item like pay movie channels, satellite radio and dining at a fancy restaurant. I have to ask, does the average Russian have the disposable income at this point to afford a trip to Universal? Granted, Russia is not quite as disadvantaged as it used to be, but there are major factions in the country calling for a return to the old Soviet era ways in order to deal with the abundance of crime and stagnancy in the economy (I don't agree with that last argument....remember those wonderful, good old days of bread lines and government issued toilet paper? OUCH!)
I really don't see this place being profitable. I give it a 20 percent chance of happening in the next 5 years and 50/50 within 20.
From Anon Mouse on April 13, 2012 at 9:34 AM
A Russian park sounds all wrong. The future is in Asia, not Eastern Europe. Australia or India would be better bets. Even South America would be a better choice.
From O T on April 13, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Comming from Europe, nowadays it´s easier to get into Russia then the US. There is a lot of money to be earned overthere so go for it!

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