Universal Parks & Resorts
|Founded||July 15, 1964|
|Thomas L. Williams|
Number of employees
|Subsidiaries||Universal Orlando Resort|
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Singapore
Universal Studios Japan
Universal Parks & Resorts, also known as Universal Studios Theme Parks or solely Universal Theme Parks, is the theme park unit of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The company, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, operates Universal theme parks and resort properties around the world. Universal Parks & Resorts is best known for attractions and lands based on famous classic and modern pop culture properties (movies, television, literature, cartoons, comics, video games, music, etc.) from not only NBCUniversal, but also third-party companies, for all of its parks.
It started as a touring attraction in the 1910s at the Universal Studios Lot in Universal City near Los Angeles, California, and in 1964 turned into a Universal Studios Hollywood theme park destination, where guests can look behind the scenes of motion pictures and television programs, produced by Universal Pictures and occasionally others, and ride the attraction based on the world's favorite feature films and television shows. The popularity of Universal Studios Hollywood had led Universal to build parks in Florida and overseas.
In 2017, approximately 49,458,000 guests visited Universal Studios theme parks, making it the third-largest amusement park operator in the world. It is a major competitor of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Six Flags, and Merlin Entertainments.
Current theme parks
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood became the first Universal Studios theme park when it opened its doors on July 15, 1964, long after it was originated as a studio tour in 1915, after the Universal original founder, Carl Laemmle, opened Universal City, California near Los Angeles. In May 1993, Universal CityWalk opened outside the gates of the theme park, featuring 65 entertainment-themed restaurants, nightclubs, shops, and entertainment spots. It also contains the Cinemark Universal CityWalk Cinemas, offering 19 screens including an IMAX Theatre and stadium-style seating. Approximately 415 acres (1.7 km²) is within and around the surrounding area of Universal City, including its theme park and the film studio adjacent nearby.
Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort (formerly called Universal Studios Escape) opened to the public on June 7, 1990, in Orlando, Florida, starting at Universal Studios Florida. It features themed areas and attractions based on the film industry.
On May 28, 1999, Universal Orlando had expanded into a vacation resort, with the opening of Islands of Adventure theme park, featuring various themed islands which emphasized adventures and characters embodied in the attractions. Simultaneously, Universal CityWalk was added to accommodate the guests within the resort leading to the two parks. Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando hotel opened at Universal Orlando Resort in September 1999, followed by Hard Rock Hotel in December 2000, Loews Royal Pacific Resort in February 2001, Cabana Bay Beach Resort on March 31, 2014, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort on July 7, 2016, and Universal's Aventura Hotel on August 16, 2018.
In 1998, Universal Orlando acquired Wet 'n Wild water park (founded in 1977 by Seaworld founder George Millay) and was the company's main water park until it closed on December 31, 2016, where it was replaced by another water park Volcano Bay, which opened on May 25, 2017. The new water park consists of 18 attractions, including slides, two lazy rivers and raft rides. It is also Universal's first park to be not be based on various famous propertie. The park includes two volcano themed rides: the Ko'okiri Body Plunge, a 70-degree-angle, 125-foot water slide; and the Krakatau Aqua Coaster, a canoe ride traveling among the peaks and valleys of the central volcano in the park. The park also gives each visitor a wristband when they buy their ticket. The wristband allows guests to check in for rides and circumvents having to stand in line. In August 2019, Universal announced its third theme park called “Epic Universe“, which is rumored to include lands and attractions based on Nintendo, Universal Monsters, and DreamWorks Animation, among others, and is rumored to open around 2023.
Universal Studios Japan
After almost three years of construction, Universal Studios Japan opened on March 31, 2001, in the Konohana-ku district of Osaka, Japan, and was the first Universal Studios theme park to open outside of the U.S. It was also the first Universal theme park to operate within the Asian region. The park incorporates attractions from both Universal Orlando and Hollywood and features a CityWalk district, a shopping mall with multiple official Universal hotels and many restaurants and shops, including stores selling Universal Studios merchandise and Osaka souvenirs. The theme park occupies an area of 108 acres and is the most visited amusement park in Japan after its rival Tokyo Disney Resort.
