Universal Epic Universe Guide

UPDATES:

June 20, 2024: This article was updated with new information on attractions and experiences in Dark Universe.

May 2, 2024: This article was updated with new information on the attractions and experiences planned for Super Nintendo World.

March 28, 2024: This article was updated with new information on the attractions, shows, and experiences coming to How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk.

January 30, 2024: This article was updated with a series of major announcements from Universal about the lands and attractions of this park, plus extensive details about the Celestial Park area within.

Updates on Universal Orlando Resort’s Epic New Theme Park

Universal’s Epic Universe theme park is scheduled to open by Summer 2025. New details (and rumors) are constantly emerging as the park nears opening. We’ve put together this Universal Epic Universe guide covering everything you need to know about Universal Orlando Resort’s massive expansion, including the newest developments and company statements. Stay tuned to this page for all the latest Epic Universe updates!

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About Universal Epic Universe

Epic Universe will be Universal Orlando Resort’s fourth park and the company’s most expensive and innovative project to date. The 750-acre expansion will double the size of Universal Orlando Resort and will transform Universal Orlando into more than just a one or two-day vacation destination.

Epic Universe’s themed land and attractions will feature several Comcast intellectual properties. When completed, it will be the largest Universal theme park in the United States and the second largest in the world (just behind Universal Studios Beijing).

Universal has stated that Epic Universe will forever redefine theme park entertainment with its completely new level of experiences. A bold statement, but it sounds epic. And based on the phenomenal preview released by Universal on January 30, 2024, we can’t wait to see it for ourselves!

When Does Universal’s Epic Universe Open?

The most frequently asked question is, When is Universal’s Epic Universe opening? During the company’s 2021 Q4 Comcast Earnings Call, the company confirmed that they plan to open Epic Universe by the summer of 2025. While there’s still a long way to go, it’s encouraging to hear they’re confident about an opening date.

Has Construction Started on Epic Universe?

The pandemic hampered the project’s early days, but construction fully resumed in March 2021. Epic Universe’s construction is well underway and is expected to ramp up through its 2025 opening date.

Update 1/2024:

Universal Orlando’s Epic Universe theme park continues progressing rapidly. Recent aerial views of the park confirm that things are well underway on ride buildings, attractions, hotels, shops, and restaurants — not surprising given that everything is due to open in 2025.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that 1,500 construction employees were working on the new park area, in 2022 with the number rapidly rising to 9,000 to 10,000 workers in 2023. We can only imagine how the number will continue to grow as 2024 progresses.

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The Location of Epic Universe

Map showing the location of Universal Epic Universe

Image © Universal

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 to expand Kirkman Road in Orange County has been implemented to become the main traffic artery connecting the north and south campuses. In June 2022, Universal filed a petition for a street name, Epic Boulevard, a 1.06 mile connection to the Kirkman Road extension.

The Size of Epic Universe

Epic Universe Theme Park Entrance

Image © Universal

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 cover 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

An artist rendering of the layout of Universal Epic Universe

Artist concept of Epic Universe layout | Image © Universal

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 “worlds” 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 themed worlds 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.

Universal Epic Universe Worlds (Themed Areas)

The Universal Epic park will consist of four distinct, fully-immersive themed worlds/lands, connected by a central entry hub.

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

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 worlds and attractions at Universal’s Epic Universe.

Celestial Park

Concept Art of Celestial Park at Epic Universe

Celestial Park (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

The main entrance to Epic Universe will be Celestial Park. As part of the major January 30, 2024 announcements, we received a comprehensive overview of what to expect from this portion of the theme park.

Universal has promised that this area will put the “park” back in “theme park,” and some jaw-dropping concept art seems to support this. Lush greenspaces and waterfront areas abound, but this area is really about serving as your portal to all of the themed areas the theme park has to offer.

Indeed, here guests will be able to enter literal portals — giant round gateways — into each of the park’s four worlds.

But there’s no need to rush through — there’s plenty to experience inside Celestial Park itself.

Attractions in Celestial Park

Concept Art for Stardust Racers at Universal Epic Universe

Stardust Racers (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

  • Stardust Racers — a dual-launch 133-ft tall roller coaster boasting 5,000 feet of track and speeds of up to 62 mph. At night, the track will be completely dark, making the individually-lit cars look like comets streaking across the sky. 48″ height requirement.
  • Constellation Carousel — a unique carousel concept that goes beyond the usual merry-go-round — individual rotating animals (inspired by the constellations) whirl around and lift up to 6 feet in the air.
  • Astronomica — a dancing fountains play area.

