Central Florida entertainment complex Universal Orlando is building a transit-oriented theme park. The company announced that its land of fun—the U.S.'s first big amusement park since 2001—is hoping to link up with local passenger rail service Virgin Trains to ferry customers to and from Miami.Virgin Trains (formerly known as the Brightline) is a privately owned transit company that began providing high-speed rail service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach in 2018. It would link to the park via a stop at Orange County Convention Center, which is steps away from the proposed main entrance to Epic Universe. Universal Orlando has been lobbying the company to provide a connection to the new park. Universal Parks and Resorts CEO Tom Williams told Next Miami that his company will push "with every bit of strength that we’ve got" for the rail connection. Outside of its possible amusement park involvement, the south Florida train company is on a major growth spurt. There are plans for a Tampa, Florida expansion, and by 2022, Orlando Airport–bound passengers will be able to travel directly from Miami. There should also be service to Orlando's Walt Disney World soon: construction on a Disney train station began in May. Conde Nast Traveler reported that the 750-acre Epic Universe will boast restaurants, retail, entertainment, and a hotel across four realms, each with their own separate entrance. There's no word yet on an opening date or the types of attractions that will be contained within its walls, but it's likely that Nintendo and Harry Potter content will feature prominently. But that's okay for all you NUMTOTS—the only thing you need to know is that you won't need a car to get there.
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Florida’s soon-to-be tallest building, SkyRise Miami, is on track to becoming the country’s sole vertical theme park, complete with a dramatic sloping outer wall that will offer thrill-seekers the option to try gravity-defying stunts. After years of setbacks and legal controversy, the 1,000-foot-tall building—like something straight out of a Mission Impossible movie—will tower over the edge of Biscayne Bay by 2023. According to Building Design + Construction, the project was designed by Arquitectonica and will begin construction early next year on a small piece of land just outside of downtown Miami. Local firms Berkowitz Development Group and Plaza Construction will lead the build-out alongside a hefty team of partners including structural engineers Magnusson Klemencic Associates, exhibition designers gsmprjct°, and engineering consultants Cosentini Associates and DVS. Composed of 30,000 tons of structural steel, SkyRise will house several observation decks that will boast unfiltered views of Miami, and will serve as an entertainment and retail complex with restaurants, nightclubs, a ballroom, and boardrooms for rent. Among its many offerings will be the Flying Theater, inspired by the Soarin’ ride at Epcot in Disney World, the SkyPlunge for base-jumpers, and the Skydrop, which drops riders elevator-style 540 feet at speeds of up to 95 miles per hour. SkyRise will also feature a zero-gravity tunnel, a transparent slide that loops outside the building, as well as a clear skydeck that cantilevers off the structure. The facility will be operated by Legends, a sports and entertainment management company owned by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees. Among the city’s handful of mega-projects in Coconut Grove and downtown Miami, SkyRise is one of the most ambitious and most politically-troubled structures in development. Per The Real Deal, the building was approved by the city commission and local voters in the August 2014 primary election, despite opposition regarding the project’s competitive bid process. The Florida Supreme Court swooped in the following year to stop the complaint and effectively allow the project to move forward. Not only is the tower’s planned construction a breakthrough for the developers and the project’s many supporters, the design itself is unprecedented. The teams at Berkowitz and Arquitectonica told BD+C that they plan to build it with concrete in addition to the structural steel—a combination that hasn’t been done before in South Florida. Given its small footprint with the bay, the building will also have to withstand up to 186 mile-per-hour winds during hurricane season. The engineering for the tower alone, much like the attractions inside, must be groundbreaking for it to stay afloat. Many of the upcoming residential and commercial enclaves in Miami, especially those sitting directly on its waterfront, pose the same challenges for their developers and architects. Merging (literal) high design with resiliency efforts is a hot-button issue for coastal communities across the U.S. and Southern Florida. With name-brand firms like Bjarke Ingels Group, OMA, and Zaha Hadid Architects taking on larger developments in Miami, other-worldly designs are poised to not only propel Miami as an architectural attraction but also to support the city’s efforts to disaster-proof all of its latest urban advances from future storms.