Universal Studios Singapore
Construction of the Singapore park began within Resorts World Sentosa on Sentosa, Singapore on April 19, 2008. Universal Studios Singapore was given a soft opening on March 18, 2010 and later a wide opening on May 28, 2011. It was the second Universal Studios theme park to operate on Asia and also the first in Southeast Asia. Like other Universal theme parks, it features attractions from various Universal and other studio companies' properties, including Jurassic Park, Madagascar, Shrek, The Mummy, Waterworld, Transformers, and others. The land it currently sits on is 20 hectares (49 acres) in size, which occupies the easternmost part of the 49-hectare (120-acre) Resorts World Sentosa, and is marketed as a "one-of-its-kind theme park in Asia". However, it has no Universal CityWalk District since it already has a resort shopping mall and restaurants adjacent near the park. Unlike other Universal theme parks, Universal Studios Singapore is owned by Genting Group with the licensing approval from Universal Parks & Resorts.
Steven Spielberg's relationship with Universal Parks & Resorts
Director Steven Spielberg has a long-time collaboration with Universal Parks & Resorts due to his relationship with Universal Studios while working as a Universal intern staff in the late 1960s as well as the films he directed or produced for the studio, such as Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Back to the Future, The Land Before Time, Jurassic Park and Schindler's List. In March 1987, Spielberg signed on to be a creative consultant for Universal theme parks when the Music Corporation of America (MCA)—then owner of Universal Studios—was planning to build its first full-fledged theme park in Orlando in an effort to compete with Walt Disney World. Universal Parks Chairman and CEO Thomas L. Williams stated in regards to praising the Universal Creative team and a few popular people for the new Florida park:
Take, for example, Steven Spielberg. He was the creative consultant on our first [full] theme park, Universal Studios Florida. Steve was the guy who came up with that park’s core concept, that we were going to put our Guests in their favorite scene from their favorite film. Ride the Movies, if you will.
Since 1987, Spielberg has consulted on a dozen attractions, included E.T. Adventure, Jaws, Jurassic Park: The Ride, and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. In exchange, he receives 2% of all park ticket revenue and a portion of park concession receipts generated by Universal theme parks in Florida, Japan, and Singapore in perpetuity, valued at up to $30 to 50 million a year; the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park in Los Angeles is not covered under the Spielberg deal. The director also got the opportunity to trigger a June 2017 exit deal clause and collect a lump sum payment equal to the value of the contracts. Comcast, the current parent company of Universal, acknowledged that this payment could already be worth as much as $535 million. Some analysts predicted that the one-time payment could ultimately be $1 billion. The deal also prevents any film Spielberg worked as a director to go to any rival theme park but Universal; the exception is the Indiana Jones movies, which Spielberg directed, but with the story entirely created, written, and held by his long-time friend George Lucas, who regularly worked with Walt Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products as their creative consultant in attractions like Star Tours, Captain EO, Indiana Jones Adventure, and ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter.
Future theme parks
Universal Beijing Resort
Universal Beijing Resort is the upcoming Universal theme park that will open in May 2021 in Beijing, China. It will feature rides and attractions themed primarily to Universal-owned movies, TV shows, animation, and music, and as well as licensed properties from other companies (e.g. Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, etc.). The project was announced on October 13, 2014, with more than 20 billion RMB being invested into the project. It will be jointly owned by Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment Co., Ltd. (BSH Investment), a consortium of four state-owned companies, and Universal Parks & Resorts. As of 2019, the park is currently in construction.
Universal Studios Moscow
Universal Studios Moscow is an upcoming indoor theme park and entertainment complex opening on 2022.
Cancelled or former parks
- Universal Studios Dubailand, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Broke ground 2008, no construction since 2009)
Universal Studios was attached to the project in South Korea since 2005 with other competitors of MGM and Paramount. After a long delay, the dealing started in 2016 to open Universal Studios Korea in 2020,  but the project was canceled in 2017 due to the several disagreements in dealing. The project in Asia was later replaced to Universal Beijing Resort.
Port Aventura opened in 1995. Tussauds Group had a 40.01% in the park while La Caixa had 33.19%, Anheuser-Busch had 19.9% and FECSA had 6.7%. In 1998 the majority of Tussauds Group'shares in Port Aventura (37%) were sold to Universal Parks & Resorts and the park was rebranded as 'Universal's Port Aventura' in 1999, which made it the first Universal Studios Theme Park in Europe. In 2002, two hotels and a water park (Costa Caribe) were constructed, and the resort was rebranded as 'Universal Mediterranea' the same year. In 2004, NBC Universal (Universal Studios' parent) sold all interest in PortAventura to La Caixa. It is owned and operated by La Caixa banking group's investment vehicle Criteria, but as of 2005 the Universal name has been dropped from the branding, and the resort was once again named 'PortAventura' (the space in the name is deliberately left out for trademark reasons).
