The Location of Epic Universe
With Epic Universal’s opening, Universal Orlando Resort will be divided into two separate areas: the North Campus and the South Campus.
The North Campus
Universal Orlando Resort’s North Campus will encompass all significant features up to this point. Among these are the two theme parks (Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure), the water park (Volcano Bay), and the original shopping/dining/entertainment district (CityWalk).
Additionally, the resort’s first six hotels – Hard Rock Hotel, Portofino Bay Hotel, Royal Pacific Resort, Sapphire Falls Resort, Aventura Hotel, and Cabana Bay Beach Resort) will also be on the newly-dubbed North Campus.
The South Campus
Epic Universe marks the beginning of the new South Campus, situated about 15 minutes south of the North Campus. The new theme park is located off Universal Boulevard, next to the Orange County Convention Center.
Transportation Between North and South Campuses
Universal will provide guests free transportation between its north and south campuses, most likely via shuttle buses. A plan is already in place to expand Kirkman Road in Orange County. The road will become the main traffic artery connecting the north and south campuses.
Universal filed a petition for a street name, Epic Boulevard, with a second choice of Epic Parkway. According to the petition application, the future road will run for 1.06 miles and connect to the Kirkman Road extension.
The Size of Epic Universe
In terms of size, the North Campus is approximately 735 acres, whereas the South Campus will be about 750 acres. The theme park lands alone at Epic Universe and covers around 108 acres, not including things like the parking lot, entry plaza, retention ponds, the hotel at the back of the park, and backstage areas.
Universal Orlando Resort is about to get a whole lot bigger, and the remaining 750 acres will also allow for future expansion. The new development will give Universal a better chance to compete with Disney World, but it has a long way to go before it reaches Disney’s annual attendance.
The Layout of Epic Universe
Epic Universe will be the first Universal theme park to incorporate a hub-and-spoke design, first popularized by Disneyland in 1955 and later implemented at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. The hub-and-spoke layout consists of a central hub and individual lands radiating outwards from it like spokes on a wheel.
Epic Universe’s hub-and-spoke layout will differ slightly from Disney’s usage. We know this because the conceptual art for the park shows a massive central hub design with long corridors leading to each land. The plan will provide enough room for different attractions, experiences, and entertainment to line up along the route.
Considering Universal’s announcement that several offerings reminiscent of CityWalk will accompany the new theme park, it seems likely that they will build a variety of restaurants or stores along this stretch. Essentially, this would be Epic Universe’s own dining, shopping, and entertainment complex, located right inside the park. Additionally, the park’s four themed lands are entirely isolated from one another, and you must return to the central hub before making your way to the next one. As a result, there should be enough foot traffic to support a mega complex with plenty of shops and eateries.
Theme park expert Tommy Hawkins recently published an updated layout of Epic Universe. He estimates that the pure guest areas will cover 108 acres, Epic’s resort hotels will occupy 170.45 acres, and there will also be a 110-acre 4th gate and 14 acres for CityWalk South.
Universal Epic Universe Lands (Themed Areas)
The Universal Epic park will consist of four distinct, fully-immersive themed lands. The park has a proposed layout, which includes Super Nintendo World, Universal Classic Monsters, How to Train Your Dragon, and the rumored The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic.
In each themed area, guests will be taken on a unique journey and fully immersed in the world they are experiencing. According to Universal, Epic Universe is expected to be extremely detailed in both its architecture and design. The goal is to change the landscape of Orlando’s incredible theme parks forever.
Here’s a breakdown of the confirmed and rumored themed lands at Universal’s Epic Universe.
Super Nintendo World
Universal has confirmed that Super Nintendo World Orlando will be one of its four lands.
Upon forming a partnership in 2015, Universal and Nintendo began building Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Osaka. During the 20th anniversary celebration of Universal Studios Japan in March 2021, Japan’s version of Super Nintendo World opened.
Super Nintendo World will be brought to Epic Universe in 2025 with attractions similar to those at its sister resort in Japan. Nintendo-themed attractions are expected to include:
- Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge: A driving simulation based on the popular game. (This ride opened in Japan as Koopa’s Challenge thanks to regional naming conventions, but the Bowser name is expected to be used here in the US).
