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Universal Orlando snaps up 101 acres for new theme-park projects

Universal Studios

Entertainment giant Universal Orlando has closed the deal on purchasing 101 acres along Sand Lake Road.

The plot of land, costing $27.5 million (£21m), offers a new major frontage for its expansion plans, confirmed a Universal spokesman.

The real estate is next to the $130 million land purchase made by Universal in 2015. This latest acquisition is many times larger than the Universal Orlando Resort.

The seller of the 101-acre property was part of a real-estate investment trust, called IA Orlando Sand. It was represented by Robert McEwan and David Murphy of CBRE’s Orlando office.

McEwan said the new land purchase will provide access from the north and visible frontage along Sand Lake Road, reported the Orlando Sentinel.

Industry experts say that Universal is gearing up to challenging Disney World in Orlando. The plan is to encourage visitors to stay on Universal theme parks and hotels, rather than travel further afield.

Speculation is rife over the types of new attractions that Universal is planning. So far the company has remained tight lipped over its future plans.

Universal Orlando expansion plans

The entertainment giant refused to comment whether it would be used to build a new theme park in Central Florida like Islands of Adventure or Volcano Bay, according to WFTV.

One of the few announcements made by Universal was plans for a Nintendo-themed area in Orlando, under a deal with the Japanese video-game company.

Universal Orlando
Improving Universal Orlando’s visitor attraction offerings.

In a November 2016 blog post, Universal said the lands “will be expansive, immersive and interactive. They’ll be highly themed and authentic environments filled with multiple attractions, shops and restaurants. You’ll feel as if you’re playing inside your favourite games – in real life.”

In an online video, Universal Creative president Mark Woodbury said:  “We’re going to be able to create an entire Nintendo world.”

Universal is running out of land, having built out on its current developments. The former Wet n’ Wild water park was torn down and will be replaced by two luxury hotels.

Florida attraction expert Shelley Caron said Universal needs “to hone in on making an experience that’s really family friendly,”

She added: “You’ve got a lot of big attractions and then you do have some family attractions. But really, the draw are things that are for older children.”

Images: Universal Studios

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