Universal’s Epic Universe, a brand-new theme park, will be coming to Universal Orlando in the near future. What can visitors expect from Epic Universe when it opens in the summer of 2025?
Universal’s Epic Universe will be the first major theme park built in the Orlando market since Universal Islands of Adventure in 1999. SeaWorld Parks opened Discovery Cove in 2000. Legoland Florida, in Winter Haven, opened in 2011 with a more recent addition of Peppa Pig Theme Park. Fun Spot America – Kissimmee opened in 2007. However, none of those count as full-fledged major theme parks. For example, Legoland Florida is great but primarily targets younger families. Discovery Cove makes for a magnificent day spa experience but is not considered a theme park.
Universal Orlando Resort claims that its magnificent water park, Volcano Bay, counts as the third theme park for its Orlando properties. Volcano Bay opened in 2016. However, when you enter the parking toll booth to visit Universal Orlando Resort, they ask a telling question. That question is, “Are you going to the theme parks or Volcano Bay today.” They ask this to determine where you should park in the parking garages. Still, even the Universal Orlando Resort team members do not consider Volcano Bay a major theme park.
Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort has been a premier destination for theme park devotees for some time. From the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to the thrilling roller coasters, Universal Orlando Resort has been a leader in providing immersive experiences for guests. Now, the theme park resort is preparing to take its Orlando area theme park offerings to the next level with the highly anticipated Epic Universe. This resource will describe everything we know about Universal’s Epic Universe at this time. We hope it serves as a valuable guide to Epic Universe as we prepare for this new theme park.
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When Does Epic Universe Open?
During a Comcast Earnings Call, the parent company of Universal announced that Epic Universe would open by the summer of 2025. However, Universal’s Epic Universe may open before then.
Compared to other major theme park resorts, Universal Orlando tends to announce things very late officially. Some feel Universal waits until the last possible date that a public statement must be made. Based on the current speed of construction at Epic Universe, it is starting to look like an actual theme park in places. We can even see some attractions beginning to resemble the final product. Nevertheless, we have nothing official from Universal Orlando Resort regarding a definitive date.
Though the pandemic slowed construction, Universal’s Epic Universe will open with state-of-the-art technology and some new intellectual properties for the Orlando area theme park market.
Despite the awkward-sounding name for a theme park, Universal’s Epic Universe should change the landscape regarding theme parks for the most visited United States travel destination. According to VisitOrlando, the official tourism association for Orlando, 74 million visitors came to Orlando in 2022. That marked an increase of 25% over 2021. Orlando continues to be the most visited destination in the United States of America.
Conservative estimates predict that by 2025, with Epic Universe opening, over 80 million visitors will come to Orlando that year. Though many of them will not visit a Universal theme park, a higher percentage will with Universal’s Epic Universe opening then.
Epic Universe Overview
Universal’s Epic Universe will be a brand-new theme park. The park was announced in August 2019 and is expected to be completed by the summer of 2025 despite delays during 2020. The park’s concept is centered around “storytelling,” with each park area being based on a different guiding narrative or intellectual property.
The park will feature various attractions, shops, and dining options. It will also have its own hotels. Three hotels are currently in the plans at Epic Universe. Also, they are under construction, with speculation that at least one of the hotels will open before Epic Universe does.
Universal’s Epic Universe theme park will not be in the same area as the current resort properties. Epic Universe’s location will be away from the existing main Universal Orlando campus. The current two theme parks, water park, CityWalk area, and six of the eight “on-site” hotels reside in the same place. Guests can quickly move from one part of that property to another. In fact, short bus rides and boat trips can move you from anywhere in that area to another in ten minutes. Everything in that section of Universal Orlando Resort is within reasonable walking distance if desired. This is commonly known now as the north campus in preparation for Epic Universe.
That section of Universal Orlando Resort is located fittingly on Universal Boulevard north of Interstate four around exit 74B. Just south of Interstate four, also on Universal Boulevard, exists The Endless Summer Resort Hotels.
