Universal Kids Resort
NBC Universal / Comcast
Opening in ????
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(12/25/2023) Universal Kids Resort - Construction Update (MORE...)
(12/1/2023) New Details For The Universal Kids Resort - Texas (MORE...)
(9/24/2023) Possible Attraction Names Trademarked For New Park (MORE...)
(6/11/2023) Universal Studios Texas Designer Chosen and the Tight Timeline To Open It (MORE...)
New Park - (12/25/2023) A few pictures of the site for the new Universal Kids Resort in Frisco, Texas can be found at ThemeparX this week. Nothing has gone vertical yet, as the groundbreaking just too place earlier this year, but from what we can see, crews are busy performing clearing and site prep across the entire property.
(12/1/2023) Universal has released the name of their new mini park coming to Frisco, Texas… and the official name is… “Universal Kids Resort”. According to the latest press release this will be Universal’s “first-ever theme park designed specifically for families with young children.”
Ok, I admit, the name is a little uninspired but at the same time, they’re trying to be clear about exactly who this park is being designed for. After all, in the big markets where Universal competes directly against Disney, Universal’s theme parks are most likely to attract families with Tweens and Teens in contrast to Disney who dominates the market for families with small children.
While they still aren’t revealing the theme of the lands and attractions just yet, they have changed out the concept artwork, giving us something new to zoom in and scan through for details and hidden secrets while we wait. Meanwhile, here is how they are describing the new theme park resort.
“Universal Kids Resort will include a theme park featuring immersive themed lands that celebrate Universal's iconic brand of entertainment, humor and fun – bringing to life its beloved characters and stories in ways that will wow the youngest theme park goers. It will feature family-friendly attractions, interactive and playful shows, unique merchandise, fun food and beverage venues and character meet and greets. The resort area will also include a 300-room themed hotel giving families a place to stay and to play following their day of adventure.”
"Universal Kids Resort will inspire the unbridled creativity of kids through imagination, discovery and most importantly – play," said Molly Murphy, President, Universal Creative. "We're designing the resort so kids and families can feel the thrill of being physically immersed in their most beloved stories and characters." Set in lush green landscape with a distinctive look, feel and scale specifically for younger kids, the park will deliver the quality the Universal brand is known for worldwide.
On the construction side of things, Universal has confirmed that the groundbreaking ont he site took place in November and will soon be buzzing with more than 2,5000 new construction related jobs needed to complete the project.
As for that new artwork… we can see that the resort itself will serve as the entrance gateway to the theme park itself. Just inside, where you would normally see gift-shops flanking guests, they’ve instead set up a pair of green spaces that appear to have some shade coverings with some small dry play structures on the one side, and what could possibly be a splash-pool on the right.
Moving to the land on your left, everything is very pink with giant flower structures everywhere, which gives me the impression that this could be a Trolls themed land. Near the front of the land is a small green family roller coaster and deeper inside I can see a large play structure, along with what could be a couple of rides, including a Balloon themed family tower ride. There are some structures along the outer edge with one area filled with outdoor tables around a group of three food stands. Further down there looks to be a small pink amphitheater structure with what looks like a teal VW Bus parked in the grass out front.
Leaving this pinkish land, guests will enter a one with more of a green theme with some buildings featuring awnings with a purple and gold stripe theme, giving it almost a medieval style theme that could make this a possible Shrek themed land. Again, a couple of small building along the outer edge, and what appears to be some kind of car ride with a golden roadway towards the center edge. Of course cars and Shrek don’t go together, unless this is a ride in giant onion carriages, so I may be a little off on the overall theme here. Towards the back corner of the land is what looks like some fountains in a splash-play area and another play structure.
The architecture of the next land is a bit of a head scratcher, there are some larger building here (possibly a dark ride or a large show theater) but large plain white buildings, and almost a mexican style clock-tower building in one corner, along with some big open spaces for crowds to gather. Not a lot to be seen as far as rides go other than a purple wave swinger style ride towards the lowe end and some kind of mystery white building with a brown roof next to it.
Beyond this land we come to a split where you can head back towards the front of the park over a bridge through a central island is that home to some kind of river rapids ride that may contain a flat rides or two. The theme here is a bit of the mystery, other than most of the buildings have interesting purple/grey/metalic looking roofs structures that are all arched in shape, almost like aircraft hangers. There is also access to another family coaster, just bigger than the first one.
Moving back to the perimeter walkway, the next land in the back corner of the park appears to be jam packed with a variety of very colorful attractions of all kinds, along with some high tech looking yellow paint markings across the pathways. In addition to more play structures, there looks to be a pair of colorful kid sized drop towers, and a unique looking contraption where arms holding two sets of three blue spheres that can rotate ferris-wheel style while moving up and tower the sides of the tower. Overall I’m not sure what to make of the land itself, other than those blue spheres do remind me of the Gyrospehre ride vehicles from the first Jurassic World film. If so, maybe we’ve got a Jurassic Mr. DNA themed playland.
Moving on to the last perimeter land, this one is obviously aquatic themed and dare I say it… it obviously seems to be themed to SpongeBob SquarePants. There is a giant pineapple in one corner, and what is clearly a view of the backside of the Krusty Krab restaurant in the lower end. Other rides here include a SpongeBob colored Crazy Bus/Sub ride, your typical Dumbo style round-about ride, and a pair of side by side spinning rides that could be either a Mack style Twist & Splash or a pair of those fun jet-ski style rides that several Legoland parks feature. Oh, and behind that giant Pineapple I mentioned is a very large plain looking building that would make a perfect home for a SpongeBob themed dark ride.
And there you have it… past here you return to the main entrance and resort hotel plaza after a grand tour of six different themed zones.
