Universal Orlando Resort is in the middle of a massive expansion as it is building a third full theme park called Epic Universe. For theme park fans an entirely new park is a very exciting thing, but now the new park may have hit a stumbling block as a $250 million lawsuit has been filed over 135 acres of land that includes space Epic Universe will occupy.
The lawsuit has been brought in Orange County Florida circuit court by Fourth Watch Acquisitions. The Georgia-based real estate developer is suing both Universal, parent company of Universal Orlando Resort, and Universal City Property Management, which previously owned the land. According to Florida Politics, Fourth Watch entered into a deal with UCPM in 2017 to purchase 135 acres from UCPM for $125 million. Fourth Watch wanted to build its own theme park, one described as a “thrill-seeker’s extravaganza,” including ATV-tracks, river rafting, ice skating and surfing.
But weeks before the deal was to close it fell through, and UCPM ended up selling the land to Universal. This way Universal Parks & Resorts could expand its own theme park footprint, including the currently under construction Epic Universe. The lawsuit accuses the two sides of intentionally cutting Fourth Watch out, as a way to end an ongoing legal disagreement between themselves over the land. It also, as it happens, potentially removes a theme park competitor from the mix in Orlando.
While the lawsuit certainly won’t stop Epic Universe’s construction, Fourth Watch isn’t looking for an injunction or anything that would cease construction, this would certainly be expensive if Universal were to lose a suit of this size in court. We’ll have to wait and see how Universal responds to the suit.
While the new Universal Orlando theme park saw its construction paused at the beginning of the global pandemic, and there was a feeling early on that it would not restart for some time, the park construction is now in full swing ahead of a planned 2025 opening for Epic Universe. Only the Orlando version of Super Nintendo World has been confirmed for the new park, but a number of other lands have been rumored for Epic Universe. They include those themed around Universal Monsters, How to Train Your Dragon, and more of the Wizarding World, possibly themed to Fantastic Beasts, or possibly just more Harry Potter, are expected.
Epic Universe was already expected to have a pretty epic price tag. It will be interesting to see if Universal Orlando’s third gate ends up costing Universal an additional $250 million. These sorts of things usually end up being settled out of court but when we're talking about this much money you can be sure all sides will be taking this suit very seriously. While fans will have to wait to experience Epic Universe there is a lot already planned for Universal Parks on both coasts in 2022.
CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.
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