The planned Universal Studios resort in Korea is on track to open in early 2014, having been delayed for two years due to the global economic downturn.
Universal Parks & Resorts is developing the $2.7 billion resort in partnership with Lotte Group, a major player in the Korean retail market, and POSCO, a steelmaker which will lead construction of the park. 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.
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. Kim Moon-soo, the governor of Gyeonggi province (in which Hwaseong City resides), told the Nashua Telegraph that the Korean park would be Universal's biggest yet: "Our Universal Studios in Korea is bigger than all the other studios combined."
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 will go to movie director Steven Spielberg, who will act as a creative consultant on the project.
The partners in the project are pinning their hopes for the resort's success on its ability to attract international visitors, particularly from China. Universal Parks & Resorts CEO Thomas L. Williams claimed: "The number of Asian international tourists is significant and growing. This kind of resort that can and will draw international visitors to South Korea."
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, although a project to open a park in Dubai by 2012 has stalled during the last twelve months.
Universal first announced the plan to build a park in South Korea in May 2007, but struggled to finance the project prior to sealing a deal with Lotte Group and POSCO in January 2010.