Universal Parks & Resorts has agreed a deal to build a new $2.7 billion resort in South Korea, kick-starting a project which has been stalled for two years due to funding issues.
As well as a new Universal Studios theme park, the resort is set to include a water park, a CityWalk shopping and dining district, hotels, apartments and a golf course. It will be located near capital Seoul in Hwaseong City, with construction work set to begin in 2011 in time for an opening in early 2014.
Universal first announced the plan to build a park in South Korea in May 2007, but has struggled to finance the project. However, it now has signed an agreement with Lotte Group, a major player in the Korean retail market, and POSCO, a steelmaker which will lead construction of the park. Lotte, which will take a 26.7% stake in the resort, has experience of running theme parks through its Lotteworld indoor park in Seoul.
The South Korean government has agreed to extend road and rail infrastructure to support the resort, with government officials claiming the overall construction effort could create over 40,000 jobs. One of those could go to film director Steven Spielberg, who is a consultant to Universal Parks and Resorts and may play a part in the design of the new park.
Universal Studios Korea will be Universal's third park in Asia (after Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Singapore). The company has aggressively pursued expansion outside of its core U.S. market over the last few years, and says that it still intends to open a park in Dubai by 2012.