You have heard of the latest and fastest roller coaster in Orlando. Maybe you have by now even ridden it.
But do you want to go faster?
Break that 73 mile an hour barrier set by Mako at SeaWorld of Orlando?
To get into an even faster ride than driving along Orlando’s main highway of I-4?
Speed limit: 70.
Ferrari, known for fast cars with stunning designs, may be coming to Orlando.
No guarantees and no “for sures.”
But there are strong indications Ferrari World may be next in line for buyers of Disney World tickets. Or Universal Studios Orlando tickets. Or even younger theme park-goers who prefer their LEGOLAND tickets to visit another park less than an hour’s drive away from the theme park city of Orlando…if you obey the speed limits.
Ferrari already has some theme parks. So why not Orlando?
“Orlando, and maybe Los Angeles, are the preferred (new) sites,” one report says of Ferrari driving a new park here
We’ll get into more detail on this later. Which, as we say, is still speculation. But there’s a lot of credibility to Orlando at least being considered as a site.
Particularly when you consider some unique elements of the area. Such as the convention market (unlikely as they may sound unless you know more about it).
All this comes at a time when there’s some unusual talk about Orlando:
Theme park world: getting more?
More theme parks on the way…more choices of where to visit for theme park-goers?
It sounds unlikely. And analysts who make a living at evaluating trends like this one say the rule in Orlando is this:
There shall be no more major theme parks.
But what are known as smaller or boutique parks are not included in that rule.
And yet the existing parks are expanding all the time.
As seen by the many summer openings and expansions in addition to SeaWorld’s shark encounter Mako.
Which does not even include the fact obvious to anyone standing in line for a ride on Disney’s aging “Space Mountain” roller coaster.
Theme parks are attracting so many visitors that lines are longer than ever.
Tourism observer trends say it’s about time for Disney’s rival, Universal, to get another theme park.
It’s only been 15 years since the last major new theme park opened in Orlando. That was Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Prior to that, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom opened in 1971.
Doing the math…that’s almost half a century ago…or really 45 years ago.
Orlando is ready for a new theme park
“High time” for a new park, writes The Orlando Sentinel. They quote “industry experts.”
Since Disney is presumably involved in opening up its Shanghai, China version, the likely candidate comes down to Universal.
The speculation has been over Universal’s purchase of 475 acres in the tourist corridor.
Since then, planning discussions have been ongoing with area officials. In this case, Orange County (which includes parts of Orlando).
Universal has suggested another theme park. They want what is called a “development zone” for the property.
Now this won’t happen tomorrow. Or within the next few months.
It would take years. But it appears to be going forward.
Another theme park would be Universal’s third.
The impact might be very positive for visitors like us: more choices.
But even better: shorter lines.
There’s no question Universal has long struggled to keep up with its major rival, Disney.
No better example is this:
Universal’s Volcano Bay waterpark is due to open next year. New hotels also.
Where in the world did they learn about the demand for more water parks and hotels to sleep after long swims?
Everyone follows Disney
Disney, of course.
Which is not to say that Universal is slavishly following Disney.
"(But) They're really moving into a destination which is close to what Disney is," Scott Smith, assistant hospitality professor at the University of South Carolina, told the local newspaper.
If you have followed attendance reports, which are only briefly published, Universal has been adding to its visitor shares. Disney has lost. But still, Disney attracts more than two thirds of those of you (theme park visitors).
Universal gets only about two in ten, while SeaWorld is far below that (at 6 percent).
Do these numbers make it likely SeaWorld or Disney would add a new park?
SeaWorld, no. They are still entangled with animal rights advocates over their main product: fish.
That partially explains why new roller coasters are designed to broaden their appeal, but also to emphasize their educational efforts on behalf of sea animals.
That leaves Disney.
Walt himself, who was dismayed at both the profit potential and the tacky nature of development around his original California property, made sure that would not happen in Orlando.
The property here has no shortage of acres for expansion.
And Disney recently added another several hundred acres to future development. That property alone would make a theme park in itself.
But right now, Disney’s attention may be more inclined to Shanghai, China, where a new park is opening this month.
The $5.5-billion Shanghai Disney resort will feature a Magic-Kingdom-style theme park, two hotels and a Downtown Disney shopping center.
A 10-minute boat ride around Fantasyland will depart from inside the park's Storybook Castle, the largest and tallest of all of Disney's turreted icons.
Disney’s challenge is not only cultural here (Pluto the dog is outfitted as a character in the Chinese zodiac). But also practical.
And talk about crowds…
“The primary concern for Shanghai Disneyland is preventing crowds from getting unwieldy,” suggests The Wall Street Journal.
A total of 330 million people live within three hours of the Shanghai park.
“Outside crowds are already flocking here by car and subway to new restaurants and a lakeside promenade in a tourist zone surrounding the park,” the newspaper said.
This was more than a week before the park was scheduled to open…when on a single day 90,000 people went through the park.
But Disney’s international concerns are hardly limited to Shanghai. There’s also the parks in Hong Kong and Paris.
And expansion is already in the works there. The Hong Kong government, 52% partner in the Hong Kong Disneyland property, is planning to work with Disney to develop a "phase 2" of the park.
That is described as an addition as large as the current park size.