Dining in Celestial Park

Concept Art of Atlantic Restaurant

Atlantic Restaurant (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

  • Atlantic — full-service restaurant featuring seafood and steak in a fine dining atmosphere.
  • The Blue Dragon Pan-Asian Restaurant — neon dragons and illuminated lanterns set the scene at this dazzling venue.
  • Pizza Moon — though not officially included in the January 30th announcements, a virtual flythrough video of Celestial Park released by Universal shows what appears to be a quick service pizza location named Pizza Moon.

Shopping in Celestial Park

  • Nintendo Super Star Store — fine goods for gaming fans

Hotels in Celestial Park

  • Universal Helios Grand Hotel — located alongside Celestial Park, this 500-room hotel is integrated into the park, boasting a dedicated entrance to the park for its guests

Super Nintendo World

Super Nintendo World Orlando was the first of the four “worlds” to be confirmed for Epic Universe.

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. Hollywood’s scaled-down version opened in February 2023.

Super Nintendo World will be brought to Epic Universe in 2025 with attractions similar to those at its sister resort in Japan.

Areas in Super Nintendo World

  • Super Mario Land — from the moment you pass through the iconic green pipe, there will be no doubt you’ve warped directly into the Mushroom Kingdom. Spy Mt. Beanpole in the distance as Piranha Plants sway, Goombas lumber along, and spinning coins glint against the Florida sun. “?” Blocks and mushrooms beckon you to explore further.
  • Donkey Kong Country — the tropical lands made famous by the Donkey Kong video games come to life, complete with trees, waterfalls, and landmarks such as The Golden Temple.

Artist rendering of Super Mario Land at Super Nintendo World (Universal Epic Universe)

Super Mario Land (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

Artist rendering of Donkey Kong Country at Super Nintendo World

Donkey Kong Country (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

Attractions in Super Nintendo World

Note: Hollywood version is shown in the above video

  • Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge — a kart-racing game using augmented reality, projection mapping, and real-life sets to make you feel like you’re actually launching shells and banana peels at opponents. 42″ height requirement (107 cm), with supervising companion required for Guests under 48″ (122 cm).
  • Yoshi’s Adventure — a family-friendly ride that’s good for all ages. Hop on Yoshi’s back and tour Super Nintendo World from above. This slow-moving attraction takes you on a search for glowing eggs while enjoying epic views of the land. 36″ height requirement (92 cm), with supervising companion required for Guests under 48″ (122 cm).
  • Mine-Cart Madness — a highly-anticipated and technologically-groundbreaking roller coaster. Use your careening cart to protect the Golden Banana at all costs! Thanks to an innovative ride system, your cart appears to jump over giant gaps in the track. 36″ height requirement (92 cm), with supervising companion required for Guests under 48″ (122 cm).
  • Meet-and-Greets — say hello and snap a pic with Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad.
  • Power-Up Bands — purchase a Mario-themed wristband that you can use to battle enemies, unlock virtual stamps collect coins by tapping question mark blocks throughout the land, and earn the right to face off against Bowser Jr.

Artist rendering of Yoshi's Adventure at Universal Epic Universe

Yoshi’s Adventure (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

Artist rendering of Mine Cart Madness roller coaster at Universal Orlando

Mine Cart Madness (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

Dining in Super Nintendo World

Super Nintendo World - Food - Question Block Tiramisu

Question Block Tiramisu (Japan offering) | Image © Universal/Nintendo

  • Toadstool Cafe — refuel and power up with food items themed to Mario and his friends. Feast on themed burgers, Super Mushroom Soup, Piranha Plant Caprese, Fire Flower Spaghetti & Meatballs, and more. Virtual windows allow glimpses of the Toads toiling away in the kitchen.
  • Yoshi’s Snack Island — themed treats and beverages abound at this walk-up location.
  • Turbo Boost Treats — this themed snack stop won’t slow you down.
  • And More… — expect Donkey Kong themed menu items to be offered elsewhere in the land.