Dockside Inn and Suites and Surfside Inn and Suites, the Endless Summer Resort Hotels, serve as the value-level hotels at Universal Orlando. They are in the former home of the Wet n’ Wild water park. These hotels and the other Universal Orlando property are known as the North campus.
If you continue south along Universal Boulevard, you reach Sand Lake Road. The official address for Epic Universe is 4700 W Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819. Based on standard traffic patterns in that area of Orlando, it should take 10-15 minutes to go from the current main parking garage at Universal CityWalk Orlando to Epic Universe. That travel time resembles going from Disney Animal Kingdom to the other three Walt Disney World theme parks.
Epic Universe: How Large Will It Be?
In simple terms, the property is in the south area on Sand Lake Road, where Epic Universe is being built. It is more significant than everything on the north campus of Universal Orlando. The two parts of the north campus are a little less than 750 acres in total. However, the south campus area where Epic Universe is being constructed is slightly over 750 acres. Epic Universe marks a considerable expansion for Universal Orlando Resort.
We strongly suspect that Universal Orlando owns more land in that area for expansion if desired. Based on initial plans between Universal Orlando Resort and the city of Orlando, dedicated bus lanes will be created between the north and south campus for Universal Orlando guests. Universal Orlando committed 160 million dollars to help pay for this project.
Several other road construction projects are being done in connection with Epic Universe. For example, an elevated traffic circle will be built connecting Kirkman Road near Universal Orlando to Epic Universe. “One of the main features of the project is an elevated traffic circle. That’s going to be used to facilitate traffic distribution to the Universal property,” said Ken Leeming, Orange County highway construction manager.
Epic Universe: What Lands and Attractions Will Be There?
At this time, we know very little information officially about Epic Universe. Universal Orlando Resort will save those details until it is closer to the theme park opening. However, we live in an era where nothing can be hidden long while building a gigantic theme park.
Super Nintendo World – The Area We Know For Sure
When Universal Studios Hollywood opened Super Nintendo World, the “worst kept secret” in the theme park industry became official from Universal Parks and Destinations. Mark Woodbury said at the opening ceremony for the Hollywood location that, “Soon, we’re going to add another Super Nintendo World to Universal Orlando Resort.”
This information lacked any shock value since Nintendo leaders had said that. Other Comcast NBCUniversal leaders had said that in official meetings back in 2021. Still, an official announcement, no matter how expected, brings joy when it comes from Universal.
In 2015, Universal Parks and Destinations and Nintendo entered a partnership. Epic Universe will be the third Universal theme park with a Super Nintendo World area. Super Nintendo World will come to Epic Universe with attractions like those in Japan. Nintendo-themed attractions are expected to include:
Attractions in Super Nintendo World
Though Universal Parks and Destinations has not confirmed these things, we expect three Nintendo-based rides in Orlando’s version of Super Nintendo World.
Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge – This driving simulation attraction allows Mario Kart video game fans to enter that world. Guests will enter Bowser’s Castle before embarking on their journey. This ride already exists in Japan and Hollywood based on this popular game.
Yoshi’s Adventure – This family-friendly omnimover-style ride will also be coming to Orlando. The first version of this ride system exists at Universal Studios Japan.
Power-Up Bands- these Mario-themed wristbands upgrade guests’ experience in Super Nintendo World. These bands will also cost an upcharge to own of $40 currently. These bands currently operate for guests in Japan and Hollywood. Universal has stated that if you have purchased a Power-up Band that it will work at Epic Universe. These bands enable guests to battle enemies, unlock bonus features, and collect coins by tapping question mark blocks.
Donkey Kong Attraction
Epic Universe’s Super Nintendo World land is rumored to include a Donkey Kong Mine Cart rollercoaster. This will likely feature a unique ride system that will make riders feel their coaster vehicle is jumping gaps in the track. This Donkey Kong Mine Cart attraction will open at Universal Studios Japan in 2024 and at Universal’s Epic Universe in 2025. There have also been rumors that Universal Studios Hollywood is also exploring building the Donkey Kong attraction there.
