Universal Orlando files plans for 4,000 hotel rooms on Wet 'n Wild site

March 21, 2017, 12:50 PM · When Universal Orlando announced that it would close its Wet 'n Wild water park, many fans were left to wonder what Universal would end up doing with the property. Insiders attached to Universal insisted that the land would end up being used for hotels, but Universal made no public move to commit its intentions for the 64-acre site.

Until now.

Universal Orlando has filed plans with the City of Orlando to build 4,000 hotel rooms on the former Wet 'n Wild site, which is located across I-4 from the main Universal Orlando Resort property. (The Orlando Business Journal first found the plan filing on the city's website.)

Project 566, with a case number MPL2017-00017, is a "Framework Master Plan for redevelopment of Wet N Wild property." It covers both the water park itself, which was located west of Universal Blvd and south of International Drive, and its larger parking lots, which were located on the other side of Universal Blvd, across from the water park. One block of commercial properties (north of International Drive) and Interstate 4 separate the Wet 'n Wild land from the rest of Universal Orlando.

In addition to the Wet 'n Wild property, Universal Orlando now owns 475 acres north of Universal Blvd, across from the Orange County Convention Center. That's more than enough space to build a third theme park (*okay, fourth, if you're counting Volcano Bay), as well as additional hotel, convention, and entertainment facilities. Universal has yet to file plans for that land.

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke has said that Universal's goal is to build between 10,000-15,000 hotel rooms on the Universal Orlando property. The addition of 4,000 rooms on the Wet 'n Wild site would put Universal over the 10,000-room mark, with the expansion of the Cabana Bay and addition of the Aventura Hotel putting the current number of rooms open or under construction at 6,200. For comparison, the Walt Disney World Resort currently has more than 30,000 hotel rooms on site.

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Replies (32)

March 21, 2017 at 1:05 PM · That's a long way to walk to the theme parks. I guess they will have more buses than ever before.

It's not like they can magically create some kinda train!!!

...I'll show myself out.

March 21, 2017 at 1:19 PM · So the big question here really is "how will Universal connect these three properties?" I mean, other than the low-cost, high-hassle "solution" of clogging Universal Blvd with more buses.

There's only one proper response, of course, and it does involve a Universal theme park IP!

March 21, 2017 at 1:29 PM · It's only about a 15-20 minute walk. I've stayed near there before, plus you have a 24hr Walgreens and IHOP at the corner of IDrive and Universal Blvd.
March 21, 2017 at 1:42 PM · Actually i think the real question is 'can two (and a half if you count Volcano Bay) theme parks actually sustain that many hotel rooms?'. Those 30,000 rooms at Disney feed into 4 parks, 2 waterparks, a. Shopping and leisure complex and 20-something resorts which are virtually destinations in their own right. That's a hell of a lot more to do than Univrsal currently offer. From an outside perspective it seems to me as if Universal have got this back to front. Consistently I have found less to occupy me at the Universal Parks than at Disney. Before you can offer the hotel rooms you need to offer the activities for those guests to do....
March 21, 2017 at 1:51 PM · Even if you were not going to visit Universal ,That end of International Drive has needed redevopment for years compared to the convention centre end, so this hotel will regenerate this area hopefully with new shops and restaurants and make International Drive a great place to stay rather than rundown motels .
March 21, 2017 at 1:54 PM · I thought they will add a bridge over the highway. This hotel will be along the same path on Universal Blvd for their new undeveloped property. They could be planning long term on the transportation issue.
March 21, 2017 at 2:38 PM · These Universal projects are getting more and more interesting. Couple new rides opening in the next few years in the already existing parks, Volcano Bay opening this year, area enough for a brand new theme park(which is expected to have Nintendo and Fantastic Beasts areas in it)... Can't wait for more!
March 21, 2017 at 3:07 PM · Disney may have recently answered your question Robert: Sky-tram Gondolas (Is there a chance the wire could snap? Not a chance, my theme park chap).

I don't know about the engineering practicality of distance, but if the Orlando area would allow Universal to do it - and why not, considering the amount of money they bring into town - the need for land for intermittent support pillars would be far more cost effective than trying to put in their own dedicated roadway, railway, or other transport system.

At least until one of the theme park companies gets teleporter technology perfected.

March 21, 2017 at 3:25 PM · My goodness, can you imagine how cool it would be to have the Monorail from The Simpsons? Not the piece of junk that Springfield gets, but a high-class version. I can imagine a life size sculpture of Barney and other Springfield citizens installed inside the pilot cabin and visible from the outside of the trains appearing to be operating the transportation. Wow! Never ever gonna happen.
March 22, 2017 at 11:14 AM · Wow, all these Universal plans are getting interesting, heh? New rides opening in the next couple of years(such as Jimmy Fallon this April), Volcano Bay opening this year, the area where they could build a brand new park(that could include a Nintendo and a Fantastic Beasts area), this hotel they announced(maybe an HP themed hotel?)... Can't wait for more!
PS: That other comment that's exactly like mine IS mine, I just accidentaly psted it as anonymus)
March 21, 2017 at 4:01 PM · Universal is going to own the North end of International Drive.
March 21, 2017 at 4:22 PM · @David, I suspect these rooms are being built in anticipation of the crowds descending upon Universal's third theme park (and whatever else they're putting there, Universal Springs?) opening a few years down the road.
March 21, 2017 at 5:44 PM · I agree with James, these new hotel rooms are part of an overall long term plan likely involving a 3rd park. With appropriate transport linkages this could be a phenomenal resort (already pretty darn good) and could challenge Disney for Florida supremacy.

