Universal targets Disney's core audience and announces plans to open a new theme park in Texas specifically designed for families with young children

25 days ago in "Universal Park - Texas"

Posted: Wednesday January 11, 2023 1:3pm ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Universal has made a surprise announcement that it plans to open a new theme park in Frisco, Texas, specifically designed for families with young children.

Universal has typically targeted thrill seekers and families with teenagers, but this new park puts Universal firmly into Disney's target audience, families with younger children.

The new park concept, set in a lush green landscape and featuring immersive themed lands, celebrates Universal's iconic brand of entertainment, humor and innovation and brings to life its beloved characters and stories in ways that will wow even the youngest theme park goers.

The proposed park will be designed to be more intimate and engaging for younger audiences and will be sized for a regional audience. It will be full of family-friendly attractions, interactive and playful shows, character meet and greets, unique merchandise and fun food and beverage venues. Although smaller in size, it will still carry the same quality as Universal's other larger resort destinations.

Part of 97 acres of land recently purchased by the company, the proposed park also has plans for an adjacent themed hotel and room for expansion. The entire area is intended to have a completely different look, feel, and scale than Universal's existing parks and will appeal to a new audience for the brand.

Universal Parks & Resorts selected the city of Frisco, in North Texas, as the area for this new concept given the city's growing population and ability to attract businesses to the area. The proposed location for the new concept is ideally situated east of the Dallas North Tollway and north of Panther Creek Parkway.

"We are excited about the opportunity to partner with the city of Frisco and Mayor Cheney as we work to bring this innovative, new concept to life designed specifically for a younger generation of Universal fans," said Page Thompson, President, New Ventures, Universal Parks & Resorts. "We think North Texas is the perfect place to launch this unique park for families given its growing popularity within this part of the country."

"Frisco is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. and has been recognized as a great place to plant professional roots and raise a family," said Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney. "This new Universal concept will continue to enhance our tax base, expand employment opportunities and bring even more fun to Frisco benefiting our residents, businesses, and visitors."

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AnotherDayAnotherDollar11 days ago

I didn't say South Austin. I said a bit South (of DFW) in the Austin area. I was actually thinking in the Jarrell/Saledo area before you get to Waco. 2 hours from DFW, 2 hours from San Antonio, 2 1/2 hours from Houston, 1 hour from Austin, 5 hours from OK and LA + you don't get as cold a weather as DFW. Also not sure you're saying DFW gets San Antonio and Austin doesn't get OK. South San Antonio to Frisco is 300+ miles and 5+ hours. Not that different from OK City to Austin. If you are going to give San Antonio to DFW then Austin gets OK. Austin is growing at a faster rate than DFW. Using raw numbers is disingenuous when comparing growth. Heck San Antonio is bigger than Dallas and Austin is bigger than FW and they are within 90 miles of each other. However you are probably right in that I was thinking of this more of a Universal Studios TX akin to Hollywood or Orlando. And this doesn't seem to be it. I very strongly believe if they were to open that in TX it would make sense to be in the surrounding Austin area.

trr111 days ago

celluloid17 days ago

Texas area they chose makes total sense when you see how dense the population is and is projected to continue to be for a good while. Also the surrounding areas in the same thing. It was only a matter of time before one of the two biggiest theme park resort dogs went for Texas. Besides Cali and FL, it makes the most sense. It will be a better theme park than anything drivable distance there currently has and good enough for many to have it as their home and revisit as well as curious people to check out while they are there.

andysol17 days ago

South of Austin yields you Austin, Houston, San Antonio, DFW. Maybe, just maybe some Louisiana. DFW yields you all those same places + Oklahoma and Louisiana. And this is going to be a regional park- not a national destination. While summer and holidays will get massive inflow from those other locations mentioned, the weekdays are going to be made up almost entirely on passholders and locals. When you exclude summer, weekends and holidays- weekdays are half the year. So that’s crucial. And DFW metro is 3x larger and growing at a faster (raw number) clip. So bigger pool for weekdays and a bigger pool for weekend/summer/holidays kind of makes DFW a no brainer compared to basically anywhere in the US. Philly/Virginia area being arguably the best viable alternatives. Austin? Maybe if a national destination. But regional? Not for this park. Everything Frisco is doing is higher end. The new PGA course/hotel, The Star (cowboys practice facility), the mall w/ a Kidzania and attached Hyatt regency, and now this. This isn’t your Arlington or fiesta Texas areas with Fairfield inns and holiday inn expresses. The aim is solely on more affluent younger families. The ones who will be able to spend 4 nights at the new epic universe hotel or hard rock. This area checks all the boxes. And those young more affluent families 3-5 hours away have a perfect getaway.