Super Nintendo World - Food - Piranha Plant Caprese

Piranha Plant Caprese (Japan version) | Image © Universal/Nintendo

Super Mushroom Pizza Bowl

Food in a Super Mushroom Bowl (Japan version) | Image © Universal/Nintendo

Shopping in Super Nintendo World

  • 1-UP Factory — Nintendo merchandise for the discerning Mario fan.
  • Mario Motors — rev up those charge cards! Get Mario merch here.
  • And More…  — additional merchandise locations offer products related to the Donkey Kong franchise.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic

Universal has (finally) confirmed the persistent rumors that a new “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” area will be included at Epic Universe, themed to the Ministry of Magic.

This section is expected to include nods to 1920s Paris (the Fantastic Beasts era) alongside elements of the Ministry of Magic (from the original Harry Potter and the… era of the franchise).

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!

How to Train Your Dragon — Isle of Berk

Another Epic Universe 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 lower-intensity rides, outdoor play areas, and a theatre.

Attractions in Isle of Berk

Guests ride a roller coaster, which splashes passers-by

Hiccup’s Wing Gliders (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

  • Hiccup’s Wing Gliders – A family-focused roller coaster. Hiccup invites new Vikings to take a ride in his latest contraption, a winged flying machine! Aspiring Dragon Riders will get a dragon’s eye view of Berk as they fly alongside Hiccup and Toothless, reaching speeds up to 45 mph. 40″ height requirement.
  • The Untrainable Dragon – A Broadway-style live spectacular (inspired by a similar show at Universal’s park in Beijing). Universal promises “an unforgettable journey with beloved characters Hiccup, Toothless, Gobber, and Astrid as they work together to solve the mystery of The Untrainable Dragon.” One of the more intriguing aspects of the description is the promise of “life-sized dragons soaring overhead.”
  • Fyre Drill – A wet and wild boat competition. Guest board colorful dragon-headed boat and blast water cannons at flame-like targets to practice putting out fires (a crucial skill to master when living with dragons). No minimum height requirement, but guests under 48″ must ride with a supervising companion.
  • Dragon Racer’s Rally – A spinning, aerobatic ride anchored to a single point rather than moving along a track. Practice aerial maneuvers and high-speed barrel rolls on two Viking-made dragon-riding trainers that reach heights of up to 67 feet in the air. Guests can control how “wild” or “mild” their experience will be, deciding how many times they want to turn upside-down. 48″ height requirement.
  • Viking Training Camp – An interactive play area. Junior Vikings can climb, slide, and explore their way through a Viking agility course, a Toothless-themed teeter-totter, baby Gronckle dragon climbers, more.
  • Meet Hiccup and Toothless – Character meet and greet. Visit the Haddock Paddock for an encounter with the heroic Dragon Rider, Hiccup, and pose for a photo with his friendly Night Fury, Toothless. Guests may also encounter other familiar Vikings and dragons while exploring Berk.

Guests ride dragon-themed vehicles atop a spinning arm and fixed pole

Dragon Racer’s Rally (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

A dragon soars overhead at a stage performance

The Untrainable Dragon (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

Guests in a boat shoot water cannons toward targets

Fyre Drill (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

Dining in Isle of Berk

Concept art of Mead Hall at Epic Universe's How to Train Your Dragon themed land, showing guests seated at tables in a giant dark hall

Mead Hall (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

  • Mead Hall — Quick Service dining. Set in the village’s main gathering hall, Mead Hall is where guests can feast like a Viking and enjoy a savory menu featuring a variety of meats, fish, sandwiches and more along with a collection of meads and ciders.
  • Spit Fyre Grill — Quick Service dining. Enjoy a view of the Fyre Drill water attraction while enjoying hearty meals that are (allegedly) flame-seared by an unseen dragon fry cook.
  • Hooligan’s Grog & Gruel — Food stand. Grab a quick bite at this festive racing-themed stand in the Viking Camp.

Shopping in Isle of Berk

Purchase themed merchandise from several locations, including:

  • Viking Traders
  • How to Treat Your Dragon
  • Hiccup’s Work Shop
  • Toothless’ Treasures

Dark Universe (Universal Classic Monsters)

Universal Pictures played a significant role in shaping horror cinema from the 1920s until the 1950s. Epic Universe park will include a themed land devoted to Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein, and other iconic monster characters.

Here, you’ll be able to roam the streets of Darkmoor Village, home to foreboding castles, abandoned cemeteries, creepy catacombs, and of course plenty of mad scientists and unnatural monsters.

