Universal Orlando is seeking $348 million in state income tax breaks for building a new headquarters for its creative team, according to a report from Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel.
The new home for Universal Creative — the division responsible for designing Universal theme parks — would be built on the same site as Epic Universe. Universal is eligible for the tax incentives because the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity considers its a “targeted” industry because of its software publishing work, the Sentinel reported.
A summary of the project from the Orlando Economic Partnership says Universal has pledged to create 150 new jobs (with an average salary of $95,000) and retain 300 existing positions — though Universal Creative is already based in Orlando, and has been since 2001.
Universal Orlando CEO John Sprouls defended the incentives in a written statement to the Sentinel, saying the entire community would benefit from the project, and denied threatening to relocate those jobs unless it received tax incentives.
“We have not threatened anything,” Sprouls said to the Sentinel. “We’ve had serious conversations, both internally and externally, about the concept of the world headquarters, the specific requirements, and where it makes the most sense to locate it. With the help of the state, we believe that location is here in Central Florida.”
Combining these tax incentives and the $125 million in funding Orange County is giving Universal to help pay for an expanded Kirkman Road to Epic Universe, the company is seeking $473 million in public money. Comcast, the parent company of Universal, reported $11.7 billion in profit last year.
Disney Vacation Club refurbishment schedule
Several Disney Vacation CLub properties will be refreshed or refurbishment over the next few years, according to a tweet from DVCNews.com.
The schedule was revealed at Thursday’s annual meeting of the DVC condominium board. Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, near the Magic Kingdom, will be refurbished in 2020. Three other DVC properties at Disney World will receive refreshes: The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in 2021, Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows in 2022and Disney’s Beach Club Villas in 2022.
It was not explained exactly what upgrades or changes will result from these projects or how any construction works will affect DVC owners’ ability to use their points at those resorts.
Beaches & Cream reopens at Disney’s Beach Club
Reservations are now open for the reopening of the Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at Disney’s Beach Club Resort.
The popular diner closed on August 25 for a refurbishment project that included expanding its limited capacity. Disney announced it will reopen on Dec. 26 with some new menu items, including a seared salmon filet and French dip sandwiches and new desserts like cookie fries (a plant-based option with chocolate, caramel, and strawberry dipping sauces).
The restaurant’s signature dish isn’t going away with these changes. The massive “Kitchen Sink sundae, a mix of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, cookies and cream, and mint chocolate chip ice cream covered with every available topping and designed to feed an entire family, will remain on the menu.