Though it has been nearly two decades since Islands of Adventure opened at Universal Orlando Resort, fans have always been excited by the prospect of a third Universal park joining the lineup at this growing resort. However, as the years went on and Universal began building up its on-property hotel inventory, those who were hoping to see another theme park in this area started realizing that the resort was quickly running out of space. A third Universal park seemed all but impossible given the space constraints just three short years ago.
However, it the situation at Universal has changed substantially in just the last year, and now it looks all but inevitable that a third park will join the lineup at Universal Orlando Resort sometime in the near future. And thanks to some recent developments, we might have a good idea about where that park might be located, and what it could look like as well…
1. The unnoticed land purchase of 2015
In the final weeks of 2015, only a day before Christmas, it was confirmed that Universal quietly closed on 450 acres of undeveloped land spread across multiple parcels four miles from the current location of Universal Orlando Resort. You can see these parcels relative to Universal Boulevard above. Interestingly, this land has already been zoned by Orange County for use for hotel rooms, residential units, and most tellingly, theme-park style attractions.
Now while you might think a big land purchase like this (which effectively doubles the area of Universal Orlando Resort) would be big news, as mentioned previously, Universal worked very hard to keep this development tightly under wraps, only confirming the project during the busiest part of the holiday season, when everyone was distracted. And even though the purchase was completed over five months ago, Universal is still refusing to comment about this land purchase. But of course, since the transaction happened in Orange County, the sale is now a part of the pubic county record (and has appeared in parent company Comcast's year-end financials), so even if Universal isn't quite ready to say anything about this new land purchase yet, we know it did happen, and it seems highly unlikely that the resort would sink $130 Million in to a land acquisition that they weren't planning to develop in the near future.
2. The Nintendo development
Of course, only a few months prior to this development, something else major was revealed: Universal surprised fans by announcing that it was developing attractions for its family of parks based on unspecified Nintendo properties. However, in the months since this announcement was made (which was almost exactly a year ago today), no updates have been released about what kinds of attractions are being created or perhaps more importantly, where these attractions will go. After all, both Universal Orlando Resort parks are a bit short on space and while there certainly is a case to be made for demolishing the KidZone area at the back of Universal Studios Florida, there hasn't been any real traction on such a drastic removal.
However, in the context of the land purchase above, it seems logical to think that perhaps Universal could be holding back any announcement of Nintendo-themed attractions because there is something bigger on the horizon. Which leads us to our next (and most recent) point of evidence that Universal is indeed developing a third park....