Universal Studios is bringing its next theme park to Frisco, its third location in the US, as the chain continues to expand worldwide.
Universal Parks & Resorts — the theme park arm of entertainment giant NBCUniversal — has bought a site on the Dallas North Tollway for a new kid-friendly theme park. The almost 100-acre planned entertainment hub will be in the $10 billion Fields development.
Drone video: See the future Universal Studios site in Frisco on the Dallas North Tollway.
The project will be designed to appeal to families, with immersive experiences making it a one- or two-day destination, said Mark Woodbury, chairman and CEO of Universal Parks & Resorts. There will also be a 300-room Universal-themed hotel.
Unlike Universal Studios’ sprawling parks in Orlando, Fla., Los Angeles and abroad, the Frisco development will be a much smaller attraction — the first of multiple such projects the company plans. It will be about one-fourth the size of the company’s Orlando park.
Here’s what to know about the company’s history in the parks business and what it could be bringing to Frisco.
Universal has five park and resort locations worldwide
Universal has five theme parks and resorts, nine hotels and 10,000 hotel rooms around the world.
Universal Studios founder Carl Laemmle first opened his Hollywood studios to the public in 1915. The studio began offering tram tours in 1964 and opened its Jaws ride in 1976 with a 25-foot animatronic shark.
Universal Orlando Resort opened in 1990. It now includes the Universal Studios Florida theme park, the Islands of Adventure theme park and the Volcano Bay water park. It also has eight themed hotels.
Universal CityWalk, a themed dining and entertainment complex, opened outside of the Hollywood park in 1993. Six years later, it opened in Orlando.
Universal Studios Japan opened in 2001, breaking worldwide attendance records in its first year, according to the company. The company opened a second park in Asia, Universal Studios Singapore, in 2011 and a Beijing park in 2021.
The company continues to invest in its parks, cities
In 2019, Universal announced a third theme park in Orlando called Epic Universe, which Brian Roberts, CEO of parent company Comcast Corp., said at the time was “the largest investment we’ve ever made in a park.”
Universal Orlando Resort and Orlando’s Right Rail coalition announced Jan. 5 they would create a public organization that would plan and construct a commuter rail station near the future Epic Universe park linking the park to Orlando International Airport and Orange County Convention Center.
Rides and attractions have an entertainment theme
Universal parks primarily feature rides based on the company’s film and television catalog. Attractions are based on films such as Revenge of the Mummy, Transformers spirit Harry Potter.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Orlando in 2010. Universal Studios Florida revealed another Harry Potter attraction, Diagon Alley, in 2014. That same year, the Wizarding World opened in Japan, and the Hollywood park added the attraction in 2016.
Universal Studios Hollywood plans to open Super Nintendo World Feb. 17, a themed land based on Nintendo video games with a ride based on the Mario Kart series using augmented-reality technology and projection mapping.
Universal’s Studios Florida held its first Halloween event, Fright Nights, in 1991. Four of Universal’s parks host the annual event, now known as Halloween Horror Nights.
How Universal fits into the bigger Comcast picture
Universal Parks & Resorts is a division of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Comcast. Comcast acquired NBCUniversal in 2011. Comcast is also a broadband, wireless and video provider through its Xfinity, Comcast Business and Sky brands.
Comcast’s entertainment, sports and news arms include Universal, Sky Studios, NBC, Telemundo and Peacock.
Universal’s parks brought in more than $5.4 billion in revenue from the start of 2022 through December, about 19% of the company’s $29.3 billion in total revenue over the same period, according to Comcast public filings. Park revenue increased 71.6% from 2021 to 2022, following the resurgence of tourism from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Universal is a massive employer in Orlando
Universal is the third-largest employer in Orlando, with 21,143 workers, behind AdventHealth (37,000) and Walt Disney World Resort (58,478), according to the city of Orlando and the Orlando Business Journal.