Universal Announces New Epic Universe Theme Park

You can tell there’s blood in the water in Orlando because Universal Studios – excuse me, Universal Orlando Resort –  is developing the next innovation in theme park experiences, and it’s clearly meant to rival Disney World. Today, Universal announced what it’s calling the Universal Epic Universe, a new theme park with a series of “worlds” based on Universal properties Harry Potter, Nintendo, How to Train Your Dragon, and the Universal Monsters. These will be located in a new area called Celestial Park, which will have three rides, a hotel, and plenty of food and shopping opportunities. Each of the “worlds” can be accessed by walking through a “portal” in Celestial Park, where you will have an interactive experience being sucked into these fictional universes, with the design centering around immersion. Universal Destinations & Experiences chairman and CEO Mark Woodbury says that the Epic Universe will almost double the size of Universal Orlando Resort, emphasizing that this will bring guests to the park “for an entire week.” Epic Universe will open in 2025. You can see more details at the Epic Universe page of the Universal Orlando website and watch the introductory video below:

Steven Spielberg is a creative consultant; that’s got to count for something. The Epic Universe does look amazing, especially if you’re a fan of these IPs. Super Nintendo World seems particularly innovative, giving you the feeling that you’re in a Mario Bros. game. The one that would interest me most is the Universal Monsters world – which is called the Dark Universe because Universal refuses to let that title go – but there’s an asterisk. In the video above, Universal Creative president Molly Murphy says that the Universal Monsters are “re-imagined” in the Dark Universe, and reading the description on the website gives a hint as to how by referring to “Dr. Victoria Frankenstein.” They just can’t help themselves anymore, can they? They probably felt that the Universal Monsters were the safest ones to experiment with, and sadly, they’re probably right, but it’s a shame they aren’t leaning into the history of those classic films instead of changing them for modern times.

Universal Epic Universe

On the other hand, they seem to be going out of their way to service fans of the more recent franchises; The Super Mario Bros. Movie likely made them realize it’s better not to mess with that property too much. Harry Potter World is drawing from both the Harry Potter books and movies and Fantastic Beasts, which gives them plenty of lore and characters to work with. I didn’t think How to Train Your Dragon was as popular as these other worlds, but considering the money Universal must be spending on their Epic Universe, I guess I’m mistaken. But the real takeaway from that presentation is the declaration that it will require a whole week to explore the Epic Universe fully. That’s a direct call for people to come to Orlando and ignore Disney World in favor of Universal. Most people visit both, spending more time at Disney because it’s bigger, but Universal is making a play for Mickey’s crown. If the past couple of years have proven anything, it’s that now’s the time to take them on.

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