We have been predicting it for months, and we even thought we saw the site on our recent vacation. However, we now have official confirmation, there will be a new theme park at Universal Orlando Resort. The new park will be called Universal’s Epic Universe, but there is no confirmed opening date.
The new park will be the most significant investment Comcast NBCUniversal has made in its theme park business. Universal has stated their vision is to “create an entirely new level of experience that forever changes theme park entertainment.”
The development will be on a new 750-acre site a few miles away from the existing Universal Orlando Resort. The new development will be south of Sand Lake Road and east of Universal Boulevard.
The new site will almost double the total acreage available to Universal in Florida. However, this increase in size is still considerably smaller than the nearly 25,000-acres at Walt Disney World.
Universal has big ambitions for this new site. In addition to the theme park, they have announced there will also be an entertainment center, hotels, shops, restaurants, and more.
Currently, there are no new attractions announced or confirmation of when Universal’s Epic Universe will open. As the new area will not be directly connected to the current Universal Orlando Resort, it will be interesting to see how transportation links develop. It has been announced that Universal is investing $160 million in the Kirkman Road extension to allow it to extend into where the new park will be located.
Historical Rumors of a New Universal Orlando Park
Rumors of a new park at Universal Orlando has been circulating for several years. However, it isn’t difficult in recent times to have found strong evidence of the park’s development despite no official confirmation.
- There had been reports that Universal was purchasing land in the International Drive Area during 2017 & 2018. Interestingly the land Universal have now acquired they previously owned but sold it 2003. At that time 1800 acres of land was sold by Universal for just $70 million.
- Universal submitted to Orange County Plans in October 2018 for significant new development.
- Early construction work has already started on the site.
- The heavily rumored Nintendo World at Univeral Studios, as a replacement for Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone, has not started construction and appears to have been canceled.
Universal’s Epic Universe was not the expected name for the new park. It had been rumored earlier this year that the park would be called Universal’s Fantastic Worlds, but it appears potential objections from Warner Brothers have made Universal change the name.
What New Attractions will there be at Universal’s Epic Universe?
While there are no new attractions or themes announced, there have been plenty of rumors. Rumored properties for Universal’s Epic Universe include:
- Super Nintendo World
- More Harry Potter…likely to be Fantastic Beasts
- Classic Universal Monsters e.g. Dracula
- How to Train Your Dragon
- Lord of the Rings
- Star Trek
Out of the above, the strongest rumors point to Super Nintendo World, Harry Potter, and Classic Universal Monsters. However, there are very likely to be some surprises, and Universal is giving nothing away in the art released to date.
How will Walt Disney World respond?
It will be interesting to see how Walt Disney World responds to the latest developments at Universal. With the addition of a new park, Universal Orlando Resort will be getting closer to a full week experience. Guests with limited vacation time might start choosing to visit one resort or the other. In the past, Walt Disney World has been the more popular option but will this continue?
Last year we made a comparison between Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando and concluded that there was no clear winner. However, will this change with the addition of Universal’s Epic Universe?
The 5th gate at Walt Disney World has been rumored for many years, but there is little to suggest this is anything more than fan fiction. There is certainly no lack of space at Walt Disney World for an extra gate. Will Universal’s development encourage Walt Disney World to build a new park to keep it ahead of the game? There is undoubtedly history in them doing this.
Also, what will happen to Universal’s smaller rivals such as Sea World? Sea World has especially been having a tough time in recent years. The extension of Universal Orlando will likely translate into a more significant share of the market, but it does not necessarily mean that the whole market will increase. A smaller percentage of the market might mean that the smaller Orlando Attractions find the future very tough.
The Thoughts of Modern Life is Good
A new park and extension at Universal Orlando is incredibly good news. However, we hope that Universal does not neglect the areas of its current parks that need considerable investment.
We discussed in a recent blog post how certain areas of Islands of Adventure are in desperate need of some Tender Loving Care. Also, while previous plans for Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone have been halted, this can not be forever.
If Universal wants to become a full week experience, it must do something to correct its current weaknesses. There is still a lack of attractions for small children, and food options are very poor in comparison to Walt Disney World. I suspect many guests would struggle to eat at Universal Orlando for a full week.
We will bring you more details on Universal’s Epic Universe in the coming months here on Modern Life is Good.