Recreating the mine cart levels from the video game, this new Donkey Kong roller coaster will make it look like you’re jumping over gaps in the track. We expect this attraction also to include detailed show scenes and some animatronics.
Epic Universe Rumored Lands
Even though we know that the following themed areas will be a part of Universal’s Epic Universe, they have not been announced officially. Thus, we must remember that things could change even though incredibly unlikely.
Wizarding World Area
According to rumors, the planned Wizarding World area of Epic Universe has already changed several times. Initially, the “Fantastic Beasts” movie franchise was supposed to be featured prominently in Epic Universe. Whether due to timeline changes based on the pandemic, lower-than-desired movie ticket sales, unexpected changes due to construction permits not being approved, or Universal’s contract with Warner Bros. to use the Wizarding World properties, “Fantastic Beasts” will play a minor part in the current plan for the Wizarding World area.
Based on the building permits approved by Orange County, Florida, we know that the Wizarding World area will have a large theatre and a large dark ride. The headliner attraction will be a dark ride in which guests enter the Ministry of Magic like in the “Harry Potter” movies. Though the initial façade of the Wizarding World will be based on Paris in the “Fantastic Beasts” movie franchise, guests should expect to experience scenes on the main attraction from the “Harry Potter” films. If the rumors are true, you might even encounter everyone’s favorite witch to hate, Delores Umbridge.
Based on the success of the two Wizarding World areas at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure, we expect this new Wizarding World land to be equally popular.
Universal Classic Monsters Area of Epic Universe
The Universal Classic Monsters have been a part of Universal’s legacy from almost the beginning. The horror genre kept Universal afloat during some lean years in the past. Rumors of a Classic Monsters attraction coming to Universal Orlando Resort have existed for decades. However, it looks like a Universal Classic Monsters area featuring monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, and Wolfman looks closer than ever before.
Initial speculation about this area of Epic Universe revolves around the backstory of a village, once terrorized by monsters, living in fear of them still. Within this setting, two attractions will be a part of the Universal Classic Monsters area.
Initial reports indicate a massive dark ride using similar technology to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction at Islands of Adventure. Also, based on permits and logical conclusions, a Universal Classic Monsters-themed coaster will be in this land.
How To Train Your Dragon Area
The final main area of Epic Universe looks to build on Universal’s partnership with DreamWorks. Though we expect to see far more DreamWorks properties at Universal Parks and Destination locations like Universal Studios Florida and in Frisco, Texas, Epic Universe looks to be providing an entire land for “How to Train Your Dragon.”
This area looks to be targeted toward younger families. Guests will enter through a rocky cave and journey to the Isle of Berk, a fantasy world filled with dragons and adventure. The Viking-themed village will feature a roller coaster, outdoor play areas, and a theatre.
Main Hub Area Of Epic Universe
Though many rumors exist about entrance methods to each of the four main areas, the hub area will contain two attractions and a large fountain. One will be a circle-style ride, like a spinner or a carousel.
The rumored second attraction in this area will be a dueling coaster. Though we know nothing official, this coaster should be themed to space travel.
The Epic Universe Hotels
According to building permits filed by Universal, we know a few important details about the three hotels opening around the south campus. Universal Orlando Resort has plans for three new hotels around Epic Universe, one behind the theme park and two across the street. Rumors suggest that each hotel will be themed around space somehow, but more needs to be confirmed. However, we know some things for sure about these on-site hotels.
We have three names for these hotels, which are, “Universal’s Helios Grand Hotel,” Universal’s Terra Luna Resort, “and “Universal’s Stella Nova Resort.” Of course, Universal’s recent habit of eliminating the apostrophes in names may change those names before the hotels open. Initial estimates indicate those hotels will have about 2000 rooms in total.
Universal’s Epic Universe is poised to be a game-changer in the world of theme parks. With its focus on storytelling, cutting-edge technology, and immersive experiences, it will surely be a hit with visitors worldwide. While many details are still under wraps, this new theme park is already generating excitement among fans with popular franchises like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Nintendo.
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