New plans for Universal's third theme park, addresses transportation concerns

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County leaders are commenting on a pending proposal to build what will be a new Universal Studios theme park off of International Drive.

Channel 9’s Jamie Holmes learned the plan could pave the road for an intricate transportation connector, and a way to control tourists and their money on I-Drive.

Workers are laying track for a rail service that doesn't technically exist yet at the new transportation hub at Orlando International Airport.

But they know it's coming.

The train will connect the airport to the convention center and perhaps, even beyond.

"If you can make it comfort for the pedestrians to be able to just get on a circulator system, that is part of the system and experience of I-Drive, the better,” said Alberto Vargas of Orange County Planning.

Last week Universal submitted plans for a new theme park district off I-Drive.

For a county already looking to redesign the tourist corridor, officials said it will be a major win. It will allow planners to develop a pedestrian-heavy shopping and entertainment district on I-Drive leading to the front door of Universal's new theme park.

"We're thrilled to have an anchor, such as what Universal Studios is promoting to become part of. We're thrilled this would be another type of destination,” Vargas said.

With a new theme park, Universal will need to move mass amounts of people. The proposal already includes a transportation connector.

Meanwhile Spanish-based company Globalvia has expressed keen interest in developing a light rail system, essentially a monorail from the airport to the convention center.

"Alternative modes of transportation, via a circulator, via a light rail system, that is just around the corner as to what type of system that will be. We may hear what that would be in the next several months,” Vargas said.

The deal would allow the county and the theme park to control more guests and keep them and their money along I-Drive and Universal.

Planning and Zoning officials will look at Universal's proposals June 16 as part of the I-Drive vision plan.

Contact Jamie Holmes for more on this story.