GAME CHANGER: Netflix Unveils New Theme Park & Resort, Challenges Disney’s Reign

in Entertainment, Theme Parks

Left: A joyful child interacting with Mickey Mouse in front of a castle at a Disney theme park. Right: The bold red letter "N" on a black background, representing the Netflix logo.

Credit: Edited by ITM

For decades, Walt Disney World Resort has reigned supreme as the leader of the theme park industry, enchanting millions of visitors each year with its theme parks and resorts.

Hot on its heels, Universal Orlando Resort has been carving out its own niche, especially with the upcoming Epic Universe theme park, slated to open in 2025. This new addition promises to elevate Universal’s standing, potentially transforming the theme park landscape. Yet, in an unexpected twist, Netflix has announced its entry into the arena, albeit with a twist that redefines traditional notions of theme parks.

Aerial view of the construction project for the new Donkey Kong roller coaster at Epic Universe in Orlando, Florida.
Image Credit: @Bioreconstruct on X, formally Twitter

In collaboration with Roblox and first reported by Variety, Netflix is venturing into the virtual space with “Nextworld,” a digital theme park that merges the interactive world of online gaming with the cinematic storytelling that Netflix is known for.

Set to debut in early access on Roblox this Wednesday, “Nextworld” is not your typical theme park or resort; instead, it’s a web-based universe populated by characters and content from popular Netflix IPs like Stranger Things (2016), One Piece (1999), Cobra Kai (2018), and Rebel Moon (2023).

Describing its new digital venture, Netflix explains, “Once you enter Nextworld — which is your central hub in the Netflix universe — you can dive deeper into the series and films you love. Think of it as a digital theme park full of characters, easter eggs, and games.”

(L to R) Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), and Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) dressed as Ghostbusters in 'Stranger Things' Season 2
Credit: Netflix

The interactive platform will include immersive games such as Stranger Things: Escape from Hawkins High, One Piece: East Blue Brawls, and Rebel Moon: Outskirts Battles, allowing fans to engage with their favorite characters in novel ways. Visitors to Nextworld might find themselves guided on quests by Dustin from Stranger Things, Luffy from One Piece, or Jimmy from Rebel Moon, encountering other familiar faces along the way.

While Roblox itself is a free platform, it supports in-game purchases through “Robux,” its virtual currency. This system enables players to buy virtual objects that enhance their experience within the game. In Netflix’s “Nextworld,” these purchases take on a new dimension with minigames inspired by Netflix’s original content, including a game based on the competition series Is It Cake? and another that allows players to test their karate skills in the Cobra Kai Dojo.

Moreover, “Nextworld” features the “Streamship,” a virtual environment where users can attend online events such as premieres and viewing parties. One such event is the preview for Jurassic World: Chaos Theory, scheduled for May 17. The Tudum Theater offers daily content bites, providing a unique way for fans to engage with the platform’s offerings.

The T-Rex roaring in the 'Jurassic World: Chaos Theory' trailer
Credit: Universal Pictures / DreamWorks Animation / Amblin Entertainment / Netflix

As players explore Nextworld, they have the opportunity to collect a variety of items and wearables from different Netflix shows and movies. These can be used to decorate their Fan Pod, a private space within the virtual world that can be personalized and even shared with friends.

The more challenges players complete, the more currency they accumulate, allowing them to expand their pod with exclusive items such as a Demogorgon Plushie Head or a One Piece Flag, alongside free limited User-Generated Content (UGC).

“As you venture through Nextworld, you can collect objects and wearables from different shows and movies to decorate your Fan Pod, your own private space that you can keep to yourself or open up to friends. As you build more currency across challenges on Nextworld, you’ll be able to expand your pod with even more exclusive items including free limited User-Generated Content (UGC) like a Demogorgon Plushie Head or a One Piece Flag.”

Jenna Ortega wearing a black ruffled dress stands amidst a dance floor, surrounded by mist and softly lit figures.
Credit: Netflix

This innovative venture by Netflix marks a significant pivot in the concept of theme parks, leveraging digital technology to create a space that is both an amusement park and a new platform for interactive storytelling. Unlike traditional parks, where the physical experience is paramount, Netflix’s digital theme park focuses on immersive narrative experiences, bringing the stories and characters people love into a dynamic, interactive realm.

Netflix’s bold move into the digital theme park sector follows closely on the heels of swirling rumors that the streaming giant was planning to extend its physical presence into the traditional theme park business. Could this be the first step in that venture? Last year, Netflix made headlines with its announcement to open brick-and-mortar stores by 2025, signaling a significant shift from its core online streaming operations to tangible, in-person experiences.

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