Today we are continuing our breakdown of every rumored attraction for Universal’s Epic Universe, the new theme park being built in Orlando. This is part two of a two-part series. If you haven’t yet, please see part one for the first half of attraction rumors.
In our last article we talked about the rumored rides for Super Nintendo World and the world of Universal Classic Monsters. Today we will discuss the right side of the park, with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, How to Train Your Dragon, and the massive dueling launch coaster in the middle. Let’s jump back in, shall we!
Once again, keep in mind that everything we’re talking about is based on early information, rumors, and speculation. A lot can change between now and park opening. We’ll be digging into some patents today as well, but just because Universal has patented a new piece of ride technology, doesn’t mean they’re going to definitely use it, (or use it in the ways we may assume). With that out of the way, let’s get started.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
After the wildly successful Wizarding World lands at both Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, it only makes sense to create a new land in Epic Universe as well. Although, instead of a Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the new park will feature the very first Wizarding World of Fantastic Beasts.
The land itself is rumored to be themed after the streets of Paris, as seen in the latest Fantastic Beasts film. With Universal Orlando already having lands based on New York and Potter’s London, it will be interesting to have an entirely new locale re-created, especially one taking place in the 1920s.
The Paris streets seen in the concept art above lead to a massive show-building (mostly hidden behind the fireworks). These exterior streets serve mainly as the entryway to the actual land, which is almost entirely indoors. Imagine if the streets you see in the concept art as similar to the London waterfront at Universal Studios Florida, but in this case, when you enter the Diagon Alley portion, it’s completely inside a gigantic building. That seems to be what they are going for here.
Once inside the giant building, things can be a bit more controlled. Perhaps this section of the city has been overrun with creatures that have escaped Newt’s briefcase? By being inside, and away from the harsh elements, it’s likely that we may see creatures and beasts throughout the area, similar to the dragon perched atop Gringotts Bank in Diagon Alley — but this time, animatronic, or furry, or even interactive.
Not much is known about the setting for the attractions, but there appears to be two distinct ride buildings, both set within this larger massive structure. Each of these ride buildings look to be large enough to house a full-scale dark ride or main attraction. There are two rumors for what types of rides we might find here.
First Possible Attraction – Ministry
A few years back there were rumors for a ride based on the Ministry of Magic to be added to the Diagon Alley area of Universal Studios Florida. The ride would have replaced the Fear Factor stage, and could feature a story where we travel around using the floo powder network. Patents were filed that appeared to back up these claims as well.
Now that Universal has turned its attention to building a new park, many believe that this ride concept has been transformed into a major attraction for the Fantastic Beasts land. It’s still too early to know which characters this ride could involve, let alone the plot for such an attraction, but if I were to dream I would have us joining Jacob Kowalski on a search to save Queenie. Like the Gringotts ride, I’d love to see his character take the lead on something. But, that’s just a personal wish.
The patent appears to be for several ways to hide transitions between scenes on a dark ride (or enclosed thrill ride). The patent describes ways that a ride vehicle could enter a small room, and the room, or covering of some type, then travels with the ride vehicle for a short distance. Once the vehicle has entered a new section, the vehicle either passes through a doorway in the false room, or the false room simply falls away in some manner.
This effect of essentially being teleported to a new location through unique trickery, not only sounds like something straight from the Wizarding World, but the patents even include the ride vehicle traveling through a fireplace to get to the next location. As we know from the original Harry Potter series of films and books, you travel through a fireplace when using the floo network.
Whether or not an attraction for this new Fantastic Beasts land ends up utilizing this intriguing patent, rumors do have an attraction taking place, at least in part, within the French Ministry of Magic. This location, first seen in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, includes a lively sequence with some scary cat creatures (Matagot) attempting to stop our heroes from searching for records in an elaborate filing cabinet type room. A ride that featured this scene, among others, could be very impressive indeed. After all, the French Ministry may only be a jumping off point, for a larger storyline within the attraction.
Second Possible Attraction – Newt’s Creatures
With a second attraction available in the land, it’s quite possible that something devoted entirely to the strange collection of beasts that Newt Scamander keeps could be in the cards. Whether it’s a trip through his briefcase, or passage into his stables filled with a variety of biomes for various creatures, I could see a setting with multiple creatures involved.
