Universal Orlando Announces New Theme Park, Universal’s Epic Universe
Universal wowed everyone when they opened Islands of adventure in 1999, then, redefined the theme park industry when they opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010. Then, they outdid themselves when they opened Diagon Alley in 2014. Now, Universal Orlando Resort is taking things to a whole new level building an entirely new, fourth, theme park to be called Universal’s Epic Universe. The vision: create an entirely new level of experience that forever changes theme park entertainment.
Rumors swirled of a new theme park being created by Universal Studios in Orlando back in 2015, and today, those rumors are finally being brought to life with the official announcement of an all-new park called – Epic Universe. It will be the first theme park built from the ground up in Florida since Universal’s Islands of Adventure was back in 1999.
The park was officially announced today, Aug. 1, during an event we attended at the Orange County Convention Center attended by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Tom Williams, and Brian Roberts.
“Our vision for Epic Universe is historic,” said Tom Williams, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Universal Parks & Resorts. “It will build on everything we have done and become the most immersive and innovative theme park we have ever created. It is an investment in our business, our industry, our team members and our community.”
Universal’s Epic Universe will take guests on a journey where beloved stories expand into vibrant lands — and where that journey is as much a part of their adventure as the ultimate destination. The new park is being described as the single-largest investment Comcast NBCUniversal has made in its theme park business and in Florida overall. It will also feature an entertainment center, hotels, shops, restaurants and more.
No lands, themes, or any sort of specifics were revealed, but we did receive some awesome concept art of the new park.
One thing we are very excited about is what appears to be a dueling launch coaster at the park! If you look close, you can see it in the bottom right corner of the concept art. Interestingly, it looks very similar in design to West Coast Racers, the world’s first dueling launch coaster installed earlier this year at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California.
Universal’s Epic Universe will be located on a 750-acre site just a few miles from the existing resort in Southwest Orange County. Specifically, it will be south of Sand Lake Road and east of Universal Boulevard.
As for transportation to and from the park, Tom Williams, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Universal Parks & Resorts says it takes about 12 minutes to get from the current parks to the site of Epic Universe. Tom also mentioned that Universal is pushing for the new Virgin train from South Florida to have a stop at the Orange County Convention Center, which will also be conveniently near the park. He says “it’s only logical to have the train to come from South Florida to the airport, from the airport to the convention center, then off to Disney or wherever”. He went on to say this protects the investment that has been made in Orange County of the second largest convention center in the United States.
Mayor Demings spotlighted Universal’s role in the Kirkman Road extension. This is a 50/50 public-private partnership in which Universal is investing $160 million to extend Kirkman into the area where the new park will be located. It seems Universal Orlando is making a huge investments in transportation to make traveling to and from Epic Universe seamless for guests.
“The Kirkman extension will improve transportation through a busy and growing portion of our county and open up the entire area for additional development – including an important expansion of our Convention Center,” he said.
During the announcement, Governor DeSantis, Mayor Demings and Tom Williams released information about Universal’s economic contribution to the state and local economy.
Universal CEO Tom Williams, said Universal Orlando currently employees 25,000 people and will hire an additional 14,000 team members as part of Epic Universe, including professional, technical, culinary and other specialized positions with a base rate of $15 an hour. The company currently contributes more than $302 million in annual state and local taxes – a number that will nearly double when the new theme park opens.
“We look forward to the new level of entertainment and innovation Universal’s Epic Universe will bring to one of our state’s most important industries,” said Governor DeSantis. “We look forward to Universal’s continued contribution to our state’s economic growth and development. And we are especially grateful for Universal’s partnership in improving Shingle Creek, which plays a critical role in serving the Everglades.”
“The investment Universal is making in our community and the benefit all of us will see is substantial,” said Mayor Demings. “This will benefit nearly every segment of our economy – from tourism to high-tech.”
Construction of the new park which has already begun, will contribute a total of $11.5 billion in direct and indirect economic benefit into the Florida economy. A few aerial video clips of the current construction site were displayed on a monitor during the presentation.
As for what IP specifically will be used at Epic Universe, that’s officially under wraps for now. When reporters asked if the new park would feature themes from Jurassic World, Harry Potter or Nintendo, Universal CEO, Tom Williams declined to provide specifics because of “competitive pressure and competitive nature in the Orlando marketplace”. He also wouldn’t provide the cost estimate or give an opening date. But he hinted it will have more than just one single theme and said “a Universe is bigger than a World”.
We do know that Universal Orlando has plans for Nintendo World, and construction plans for that area within Universal Studios Florida was abruptly halted a few years ago. That would imply they decided to move Nintendo World to this new park. Other rumored lands revolve around the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, How to Train Your Dragon, Universal Classic Monsters, and even Donkey Kong, but again, right now nothing is confirmed for these IP’s and these rumors could end up being false… With the huge success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, we’re fairly certain there will be some sort of Wizarding World / Fantastic Beasts expansion at Epic Universe.
So, of course we couldn’t resist zooming in and taking a guess at the lands coming to the park. Here’s a mock up of what we think the new lands will be. Again, this is not an official map, just a mock up of our guess at the new lands.
More details about Universal’s Epic Universe will be revealed over time. For more information, visit the official Universal Orlando website here.
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