University of Central Florida and Universal Creative Launch ‘Creative Lab’

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In a continuing partnership between Universal Creative and University of Central Florida, a new program has been developed. UCF’s Themed Experience program and Universal Creative, the team that designs, develops, and delivers attractions, shows, hotels, restaurants, and resorts across the globe for Universal Parks & Resorts, is announcing a unique and immersive learning experience available beginning in the Spring 2023 semester. The goal is to bring immersive design learning to the next generation of creators. This lab experience offers a unique blend of classroom and on-site learning from some of the most creative minds in the industry; builds on long-term relationship between the two organizations.

This ‘UCF/Universal Creative Lab,’ provides students with specially designed coursework and on-site sessions at Universal Orlando Resort, Class members will also have opportunities to interact with Universal show producers, engineers, creative directors, executives, and other industry professionals with the goal of providing students with an in-depth look at the design and development process.

“People love the energy and thrill of experiencing epic stories and exhilarating adventures and Universal is an incredible place to build a career,” says Mike Hightower, President, Universal Creative. “The Creative Lab with UCF gives students immersive, hands-on, real-world experience through instruction from our talented team. This kind of learning is great for UCF students, great for our theme parks and entertainment, and great for Universal Creative as we help grow and inspire the next generation of creators.”

Also, the UCF/Universal Creative lab will help prospective theme park attraction designers and storytellers learn the skills and build the relationships needed to explore career opportunities while giving employers like Universal Parks & Resorts the opportunity to help shape real-world training programs that develop prospective talent. “Universal Parks & Resorts has closely collaborated with UCF for many years, providing learning opportunities for students and faculty,” says John Sprouls, Executive Vice President and Chief Administration Officer at Universal Parks & Resorts, “The Creative Lab is a natural next-step and we are proud to support the next generation of themed entertainment innovators.”

This Themed Experience program began in 2019 to meet the growing demand for creating experiences across the tourism, hospitality, and events industry in Orlando and beyond. Themed entertainment experiences extend beyond theme parks – to hotels, restaurants, retail establishments and even venues like zoos and museums. UCF’s first cohort of themed experience graduates completed their studies this spring, and quickly found themselves in an in-demand, rapidly growing industry in Central Florida before they even crossed the commencement stage.

As Peter Weishar, founding director of UCF” Theme experience program said, “Orlando is the international hub of the themed entertainment industry,” He also said, “World-leading organizations, like Universal Creative, are right here at our doorstep. We know our students need first-hand knowledge of cutting-edge innovation and industry best practices to become the next generation of themed entertainment. We are grateful Universal Creative shares that vision.” Weishar has more than 20 years of experience leading academic programs and has held a variety of roles within the industry.

The first class will be offered to graduate students enrolled in UCF’s Themed Experience program. A second class will take place in Summer 2023 and be open to graduate and upper-class students from any accredited college or university. Students will split time between trips to Universal Orlando and on-campus workshops focused on developing original themed designs. “This partnership will provide incredible opportunities for students,” says Jeff Moore, Dean of the UCF College of Arts and Humanities. “Students from academic programs around the university have benefited from interning or working at Universal over the years. This new collaboration ensures that these opportunities are open to a diverse range of aspiring professionals in an in-demand industry.”

So, you know, UCF offers a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre, Themed Experience track and a Master of Science in Themed Experience. This fall, 62 students are enrolled in the two programs.

If you are interested in this type of program, make sure to contact UCF. For theme park fans, we may get to enjoy many new attractions based on the work of this program.


Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.