Andrew C20 days ago

I know this is a new concept for Universal. Is this their first regional park as well? If so, it’s a pretty big deal.

_caleb20 days ago

I think you may be over-estimating what this is going to be.

TalkToEthan20 days ago

"huge" ??? I just can't give you that one as a justified description Huge tourism is found in places like: Orlando NYC Vegas Los Angeles London and especially Paris and Bangkok Perhaps places like San Fran, Rio and Dubai on the second tier. Texas gulf would be like 4th tier, dare I say 5th.

Coaster Lover21 days ago

If I had to guess, based on similar parks of similar size in similar regions, the target attendance of this park is likely <1 million guests per year. I think that should be easily attainable in the region they are building.

lazyboy97o21 days ago

It’s a Legoland Discovery Center, not a Legoland Park. They’re small mall-based attractions described as “The Ultimate Indoor LEGO Playground.” Disney did seriously look into building Texposition. Not a park or resort, but a festival center mall.

donaldtoo21 days ago

San Antonio also has Six Flags Fiesta Texas, plus Schlitterbahn is just up the road from SA in New Braunfels (also with a location in Galveston), and we have Kalahari Resort Round Rock up here near us living in northwest Austin. There have been rumors here in central Texas since I was in HS (I graduated in ‘80) that Disney was gonna’ build a resort here in the central Texas area. I also related same in another thread regarding the weather in north Texas vs. central Texas. Many more colder days up there, so it struck me as kind of an unusual choice, as well. So yes, either way, I’m glad it’s coming to Texas, as, hopefully, we’ll make some weekend runs up there with our 2 young granddaughters…!!! :)

JoeCamel21 days ago

This kids park is 20 minutes away from a legoland. I'm pretty sure they did the demo research

AnotherDayAnotherDollar21 days ago

Haven't posted on this forum in a long, but just wanted to chime in here. I think this is a tremendous, aggressive move by Comcast and Universal. In line with Roberts goal of overtaking Disney. Texas is a great opportunity for major theme park lands and this is a great first step. Right now Texas only has SeaWorld in San Antonio and SixFlags in DFW. I am a bit confused by the choice for DFW though. I believe a bit south in the Austin area would be better. Yes there are more people in DFW, but it also gets way colder there than it does in Austin. Excited to see how this will play out either way.

lazyboy97o22 days ago

Part of the problem with Hong Kong Disneyland is that its expectations were not consistent. While part of the Disneyland Asia project was looking for potential areas for smaller projects, it was also a fishing expedition with Shanghai as its white whale. Once the project settled on Hong Kong the promise was for a much bigger park. Disney got Hong Kong to commit to developing infrastructure for a larger park and initially announced a much larger park. Universal Studios Singapore is not owned and operated by Universal. Its purpose is not as a stand-alone attraction but to diversify the offings of Resorts World Sentosa. The park is also about twice the size of the reported Texas park and hotel.

Sir_Cliff22 days ago

I am kind of curious as to whether Disney sees Aulani as a success. I have never been there, but it looks like a high-quality experience to me and I think I would book a few nights there the next time I end up in Hawaii. My impression, though, was that it was very expensive to build and didn't sell well as a DVC. Having been to the Sentosa Island Universal Studios in Singapore which seems to have been well-received, I get the impression Universal does have reasonable leeway to operate smaller parks in local markets without the weight of expectations faced by Disney. I suspect, as others have mentioned, though, that the Las Vegas horror venue is a more profitable concept. I do have the same sense that Disney has to worry more about alternative vacation destinations beyond Orlando such as Royal Caribbean than regional attractions, one of the reasons they really need to correct the perception of the rapidly eroding value of a Disney vacation. I'm not sure that phenomenon will even necessarily drive their core market to Universal Orlando as much as it will send them somewhere else entirely for their vacations.