Orlando Theme Park Construction Update: Wet 'n Wild Hotels, Star Wars Land
We've gotten a couple of tips on big construction projects coming to the Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando resorts that we are ready to share with you.
First, at Universal Orlando — We are hearing that Universal has decided to proceed with plans to build two hotel towers on the Wet 'n Wild property, which will become available after the world's first water park closes forever after next summer. With the water park and its parking lot across the street taking up about 51 acres, the parcels are far too small to host a third gate for the Universal Orlando Resort. It'd be a tight fit to provide a home for the sprawling types of hotels that Universal Orlando has built on its core property, too. (Take a look at Google Maps and see how much space the Cabana Bay Beach Resort takes, for an example.)
But two high-rise hotel towers would fit perfectly on the parcels, with room for some nice landscaping buffer around the property, too. Universal management has expressed its desire to have 10,000-15,000 hotel rooms on its property. The addition of the Sapphire Falls Resort next summer will bring the resort up to 5,000 rooms, so Universal has quite a way to go to reach its goal. With land filling quickly at the resort, there's just one way left to go — up — so hotels towers appear to be the solution.
As for replacing Wet 'n Wild, Universal Orlando has announced plans for the new Volcano Bay water park, to be build on land south of the Cabana Bay hotel and scheduled for a 2017 opening.
Next, down the road at the Walt Disney World Resort — We have heard the big news from multiple sources that Disney has selected a contractor to build its planned Star Wars Land, and that the announcement of the new land will be coming very soon. The obvious time and place for the announcement would be the Disney Parks presentation at the D23 Expo in Anaheim on August 15, but Disney has yet to announce any announcement during the Expo for new attractions at its parks.
Still, when a theme park gets to the point of hiring outside construction help, that means that the project is a go and shovels are ready to hit the ground. Fans should expect visible construction work to begin on Star Wars Land in the park not long after the official announcement, unlike with the Avatar project, where designs weren't completed and a contractor wasn't hired for a few years after Disney's initial announcement of the land. (Or, FWIW, any of Universal's projects, where the attractions are darn near well completed before Universal bothers to make a formal announcement.)
As for Star Wars Land at the Disneyland Resort, most of what we are hearing from insiders suggests that project will run slightly behind the Walt Disney World version, so we are expecting an opening date at Disneyland at least a year or more behind Walt Disney World's, though we are not convinced that is a set deal at this point.
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I wonder if Disneyland Resort is intentionally delaying to meet the rules of the tax abatement legislation. Construction to start before the end of 2017. They are sticking to that.
With some attractions closing at DHS, it's best to decide that a mid-2017 or early 2018 could be the best option to finish the expansion of the park (Star Wars/Cars Land, etc). So by D23 Expo, we'll get our answers straight. Until then, fingers crossed, brohmas!
Yes, the hotels are what most of us were discussing for that Wet & Wild property, largely for the same reasons Niles is pointing out..... Great news that the Star Wars project for DHS is probably going to happen sooner rather than later. This is an IP that I really like......Kudos to both Universal & Disney for moving in the right direction.
I'm at Disneyland right now, where in the heck is this Star Wars Land going. Tomorrowland needs an update pretty badly (even more so than WDW). I can see the Millinium Fulcin going where the people mover station is now.
Just so we're clear: this means there will *not* be a third theme park at Universal Orlando any time soon, despite the rumors that were circulating on the blogs today.
The rumors started from an unreliable site. I only pay attention to Universal info on Orlando United or Theme Park Insider, with an occasional listen to Orlando Informer. The others are generally inaccurate or wrong.
Available land is the biggest impediment to a third gate at Universal. They would really need to buy up all of those Surrounding condos and apartments. Perhaps they can simply expand both of their existing parks instead.
Bob Iger actually investing in the parks, i doubt it. When i see the finished product i will believe until then i doubt anything will come to fruit.
While I think the space for Wet n Wild would be better used by being renovated into a newer water park, I don't mind a new hotel all that much. At least they're expanding.
Thank you 126.96.36.199, it was only a matter of time before there was some criticism of Disney, despite this being an article on future developments.