(9/24/2023) While we haven’t seen much since the announcement about the planned Universal Micro-Park in Texas, we do know that the park will be designed entirely for younger visitors and is expected to use Universal’s various IPs intended for that demographic. While looking into trademarks files for Universal Orlando I came across a couple of other names that could very likely be for Trolls themed attractions intended for a Dreamworks or Trolls themed area(s) at the Texas park.
Both of these names were just filed on Sept. 17th, and both intended for use as the possible name for a future attraction: Dreamworks Dream Runner and Trolls Rainbow Racers. Just something to file away until we learn more about what is coming to this new park project.
(6/11/2023) According to the Dallas Biz Journal, Gensler has been selected to serve as the design firm for the upcoming Universal Studios Texas mini theme park / resort project. The estimated budget for the project right now is said to be $550 million, which will feature four or five mini theme park lands based on various Universal related IPs that would appeal to kids, along with a 300-room hotel and small attached retail/restaurant area.
While neither Gensler, nor Universal, would confirm the relationship, Gensler is already attached as a designer for the larger “Fields development” coming to the area that would include two PGA 18-hole golf courses, an Omni PGA Frisco Resort and the PGA of Americas HQ, along with a high-end master planned community area that will feature everything from single family homes, condos and apartments. Gensler is also involved in a “Fields West” project that will feature a massive retail / restaurant / entertainment development, office spaces, more residences and two more hotels: a Ritz Carlton and Autograph Collection by Marriott.
Oh, and if you need another interesting tidbit about Gensler, in January, just around the time the project was announced, the design firm just hired former head Disney Imagineer Bob Weis.
As of now, I haven’t heard anything regarding activity at the site, but with the estimated timeline, I would expect that to change very quickly. As part of Frisco’s agreement with Universal, the project stands to receive $12.7 million in incentives, provided that the 300-room hotel and theme park are ready to open by June 2026.
That’s just a short 36 months from now to transform an undeveloped site into a fully functional mini theme park resort. With that in mind, I’d expect to see an armada of construction equipment arriving to Frisco very shortly to begin work at a frantic pace, where they will probably spend the next 12-18 months clearing the site and installing all the necessary infrastructure to support it (water, sewer, lay out the roads, etc) and then the next 18-24 months for the actual construction, installation and fine tuning of it all. By contrast, Universal has spent much of the past 12-18 months putting up the buildings and track for the attractions at their new Epic Universe park in Orlando that isn’t expected to open for about another 24 months in Summer 2025. While the Texas project is going to be a fraction of the size of the huge Orlando project, it’s still going to be a bit of a rush to get it all done on time.
While Universal has yet to confirm the theme of any of the lands or attractions coming to the park, don’t be surprised if they attempt to clone a number of their existing family rides in use at their other parks. Installing a copy of a ride system they are already familiar with, or the purchase of some proven “off-the-shelf” rides from well known ride companies with custom theming will also be a key time saver and help with the successful launch of the park.
(3/17/2023) The latest approvals to move ahead with the proposed mini Universal Studios theme park in Frisco, Texas, some new concept artwork of the development have been posted to a city run website for the project. This includes a look at how the project’s roads will tie into the existing highways, as well as the placement of the park, hotel and parking lots. They also show that there will be a small berm with trees planted all around the edge of the development.
According to some details mentions at the meeting, LocalProfile has mentioned that the basic park hours expected right now are 10am to 6pm on most days, but will vary based on demand. This will include extending close to 9pm on some nights, and up to 20 days per year when the park will be allowed to stay open until 10pm for holidays and special events.
(3/10/2023) Good news, the city of Frisco has voted to approve the needed zoning permissions needed for Universal’s plans to build a small theme park resort in the area, allowing the project to move forward to the next phases of development. As one might expect, there are a good number of locals opposed to having this kind of development dropped into their city, but the city stands to gain quite a bit of revenue from having Universal come in, not to mention all the assorted other businesses that will want to develop in the area in support of Universal’s plans.
(2/25/2023) According to a local news update, the leaders in Frisco, TX have announced they were holding off on giving final approval to the proposed new Universal Studios theme park. For now they are looking to address concerns of the neighbors and citizens who live in the area about the project before they meet again on the issue on March 7th, where they could once again vote to approve it and move forward.
(1/12/2023) Universal Studios Texas… who would have saw this coming? In a surprise announcement the leaders of the Universal Studios theme parks announced a deal where they have obtained about 97 acres in Frisco, Texas (just north of Dallas) where they are planning to build a brand new Universal theme park.
This won’t be a studios park like in Hollywood, or anything on the scale of the parks in Orlando, but instead this will be a smaller scale park with experiences that will be more focused on family groups, especially those with smaller children. So in other words, I think it’s safe to say this will be a park focused on many of the more child-friendly IP’s in Universal’s portfolio such as the animated works from Dreamsworks Animation (Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Trolls, How To Train your Dragon, etc..) as well as Illumination (Despicable Me, Minions, Secret Life of Pets, Sing), and who knows, given Universal’s relationship with Dr Seuss and Nintendo properties, you may see some of those characters as well.
Looking over the artwork, I can see what definitely looks like a Trolls themed area in the lower right side of the park, and I can see Jurassic Park/World style entrance portal on a bridge in the upper left corner before that part gets cropped out. In the upper right, there is sort of some castle looking structures, which could be for either Shrek or How To Train your Dragon perhaps.
In addition to the small theme park the project will include a 300-room resort hotel. Universal did not give a timeline for this project yet, and it still needs to go through the various approval processes in Frisco, but currently the reaction from Texas seems quite ecstatic about it, so hopefully we’ll find out more soon.