Universal says proposed UK theme park could add £50 billion to economy

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Universal has suggested that a proposed UK theme park and resort will generate close to $53B (£50B) in economic benefits to the host country. NBCUniversal, announced last December that it had acquired a 476-acre site for a proposed new UK location outside the town of Bedford, some 60 miles northwest of London. It is currently carrying out feasibility and due diligence studies and is set to make a final decision on the project by the end of this year.

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Rick_UK's avatar

I am curious to see how this park is received if it happens.

The UK industry has become so bargain basement. Merlin have what is largely a monopoly across the country and their annual pass provides access to so much, for so little, I wonder what the appetite will be for a premium product. For context, I pay ~$15 a month for (pretty much, unrestricted) access to 4 theme parks within 3h of my house (Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Legoland & Chessington), plus all their Sea Life, Lego, Madame Tussauds, Dungeons attractions (and a few others) too.

We've had a ton of closures of smaller parks, or parks essentially removing most of their major rides and becoming something much smaller - I think in part, as a response to the above.

We had the farce of the 'London Resort' for over a decade, that never came to anything with issues around funding and the chosen site not being easy to develop. I think the Universal brand is definitely a great start, but - it's also not without its challenges, not least, with the UK not being an insignificant attendance contributor to the Orlando parks, so you would assume, that they wouldn't want to cannibalise that.

I am interested as to why they haven't gone for a European site, with better weather / longer summer season and better access to larger numbers of people. Also interested to see if they can access the Harry Potter IP with the Harry Potter studio attraction, not that far away. I work in London all the time, so I don't have the same view as a tourist would, but if you are in a city with so much at your disposal, with an incredible transport network, schlepping up to Bedford for what is essentially an American product, might feel like something you don't need to do.

There is conjecture that their hope was to achieve some sort of footprint in Europe (again) and that Plan A was to buy PortAventura (again) - but for whatever reason, that hasn't happened and they have gone for Plan B, which is this.

I'll be first in the queue if they do it, but I am curious as to how they might pull it off and how successfully - you would think that a company with the breadth of experience that Universal has, that they are pretty confident that they can do it despite this amateur's cynicism.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

I think the complete lack of a big park in the UK, helps doesn’t hinder, London is still a huge tourist destination outside the EU, and within it, although obv Brexit ****ed that up a bit. Disney has France, and Germany has all the major parks. Lord knows what it would take to build something like this in Italy.

Universal Japan is the third busiest park in the world and in a very temperate climate. Bejing looks like the best thought out Studio park combined with IOA and I expect the UK park to be similar.

Jeff's avatar

I've unfortunately only spent about 24 hours in London, but when I go back, honestly, theme parks are not in my list. I have to wonder if this is something tourists want.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Maybe Rick_UK can fill me in but I’ve heard over the years that a few of the UK parks are total sketch where the customers are scarier than the rides. Which would be a shame.
It’s been more than a few years since I was in Europe but I’m happy to say that I was able to combine trips to theme parks in Germany and Netherlands with other typical sightseeing destinations and attractions. I just couldn’t see skipping them knowing that I’d kick myself for not indulging in my lifelong hobby while I was there. I wasn’t sorry in the least.

eightdotthree's avatar


Universal Japan is the third busiest park in the world and in a very temperate climate

I’ve never wanted AC more in my life than when in Osaka.

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