Star Wars land at DL will take over toon town and space west of that.
Hahahaha "Mymagic+. This has been for the sole purpose of improving customer enjoyment whilst within the parks"
So WWOHP is a benevolent effort to make people happy? Don't make me laugh. Universal is in the business of making money, exactly the same as Disney. To pretend they have some altrusistic motive is either pure naivety or complete stupidity.
So my question is .... Where is universals third park going ? Because Nintendo definitely rates at least 1/4 of a park not just some small kid zone. Nintendo is bigger than Harry Potter so might as well incorporate it into a third gate. With 500 million a year they surely could buy out some of their neighboring hotels and shopping centers to build a theme park.
Simply reinterpreting movies (whether it's their own property or someone elses is irrelevant) does not amount to originality. Disney has at least created original content for its parks, and continues to (to admittedly a lesser degree). Mystic Manor and Exposition Everest are original.
"If I had to guess, they will keep Star Tours as the anchor attraction of the land, and simply add theming shopping and dining opportunities with no big attractions."
I heard an indiana jones attraction would be coming to DHS along with star wars land and the expansion to Pixar. Had anyone heard anything about this?
The treatment Disney gets from some certain individuals while singing the accolades of Universal (which they do deserve) reminds me children who just got the BEST present for Christmas, and thanklessly shove aside everything else to get to it.
Re: Disney investment in the parks: If Mymagic+ were the only investment, I think there would be reasonable cause for alarm and frustration. But there has been a definite upkeep in maintenance and lots of subtle, but nice, upgrades at WDW over the last 5 years. They may not seem like much, but they are, IMO, what makes Disney parks better than the competition (with the exception of Universal, who really have been upping their game). I think public perception really lags about 5 years behind reality on these things. Disney has definitely dropped the ball on new attractions, but if they make up for it with wholesale high quality makeovers at DHS and AK, I will be willing to forgive all. Let's also not forget that the economics of each park affect the investment opportunity. In other words, we should all want myMagic+ to make Disney loads of money that they reinvest back into WDW attractions. I DO wish they would actually have a strategy at EPCOT beyond sell food and liquor...
A Universal / Disney debate.... this is a first. I said it before and I'll say it again. The Harry Potter movies have iconic sets that can be replicated to work in a theme park environment. Walking paths are essential to theme parks and work perfectly with Hogsmeade / Diagon Alley.
Putting carnival spinners in isn't a problem , as long as they put in the e-tickets as well. Keep in mind from an attraction perspective (ignoring the incredible theming) Universal has only put in three new rides in their Wwohp lands. Obviously they rehashed the kiddie coaster and the dueling dragons, but I believe the theming on them was underwhelming (I'll be the first to admit that not many coasters have very good theming).
The charm of Diagon Alley has nothing to do with Escape From Gringotts, at least for me. I love the ride, but that area could stand alone with just the Hogwarts Express if needed.
What does is matter if a theme park has created an original attraction, compared to using preexisting IP? All theme parks do this, and as long as the attraction is great, the origin of the IP doesn't matter. Just look at Waterworld in USH.
Diagon Alley (without Gringotts) is an attraction in itself. There's so much happening, things to do & watch, and pure immersion, it's easy to spend a day there without venturing out into the Studio's.
Wow! So much passion! I love it.
Daniel, I completely agree that the immersion is what creates a theme park.
Immersion only works if you are interested in the original product or concept.
Hahaha mymagic+ was/is a complete failure. All it did was make the fast pass lines as long as the standby lines. I haven't seen some one burn a Billion+ dollars like this since the joker in dark knight.
Fantasyland expansion could have been great. Seven drawves mine train was goin to be awesome twice as long and have more show scenes. Would have been a truly great e ticket before the budget cutting axe fell. Now the finished product is barely a c ticket. Little mermaid need a refurb within months of opening because it too was not quality engineered. As far as land themeing goes, universal has been knocking it out of the park. However when it comes to their actual rides, you have got to lay off the screens garbage. Have some quality AA and set pieces actually in the rides themselves and not just in the ride ques.
