Universal is planning to create one of the world’s best theme parks in the UK

The entertainment giant will invest several billion pounds in 200 hectares of land in the east of England.

Universal wants to build Europe’s largest theme park in a former brick factory south of Bedford. Through his project, he will bring roller coasters, Orlando and Hollywood experiences to the East of England.

First raidThe group’s expansion into Europe could generate around £50bn for the UK within 20 years, according to Paige Thompson, director of new ventures at Universal Destinations & Experiences.

Discussing the project in detail for the first time, Thompson said the company had long seen an opportunity in Europe to create one of the world’s largest theme parks, adding that “after searching for many years, we believe we have found the right place in Bedford.” “.

Universal’s strategy often includes adding experiences and hotels to its locations to encourage people to return. “We’re thinking very long term,” Thompson says.

Thompson, who has been involved in creating theme parks in Beijing and Osaka, admitted investment in construction alone would amount to “several billion pounds”, although he did not want to give a specific figure.

Comcast Group, Universal’s parent company, is investing $6 billion in movie and video game franchises such as Harry Potter and Super Mario. A new Orlando theme park will open next year.

Universal has five parks and resorts. In each of them, Comcast, owner of Sky in the UK, creates experiences around the franchises: escaping dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, or attractions based on the Fast & Furious and Kung Fu Panda series.

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Thompson explained that although it is too early to announce which franchises will be brought to the UK, the parks have unique elements, allowing people to visit many of them and find something different in all of them.

Although England does not have as much sunshine as Orlando, Thompson said that has not slowed Universal’s plans to open parks in Japan and China.

A research firm hired by Universal estimated that the park could generate about £35.1 billion over the first 20 years of operation.

The boom in tourism, job creation, and the construction and maintenance of the complex will contribute to reaching this number. According to Thompson, the country will collect an additional £14.1 billion in taxes over that period, making a total of £49.2 billion.

The park and complex are expected to create 20,000 job opportunities. About 8,000 will be direct, with the rest indirect around the services that will supply the venue. Thousands of additional jobs will be needed in the construction sector, which will last about six years.

Although Thompson would not comment on other locations the company has looked at in Europe, he did mention that Bedford is the only location that would work for Universal in the UK, given its size and location.

He admitted that “it is not easy to find hundreds of hectares of land in England to build a complex.”

With the opening of the complex, Comcast will bring to Europe the competition it maintains in the United States with Walt Disney. The main alternative for European consumers will be Disneyland Paris, although there are other British attractions such as Thorpe Park, Legoland and the Harry Potter Experience at Warner Bros. Studios.

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Universal, which expects around a third of overseas visitors to come through Luton Airport, is studying potential infrastructure such as railway stations and roads from the nearest motorway with the Department for Transport.

Universal is expected to ask the government to help finance the project.

No decision has yet been made on moving forward with the project, while discussions continue and feasibility work is being carried out. According to Thompson, Comcast hopes to make a decision by the end of the year.

According to Thompson, the site is zoned for economic development, which should make planning easier.

Along with local members of parliament, government officials support these plans. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has agreed to act as project sponsor within government, but the Department for Settlement, Housing and Communities will make a planning decision.

Nick Platts, managing director of Luton Rising, the council-owned group that controls Luton Airport, said Universal’s plans had local support because of the revenue the theme park would bring to the region’s economy.

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