Universal Destinations & Experiences have confirmed their intention to build a theme park and resort in Bedford, England.

It has been confirmed that Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal, of which Universal Destinations & Experiences is part, have purchased 480 acres of land in Bedford, England, intending to construct a ‘theme park and resort’. After months of speculation, the first evidence of Universal’s move into the UK was brought to light in a fantastic article and video by Orlando Park Stop. This information was then confirmed by Universal themselves in a statement to the local newspaper, the Bedford Independent.

In the statement to the Bedford Independent, a spokesperson from Universal Destinations & Experiences said:

“We recently acquired land in Bedford and are at the early stages of exploring its feasibility for a potential park and resort at this site. It will be many months before we are ready to make a decision to proceed and we look forward to engaging with all relevant stakeholders and the local community”

On 31 August 2023, Comcast Corporation acquired UK construction company Cloud Wing UK Ltd. Through this acquisition, Comcast acquired the land in Bedfordshire held by the company and its subsidiaries, the outline of which was detailed in an image shared by Universal with the Bedford Independent. The diagram shows a roughly 500-acre irregularly shaped plot of land, surrounded by major transport links.

On the topic of the local area, Universal stated:

“We support Bedford’s vision of becoming a prosperous place to live, work and visit and we take a proactive approach to partnering with local communities and stakeholders, like Bedford Borough Council, when pursuing potential projects.”

The area is said to have been chosen due to its ‘transportation connectivity to London and Europe with more than half of the UK population within two hours, including just 45 minutes outside of London’, as well as its proximity to Luton Airport. With the Warner Bros Studio Tour also within an hour’s drive, it would undoubtedly make an attractive destination for international visitors.

Speaking to the BBC, Tom Wootton, the elected mayor of Bedford Borough Council has offered conditional support to the project, stating:

“The suggestion of a major business investment is of course positive, nevertheless these are early days and much detailed work is required before any decisions are made. We very much welcome and are excited by the interest from Universal and the immense potential for it to be transformative for the borough. We’re committed to ensure that any plans align with the best interests of our residents.”

As well as land, domains have also been registered that may give us an idea as to the name of the project. As first reported by Theme Park Stop, in September 2023, the .com and .co.uk domains for both universalstudiosgreatbritain’ and ‘universalgreatbritain’ were registered by NBVUniversal Media LLC, the same registrant as other Universal parks’ website domains around the world. This suggests that if the project is successful, the resort is intending to operate under the name Universal Studios Great Britain.

Although Universal have confirmed their intentions for the site, they have made it clear that no creative content for this park has yet been decided upon. Despite this, Ally! and TheMainStreetNews on X (formerly Twitter) shared what appears to be very early concept art for the project. The art is very similar in style to the key visuals used for Epic Universe; the new Universal theme park set to open in Orlando in 2025. Although it features some recognisable existing and upcoming attractions from Universal’s theme parks, namely clones of The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Starfall Racers, this is no guarantee that these rides would feature in the final proposal, given the stage the project is currently at.

For many British theme park fans, the first Universal resort to come to mind will undoubtedly be Universal Orlando Resort. Though rumours, shared by Theme Park Stop, currently point towards a radically different resort in the UK – so as not to eat into the Orlando resort’s lucrative international market – the size may not be so different. As of 2015, the Universal Orlando Resort was 541 acres in size, with Volcano Bay, Endless Summer Resort and soon Epic Universe all additional to this. This means that the UK could potentially house a resort similar in scale to the combined Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and City Walk complex.

Though it remains extremely early days for this project, it’s clear that this is one of the most exciting things to happen in the UK theme park industry in many, many years.

What are your thoughts on Universal Studios Great Britain? What would you like to see open at the resort? Let us know on our social media channels!

We have set up a dedicated Facebook Group to discuss the project – join in the discussion today!

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