Universal Orlando announces its hotels for the Wet 'n Wild site

November 6, 2017, 9:23 AM · Universal Orlando Resort this morning officially announced the two hotels that it is building on the site of its former Wet 'n Wild water park.

The announcement did not include names for the hotels, nor an opening date, but did note that Universal will start taking reservations for the hotels early next year. Given that Universal typically starts taking reservations for a new hotel about one year in advance, that suggests a 2019 opening for the new facilities.

We told you earlier this year much more about what we will for now just call the Wet 'n Wild hotels. It includes two hotel complexes, on either side of Universal Blvd., for a total of 4,000 rooms. There will be three parking garages to accommodate guests' and team members' vehicles, and Universal will provide transportation from the hotels to CityWalk and its theme parks on the other side of Interstate 4.

These will be Universal's lowest-priced hotel rooms, with "nightly rates starting at less than $100," according to Universal's announcement. A stay at the hotel will include Early Park Admission benefits, although they will not offer Universal Express Unlimited, which remains only for guests of the original three on-site Universal Orlando hotels: The Portofino Bay, Hard Rock, and Royal Pacific.

Universal said that "vibrant and natural colors will set a free-spirited and beachy tone" for the new hotels, which will feature a "laid-back coastal feel."

The new hotels will give Universal more than 10,000 hotel rooms at its Orlando resort, meeting the lower end of NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke's stated goal of building between 10,000-15,000 hotel rooms on the Universal Orlando property.


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Replies (10)

November 6, 2017 at 10:51 AM · I think this will be the start of a major real estate shift on I-Drive. At $100 a night and offering EMH, these hotels could be a major issue for many of the other hotels. The convention center area will probably be fine because of business travelers, but further down the leisure travelers will see greater value staying at Universal than the franchise hotels.

When Disney built cheaper hotels those on nearby 192 took a huge hit and many became abandoned or basically roach motels. If this happens on that section of I-Drive Universal could be looking at buying a lot more land at some point in the future.

November 6, 2017 at 11:05 AM · Universal would seriously want to consider park opening hours all year round closing at 6 and 7pm regularly and early for private events not good enough when you have 1000's of hotel guests looking for something to do
November 6, 2017 at 11:14 AM · Most of I-Drive between Sand Lake and Universal already is a giant roach motel.

Coming Soon: "The Florida Project Part II" ...

The city made a serious mistake 30 years ago by allowing the strip malls on the out parcels. Universal's biggest problem with acquisition will be the surprisingly small number of players who own most of the properties.

November 6, 2017 at 12:01 PM · The motels on that side of I drive are pretty terrible anyway and have been for years , with no investment and just basic motels. This will boost the overall look of I drive
November 6, 2017 at 12:24 PM · Chain hotels will be completely unaffected by this. They usually have partnerships with the parks and offer other perks to their loyal guests. They also offer perks out of the theme park realm that many find far more valuable than a fast pass or extra hours. Frankly the park hotels offer such perks to stay competitive to the surrounding hotel properties. The hotels that could be affected are the boutique and independent hotels. If anything I’d bet that you’ll see more of those hotels take on brand names as franchised hotels to make them more desirable.
November 6, 2017 at 12:42 PM · I hope there is more to come on this. One thing that has been pretty consistent with the UO/Loews hotels has been unique themes. These look awfully generic. I expect there will be more fully developed themes to come...at least I hope so.
November 6, 2017 at 1:22 PM · @Rob - I think at the sub $100 price point that UO/Loews will have to sacrifice some of that unique themeing, especially if they are going to maintain the expected level of Loews service. That generic look is consistent with a lot of leaked imaging coming from these projects, so my expectation in that area would be pretty low.

I'm more interested in the transportation issues. There are a lot of rooms associated with these properties, and having done the walk from hotels adjacent to the old Wet 'n Wild to UO before, they need to offer solid ground transportation between the parks and these hotels. It cannot be a handful of buses in the morning and evening with one every 45-60 minutes during the day. While walking is a viable alternative for some, it cannot be seen as the primary alternative as it is for the other UO resorts, unless speedwalks are part of the equation.

November 6, 2017 at 2:42 PM · Maybe we can finally see light rail in Orlando?
November 6, 2017 at 2:44 PM · That looks ghastly.
November 7, 2017 at 10:30 AM · The Wet N Wild hotels are not connected to the newly acquired land, or anything else they owned that is not part of the original property?

If that's the case, it makes perfect sense what they're doing here. Why spend more than the minimum on theming for hotels that are sort of off the beaten path? These are just being built for room count, and to cater to the low end of their customer base.

A lot of people can't afford $300 per night for one of their on-site original hotels with Express Pass, but they could swing $99.99 (that's sub-$100, right?). And so what if they have to bus it over to Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure? It's not a lot different than staying at Art of Animation, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans, etc.

I'd be way more surprised if these were high-end hotels with great theming, simply because of their location.

With that said, having a presence on I-Drive could very well shutter some of the "roach motels" that clutter the area. I would imagine chain hotels like Hyatt / Marriott would pick up their game a bit with some renovations, but others could be in a position to sell, if business drops off far enough.

Now, I do believe any hotel that finds itself in a prime location near a new gate or full resort type area will indeed be at least a mid-level, such as any of the newest ones they've built.

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