- Costa Caribe Aquatic Park, Salou, Spain (2002–2004)
- Wet 'n Wild Orlando (Universal Orlando Resort, Orlando, Florida, United States; wholly owned) (1977–2016)
Theme park attractions and lands
Universal Studios incorporates replicas of attractions and lands in multiple parks around the world. The pages linked above contain comprehensive lists of the attractions and lands at Universal theme parks. Most of the attractions and lands are based on Universal licenses and other licensed properties.
- Halloween Horror Nights
- Incidents at Universal parks
- List of licensed properties at Universal Parks & Resorts
- "Congratulations Universal Studios Hollywood Tram Tour 50 Years Old Today". MiceChat. July 15, 2014. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
- "Customer Service Toll Numbers". March 25, 2018.
- Official website
- "Comcast to Buy Rest of Universal Studios Japan for $2.3 Billion". Bloomberg L.P. February 28, 2017.
- Lieberman, David. "Comcast Completes Acquisition Of GE’s 49% Stake In NBCUniversal." Deadline Hollywood (March 19, 2013)
- "Theme Index Museum Index 2017" (PDF).
- Kelly, Jason (May 25, 2017). "Volcano Bay: Universal Orlando opens new water park". WFTV. Cox Media Group. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
- Speck, Emilee (May 25, 2017). "Volcano Bay water park opens". WKMG-TV. Graham Media Group. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
- "Comcast Will Buy 51% Stake in Universal Studios Japan for $1.5 Billion". September 28, 2015 – via www.bloomberg.com.
- "Universal Studios Japan Corporate Information". Universal Studios Japan. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
- "Resorts World Sentosa – Universal Studios Singapore". Resorts World Sentosa. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2010.
- Sim, Nick (May 21, 2014). "10 Mind-Boggling Statistics About the Universal Orlando Resort". Theme Park Tourist.
- Hill, Jim (July 7, 2017). "Tom Williams, Universal Parks Chairman and CEO, Reflects on the Universal Orlando Resort's Magical Transformation". Huffington Post.
- Glover, Ronald (July 22, 2015). "Spielberg's Biggest Blockbuster May Be $1 Billion Payday From Comcast". Huffington Post.
- Morgan, Richard (July 24, 2015). "Steven Spielberg could soon be $1B richer". New York Post.
- "北京环球主题公园明年5月开园". February 16, 2020. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
- Los Angeles Times (October 13, 2014). "Universal Studios to open Beijing theme park in 2019". latimes.com.
- "Universal Studios Breaks Ground on Beijing Park, Opening Postponed Yet Again". www.thebeijinger.com. November 1, 2016. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
- "Universal Theme Park and Resort Planned for Beijing".
- "Universal Studios Dubailand: A Case Study on the Rise and Fall of Dubai". Fast Company. August 24, 2009.
- "Incheon to Host Paramount's First Movie Park". The Korea Times. May 20, 2008.
- "유니버설 공략에 TF팀까지…수자원公 '테마파크' 다시 나선다". News1. February 8, 2017.
- "송산 '유니버설스튜디오' 협약 지연…2020년 준공 '빨간불'". June 20, 2016.
- "Naissance de Port Aventura, gigantesque parc de loisirs près de Barcelone". liberation.fr. April 24, 1995. Retrieved October 28, 2018..
- Salvador Anton Clavé (April 16, 2007). The Global Theme Park Industry. CABI. p. 131. ISBN 978-1845932084.
- "Pearson raises pounds 58m on sale of Spanish theme park stake". independent.co.uk. June 23, 1998. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
- "Pearson Completes Tussauds Group Disposal". pearson.com. October 19, 1998. Retrieved October 18, 2018..
- "Veremonte y La Caixa se alían en Barcelona World". La Vanguardia. July 9, 2012. Retrieved July 26, 2018. Translation: "Veremonte and La Caixa team up in Barcelona World".
- "Del Dragon Khan al mayor polo turístico del Mediterráneo". diaridetarragona.com. Retrieved July 10, 2017.
- "U sells Port Aventura stake". variety.com. June 20, 2004. Retrieved October 28, 2018..