At the start of the year there were whispers in the air that Universal Studios might build a theme park in Okinawa. Not long after there were rumors that officials were considering both Nago’s Neo Park, and Motobu’s Expo Park as possible locations.
In March, Glenn Gumpel (CEO of USJ) stated that they were considering a park in Okinawa. In the last few days it has been announced that the park will be a tropical resort with the theme of relaxation without the Universal name.
It’s wonderful that giant corporations are looking to invest in Okinawa. They can help it grow as a tourist destination, but I think a somewhat generic tropical resort may be a missed opportunity if USJ and the Okinawan Government are hoping for it to bring about a new surge in tourism.
There are already several excellent resorts that cater to those looking for a tropical paradise. Busena Terrace and Hotel Orion Motobu are both superb with luxurious facilities set on pristine beaches. If visitors want to sample traditional culture they can head to Okinawa World on the south coast or Ryukyu Mura in Yomitan. What they are suggesting sounds too similar to what we already have. Would it really draw in new tourists or simply move them around with existing businesses actually seeing a decrease in visitors.
Universal Studios could create a new park that large numbers of tourists especially international visitors will want to see. Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan can draw in people who otherwise wouldn’t have made the trip to Chiba or Osaka. They do this by having major attractions such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter that can’t be seen elsewhere in Asia.
Harry Potter however isn’t the solution for Okinawa. Blue skies and tropical heat just wouldn’t match Hogwarts or Diagon Alley. What Okinawa needs is another iconic movie series that is produced by Universal Pictures, ideally set on a tropical island, with characters that are liked by multiple generations. Bring on the velociraptors.
There’s already a Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios Japan, but it’s a single ride amongst many. Meanwhile, the Jurassic Park movie series has been brought back to life and is more popular than ever. Jurassic World is now the third biggest movie of all time. It has taken over $1.5 billion worldwide and it hasn’t even opened in Japan. They just announced a sequel in 2018 so dinomania isn’t ending anytime soon.
Jurassic World and Okinawa is too good a match to not at least consider the possibility of a movie themed park. You can still have your relaxing tropical paradise, but with the occasional triceratops.