There has been an awful lot of online chatter about Universal Orlando’s yet-to-be-announced new major theme park being secretly built across the street from its current location, but recently a new interesting detail has emerged. According to recent documents filed by Universal City Studios with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, “Fantastic Worlds” has been filed as of June 15, 2018.
Now before we begin, it’s important to note two things. First, nothing is official until Universal Orlando formally announces it. Secondly, and this may even be more noteworthy: Universal changes their mind a lot when it comes to naming new attractions, shows, and even theme parks. Yes, this name has been the front-runner for several months now and filing for a trademark of the name is a step towards making “Fantastic Worlds” permanent. However, guest surveys, executive meetings, and market research can steer the name in an entirely different direction.
A great example is the recent name change for Universal’s new nighttime spectacular. Universal Orlando Cinematic Celebration changed the name several times during the final months of the project. So much so that we have dedicated several articles to it here at Theme Park University. Keep in mind, this project is several years out so this name may not stick… but then again, “Universal’s Fantastic Worlds” fits perfectly.
Now once other theme park websites and messages boards pick up on this, I can guarantee you that they will pick up on the word “fantastic” and assume it is a connection to the Fantastic Beasts films. Not exactly. While we aren’t going into detail about the four worlds of this park, to call the entire park “Universal’s Fantastic World’s” and have the focus be on the Warner Brothers Fantastic Beasts franchise (we aren’t saying it is or isn’t in the park) is not exactly fair. Just like all the lands of Islands of Adventure or sections of Universal Studios Florida, for the title of an entire park to focus solely on one land makes no sense from a marketing perspective. People will assume there is a “Fantastic Beasts” theme park and not focus on much else and lead to a lot of confusion.
Instead, let’s focus on the word “Worlds” within “Universal’s Fantastic Worlds” which makes way more sense. Here’s one way to look at it. First, we started with a studio, then we got to visit various islands. If you zoom out again, you’ve got an entire world. Cheesy? Sure. Realistic? Absolutely.
Now we are going to talk more about “Universal’s Fantastic Worlds” in the upcoming months, including what lands and attractions you can expect to see. However, for now, here is something for you to chew on. “Worlds” refers to something all-encompassing. It actually describes what has been a huge part of Universal’s success over the last ten years. The Wizarding “World” of Harry Potter is decidedly different than other lands and areas of Universal Orlando and even most sections of Disney Parks. Once you step inside, the land is all-encompassing. They’re crammed full of detail and it’s easy to forget that Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are even a part of the rest of the park. One can easily get lost in those “worlds” more so than other lands in the park.
Those sightlines (with very rare exception) are a key part of what makes those lands work. It’s almost as if you’re in a bubble within the theme park. These “worlds” that Universal is building within the fourth Orlando theme park will be just that: worlds. They will bring you in and once inside, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped right into that particular Intellectual Property.
Now with this park, in particular, to create these four “worlds” you’re going to have to design it in an entirely different way. Sure, you can walk from New York to San Francisco within just a few feet at Universal Studios Florida. However, those few feet still feel like… well… theme park. Not exactly transitioning from “world” to “world” because if you can walk into San Francisco and turn around to still see New York, you aren’t really giving the illusion you’re there, are you?
However, if you walk through the “wall” in Diagon Alley towards Gringott’s Bank and turn around, you’re faced with a brick entrance that you’ve just transitioned through. No New York, no San Francisco and no Simpsons. Which leaves you with a challenge. How do you recreate that same feeling of walking into a new “world” every single time you enter a new section of the park? Deconstruction.
That’s right. Deconstruction of the way you’ve moved in and around a theme park. An entirely new concept that will allow “Universal’s Fantastic Worlds” to each feel as if you’ve stepped into a completely unique place totally separated from the rest of the park. How is that achievable? We’ll spill those beans at a later date. For now, what do you think of the new name? Do you think it’s fitting? Do you think it will stick? And how exactly do you reinvent the wheel when it comes to master planning a theme park to make these worlds seem totally unconnected to each other as if you’re in totally different “bubbles”? So much to talk about in the future, my friends.
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