Attractions in Dark Universe

Frankenstein's monster is bound by two giant electrical components in concept art from Dark Universe's Monsters Unchained at Universal Epic Universe

Monsters Unchained: The Frankenstein Experiment (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

  • Monsters Unchained: The Frankenstein Experiment — Enter the lair of Dr. Victoria Frankenstein, who is determined to bring honor to the name of her ancestors. Dracula isn’t onboard with the plan and leads classic movie monsters in terrifying a revolt. Universal calls this state-of-the-art dark ride the scariest attraction it has ever made, and it promises to be one of the most hair-raising experiences in all of Epic Universe. 48″ height requirement.
  • Curse of the Werewolf — Try to escape a ravenous pack of werewolves as you careen through the forest on a family-friendly spinning roller coaster reaching speeds of up to 37 MPH. 40″ height requirement.
  • Meet the Monsters of Dark Universe — An ever-changing lineup of creepy inhabitants, all of whom are happy (relatively speaking) to take a photo with you. You might meet Frankenstein’s Monster, his bride, Ygor, The Invisible Man, and more.

Dracula leaps toward guests in concept art for Monsters Unchained at Universal's Epic Universe

Monsters Unchained (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

Artist rendering of guests riding a Curse of the Werewolf roller coaster at Universal Epic Universe

Curse of the Werewolf (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

Frankenstein's monster and his bride pose for photos with guests in this concept art for Universal's Epic Universe

Meet the Monsters (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

Dining in Dark Universe

Concept art for Das Stakehouse, a brooding dining hall operated by the servants of vampires

Das Stakehouse (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

  • Das Stakehouse — Take a stab at dining in an old inn and dining hall built above ancient catacombs. This eatery is operated by the Familiars (servants) of vampires, whose only aim is to please (and certainly not to determine your suitability as their masters’ next meal). Kebabs, burgers, and sandwiches fill the menu.
  • The Burning Blade Tavern — Beneath the iconic burning windmill lies the tavern where monster hunters hang out. This quick service dining spot offers wings, bratwurst, burgers, pretzels, and more.
  • De Lacey’s Cottage —  A small food stand offering cinnamon bread, ice cream, “twisted taters,” and other light bites.
A fiery windmill spins overhead at the entrance to Burning Blade Tavern (Concept Art)

Burning Blade Tavern (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

Shopping in Dark Universe

Makeup is used to transform Guests into monsters (concept art)

Darkmoor Monster Makeup Experience (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

  • Darkmoor Monster Makeup Experience — Prowl the dimly-lit corners of Dark Universe as you show your truly monstrous side. Here, makeup artists transform guests into mummies, werewolves, vampires, and more, all using designs created by award-winning makeup and special effects artists. Fees apply.
  • Pretorius’ Scientific Oddities — Commemorative merchandise and mementos.

The Epic Universe Hotels

Universal has plans for three new hotels around Epic Universe, one behind the theme park and two across the street. At least some of these hotels are expected to open well in advance of the theme park itself.

Here’s what we know so far:

Universal Helios Grand Hotel

Artist concept rendering of Universal Helios Grand Hotel in a waterfront setting

Artist Concept Rendering | Image © Universal

Set to open in 2025 (likely at almost the same time as the theme park itself), this hotel will be integrated into the Celestial Park area of the theme park. It features 500 rooms, a dedicated park entrance for hotel guests, and will have a Mediterranean-inspired design. It is expected to serve as the flagship hotel at Epic Universe.

Universal Stella Nova Resort

Stella Nova Resort opens January 21, 2025. Located near the new theme park, it boasts a black hole vortex-inspired entrance, spa pool and splash pad, quick-service restaurant, and more.

Universal Terra Luna Resort

The new Terra Luna Resort opens February 25, 2025. It’s located near Epic Universe and features a bright and inviting lobby, zero-entry pool with pop jets, a large hot tub, quick-service dining, and more.

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.

Are you Ready to Book your Universal Orlando Vacation?

Although Epic Universe is yet to open, you don’t have to wait until 2025 to visit. Getting the most out of your Orlando theme park vacation requires the assistance of a professional. That’s why we recommend working with The Vacationeer.

As a Diamond-level Universal Preferred Travel Agency specializing in Universal and Disney World vacations, The Vacationeer can assist with park tickets and add-ons and find you the best Universal hotels that fit your budget. They can also book your transportation between Universal Studios and Orlando International Airport, answer any questions you may have, and ensure you get the best price.

Best of all, there’s no charge to use their planning services!

Now is the best time to go to Universal to beat the crowds before Epic’s grand opening. So get your free consultation and no-obligation quote today!