Studio Ghibli, creator of 'Spirited Away' and 'Princess Mononoke', releases new drawings of its theme park
Miyazaki fans, rejoice: there’s a new theme park coming to Japan built around animation house Studio Ghibli, the Oscar-winning studio known for films like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro founded by Hayao Miyazaki. In 2017 Japan’s Aichi Prefecture announced that they would be building a Studio Ghibli theme park. Early renderings of the park were released this year, done in the style of Miyazaki’s movies. While details about the rides have not been released, the fantastical renderings hint at what’s to come. The theme park will be divided into sections based on films, including Princess Mononoke Village (Princess Mononoke), Witch Valley (Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service), and a Totoro-themed Dondoko Forest (My Neighbor Totoro). Visitors will be greeted with a partial recreation of the castle from Howl’s Moving Castle, according to Sora News 24. The park will be built on the Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park, a 500-acre lot that previously served as the site for the World’s Fair and where there is already a life-size replica of the house from My Neighbor Totoro. The new park will be integrated into the existing grounds and make use of existing facilities while building new structures to become a "one-of-a-kind park", according to the Aichi government. Studio Ghibli is a world-famous animation studio based in Japan and can be considered to be one of the pioneers of the anime genre. Its co-founder, Hayao Miyazaki, is often compared to Walt Disney and is the mastermind behind many of the studio’s famous films. No architect or designer has been announced at this stage. The theme park is slated to be completed in 2022 in Aichi Prefecture’s Nagakute City, near Nagoya.
Starchitect Renzo Piano has vowed to soldier on with mega-sized plans for a Jurassica Resort on England's island of Portland in the English Channel, despite being denied a $24.5 million bid for Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF). “The project is now continuing into development without an HLF development grant,” a spokesman for the project told Architect’s Journal. Jurassica’s backers said they will re-apply for the grant and are not acquiescing to appeals for a downsize. The brainchild of science journalist Mike Hanion, Jurassica Resort will be the world’s largest immersive prehistoric environment. Although designed with a museum’s vital organs, the facility itself is essentially a limestone quarry 132 feet-deep beneath a translucent glass roof supported by the quarry walls. The building itself is designed to be “more or less invisible.” Beneath the glass is a Jurassic-period coastal cove, where visitors will walk beneath towering cliffs, sea-stacks and arches covered in exotic trees, past a living reef festooned with corals and patrolled by sharks and stingray. Those with the tenacity can venture into a forested ravine where the “dinosaurs” rove. Animatronic dinosaur displays, an aquarium, and swimming plesiosaurs are just a few of the promised wonders. The subterranean dinosaur museum will be located on Dorset’s Jurassic coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising a 95-mile stretch of cliff distilling 180 million years of geological history. “We will pick a specific period in prehistory and everything you see will be both realistic and an accurate representation of the plants and animals that were alive during that time,” said David Lazenby, Creative Director of Azureus Design, on board for the exhibit design. “The Jurassic Cove will not be a theme park display but a spectacular and precise snapshot in time that will bring the heritage of the Jurassic Coast to life.” Hanion believes the park could draw 800,000 visitors regularly and employ approximately 200 people. Yearly revenue of $30.3 million for the local economy has also been estimated. Project managers are intent on securing alternative funding, with the goal of opening Jurassica Resort by 2019 or 2020. “At £16 million ($24.5 million), public funds from HLF were always only part of our funding strategy for a project costing some £80 million (around $122.6 million),” said the spokesman. “We have applied to and will apply to scientific trusts and other grant-giving bodies both in the UK and overseas, and have already attracted financial support from business and HNWI based locally and nationally.”
This mall looks like it should be built in Dubai, but it's actually planned in Miami as the nation's largest
The slew of stories on the death of the American shopping mall has not deterred one real estate company from submitting plans to build the largest shopping and entertainment center in the country. The Miami Herald reported that the ambitious plan comes from the Triple 5 Group, a company that knows a thing or two about big malls—it owns and runs the Mall of America in Minnesota. Apparently not satisfied with letting that mall remain the nation's largest, the developer has unveiled designs for something even larger in Miami-Dade County. If you ignore the mall's very 1950s, Americana-sounding name, "American Dream Miami," it looks like something you might find in Dubai or a Chinese city, but, no, the 200-acre complex is planned for the good ol' U.S. of A. So, what does the American Dream include? Well, restaurants and shops, and hotels and condominiums, and mini golf, and a theme park, and a skating rink, and a Legoland, a Ferris wheel, and indoor gardens, and—get ready for these two—a sea-lion show and a "submarine lake." Oh, and in a very Dubai-move, it also has a 12-story indoor ski slope. Sorry, one more thing—there is also some sort of telescope situation poking out of what appears to be the "ski dome." For the American Dream to become a reality, the developer first needs a change in zoning to move things along. From there, things get a little tricky. Triple 5 could acquire most of its required land from a private company, but 80 acres of the site is owned by the state. And, as the Herald pointed out, the Miami-Dade school system has a lease on a big chunk of that acreage. Apparently, Triple 5 would give the school system $7 million to waive its lease and another $11 million to the state for the rest of the land. Triple 5 could also be asked to fund mass transit improvements in the area. The plan will reportedly be considered by county commissioners and the school board later this month.