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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Epic Universe — What We Know about the New Park at Universal Studios Orlando

For the first time in over two decades, Universal Studios Florida is expanding with its third official theme park – ‘Epic Universe’ (Technically, the fourth if you include their water park, Volcano Bay).




Universal’s transformation from a world-renowned filmmaking studio into a massive amusement park empire has always been one of the industry’s most fascinating. What started as a simple tour of the Hollywood studios soon evolved into a full-fledged theme park that would persevere as a legitimate rival in a Disney-dominated market. With the continued success of the Hollywood location, Universal stayed true to its name, expanding to new territories like Japan, Singapore, Beijing, and the theme park capital of the world, Orlando, Florida. To date, Universal Studios Florida has not one, but two massive amusement parks. The first is a traditional Universal Studios park that focuses on the magic of moviemaking and the other is the more immersive Islands of Adventure, which transports attendees to the lands of Jurassic Park, Marvel, and more.


Islands of Adventure opened in 1999, and with the exception of the 2017 waterpark Volcano Bay, there has not been a new large-scale amusement park on the Universal property since…until now. Introducing Epic Universe, the latest addition to the Universal Studios collection of theme parks. If Islands of Adventure pushed the boundaries for theme park immersion, then Epic Universe clears those boundaries completely. Four distinct lands, all based on some of the most recognizable IPs in the entertainment industry, are all connected by a massive central hub that reportedly “puts the park back in theme park.” To learn more about Universal and Florida’s new upcoming park and its opening window, lands, attractions, and more, here is everything we know so far about Universal’s Epic Universe.


How to Train Your Dragon Film Poster

How to Train Your Dragon

A hapless young Viking who aspires to hunt dragons becomes the unlikely friend of a young dragon himself, and learns there may be more to the creatures than he assumed.

Release Date
March 26, 2010

Director
Dean DeBlois , Chris Sanders

Runtime
98 minutes

Writers
Cressida Cowell , William Davies , Dean DeBlois , Chris Sanders

Tagline
In theaters, Real D 3D, and IMAX 3D March 26th.


When Is Universal’s ‘Epic Universe’ Opening?

The map of Universal's Epic Universe
Image via Universal Orlando


While Universal has announced no specific date at this time, Epic Universe aims to open sometime in Summer 2025. After being announced in 2019, construction on Epic Universe reportedly progressed rapidly, and it was initially set to open in 2023. That release plan changed due to complications caused by the global pandemic, and the project was delayed into 2025.

Where Is Universal’s ‘Epic Universe’?

Universal Epic Universe Map
Image via Universal Studios Orlando


Epic Universe will be located in Orlando, Florida on the Universal Studios Florida property, but it will significantly differ from the other parks, hotels, and shops. Currently, the main Universal Studios park, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay, and the rest of the shops and hotels are all located next to each other. Epic Universe, however, is going to be located further away from the property, beginning at the corner of Universal Boulevard and Kirkman Road. The decision to place Epic Universe further away from the central cluster of properties was likely made, so the park could have room for more expansions and lands (or Universes) in the future.

Does Universal’s ‘Epic Universe’ Have a Trailer?


Universal’s Epic Universe may still be a bit far off from opening, but on January 30, 2024, Universal Parks released an extensive tease of the hotly anticipated park. The video above officially confirms what fans can expect to see from the immersive experience. The model of the park shown in the trailer reveals that Universal’s Epic Universe will feature a hub world that connects to four other lands themed to some of pop culture’s biggest names.

What Lands and Attractions Will Be in Universal’s ‘Epic Universe’?


The above info drop revealed that Universal’s Epic Universe will open with five distinct lands, each with its own attractions and immersive experiences. The lands included (which we’ll elaborate more on below) are:


  • Celestial Park
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Isle of Berk
  • Dark Universe
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Ministry of Magic
  • Super Nintendo World

Celestial Park


Universal is still keeping many details of all the different lands under wraps. Still, the introduction video spends a lot of time discussing the theme park’s central area – ‘Celestial Park’. This hub world is decorated with luscious greenery, plenty of water features, and many dining options and places to shop. It also comes complete with three separate attractions. The first is the Constellation Carousel, which is a unique spin (so to speak) on the popular carousel attraction. Then there is Astronomica, which is a massive and elaborate dancing fountain experience. Finally, the land’s apparent E-Ticket attraction is Starfall Racers – a duel launch coaster that will see two tracks shoot alongside each other as if they were shooting stars.