Game on.

March 21, 2017 at 6:13 PM · Volcano Bay is their third park.
March 21, 2017 at 9:47 PM · Oh goody, new hotels. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ...
March 21, 2017 at 10:12 PM · I sure hope volcano bay isn't the third park.
March 22, 2017 at 2:37 AM · In practicality a monorail system would be the best form of transportation. Yes it would be costly and require special permits to build over roads and city owned property. The area they are building in is too dangerous to simply walk to Universal with all the traffic and vacationers someone is bound to get hit. Additional busses would make the traffic in the area even worse. The development in the area is a plus adding new life and jobs to the north end of I-drive.
March 22, 2017 at 6:59 AM · Ok. Can we PLEASE have a Harry Potter themed hotel???? Imagine check-in being the sorting hat telling you which "house" you will be staying in. Each room has a spell your interactive wand could work. PERFECT
March 22, 2017 at 8:23 AM · This is part of a larger plan that will involve 4-5 parks.

Universal Studios Florida
Universal Islands of Adventure
Volcano Bay

You've got to have the rooms available if your new attractions demand the capacity.

I'm thrilled to see what Universal is cooking up!

March 22, 2017 at 8:48 AM · David Brown, have you been living under a rock? In case you haven't noticed, Disney has been running scared of Universal since the first Harry Potter attraction was added to Islands of Adventure. Disney is the same old park it has been. OK same old 4 parks all polished turds, which have flopped with their latest additions so far, Avatar was a bust.The new Star Wars is meh at best, definitely not enough of a change to justify going back anytime soon. And the new Disney Springs was a complete disappointment to the Orlando area. Besides kids get killed when they get run over by buses with Mickey on them and eaten by alligators in Disney resorts. And speaking of polishing turds, let us not forget to give ABC news props since they did a triumphant job sweeping the story under the rug about the Disney employee that was arrested for molesting someone shortly after the alligator killed a toddler.

This hotel is surely a well thought out addition in preparation of the new theme park which will tip the scales even more towards USF/IoA/VB with newer attractions and away from the run down Disney parks held together by zip ties, duct tape, chewing gum and bandaids connected by colliding monorails.

March 22, 2017 at 8:53 AM · Hmm... By committing to the development of the old Wet 'n Wild property into hotel resorts it looks like Universal has finally gotten their plans finalized for their "Universal Entertainment Corridor."

Or have they?

This could be an intermediate step to keep the buzz going while they figure out what to do with the Lockheed Martin property because there is at least one major problem with developing that site - the sewage treatment plant adjacent to and northeast of the property. I can't see Universal making a multi-billion dollar investment on a park when the overwhelming theme of the resort on certain days would be "aroma de poo-poo."

But Universal has to keep the buzz going somehow. They can only throw so many screen-based attractions into the two existing parks before fans really get turned off by the sameness (and if an IP ever lent itself to simulators and screens it would be Nintendo).

The low-hanging fruit has been picked. Unless the guys at Universal have fallen on a pot of money bigger than Gringotts Wizarding Bank, it may be decades before we see a third, non-water park from Universal.

March 22, 2017 at 9:51 AM · Volcano Bay isn't a third park. It's a water park which has limited appeal. It certainly adds a new draw ti universal's resort but, for example, my wife and I wouldn't visit it as we don't do water parks, whereas we would do both theme parks. Have Universal got the land now to build a third (real) park?
March 22, 2017 at 11:16 AM · David Brown asks "can two (and a half if you count Volcano Bay) theme parks actually sustain that many hotel rooms?'. Those 30,000 rooms at Disney feed into 4 parks, 2 waterparks, a. Shopping and leisure complex and 20-something resorts which are virtually destinations in their own right"

I think so. If 4 theme parks at Disney with a grand total of 89 attractions and two water parks keep 30,000 hotel rooms occupied, I'd say it's a fair bet that 2 theme parks at Universal with a grand total of 48 attractions and a water park can easily keep the occupancy up on 10,000 hotel rooms.

Unlike Disney, Universal will have to deal with a bigger problem from the competition from the hotels in the immediate area of International Drive, but I suspect that they will offer some perk to incentivize people to use their hotels.

David also asks "Have Universal got the land now to build a third (real) park?"

Um... well... It's a closely held secret, but I think I may have read somewhere that they have acquired some property in Orlando where they could build a third (and maybe a fourth!) theme park as well as another entertainment complex like Citywalk.

