On Thursday, Universal announced it was building a fourth theme park here in the Orlando area. Universal “Epic Universe” is expected to further strengthen Central Florida’s standing as the theme park capital of the world (story HERE).
If you grew up in Orlando, you’ve been around theme parks your entire life. We enjoy them but we’re also looking at the day to day effects on our lives another theme park will have. Higher traffic density and more lower paying wage jobs.
Except Universal is getting out front on that.
They’re putting up $160 million dollars for road expansion and improvements around the location of the new park. Traffic will still be a chore to navigate through for residents, but improvement costs aren’t coming out of their pocket for a park that they didn’t ask for.
If you’ve been down I4 and tried driving around the convention center in recent years, you know it’s a headache. That money will help, and hopefully other parks and large companies will learn from this decision. Universal will get their return of investment on this road money.
Epic Universe will also produce 14,000 new jobs at a minimum wage of $15 dollars per hour.
The politicians like to cheer new jobs, and that’s fine, but the public has become weary of what kind of jobs they will be before joining in on the celebration. Orlando doesn’t have a good reputation for paying workers. Universal is making the effort to ensure those jobs aren’t dragging down our national reputation as a low wage capital even further (story HERE). Disney did do it first, but Universal is taking some initiative here as well.
These decisions will fuel our roaring tourism industry without subtracting from the quality of life of our residents. It’s not perfect. Development and growth will continue to encroach on our neighborhoods and we’ll have to deal with that.
But at least the corporations profiting from it are doing something about it.