- Yoshi’s Adventure: Family-friendly dark ride
- Bowser Jr. Shadow Showdown: Rather than a ride, Shadow Showdown is more of an in-park adventure, requiring a Power-Up (see below)
Power-Up Bands — which are Mario-themed wristbands that enable guests to battle enemies, unlock stamps, and collect coins by tapping question mark blocks — will also be available.
Epic Universe’s Super Nintendo World is also expected to include a Donkey Kong subsection featuring a Donkey Kong mine cart rollercoaster. This will likely feature a unique ride system which will make riders feel their coaster kart is jumping gaps in the track.
While we haven’t seen much in the way of official concept art for Orlando’s implementation of the Super Nintendo World concept, we have a good idea of how it will look given that Japan’s version has already opened. Here’s an in-depth walkthrough:
Universal Classic Monsters
Universal Pictures played a significant role in shaping horror cinema from the 1920s until the 1950s. Reports indicate that the Epic Universe park will include a themed land devoted to Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein, and other iconic monster characters. Our best guess is that this area pays homage to Universal’s most iconic spooky characters, but Universal hasn’t confirmed it.
How to Train Your Dragon
Epic Universe’s third area will be themed to DreamWorks’ popular movie franchise “How to Train Your Dragon” and will be more of a kid-friendly offering. Visitors 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 low-intensity rides, outdoor play areas, and a theatre.
According to rumors, construction on a new rollercoaster based on the “How to Train Your Dragon” films is already underway.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic
Rumors suggest a new “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” area will be included at Epic Universe, themed to the Ministry of Magic. However, Universal has not confirmed it yet.
As everyone knows, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter resides in Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure and features some of Universal Orlando’s best rides. The previous Harry Potter lands have been very successful, so we expect this new land to be equally popular. We can’t wait to experience it ourselves!
The Epic Universe Hotels
Universal 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, but nothing has been confirmed yet. However, recent developments do give us a little more insight into their names.
In April 2021, Universal filed a trademark application for Universal’s Helios Grand Hotel. Some speculate that this would be the name of the hotel located behind Epic Universe. It’s estimated there will be 500 rooms at the site, referred to as “Project 910.”
Recent developments have followed. According to OrlandoParkStop, newly filed trademark applications may reveal the names of the other two new resorts. One of Universal’s new trademarked terms is referred to as Universal’s Terra Luna Resort, while the other is referred to as Universal’s Stella Nova Resort. Both are described as “resorts” and “hotel services.”
There is speculation that these names are tied to what is known as “Project 912” and “Project 913,” a plan to build two side-by-side hotels with 750 rooms each. At this point, we can only guess, so stay tuned for more definitive information.
The History of Epic Universe
While it might seem strange to end with a discussion of the history of Universal Epic Universe, we thought you’d want to know what you can expect from the park first. That’s why we saved the backstory for last. Here’s a brief history of Epic Universe.
On August 1, 2019, NBCUniversal announced its intention to build a third theme park at Universal Orlando Resort, Epic Universe. Brian Roberts, the CEO of Universal’s parent company Comcast, called Epic Universe “the largest investment we’ve ever made.” There were also plans to build hotels, restaurants, and retail space at the new resort.
After construction began in earnest, the pandemic blindsided the world and halted the project. In April 2020, it was announced that Epic Universe’s opening would be pushed back until 2024 due to COVID-19-related delays.
NBCUniversal’s Jeff Shall announced in July 2020 that work on Universal’s Epic Universe would pause “until the future becomes more certain.”
The construction of Universal’s Epic Universe finally resumed in March 2021, after a nearly 8-month-long delay. The company now fully expects the park to open by the summer of 2025.
Epic Universe is the world’s most-anticipated theme park currently under construction.
When it opens, Epic Universe will be the largest Universal theme park in North America and the second largest worldwide (after Universal Studios Beijing). With many exciting attractions and intellectual property (IP) on display, Epic Universe is sure to be a hot vacation destination.