Welcome to Orlando Informer’s coverage of Universal’s Epic Universe, the new theme park under construction at Universal Orlando Resort. We’ll be expanding and updating this page as we inch closer to the new development’s opening date, which is currently expected “certainly” by summer 2025, according to Comcast executives in an earnings call (it was originally ’23 but was pushed back thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic).
Epic Universe will be the largest Universal park in the US (and second globally, just behind the upcoming Universal Studios Beijing) and feature The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Nintendo, How to Train Your Dragon, and Universal Monsters franchises.
Epic Universe – Opening Date
While we await the exact date of Universal’s Epic Universe’s grand opening, it is anticipated to open by Summer 2025.
Epic Universe – location
The first and most important item to note about Epic Universe is its location to all the rest of Universal Orlando. The first two theme parks (Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure), the water theme park (Volcano Bay), the original dining/shopping/entertainment district (CityWalk), and the first six hotels (Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Royal Pacific Resort, Sapphire Falls Resort, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, and Aventura Hotel) are now the north campus; Epic Universe is the very beginning of the south campus, located about 15 minutes down the road. (There’s also a third piece of property, just 64 acres in size, that sits in between the two areas and houses the Endless Summer Resort hotel complex.)
Just to give you an idea of the size of these two chunks of Universal Orlando, the north campus is roughly 735 acres, whereas the newly acquired south district is approximately 750 acres (at least, that’s all that Universal has confirmed at the moment). The company has aided in rebuilding the main road leading to Epic Universe to include a center median, which, per Mark Woodbury at the Bank of America Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, will be dedicated to a fleet of electric buses.
To give you a more exact idea of Epic Universe’s specific placement, it is south of Sand Lake Road and east of Universal Boulevard, as seen in the map above.
Epic Universe – layout
This will be the very first Universal park to adopt the traditional wheel-and-spoke design that was immediately popularized by Disneyland back in 1955, with a central hub being placed in the center and all of Epic Universe’s various individual lands radiating out from it.
Just because the concept is traditional doesn’t mean that Universal’s implementation of it will also be. As a quick look at the conceptual art attests to, the central hub of Celestial Park is massive, structured more like a long corridor than, say, the Cinderella Castle hub at the center of Magic Kingdom, leaving a ton of room for all sorts of experiences, entertainment, and, even, attractions.
Also unusual is the fact that the park’s four different lands are completely isolated from everything else. This was the approach pioneered by Universal for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, taken to the next level by Disney for both Pandora – The World of Avatar and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and now fully deployed for the entirety of Epic Universe. Each themed area will feel as all-encompassing and immersive as Diagon Alley does, fully submerging you in one particular world or another.
Thanks to this level of immersion, guests will be fully immersed in the worlds of some of their favorite tales from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Nintendo, How to Train Your Dragon, and Universal Monsters franchises.
Building on the success of the existing Wizarding World of Harry Potter areas in Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, Epic Universe will captivate guests with the magical side of 1920s Paris from the Fantastic Beasts films and the British Ministry of Magic from the Harry Potter series inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic.
Guests can expect to be transported into the heart of Nintendo’s video game realm within SUPER NINTENDO WORLD, complete with warp pipe travel. This much-anticipated world has already been captivating audiences in Universal Studios Japan since 2021 and Universal Studios Hollywood since 2023, giving us a glimpse of the expectations for Orlando’s own level-up.
Inside How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk, Vikings and dragons live alongside one another. This world brings to life the How to Train Your Dragon franchise with thrilling experiences that will capture the essence of dragon flight.
In the Dark Universe world, Universal Monsters aren’t just tales whispered in the night – they are a living, breathing part of this realm. Steeped in gothic ambiance, Dark Universe offers a multi-faceted exploration of Dr. Victoria Frankenstein’s experiments and their fables.
Epic Universe – history
The stretch of real estate that Epic Universe will soon be sitting on has a long and involved history with Universal – it was originally purchased by the company back in the 1990s for this exact same reason but was then sold off again due to various financial, commercial, and corporate reasons (including the revolving door that was Universal’s ownership at the time). We have the full scoop on this early period of what is today Universal Orlando’s south campus all laid out for you in our initial announcement.
But, of course, that complicated history doesn’t end there. Even after Universal had revealed the new theme park in August 2019, the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020, which caused the company to readjust its plans – construction on the new plot of land was stopped altogether by July, and it wasn’t started back up until March 2021.
Although work started to recommence on March 3, 2021 (you can read the big announcement), the company cautions that it’ll still take several months to fully ramp back up to where it was at the beginning of 2020. Employees, vendors, and contractors – have to be rehired and their teams reassembled in order to proceed.
During the Comcast Corp at Bank of America Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference on September 14, 2023, Mark Woodbury divulged additional details regarding this exciting expansion to the Florida parks. “It’s the most technologically advanced park we’ve ever done,” Woodbury said. “And that speaks to both the attractions themselves, the next generation of robotics, drone technology, all the way through to the guest experience.” He mentioned that facial recognition will aid guests in a “frictionless experience” throughout all the Orlando properties. As part of Epic Universe, another 2,000 hotel rooms will be added, with Woodbury noting, “you’re going to see hotel integration into the park experience at a level that is really unprecedented.”
Epic Universe – concept art
- Celestial Park at Universal Epic Universe
- Dark Universe at Universal Epic Universe
- How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk at Universal Epic Universe
- Super Nintendo World – overview and history
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic at Universal Epic Universe