The problem firmly lies at the feet of Bob Iger - Disney CEO and chief, a movies man. Doesn't care or have that passion for parks. He's a corporate man whose sole interest is profit, not expense.
Harry Potter is better suited for themed lands than Star Wars, but SW certainly has the ability to create great rides and even staged shows, but I agree the all in one of Star Tours has to be modified because most of the rides would depend on space travel.
Never watched a Harry Potter movie or read a HP book before I entered Hogsmeade or Diagon. I must say, though, that I was completely blown away by what Universal created and I was completely immersed in those lands. So much so, that we spent apx. 40 hours in Diagon alone during our last Universal vacation. We even bought an interactive wand and did the green screen videos. I have never enjoyed a theme park area even a tenth as much as the HP lands. And, looking at the huge attendance and revenue increases, I'm sure I'm not alone. And I plan on spending many future hours re-enjoying and experiencing those immersive lands.
Anon Mouse, the original poster up there, is quite the optimist. There is no way that Star Wars Land is opening in two years, especially not in the same year as Pandora.
@Sylvain: Two years is not unprecedented. They haven't broken ground yet and it is July going on August so it can be 2018 when it opens. The New Fantasyland broke ground in 2010 and opened on December 2012 and didn't finish until June 2014 with the Seven Dwarfs ride. Avatar broke ground on 2014 and will open on 2017. It was widely reported that the project was delayed. Certainly, they can "delay" the opening of Star Wars land until the next Star Wars weekend or they can do a phased opening as they usually do. I wonder if Shanghai Disneyland's new Star Wars exhibit will come to DHS a bit faster than you think.
Disney doesn't use screens much. Sure. Let's take a look at Epcot. Attractions that use screens or projections for part or all of the ride...*China film *France film *Canada film *Mission Space Green & Orange * Universe of Energy *Turtle Talk with Crush *Soarin *Capt. EO *The Seas with Nemo *Gran Fiesta Tour *New Frozen attraction when it opens...Haven't been on the new Test Track so I don't know about that for sure...That leaves about three attractions that don't use screens or projections. So lets not act like Universal is committing blasphemy by using screens. They're an important part and parcel of attractions in the present day. Myself, I prefer a mix of sets, screens, AA's etc. Kong's going to have it and FJ has it, and Gringott's has a ton of AA's in the queue, which is so strong it's really part of the attraction in addition to the massive sets the vehicles travel through. Universal is placing such fantastic & interesting queues on their rides that the real attraction experience, is in reality, the queue & ride together, like Indiana Jones at Disney.
I think at Disneyland, Toon Town will be replaced by Star Wars. Instead of ruining the layout of the park with Toontown not connected to the hub, it can be a land within a land as a part of Fantasyland. Then get rid of Autopia and Submarine Voyage to create room to expand and redo the Fantasyland similar to the Magic Kingdom. Or reverse the locations which would mean the train would have to be moved, which could be done, and mean Star Wars could have its own complete land.Throw in a Tomorrowland overhaul and with the new parking ramp Disney could easily spend the money necessary to please Anahaim. I'm sure they'll want to keep DCA fresh too, but with so many changes already, I could see them making minor changes over the upcoming years. Nice to know that Disney has to keep investing in Disneyland even as they start to finally focus on Flordia to keep up with Universal. The only losers are those like myself who can't afford to go to see what the two best theme park operators new E Tickets without saving until long after these projects will be done. To the rest enjoy!
What about the Indiana Jones ride?
It's true that Disney has attractions that use screens, but in the past decade or so, Universal has hardly opened any new attraction that wasn't screen-based. FJ was about 50/50, I guess. Simpsons, Transformers, Minions, Gringotts used screens and little else.
Disney has really lost their originality when it comes to building new rides. Most of their rides now are based on their movie franchises.I havent seen them build anything exclusive or original in recent years it ussually goes to their international parks. The imagineers has lost their creativity and just gets stuck with building attractions based on movies. Why not just build a new billion dollar themepark in Orlando and just make it all bthemed to disney movies ala universal.
I LOVE movie rides - I'm a movie person, and am super surprised to see that using a film as an inspiration point for a ride is not creative.
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