With last week’s major announcement behind us, after the dust has settled, I thought it might be fun to go over every single possible rumored attraction for the brand-new theme park, one by one.
While construction is only now starting, and it could be several years before it opens, there’s still a lot we can learn about what rides we might expect. From patents filed for new ride technology and released concept art, to leaked details and rumored information, let’s dive into every attraction we think will open with Universal’s Epic Universe.
Before we start, a couple disclaimers. Everything we’re talking about today is based on early information and rumors, and a lot can change between now and park opening. The good news is, Universal concept art is usually pretty accurate. Unlike some other companies (namely Disney,) Universal’s art tends to be released after the development stages, instead of before, so it lines up with reality more often than not. That isn’t to say things couldn’t be cut from the plans later on, or even moved around.
Also, we’ll be digging into some patents as well. Patents could be filed for a variety of reasons. Universal may patent something because they’re using the technology and want to make sure no one else uses it first. Or, often times, they may patent something in case they may use it later, but don’t actually have any intention to use it currently. And, sometimes, they intend to use it, but the application ends up not working in reality as well as it did in concept, and it never sees the light of day. So, while we may discuss some possible new ride technologies, that doesn’t mean all of it will actually get built.
With all of that out of the way, it’s time to dig in! We’ll go around the park and talk about each land individually, starting on the left.
Super Nintendo World
One of the most anticipated, and the only land we have any real information on, is Super Nintendo World. With Nintendo lands also opening in Japan, Hollywood, and Singapore, this appears to be the only land that will not be unique to Epic Universe. The land will feature at least three major attractions, as well as some interactive play areas and character meet and greet stages.
Some leaked photographs we saw recently of what the land was going to look like when it was originally going to be built in the KidZone area of Universal Studios Florida give us a good idea of what the land will look like at Epic Universe as well. In fact, the placement of the ride buildings and scenic elements line up perfectly between the official concept art for the new park and the leaked model images.
The three attractions included in this land will be a Mario Kart ride, a family omnimover ride called Yoshi’s Adventure, and the Donkey Kong Mine Cart Madness roller coaster.
The biggest Nintendo attraction will be the Mario Kart experience. Universal has touted it as “the most immersive and cutting edge technological attraction that we could possibly imagine.” Not much else is known officially, but this unique dark ride is expected to feature two tracks that run side by side, so it feels like you’re racing the other car. Riders will pass through many different settings during the ride, all based on racetracks from the video game series, including Rainbow Road. Along the way there will be popular Nintendo characters in other cars that drive up beside you.
The ride will focus heavily on real sets and physical characters to tell the story, but it will also feature some new technology to help create the illusion of high speeds (even though the ride may actually move fairly slow). To pull this effect off, as well as others, Universal has filed several patents that may be related to this attraction.
Some of the patents expected to be used on the attraction are specifically to create the effect of traveling faster than you really are. To accomplish this, moving backgrounds or LED tunnels could be deployed. With the backgrounds moving quickly past you, coupled with some well placed fans, it could feel like you’re going faster. The tunnel effect in particular could be used as a transitional tool between scenes.
Another way to make it appear that your car is moving faster than it actually is, is by having moving objects fly over and beside you. With objects coming towards you quickly it will appear as if you’re moving much faster than you are, especially if coupled with moving backgrounds.
One of the most talked about technologies that may be present on the Mario Kart ride is Augmented Reality, or AR for short. AR goggles could be worn by riders to add additional elements on top of what you’re really seeing. Unlike VR, which obscures your view of reality completely and replaces it with something else, AR adds additional objects on top of reality itself.
AR could be used to add special items onto the track that you could collect, and then use against the car beside you. Special items from the video games like red shells, banana peels, etc, could be utilized to help stall the other riders and ensure your victory.
Additional patents that could be utilized on the Mario Kart ride include ones for drifting vehicles, vehicle controls, warp pipe effects that make the car feel as though they are traveling farther than they really are, and more. With so much riding on this attraction blowing people’s minds, it’s no wonder that it is rumored to include SO MUCH new technology.
This family attraction will allow you to ride on a Yoshi, for your own adventure through the Mushroom Kingdom. It will take place both inside and outside, with views looking out over the land while adding some kinetic energy to the area. The Yoshi ride will be an omnimover style attraction, meaning the ride vehicles will always be moving, in a long continuous loop, around the track.
Throughout the ride we will encounter popular characters and settings from over three decades of Yoshi and Mario related video games. There are rumored to be over 40 different animatronics, moving figures and animated objects, both on the Yoshi ride and above the show building. Everything from bad guys like Koopa Troopas and Goombas, to Yoshi game characters like Baby Mario and Baby Yoshis, will be found on the ride.
The track layout above gives you a good idea of how the ride may be laid out. With the Yoshi ride vehicles moving at a slow pace, the ride may actually be longer than it appears. And with rumored interactive elements, this may be a great attraction for children too small or too young to ride the other rides in the land. For more details on what you might expect to find on the Yoshi ride, check out our previous article.
Donkey Kong’s Mine Cart Madness
The final ride (that we know about) for Super Nintendo World at Epic Universe, is a roller coaster based on the Donkey Kong Country games. Just like in the video games, the ride will have us riding in a mine cart, and, just like in the games, there will be segments of track where our cart will look as though it’s jumping over gaps.
