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Universal to Build Child-Focused Theme Park in Frisco, Texas
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Coming soon to North Texas from Universal Parks & Resorts - it’s a family-oriented theme park plus hotel. Also in the works for Universal: plans to bring a Halloween Horror Nights experience to Las Vegas all year ‘round.

Frisco, Texas was picked for the theme park, due in part to its growing population in the Texas region. According to Page Thompson, President of New Ventures for Universal Parks & Resorts, the project is innovative and new, and will be designed for and aimed at “a younger generation of Universal fans.”

While details about the park have yet to be revealed, it will feature rides, shows, food, and meet and greets with characters such as Shrek. Current art renderings for the planned park show a large entrance and lagoon as well as differently themed areas of the park, each of which will be immersive in nature and based upon the characters and themes from Universal’s oeuvre.

Universal says the park will be entirely unique, completely unlike other Universal Studios theme parks, with a focus on live shows, merchandise specific to the park, and a variety of food and beverage offerings for the whole family. The park design includes a river and boat ride.

At 97 acres it will be smaller than other Universal theme and resort locations, but it will also include a themed hotel and room for expansion adjacent to the initial park space.

A press release from Universal asserts that the park will “look, feel and scale” differently than existing parks and will also appeal to “a new audience” for Universal. That new audience is younger guests.

Universal Parks & Resorts Chairman and CEO Mark Woodbury has said the company is excited to bring a new version of the company’s iconic theme parks to North Texas, and that the location was not chosen randomly. “We literally looked virtually every place you could imagine…this is a great place and it's a great market…a vibrant community, a growing community, lots of young families and very centrally located.”

Woodbury believes this new theme park will fit well in the Frisco environment, creating original and innovative interactive experiences that are family friendly.

"We have a portfolio of terrific attractions that appeal to young families around the world. We had an idea to bring all of those together and create a destination that is specifically designed to appeal to families with young children,” Woodbury says, noting this is the plan for the Frisco location.

While the park’s scale will be smaller, it will still feature the quality theming and interactive attractions that Universal is known for providing at its larger parks.
It will be designed both as a regional draw that will encourage repeat visits and to appeal to visitors with children from beyond the region as well. But the focus will stay primarily local, as a place that can be visited frequently “in between visits to our big vacation destinations like Los Angeles or Orlando," Woodbury attests.
It will be designed as a single or two-day experience for guests. A 300-room resort hotel will also be built on the property and will be themed to fit the park’s attractions.

Thompson stresses that everything in the park will be sized appropriately for young guests, such as rides without height limitations on them, and the use of characters and theming that are already popular with families and kids. “All the characters will be beloved Universal characters, [and] …we’re really looking for all sorts of interactive experiences that kids can have, and they will be able to immerse themselves in the lands featuring their favorite characters.” Along with rides, these experiences will include games and learning activities.

Just as enthusiastic as Universal itself, is Frisco, Texas mayor Jeff Cheney. He believes the new theme park and resort will enhance the area’s tax base as well as expand employment possibilities in the region. Most of all, he feels that it will “bring even more fun to Frisco, benefiting our residents, businesses, and visitors.”
The theme park location will be near a new housing development planned to include approximately 10,000 residences as well as a $500 million Omni resort hotel.
The new theme park should positively impact this development, according to Cheney, who attests that “It's going to be a big win for our tax base, local business here, small business,” as well as giving a positive economic boost to hotels, dining options, and shopping locations throughout the area.  

Some local residents had concerns, however, about the impact of a new resort, wanting assurances that their lives would not be upended by the development and traffic snarls. In fact, traffic patterns created by the theme park were a specific concern for the growing suburban area – both now and long term. Others were concerned by an already-expanding influx of construction and entertainment in the area, such as the PGA’s presence, and the Dallas Stars facility.

But city and Universal officials have explained that any projected impacts both in terms of traffic and regional growth have been examined. Park guests will arrive when local residents have already made workday commutes, and hours will be designed to be “countercyclical” to existing traffic patterns, according to Universal.
Additionally, the city is planning to add new roads and lane assignments that would be changeable throughout the day to further lessen any impact of the park’s presence on the community at large.

Overall, the community feels positive about the plan for the park, recognizing that home property values will increase, as will employment options, not to mention expanding options for family entertainment close to the area in which families live.

For now, everything is on track for the theme park and hotel development. The park will take at least several years to complete and does not yet have a name.
Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Nev., the finishing touches are being put on Universal’s plan for a full calendar of horror. Long known for its Halloween Horror Nights seasonal experiences at the Universal Studios Hollywood and Orlando locations, an all-year version is being planned for Area 15 in Las Vegas.
It will be the anchor tenant in a 20-acre expansion for the entertainment district, which currently houses the Las Vegas iteration of Meow Wolf, Omega Mart, an interactive art installation and attraction. The new area for Universal will feature 110,000 square feet and should complement the district’s current innovative and experiential entertainment options.
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