March 22, 2017 at 12:11 PM · Universal Creative is greatly concerned by WDW's active development. Internal discussions grow more weary everyday based on feedback from Kong and now Fallon. And the USH feedback on Fast, scheduled to open at USO in 2018.

Concerns within UC regarding WDW is they've woken up a beast. WDW will wrap Toy Story land and then STAR WARS and move immediately to renovating/expanding Fantasyland then expanding Frontierland. Not to mention the E.P.C.O.T. rebuild.

Universal Creative still has major work ahead in replacing outdated lands/rides and now trying to plus new rides generating poor feedback. They are pushing corporate to allow a Nintendo theme park, but corporate keeps stressing the lack of IP ownership.

Internal discussions within Disney Imagineering are growing more serious regarding the possibility of a Disney Villians park. Two key questions still causing heated discussions... boutique park??? nighttime only park???

Every move by Universal is being countered by Disney.

March 22, 2017 at 1:38 PM · I think a 3rd gate is coming. Nintendo, A third HP piece (Ministry or Forbidden Forest). Something related to Universal Monsters. I think it will be 4-5 Heavily themed lands such as HP or Jurassic Part. They have had enormous success immersing people in the movies without the need for a ton of rides. You could spend a day discovering things in Diagon Alley and it only has one ride. I think thats the blueprint moving forward.
March 22, 2017 at 8:04 PM · I just think this is funny turning out to be a WDW vs Universal Orlando post without TH or I or many of the other regular contributors in the mix. I especially like the polished turds and poo poo talk. What are we 12, don't answer that. I'm with TH on this one and what helps out one, helps out the competition. I do think they need a monorail if they are going to build all of these things. Universal, like Disney, has plans for many years to come and this I'm sure has crossed their mind several times.

Everyone likes new construction, new better things to see and do so this is only a step in the already planned stairway to Universal Orlando Universe. Disney is taking charge now and following suit with new lands, hotels, and attractions. We will see who earns our all mighty dollar. I'm planning a trip in 3 to 4 years including it all and then some. The only problem is money doesn't grow on trees so in reality it probably will mean I have to pick and choose with the help of my family which new things to see and do.

Trade and Barter should make a comeback! Two goats for one day park hopper pass please.....

March 23, 2017 at 7:37 AM · I have driven by the new property in the summer and the smell from the water treatment is pretty strong. They have the technology to eliminate the smell, but it cost more and as of right now only about a mile of Sand Lake Road is effected. The plant has had no reason to control the smell since there is basically nothing around there now. I'm sure when Universal starts to develop that property (which I think we will see a new park around 2025) the city will be more then willing to seal up the smelly source of the escaped gases. This is an exciting time for Orlando, as we are finally getting a good response from both WDW and Universal.
March 23, 2017 at 7:47 AM · "Concerns within UC regarding WDW is they've woken up a beast"

This would be the second time. The first time was when Universal Studios Orlando was built and Disney responded by opening DHS before USO opened. Disney always react to Universal. It never does anything if it doesn't have to. Thus, 20 years of a half baked DHS, Animal Kingdom, and deteriorating Epcot.

"They are pushing corporate to allow a Nintendo theme park, but corporate keeps stressing the lack of IP ownership."

Have Universal ever thought about releasing films that are ready made IP for the theme park? Here are the 10 recent released films.

October 14, 2016 Ordinary World
October 21, 2016 Ouija: Origin of Evil
November 11, 2016 Almost Christmas
December 9, 2016 Frank & Lola
December 21, 2016 Sing
January 20, 2017 Split
January 27, 2017 A Dog's Purpose
February 10, 2017 Fifty Shades Darker
February 17, 2017 The Great Wall
February 24, 2017 Get Out

Maybe only Sing fits this criteria. The other films are horror and dramas with S&M. Perhaps do the Disney thing by buying popular movie franchises. They did this with DreamWorks Animation.

March 23, 2017 at 11:04 AM · My daughter and her family have booked a trip to Orlando for this October. They will be spending 5 days at Disney and only ONE day at Universal. This decision was based both on a recommendation from their travel agent plus her experience from a trip we made there in 2003. My husband and I will be doing the same. Point is, both places have a lot to offer, with Disney presently (and most likely ALWAYS) offering more. Competition is a wonderful thing!
March 24, 2017 at 10:16 AM · Above--If you haven't been to Universal since 2003, you might want to fire your travel agent because Universal is practically brand new now compared to Disney.
March 26, 2017 at 5:23 PM · "Universal is practically brand new now compared to Disney."

TRUE, high maintenance/high cost (Jaws), outdated rides (Twister and Disaster) and all new rides have been replaced/updated with screen based theatres, either in a theatre seat or tram seat.

An actual roller coaster is going to be removed for a family style dark ride.

WDW dominates UO/IOA across the board. FACTS ARE FACTS.

March 27, 2017 at 8:19 PM · from my ten years of experience with Universal, don't get too excited. They will sit on the 400 acres to prevent competitor development; they have no plans to use it. Rumors are abound that Six Flags may build nearby but Universal has lobbied to keep away parks for many years. They don't bring in enough guests on a consistent basis to justify a third park.

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