We got our first good look at what this ride, and the surrounding area, might look like when those leaked model photos of the initial plans leaked out last month. The good news is, the new concept art and construction plans for Epic Universe seem to line up with what can be seen in the model photographs exactly!
The Donkey Kong coaster, called “Mine-Cart Madness” in the model, would be partially outside as well as feature some inside scenes. We can see that the main entrance is a temple, with the mine cart jumping the track right at the top of the temple, above an integrated waterfall feature.
To pull off the jump-the-track feature, the coaster will utilize a new piece of patented technology. The patent shows how the real track will be hidden beneath the view of the rider, and a second false track is located directly below the coaster train cars. In other words, what looks like the track under the wheels, is really just there for show. The real track is actually several feet below, and at at a 90 degree angle. See the patent image below for an example.
Just last week someone spotted the boom coaster technology being tested at a steel plant in Utah, near the Setpoint headquarters. That’s the company rumored to be manufacturing the new ride. While the coaster cars themselves were covered in plastic, we could still see how the ride system will end up working.
Donkey Kong Mine Cart Madness boom coaster ride testing off site.
— Alicia Stella (@AliciaStella) August 1, 2019
Other Possible Nintendo Attractions
Before moving on, there may yet be at least one more Nintendo-based attraction heading to the Epic Universe theme park upon opening. Something appears to be connected to the land, almost tacked on, after the fact. There have been rumors of a show being developed that could be based on the Super Smash Bros. video games series. The show could incorporate live actors, special effects, and digital sets to bring the high-energy video game series to life. Not much is known at this point, and it may still be in the early phases of development. Other rumored attractions could include a 4D movie based on the upcoming Super Mario Bros. movie being made by Illumination Entertainment.
Those are all rides and possible concepts for when the park initially opens. However, there is still an entire expansion plot next door to the Super Nintendo World area that could see the land essentially double in size in the years following the park’s opening. One of the most talked about expansions may be a land based on Pokémon, but we’ll have to wait and see if we learn anything about that possibility in the coming years.
World of Classic Universal Monsters
Located at the back-left section of the park, this land will feature rides and attractions starring the Universal Classic Monsters. Those are the characters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the Invisible Man, Wolfman, and more. From the concept art it appears that the area is themed like an old European village, similar to the settings in the original Dracula and Frankenstein films.
The centerpiece icon at the back of the land appears to be Dracula’s Castle, modeled after the original 1931 classic film, rising above the land in the background. We first heard about the possibility of this land and Dracula’s Castle in a leaked document from December, but it’s exciting to see it appear in this official concept art (and in permitted plans).
It’s expected that the land will be based on the original designs and aesthetics of the classic films, and not any of the recent Dark Universe reboot attempts. That would certainly help the rides and attractions feel timeless. The company owes a great deal to the Universal Classic Monsters. After all, it was their inexpensive budgets and huge successes at the box office that helped keep Universal Pictures afloat in the 1920s, 30s and beyond.
The land is rumored to contain at least two attractions: a high tech dark ride, and either a walk-through attraction or some type of show. The land also includes a small expansion pad that may allow for an additional attraction to be added at a later time. It is not known yet whether the large amphitheater seen in the concept art counts as one of the initial attractions, or is an additional one. It’s possible we could see a massive stunt show, perhaps on the level of Waterworld from the Hollywood park, but somehow centered around the monsters.
High-Tech Dark Ride
While all we have are rumors currently, the consensus seems to be that the main attraction for the land will be a sort of “best of” haunted mansion-type ride featuring ALL of the Universal Classic Monsters. The facade for the attraction will be Dracula’s Castle up on the hill, likely placed atop the large show building which will be hidden behind the village town facades.
Inside the show building we’re rumored to be getting some type of high tech dark ride, possibly using the same Kuka-arm technology that was first utilized in a Universal park on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Strangely enough, this isn’t the first time a Kuka based attraction was being developed for a Universal Monsters franchise.
Before the first Harry Potter land was greenlit, Universal was working on a ride that was going to be built in the expansion plot where Forbidden Journey ended up. That ride was to be based on Van Helsing, and just like the Potter ride, was going to use a combination of real sets and screens, along with the Kuka technology, to tell a story. After the rights were secured for Potter, those plans were re-worked for the Wizarding World’s headliner attraction instead. Now, all those years later, it sounds like the Monsters may get their second chance.
Rumored Walk-Through Attraction
A second attraction has been rumored for the area, but not much about it is known. It’s possible we could see a walk-through attraction, perhaps based on the story of Frankenstein’s monster. There even appears to be the windmill from Frankenstein in the concept art, on the left-most section of the land.
The walk-through attraction would most likely not be like a Halloween Horror Nights haunted house maze, instead, it would be closer to something like Posiedon’s Fury at Islands of Adventure, where we are taking part in a multiple room story that unfolds around us, this time focused on characters from the Universal Classic Monsters universe. Stay tuned for more details on this land’s attractions as they become available.
That’s all for part one of this two-part breakdown of all ride rumors for Universal’s Epic Universe. Please see part two of this two-part article, where we discuss the rumored rides for Fantastic Beasts, How to Train Your Dragon and more. Subscribe to the news feed to never miss a post or enter your email below!
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Stay tuned for more news on the new theme park and more! Subscribe to the news feed or enter your email below to never miss an update. Official Concept Art: Universal | Graphics by Alicia Stella | Other Images as Credited