Frisco’s latest development project will bring a big slate of superheroes, TV stars and movie stars to Collin County.
Universal Parks & Resorts — the theme park arm of entertainment giant NBCUniversal — has purchased a site on the Dallas North Tollway for a new children’s theme park and hotel. The nearly 100-acre planned entertainment center will be located on the Dallas North Tollway in the $10 billion Fields development.
Drone video: See the future Universal Studios site in Frisco on the Dallas North Tollway.
Frisco officials and Universal executives unveiled plans for the new development to break ground Wednesday after months of planning and negotiations. The Orlando-based company acquired the land for the theme park in December using a Delaware-based shell company, county records show.
Mark Woodbury, chairman and CEO of Universal Parks and Resorts, said the project will be designed to appeal to families, and the immersive experiences will make it a one- or two-day destination. The park includes four or five Universal-themed interactive experiences, as well as a 300-room hotel.
“You have a fantastic town,” Woodbury said. “It’s vibrant and full of energy and full of young families, which makes it the perfect place for what we do.
“We have a great portfolio of attractions that appeal to young families around the world,” he said. “We had the idea to bring all of these together and create a space specifically designed to appeal to families with young children. It will be a rich, enriching experience for families to enjoy together – creating memories that will last a lifetime.”
Woodbury said the park’s attractions will be “built around a scenic environment.”
Universal executives have not provided a timeline for the project. Property sales records show the company had four years to open the park.
Mayor Jeff Cheney called it a “one-of-a-kind” project at what Universal considers sites around the world.
“For generations to come, families will experience immersive environments with the stories they love,” he said. “They were looking for it somewhere in the world, not just in the country to begin with.
“They decided North Texas would be a good fit,” Cheney said. “You can all see why they chose Frisco – Frisco is known for being family friendly.”
Unlike Universal Studios’ sprawling parks in Orlando, Los Angeles and overseas, the Frisco development will be a smaller attraction.
“The park is about a quarter the size of our larger parks in Orlando,” said Page Thompson, president of Universal Parks. “It is full of family attractions, interactive and playful shows.
“You’ll get to meet and greet all of our favorite Universal characters.”
The project at the northeast corner of the toll road and Panther Creek Parkway will also include retail and restaurants, according to an agreement with developers Fields.
Frisco officials on Tuesday hailed the project as a “major economic and tourism development.”
Plans for the Frisco Universal theme park come after decades of speculation that entertainment companies, including Disney, were scouting for a theme park in North Texas.
The Frisco Universal park will join the PGA of America’s newest golf resort as major attractions in the Fields community, four years in the works.
The Frisco Fields development, which stretches between Preston Road and US Highway 380, is planned to include up to 14,000 homes and apartments and commercial space. Developers Karahan Cos. and Hunt Realty is building the Fields community in partnership with investors Chief Capital and Crosstie Capital.
Part of the Comcast entertainment conglomerate, NBCUniversal is known for top-rated television programming and blockbuster movies. The company’s theme park business generates billions of dollars a year from its private properties in Florida, California, Asia and Spain.
The huge Universal Orlando Resort attracts more than 10 million visitors every year. The Orlando park is five times larger than planned in Frisco.
Universal Orlando features attractions based on popular movies, including Harry Potter, ETthe Minions and Mummy. There are resort hotels, restaurants, retail and of course thrill rides.
Universal’s theme park business employs more than 28,000 people worldwide.
The Universal Studios theme park in Frisco will occupy land previously slated for mixed-use development.
“This is another big thing for both our project and Frisco,” said Fields developer Fehmi Karahan.
The Frisco city council has scheduled a meeting Wednesday night to talk with homeowners about the planned development. It will be held at Trent Middle School south of the Fields development.
“Certainly our planning and zoning still has some work to do on this project,” Cheney said.