Hong Kong itself recorded a record number of visitors in 2014 at over 60 million, up 12% year over year, according to the government's statistics.
Because Hong Kong Disneyland has become an integral part of the tourist attractions offered, the Hong Kong officials want to ensure the park keeps up with a growing number of visitors.
This phase two -- which the government hopes will bring even more tourism income and economic growth to the region -- will include additional attractions, new retail areas, and more hotels.
The current park is already Disney's largest international park, at about 150 acres total (compared to about 115 for Tokyo Disney and 140 for Disneyland Paris).
Even at 300 acres, the new, doubled Hong Kong Disney will still pale in comparison to Disney's Orlando properties.
While the doubling of Hong Kong Disneyland would be impressive, its 300 acres would still be less than a third of the nearly 1,000 acres planned for Disney's new park coming to Shanghai.
This new park is going to be a massive new push for Disney's international theme park segment.
Closer to home
Already, Disney plans to open Avatar Land at Animal Kingdom next year. There’s also the revamp of Hollywood Studios and Star Wars, which is expected to be a huge attraction (with even greater lines).
Disney say it is involved in “unprecedented growth and expansion.”
Universal has been long rumored to be interested in opening a third park in Orlando on land they own directly across Universal Boulevard from the Orange County Convention Center.
Rumors have ranged from “Lord of the Rings” to “Nintendo.”
Unlike Disney, Universal does not have a large section of land that is connected.
Their latest new acquisition of 475 acres section is not connected with the two major parks.
Which brought up the question in the local newspaper story”
How would Universal’s property be connected?
For visitors such as yourself, this might in the future be even easier and more comfortable than ever.
The reason is SunRail.
The main purpose of the train is for local commuters. But plans are underway for it to connect with the Orlando International Airport.
This would involve an air-railway system similar to many major cities such as London and Paris, where you take trains instead of autos to complete your destination.
Right now, Orlando air visitors can take shuttle services to Disney and other theme parks. Or buses.
But rail would be a highly attractive and presumably economical option.
Several rail companies are looking into the financial prospects of such a system.
As might be expected, Universal supports the concept.
Another potential issue: hiring enough “cast members,” ala Disney?
Better job market
This could be good news for you if you want to work here.
Wages and benefits will certainly go up as parks compete even more for people.
Disney has been a pioneer in bringing in foreign workers.
But other parks such as Six Flags have emulated their plans as well.
Just what kind of park Universal might do is by far the most interesting question.
Speculation ranges from more water themes, which are always popular in sunny Florida, to imitation mountain ranges. The later would have the appeal of being somewhat unusual, though hardly unique to Florida.
Which brings us to what is being called “another major player in the world of theme parks.” Ferrari.
Highly respected business source “Bloomberg” suggests a new North American park is idling and getting ready to go.
Rumors of it go all the way back to 2010.
“With rumors gaining momentum during a 2014 IAAPA attractions expo (the world’s best known amusement park showcase),” according to newspaper accounts.
They got into the theme park game when first opening Ferrari World in 2010 in Abu Dhabi on an island. There’s a grand racing circuit track there.
Ferrari no stranger to theme parks
PS: Leisure tour operator Farah here operates the world’s largest indoor theme park.
The Abu Dhabi park is home to the world’s fastest roller coaster, Formula Rossa, the world’s tallest non-inverting loop coaster and several other rides.
A Soarin’ style flying theater, go-karts and even a teacup style ride all call the park home, Autoblog said.
How fast is Formula Rossa? It covers 1.3 miles in 90 seconds.
A second park is being built in Spain (one of the largest in Europe).
The mainly outdoor Spanish park will have a five-star hotel.
And the automaker has a third park planned for mainland China.
A proposed North American location would be the fourth.
All the current Ferrari parks include a partnership with others.
“What makes the Orlando market stand out is the shift to higher end experiences that the market has seen in the past 14 years,” writes The Orlando Weekly. And while the overall market may be saturated with general theme parks, boutique parks remain a possibility.
Most parks are all-day trips.
A boutique park geared to autos (and auto heads) is considered far more likely for an Orlando location, park officials say.
This is particularly true in Orlando. Why?
Convention groups love smaller parks
Because boutique parks like Ferrari cater strongly to convention groups.
And Orlando besides theme parks is also the biggest convention market in the US. “The Los Angeles and Orlando areas have developed into epicenters for theme parks in America and could attract a Ferrari location,” according to one news story. The story went on:
“The licensing of additional Ferrari theme parks comes as the company strives to position itself as a luxury lifestyle brand as much as an automaker and racing team. The storied marque has lines of clothing and various merchandise, and a network of retail stores through which it sells its products.”
Sounds suspiciously like Disney and Universal, no?
But is the theme park world here already saturated?
Could be, says one account. “However, we’re sure it would find room for a Ferrari World if it had to,” added Autoblog.
What would a Ferrari theme park have?
Roller coasters, of course, and perhaps vertical acceleration towers. And probably virtual test tracks.
Don’t expect anything immediately.
But if you want a Ferrari fix, for now at least, you can get it at Ferrari of Central Florida.
The dealer has 458 models that can cost more than $400,000.
Or you can get a used one.
Right now, the best deal may be a 2012 model. It’s a 458 Italia model. Available used for $279,995.
Not a bad price. For multi-millionaires, anyway. ###