A ride featuring the beasts themselves could center around the escape of the creatures lost throughout a city. After all, it’s already rumored that the city streets within the land will be littered with escaped creatures, so perhaps the ride is an extension of the land’s story. We could be on a mission to help round all the little fellas up, from little Nifflers to the large Zouwu.
If things take a dark turn, we might even get our first glimpse of thestrals in a theme park, if they incorporate the escape of Grindelwald from the second Fantastic Beasts film into an attraction. With additional films still to be released, and several years until the park is ready, there may be other settings and characters featured on the attractions that we have not yet seen. One thing is for sure, it wouldn’t be a Fantastic Beasts land without plenty of fantastic beasts.
Another possible patent for a new ride system that may be involved in the new land was filed earlier this year. It’s for a new type of tower ride, and some folks believe it could be for Fantastic Beasts. With the height of the show building being obstructed by fireworks in the concept art, it’s hard to tell if the building is tall enough for such a ride system, but the patent description is certainly interesting nonetheless.
The patents describe how riders could be in control of both the visuals for the attraction, but also the ride vehicle’s movement in some way. The ride vehicle can move up and down, and there would be more than one tower active at the same time. The patent describes the attraction incorporating either augmented reality, virtual reality, or some type of projection system, synchronized with the motion, as well as the riders’ interactive controls.
One of the most interesting aspects is that you could actually be battling against the other ride vehicles. The patent describes a point system, and ways in which the actions of the riders in one ride vehicle could affect the movement of the other ride vehicle. And the movement itself is interesting as well, as this tower attraction not only can go up and down, but it can tilt as well. And yes, given that this would be a tower attraction, it can also freefall down.
While this patent, and the other ride system we described prior, may not be what is utilized at all, the history of the Wizarding World attractions shows us that we can expect something new and innovative for this land. With the massive indoor area and two large ride structures, I am expecting some next-level rides that are sure to impress.
How to Train Your Dragon
The final land that will be opening with the rest of the park (not counting the hub area, which we will get to next,) is the How to Train Your Dragon land. Based on the Isle of Berk, this land will be themed like a viking village, with cliffs and rockwork surrounding the area and viking structures surrounding a large water feature in the middle. This land seems to have the most open area according to the concept art, and is not layered, or indoors, like the other lands.
The land will include two major attractions, but there will also be several smaller rides and attractions sprinkled throughout as well. Offering more for smaller kids than the majority of the other areas of the park, How to Train Your Dragon even looks to offer a kids play area, up against the back of the land. Other smaller children’s attractions are probably present as well, but it is hard to make them out in the concept art.
What we can see however, is what appears to be some type of boat ride in part of the land’s lagoon. Many are speculating that it could be a Mack Splash Battle interactive boat ride. This ride system can currently be found in LEGOLAND Florida, and allows everyone of any age to spray other riders (and even people walking by on land) with fun, cranking water cannons mounted on the side of a boat. This type of ride can easily be themed to match the viking aesthetic, so it would fit in nicely.
Another “flat ride” that appears to be in the concept art, is the Gerstlauer Sky Fly ride. This strange contraption has riders strapped into a collection of flying seats on one end of a spinning pendulum. As the ride rotates around, the individual riders have the ability to control how much their own ride vehicle spins as well. This means that the level of intensity for your ride is completely up to you. Think of it as a wild Dumbo ride that you can make go upside-down and do barrel-rolls if you want! This is another attraction that can easily be themed to match the dragons area, maybe even with the seats modeled after dragons that we’re riding on.
As is the case with the other areas of the concept art, it appears that many of the defining characteristics of the land, including major theming details, have been stripped from the art. This was likely done to make it harder to figure out what it is we’re actually seeing. Looking closely, it appears as though there may be some type of water flume ride hiding on the right side of the image, although it is hard to tell if that is in fact what it is. And while they are too blurry, it also appears that there may be a couple more kiddie rides in the land as well. But, now on to the two major attractions for the land.
How to Train Your Dragon Roller Coaster
One of the two major attractions for this land, which was rumored even before we saw the concept art, is said to be a long family roller coaster. Almost like the new Hargid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, this roller coaster will take place mostly close to the ground, and will be very long. Unlike the Hagrid coaster, this ride is expected to be (at least somewhat) more family friendly.
