Universal is testing both regional markets and the power of its own name
Universal has said specifically that this new property is designed to be completely separate from its current theme park offerings and will have a different look, feel, and scale than what Universal fans are used to. This is important for two reasons:
First of all, this shows that Universal is ready to test out smaller, more regional markets. Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood are both in massive theme park markets, where guests may already be traveling to do something else, and can easily add a day at a Universal park to their existing plans. In a more remote area like Frisco, Texas, the vast majority of interested park-goers would likely be locals, and Universal seems to be trying to see if a small park in a regional market can thrive the same way the big parks do in the larger markets. This strategy is one that has worked well for not only the LEGOLAND family of theme parks, but also Cedar Fair and Six Flags. If Universal's new family-friendly park succeeds, perhaps this could pave the way for Universal to create other small parks in other regions around the US, which is something that main competitor Disney has been unwilling to do.
In addition to the potential to become a leader in the regional park space, this little experiment from Universal also tests the strength of the Universal brand itself. Though perhaps not as ubiquitous as Disney, the Universal parks have come into their own over the last few decades, especially with the addition of Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010, emerging as a leader in the themed entertainment space, and, according to some, a legitimate threat to Disney in this area. With the addition of this new park, Comcast executives could be trying to see whether the name "Universal" is enough to draw folks to smaller, regional parks. And if the answer is yes, that could also pave the way for more regional parks in the future, potentially providing the launching pad for Universal to become the biggest theme park brand in the US.
According to Universal, Frisco, Texas was selected as the location for the new park because of its up-and-coming business scene and growing population. However, behind the scenes, there are likely tax incentives that also make Texas a low-risk place for Universal to try something new for its future theme park concepts. And though there are no existing Disney or Universal parks in Texas, the state is home to some major theme park players, including two Six Flags locations, a Great Wolf Lodge, and SeaWorld San Antonio, proving that there is some local appetite for themed entertainment here.
Though the land has been secured for this new project, there is still a lot that Universal is keeping secret, including the name, potential opening date, and even exactly where the park is located (Universal has only shared that it is east of Dallas North Tollway and north of Panther Creek Parkway). However, more information should be revealed in the coming months, especially as final plans for this exciting new park are nailed down.
Do you think Universal has the chance of making this smaller kid-friendly regional park work? Let us know your thoughts by leaving us a comment below or on our Facebook page.
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