Universal Epic Universe Guide

UPDATE:

This article was updated on January 30, 2024 with a series of major announcements from Universal about the lands and attractions of this park.

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 four 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.

Update January 2024:

Universal has officially announced the major areas of its new park, and they are (not surprisingly) all well in-line with what has long been rumored.

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 Starfall Racers at Universal Epic Universe

Starfall Racers (Concept Art) | Image © Universal

  • Starfall 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 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. Nintendo-themed attractions are expected to include:

  • Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge — a driving simulation based on the popular game
  • Yoshi’s Adventure — a family-friendly dark ride featuring indoor and outdoor elements
  • 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 be available for purchase.

Epic Universe’s Super Nintendo World is also expected to include a Donkey Kong Country area 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.

To get an idea of what to expect at Super Nintendo World, here’s an in-depth walkthrough of Japan’s version:

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 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.

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. While full details haven’t been released yet, it’s clear that this portion of the park will host some truly iconic horror classics realized in a brand new way.

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!