Orlando theme park construction booming

Rendering of the Saphire Falls Resort

There’s a boom of new Orlando-area projects planned or under construction in the specialized theme park business — and that means plenty of work for contractors, though details about some of the upcoming projects are still quite sketchy.

“We are hearing that Universal has decided to proceed with plans to build two hotel towers on the Wet ‘n Wild property, which will become available after the world’s first water park closes forever after next summer,” writes Robert Niles in Theme Park Insider. “With the water park and its parking lot across the street taking up about 51 acres, the parcels are far too small to host a third gate for the Universal Orlando Resort. It’d be a tight fit to provide a home for the sprawling types of hotels that Universal Orlando has built on its core property, too.”

Rendering of the Saphire Falls Resort
Rendering of the Saphire Falls Resort
Universal’s Wet N Wild water park will probably be replaced by a couple of high-rise hotel towers within the next few years

He says “two high-rise hotels would fit perfectly on the parcels,” fulfilling Universal management’s desire to have between 10,000 and 15,000 hotel rooms on its property. “The addition of the Sapphire Falls Resort next summer will bring the resort up to 5,000 rooms, so Universal has quite a way to go to reach its goal. With land filling quickly at the resort, there’s just one way left to go — up — so hotels towers appear to be the solution.

“As for replacing Wet ‘n Wild, Universal Orlando has announced plans for the new Volcano Bay water park, to be built on land south of the Cabana Bay hotel and scheduled for a 2017 opening,” Niles says.

He also says Disney has “selected a contractor to build its planned Star Wars Land (at Walt Disney World), and that the announcement of the new land will be coming very soon.” (The contractor is not named.)

“Still, when a theme park gets to the point of hiring outside construction help, that means that the project is a go and shovels are ready to hit the ground. Fans should expect visible construction work to begin on Star Wars Land in the park not long after the official announcement,” which he expects may be on Aug. 15.

“There have been times of similar level of construction, but I think what’s fascinating folks now is that it seems like both Disney and Universal are getting aggressive and being very public about it,” Jim Hill, who monitors theme parks through Jim Hill Media, is quoted as saying in The Orlando Sentinal. “We live in a TMZ universe: ‘Wow, look at that — who’s fighting who.'”



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