Over the past several weeks, Universal Orlando Resort has been waging a war with the people behind the proposed SKYPLEX Orlando attraction. Though Universal started simply enough by just voicing its opposition to the project through official channels, they have stepped up their smear campaign in recent days, funding a mailer campaign denouncing the project and even launching a website and petition aimed at stopping development on this project dead in its tracks.
Universal has already been successful in the getting the Orange County planning and zoning board to give the proposed project a thumbs down back in October. And even though this was a big setback, it wasn’t the end of the line for this project, as this vote was largely advisory. The ultimate fate of SKYPLEX Orlando will be decided during an Orange County commission vote, happening tomorrow. If the vote doesn’t go SKYPLEX’s way, the project will be stopped dead in its tracks, at least in Orlando.
With only 24 hours to go until the vote, theme park fans who are interested in this proposed attraction are definitely biting their nails. While Universal has argued that SKYPLEX will be an eyesore and a detriment to the I-Drive area, many believe that this new attraction will actually enhance the area and help boost tourism as thrill junkies from around the world come to the area to experience the world's tallest roller coaster and drop tower.
Though there are plenty of theme park enthusiasts who are interested in the future of this project, even if you don’t care about roller coasters or the SKYPLEX project in general, you should be concerned about this move, as the success or failure of this proposal has far-reaching implications for the future of the theme park industry in Orlando.
1. Influence is Universal
Though there might be some legitimate concerns regarding the SKYPLEX project, by and large the biggest argument against the project is simply that Universal doesn’t want it built. Now whether that’s because Universal is looking to develop the land themselves for future theme park or hotel locations, or because they are worried about competition, one thing is for certain, a vote against SKYPLEX is a vote that gives Universal more power.
While Walt Disney World initially founded the Reedy Creek Improvement District in order to maintain complete control of its land, Universal has no such power, and is still beholden to the Orange County government for approval for large projects both in and around its gates. However, now they are trying to flex their muscle in the local government and are actively trying to find a way to block this project at any cost.
While lobbying the government is something pretty much all companies do, Universal’s involvement in the SKYPLEX project is unprecedented, and if they can successfully squash this project, it will give Universal unparalleled power in Orange County, which could have a rippling effect…