New signs of life on and around Universal Orlando's expansion property

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Universal has built a new access road to its expansion properties a few miles southeast of its current theme parks in Central Florida. - PHOTO USED BY PERMISSION OF @BIORECONSTRUCT
  • photo used by permission of @bioreconstruct
  • Universal has built a new access road to its expansion properties a few miles southeast of its current theme parks in Central Florida.
Universal Orlando’s vast expansion property is showing new signs of life, with new roads appearing in the last couple weeks of June.

One significant new road intersects with Destination Parkway near the new Courtney at Universal Boulevard apartments, just up the road from UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality. The unnamed road heads north into Universal’s property. Aerial photos from mid-June showed grading for the road, and it was recently paved.

Lots of activity could be seen on the property Friday, behind a chain-link fence and entrance guarded by security trucks. Dump trucks drove in and out, while bulldozers and other equipment leveled off piles of dirt in the distance.




Orange County is not building the roads, said county spokeswoman Doreen Overstreet. She said the county’s planning department confirmed that the roads are being built by Universal, and that they appear to be access roads for Universal’s permitted grading activities.

Universal’s media office didn’t respond to requests for more information about the roads.

The company’s plans for mass grading were approved through the South Florida Water Management District, for more than 200 acres.

Universal has reacquired around 1,000 acres in Orlando over the past few years for new construction, although the company hasn’t confirmed many details about the land. It’s a few miles southeast of their current theme parks – Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay.

The grading plans show Universal will level off some areas, add new ponds, new canals and tear out several existing small structures. Decades ago, the area was used as a bombing range and target practice area for Lockheed Martin, which still has a major plant nearby.

Universal hasn’t confirmed plans for a new theme park in Orlando, but it has ramped up hiring on its creative teams that would plan such an expansion.

Universal has parks in Orlando, Hollywood, Singapore and Japan. It is also building large new hotels near the expansion property, on the site of the now-demolished Wet ’N’ Wild water park.

The new paved road is believed to provide access for grading and eventually construction on the expansion land. The entrance is off Destination Parkway near UCF's Rosen College of Hospitality. - PHOTO BY PAUL BRINKMANN
  • photo by Paul Brinkmann
  • The new paved road is believed to provide access for grading and eventually construction on the expansion land. The entrance is off Destination Parkway near UCF's Rosen College of Hospitality.

Theme-park observers believe Universal will add either a Nintendo-themed park or one based on Dreamworks intellectual property – including movie themes from Shrek, Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda.

What is confirmed is this: Universal plans to add warehouses and office buildings on 100 acres along Sand Lake Road.

Under previous ownership as Vivendi Universal, the theme park company originally bought the property from Lockheed Martin in 1998, and then sold it off following economic downturns.

Universal’s new property may allow it to compete more with Disney World.

Universal is much closer to the heart of Orlando, but Disney owns far more land. Disney World has only scratched the surface of its property in Central Florida, where it owns up to 30,000 acres and has four major theme parks with multiple resort hotels.