Let's Take a Closer Look at Today's Announced Plans for Universal Studios Beijing
Universal Parks & Resorts confirmed its Universal Studios Beijing
project today, with a formal announcement with Chinese officials. We'd known about the Chinese project for some time, as official reports from China had detailed its progress
through the local bureaucracy.
Predicted to open in 2019, this US$3.3 billion, 296-acre park will be Universal's largest (if you don't count the Hollywood backlot), and the company's sixth theme park (seventh if you count the Moscow indoor park which was supposed to open in 2018, but hasn't seen any construction progress in months). Universal's other parks include one in Hollywood, two in Orlando, one in Osaka, Japan, and one in Singapore. Previously announced parks in South Korea and Dubai have been cancelled.
But let's take a look at the concept art to see what clues we might find about this new theme park.
Concept art courtesy Universal. Click for higher resolution.
We've got a CityWalk at the bottom of the image, with a bridge leading to a plaza surrounding the familiar Universal globe. A massive hotel stands at the far end of this plaza, straddling the entrance to the park. Let's zoom in and see what's inside the park.
We start with a Hollywood Boulevard entrance plaza, with an amphitheater straight from Universal Studios Florida to the left. Beyond that, it's not clear. Could that be Springfield? Or maybe Sesame Street? (Don't forget that Universal holds the Sesame Street theme park rights in Asia.) Let's continue around the lagoon, for things get much clearer in the next image.
That's obviously Orlando's Incredible Hulk coaster in the middle. To my knowledge, Universal would not have the rights to the Marvel franchise in China, but nothing is keeping Universal from duplicating the coaster with another theme. But it is what stands behind Hulk that really captures the imagination.
That's clearly Diagon Alley to the left. You can see the London facade in the front, with the tracks of the Hogwarts Express extending from the station at the right of the London facade. Behind those tracks stand what looks like a Revenge of the Mummy building. In front of that, at the end of the tracks, is Hogsmeade village, though it looks a bit different without the snow on the roofs. That's the Flying Hippogriff coaster on the peninsula, with the bridge above that leading to Hogwarts Castle. Above the castle? Maybe a Dragon Challenge coaster? But that building behind it looks large for its queue.
Moving clockwise around the lagoon, we come to Jurassic Park.
You can see the Discovery Center on the left side of this image, with the main show building and final drop of the River Adventure ride above that. Continuing to the right, over the bridge, leads us to the Shrek-themed Far, Far Away land from Universal Studios Singapore — that's the big castle facade there. In front of that appears to be the Madagascar land from Singapore. The green-topped carousel in the middle appears to be King Julien's Beach Party-Go-Round and the shape of the show building to the right is consistent with the Madagascar: A Crate Adventure ride there.
That leaves the large, flat-topped building in between Madagascar and returning to Hollywood Boulevard. Guesses? One would think that there would be a Transformers ride in here somewhere, but I didn't see an obvious sign of it.
Of course, all this might not be any more than a mash-up of existing Universal theme park IP, and have nothing to do with final plans for the park. Disney's been exceptionally reticent to share concept art for its new Chinese park in Shanghai, in part due to concerns that competitors would use it to build copycat parks before Disney could open. Given the lax state of intellectual property protection in China, it would not be surprising to see Universal try a misdirection here, showing people concept art from all its existing attractions, then developing something different for the actual Universal Studios Beijing.
There's a transformers ride right next to hulk!
Ahh... Tucked in between Hulk and the Sesame Street thing. Yeah, I see that now. Thanks.
The large building behind Hogsmeade reminds me of the entrance for The Mummy at USF. Columns and a couple of statues in the middle.
It could be that you are right with your "misdirection" concept: especially looking at the HP and Mummy area - the mummy looks especially out of place in the middle there between "London" and "Hogsmeade" - also to put Hogwarts express as a monorail in the middle of the park like that seems odd and to put the huge Hogwarts castle also right in the middle with all four sides exposed seems a very expensive solution: a full harry potter area would make much more sense in a (for better description" "hong kong disneyland expansion" area that is aside of the main guest loop. And when the Mummy isn't in the middle of the area.
Universal is building incredible new themed areas, particularly with Harry Potter. One thing I find disappointing with them, particularly if this picture is accurate, is their copy and paste tactics between various parks. Once a ride is a success, they simply transplant it to all their other parks.
What an incredible opportunity it must be to build an entire theme park from scratch in today's day and age. To have years of experience from other park projects and to know how to plan for everything learned from the past must be an amazing thing. Other existing parks have to deal with preserving the past for nostalgia, incorporating expansions seamlessly, cramped quarters from decades-old attractions that did not account for added traffic, and tons of other interesting but challenging obstacles as they move toward the future. But to design a new park from nothing, as is being done with Disney and Universal in China; that must be a cool thing.
It looks like a mashup of both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios in Orlando. The lagoon is huge and it seems to take away space from potential attractions.
Universal has pretty much gone to the concept of building a "land" around a singular attraction, so the inherit problem with the concept art for this project is that there are so many large attractions that it subsequently creates far too many lands. There doesn't appear to be much flow to this park, and unfortunately, aside from the blank building on the right next to "Far Far Away", there's not much room for growth. New theme parks do tend to have the problem of not having enough for guests to do in their first year or two of operation, but sometimes opening with too many attractions could lead to some of the same issues. This park does not appear to have much room to grow, and because of the unique nature of many of the attractions, it would be very expensive to rip out an original attraction to replace it with something new.
While I'm sure you're right with the composite-park theory...
I'm hoping this is just mashed up concept art. According to the articles I've read, the new park is supposed to include at least 2 attractions specific to China. I read that to mean new attractions specific to the park. Now I'm wondering if it is just Sesame Street and Madagascar. That would be disappointing,
As Jeff just mentioned, I was going to add that they do have 3x more land than what we're seeing, which is very smart. I can imagine them building a few resort hotels, but I hope they'll leave enough land for another park down the road. Seeing as how there is so much additional land that can be used in the future, having a big lagoon such as this would not be such a bad idea.
I do know of one ip Universal has that will fit perfectly in there China theme park. Bruce Lee. Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story was made my Universal back in 1993 and they still own the official rights. How Universal Creative will make a ride/show is beyond me. I brought a Bruce Lee game for the iPad that had the Universal logo. What will be most interesting to see if this China theme park is the testing grounds Universal own ip's for there rides. For example the Bourne movies are still going and a ride or stunt show could possible, or a Fast and Furious coaster/dark ride, or how about Back to the Future 2.0. Hey, nobody thought King Kong could return and look was happen at Hollywood and rumor Orlando.
I'm quite sure Universal will change their plans a bit over time- that almost always happens.
It will be a great adventure for whoever gets to work on these parks.........having done many parks overseas it has always been a learning experience that stays with you for the rest of your life. You not only get to build a park but you learn about the culture and food and if your lucky you make great friends for life.
Does anyone know if this was designed by Peter Alexander
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