Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Wednesday Wishlist: Universal Studios San Jose?

I haven't done a proper Wednesday Wishlist post in years, but I saw something in the Catalyze SV newsletter that got me thinking. The Pleasant Hills Golf Course in East San Jose has sat vacant for ages--114 acres of prime space rotting away unused. Catalyze SV has several prudent suggestions for what this space can be utilized for such as affordable housing and open space. However, I wanted to throw out a wild idea.

San Jose has been doing more than it's fair share of adding housing in Silicon Valley and is one of two cities in the South Bay that is not resistant to building high-rise housing. There is plenty of space and opportunity for infill housing throughout San Jose, but it is extremely rare to have this much contiguous space anywhere.

So my crazy idea is to utilize the space for large-scale entertainment. It was a golf course in the past, why not a theme park?

Great America is shutting down to build housing in a matter of years and we almost lost Raging Waters this year--which is already only a seasonal park. Side note that Raging Waters is being renamed to CalBunga Waterpark and is right next door to this vacant land. One of the biggest criticisms of the San Jose area is lack of things to do... so why not use this space for fun and entertainment.

You might be thinking that this couldn't possibly be enough land for a legitimate theme park. However, it is more than enough. You can see it's size in relation to CalBunga and Cunningham Lake above. 

Again, this is 114 acres. Universal Studios has just proposed a new theme park resort concept in Waco, Texas that is oriented for kids under 13-years old. Think of it as the next step above Happy Hollow. It's being built right in the middle of a residential area and is oriented in a way where most of the rides are indoors and the buildings themselves will minimize noise travelling outside the park. 

The entire space including a hotel, surface-level guest parking, employee parking, and room for expansion comes out to be 97 acres.

Okay, but what about a theme park for everyone including adults and teens? One of the most efficiently laid out theme parks I have been to is Universal Studios Singapore. It features a dozen major attractions for all ages, is beautifully themed, and has multiple hotels connected to the property. The park itself is only 62 acres. They also have an aquarium, casino, and other attractions that would all fit within the envelope of this space.

It seems like Universal Studios is now taking some risks and is aggressively expanding. They are building one of the largest and most immersive parks in Florida, have a new concept coming to Las Vegas, and are pushing for a new park in the London area. Building something in the affluent Silicon Valley area could be an interesting opportunity. Any hotels could also serve a dual or triple purpose to support conventions and business travel. This area is only a 12 minute drive away from Downtown San Jose and the San Jose Convention Center.

This is obviously a long shot, but I've seen stranger ideas come to life!

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent idea! I was just thinking about this earlier today....we have TopGolf, we have urban putt, we have bowling, we have golf karts....but if Great America closes we are down to only one theme park in the Bay Area, and it's far away from Silicon Valley.

    I would definitely go to this, if they built it! I don't know how we could make it happen.

    What's the word on Great America?? Last I heard, the mayor of Santa Clara said that it's zoned as a theme park, so they would have to go through the planning commission to change it. Maybe Santa Clara needs to just buy the land again to ensure it will stay a theme park! :)