Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Universal Beijing + Universal Japan Development News

We first heard of the plan to build a Universal Studios park in Beijing a month short of a year ago, but since then all has been quite on the subject.  Back then some amazing concept art of the project was released, showing what the park could offer:

© Universal Parks & Resorts
I won't go back through what's on here, if you like you can catch up again via this post.  But it seems like a combination of all the best rides and attractions Universal has come up with around the globe in one park.

Fast forward to now, and we understand why we haven't heard much - the final deal was just signed this week in New York, according to news sources.  The new park will open in 2019 and be built jointly by Universal Parks & Resorts and Beijing Shouhuan, a Chinese state owned company.

It is now being said that the park seen above will be a part of a 300 acre phase one, also including a Universal-branded hotel, and a retail and dining area.  Phase two could hold a second theme park, a water park and up to five more hotels.

I'm quite happy to hear this park is moving forward, as it could have one blockbuster ride lineup when it opens.

© Universal Studios Japan
Now onto some very interesting news coming out of Universal Studios Japan.  As if we needed any more proof that Comcast is 100% dedicated to expanding their theme park business, it is rumored (and it's a big rumor when it is on the Wall Street Journal) that the company is planning on buying out both Goldman Sachs and the park's other private owners in a deal worth $6 billion.  The hope is that Comcast could become the majority owner of the park, meaning they get the final say on what goes on there - and the largest cut of the profits, too.

That's a pretty huge amount of money to pay for one theme park, but then again Universal Studios Japan has seen massive attendance gains since the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in mid-2014.  Along with all those extra visitors comes plenty of extra profit, and the park has plenty of space to do a second Potter themed area if they like.  They're also in the middle of building a quite large B&M Flying roller coaster in the Jurassic Park section.

If Comcast gets in the door on this one I would expect a furious expansion pace, just like we're seeing in the U.S. parks, to come about sooner than later.