Universal announces new Texas theme park, horror-themed Las Vegas experience

Universal Parks & Resorts on Wednesday announced two new projects: a theme park designed for young children near Dallas and a year-round horror attraction in Las Vegas.

The company billed the Frisco, Texas, theme park as more “intimate and engaging for younger audiences” and said it would include family-friendly attractions, character meet and greets, interactive shows and more, according to a release from Universal Parks & Resorts. The company did not release further details.

It will be built on part of 97 acres recently acquired by Universal near the Dallas North Tollway and Panther Creek Parkway. The release stated Universal plans to use the rest of the acreage to build a themed hotel next to the park and to eventually expand the park itself.

The Las Vegas horror attraction, inspired by the popularity of Universal’s seasonal Halloween Horror Nights events, will occupy a 110,000-square-foot space anchoring a 20-acre expansion of the AREA15 entertainment district, the release said.

It will be based on content from Universal’s classic horror films and modern releases and include “immersive horror-centric experiences, bars and restaurants, must-see seasonal events and one-of-a-kind merchandise,” according to the company. Concept art for the project appears to show Halloween Horror Nights characters Jack the Clown and his sidekick, Chance.

Universal did not release the projects’ official names or their opening time frames Wednesday.

“At Universal, we bring our distinct brand of storytelling to life by creating the most innovative, immersive, and exciting destinations and experiences for our fans around the world,” Mark Woodbury, chairman and CEO for Universal Parks & Resorts, said in a statement. “Broadening our reach to deliver unique concepts for new audiences in new markets is incredibly exciting.”

A Universal release said the company’s creative team is designing the Texas theme park to have a “completely different look, feel and scale” than other Universal properties.

It will be around one-fourth of the size of Universal’s Orlando theme parks and include four to five “interactive experiences” and a 300-room hotel, the Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday.

Universal chose to open the theme park in Frisco for the area’s “growing population and ability to attract businesses,” according to a release. Frisco is part of the Dallas-Forth Worth metropolitan area and has seen rapid growth in recent years.

Page Thompson, Universal Parks & Resorts’ president of new ventures, said Universal is partnering with the city of Frisco and Mayor Jeff Cheney to build the project.

“We think North Texas is the perfect place to launch this unique park for families given its growing popularity within this part of the country,” Thompson said in a statement.

The Morning News reported Universal bought the land for the theme park in December and property records show it intends to open the attraction within four years.

The horror attraction in Las Vegas will include a “continuously updated experience” as Universal’s first permanent horror project outside of its theme parks, according to the company.

The district will be located within, AREA15, opened in September 2020 and hosts popular attractions like production company Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart immersive art installation.

“AREA15 curates a constellation of best-in-class experiences,” AREA15 CEO Winston Fisher said in a statement. “Universal’s never-been-done-before concept will be a perfect fit because our guests know they can expect fresh, exciting entertainment.”

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Ward 3 Councilwoman Olivia Diaz said Universal’s expansion into the city will complement Las Vegas’ existing entertainment offerings and increase employment opportunities for residents.

“The Universal experience will bring exactly the kind of high-quality, exciting entertainment our city, our visitors and our residents want,” Goodman said in the release.