The coaster snakes its way around the land, dipping underwater under a bridge at one point, through various buildings and structures, and even over some of the buildings. No word yet on what the coaster trains may be themed like, but, in keeping with the viking theme, it’s possible they could be made to look like wooden carved dragons that we ride upon. Other ideas could have us simply riding on an “actual” dragon, in-story, but I have a feeling that that concept will be saved for the second major attraction.
The land itself features two large show buildings. It’s possible that one of these large structures could house the queue, preshow, and load/unload areas for this roller coaster. I would guess that the building on the right, with the round turret on top covered in rockwork, may serve as the main entry and queue for the coaster. The entire coaster isn’t fully visible in the art, as parts of it are cut off on the bottom-right of the image, making it hard to tell for sure where the load platform may be located.
Note: There is another, much larger, thrill coaster seen in the overall concept art, but that ride IS NOT part of the How to Train Your Dragon land. We will talk about that thrill coaster later, in the final section.
Dragons Indoor Attraction – Possible Flying Theater
According to both the concept art and the development plans, the How to Train Your Dragon land features a second large show building. This one is somewhat tall, leading many to assume that it will be a flying theater attraction.
A flying theater attraction, similar to Avatar: Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, seems like a great way to showcase the amazing vistas as seen in the How to Train Your Dragon films. Unlike Flight of Passage however, one has to wonder if Universal would have us sit on the back of an “actual” dragon for our journey over Berk?
Patents were filed last year that show some promise for a new type of flying theater attraction. The patents talk about having a screen below the riders, rather than only in front of them. This would simulate what it is actually like to go paragliding, where your view is somewhat focused on what is below you, as well as in front of you. The patents show several different methods to accomplish this, but some even seem to include what could be a dragon-like seat.
Other types of ride systems were also patented around the same time for things like a suspended dark ride system that would allow you to soar through themed sets as if you were flying. Unfortunately, the building size, as it appears in the permits and concept art, appears too small for a ride of that nature.
It’s also possible that they do not use any of these permits for this ride. They could instead opt for a simpler flying theater approach, perhaps similar to the compact design of Masters of Flight at LEGOLAND Florida. We’ll have to wait and see as more rumors come out over time.
The final stop on our tour around the possible rides and attractions for Universal’s Epic Universe takes us to the center of the park. At nearly 23 total acres, the “hub” for this theme park will be much larger than any other hub and spoke design park in North America. And with such a large hub, I have a feeling we will be seeing more than just shops and restaurants here.
The central hub area, nicknamed Celestial Gardens for now, is rumored to feature a few attractions of its own. Before we even saw the concept art, there was talk of at least one indoor show to be placed in the hub. Since the concept art was revealed, many have speculated on the possibility of a large carousel and perhaps a motion simulator ride also being in the hub area. Keep in mind that this area is also the least fleshed out in the build plans, and some of the structures seen here may have been added to the concept art just for show, and aren’t actually in the plans.
Dueling Launched Roller Coaster
One element that is in the plans, as well as the concept art, is the massive dueling launched roller coaster. This high speed thrill ride looks to have two tracks that run parallel to each other for the entire ride, so that your train appears to be racing against the other one. As with the other hub attractions, this coaster may not be based on an IP (intellectual property). Instead, it may be an original idea, with its very own story.
Unlike the other rides within the four main lands for the park, the roller coaster will have direct access to the hub, almost as if the coaster itself is its own land. Riders will be able to enter the queue directly from the middle of the park, without having to enter a land first.
Not much else is know about the roller coaster, just like not much is known about the hub itself. It appears that the hub will be themed after exploration and fantasy, and the roller coaster looks to contain some type of space-related theming. With a theme park named “Epic Universe”, it certainly seems possible that a massive thrill ride could be based on space exploration in some way.
That is all for now! We hope you’ve enjoyed this two-part look at the possible rides for Universal’s Epic Universe. Please check out part one in case you started here, as part one covers rides for Super Nintendo World and the world of Universal Classic Monsters. Stay tuned for more news about this new park, including a spotlight on the hotels for the new park coming soon! 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