However, one more feature makes Celestial Park unique from any other amusement park in the world. That is the Universal Helios Grand Hotel, which isn’t just next to the park, but inside the park. Universal is touting this 500-room resort as a unique amenity you will only find at Epic Universe.

How to Train Your Dragon: Isle of Berk

The portal entrance to How To Train Your Dragon: Isle of Berk at Epic Universe
Image via Universal Orlando


Dreamworks Animation’s smash hit How to Train Your Dragon franchise is finally finding a home at Universal with How to Train Your Dragon: Isle of Berk. Fans of the massive series will be able to see Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), Toothless, and the rest of the Vikings and dragons from the classic trilogy roam the park. The rides for the remaining lands are being kept under lock and key, but Universal promises that How to Train Your Dragon: Isle of Berk’s ride (or rides) will fulfill the ultimate fantasy of riding a dragon.

Dark Universe

The portal entrance to Dark Universe at Epic Universe
Image via Universal Orlando


Not unlike the notorious Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive), Universal hopes to revive the long-dormant ‘Dark Universe’ yet again, this time through Epic Universe. For those unaware, the Dark Universe is the brand name used to describe the interconnected world of Universal Studios’ classic monster characters, such as Frankenstein’s Monster (Boris Karloff), Dracula (Bela Lugosi), The Wolfman (Lon Chaney Jr.), and more. Universal Pictures has tried (and failed) to revive the shared universe before, such as with the ill-conceived 2017 remake of The Mummy, but the Dark Universe section of the park hopes to revitalize these classic creatures for a new generation. Obviously, being very horror-inspired, this section of the park could potentially function as a year-round scary experience, not unlike the theme park’s annual Halloween Horror Nights (which Universal is already exploring with a new facility in Las Vegas).

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Ministry of Magic

The portal entrance to The Wizard World of Harry Potter: Ministry of Magic at Epic Universe
Image via Universal Orlando


Universal’s collaboration with Warner Bros. to bring the Harry Potter franchise to the parks has proven fruitful. What started as a section containing Hogsmeade and Hogwarts has only grown more and more over the years, with the Florida location now featuring a Diagon Alley expansion and a Dark Forest roller coaster. Now, Epic Universe will bring yet another piece of the Harry Potter franchise to life with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Ministry of Magic. For the first time ever, this new Universal land will feature a section inspired by the Fantastic Beasts prequel films, with a part reportedly being themed to the French circus seen in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The rest of the land, as the title implies, will be based around the contentious Ministry of Magic, which is where some of the most divisive politics within the Wizarding World are debated during the latter half of the Harry Potter saga.

Super Nintendo World

The portal entrance to Super Nintendo World at Epic Universe
Image via Universal Orlando


Speaking of fruitful partnerships, Universal and Nintendo are only just getting started, following their rollout of Super Nintendo Worlds across the globe and the international box office juggernaut that was The Super Mario Bros. Movie. If you’ve been lucky enough to visit the Hollywood or Japan locations, you’ll likely already have seen the world of Mario come to life. Now, the land and its signature Mario Kart attraction are coming to Florida.


However, Epic Universe’s Super Nintendo World is confirmed to have an all-new element – an additional sub-land that will be themed to the Donkey Kong Country spin-off games. Here, fans will get to see Donkey Kong and his family of Kongs do battle with the jungle’s nefarious creatures. The area is also set to feature a one-of-a-kind roller coaster attraction, which, through the magic of mechanics, will provide the illusion that riders will jump over a broken piece of mine cart track. That’s just one of the exciting new innovations coming to Universal’s exciting new park.

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