Epic Universe News Update: Chronos Tower Topped Off, Entry Area Permits, and Parking Lot Changes

Opening in Orlando in 2025, Universal Epic Universe continues to add finer details around the park, like the drums in Donkey Kong Country, while testing specific effects, like the fog in Dark Universe. But recently, attention has turned towards the new theme park’s main entrance area, including the Chronos entry portal tower, which was just topped off.

Let’s dig deeper into this area of Epic Universe, and see what we can learn from permit information, in today’s news update. See the video version of this story below for additional visuals.

Recent look at construction for Epic Universe, Aerial Photos by @Bioreconstruct

Rumors say that Universal is putting everything they got into getting Epic Universe ready in time for its 2025 opening, so we are seeing a flurry of activity in every corner of this new theme park.

Fog effects appear to be testing near the entrance to Dark Universe’s village of Darkmoor.

Over at Super Nintendo World’s Donkey Kong Country area, we can see newly added interactive bongo drums, and pieces of Funky’s Fly ‘n’ Buy airplane-shaped retail location can be found staged behind the mine cart coaster.

But the biggest milestone the park has seen in recent days, was the topping off of the Chronos tower, right at the entrance to Epic Universe.

The Chronos

The Chronos is what Universal is calling the front gate into Epic Universe. Official concept art for this entry area can be seen below.

Chronos tower official concept art for Epic Universe

The base of the Chronos tower features a portal we pass through to enter the park, and looking closer, we can see the Epic Universe logo has been installed over this front gate entry.

A look at the Chronos tower in the scale model on display in the Epic Universe Preview Center within CityWalk shows us that this portal entry will feature a phrase, which may act as the park’s dedication plaque.

Photos of scale model by @Bioreconstruct

Now, this phrase may change by the time it is installed, but according to what can be seen in the model, it appears to say the following:

“With Sun and Moon The Stars and Time – The Chronos Spins and Worlds Align. For if you seek with curious heart – Your compass true and stars to chart. Beyond the gate find gardens green – and epic worlds to fill your dreams.”

Entry phrase visible on model

This tower has been topped off with an American flag, a tradition for construction projects to symbolize the highest point reached or a final milestone on a project.

Within the tower, we can see multiple celestial bodies with orbiting rings. The top sphere may represent the sun, or the Helios hotel at the back of the theme park, as Helios is the Greek representation of the sun.

Below that are multiple objects, each representing the worlds of Epic Universe. These medallions and spheres are currently covered by protective plastic during construction.

Looking at a rendering on display within the Preview Center we can see how additional celestial elements have yet to be added, including planets surrounding the sun at the top, a Pegasus from Constellation Carousel, and many small stars surrounding the main elements.

Rendering of the Chronos at Preview Center, Photo: Alicia Stella

These stars may feature twinkling lights, because it appears that hookups may be installed, with what could be wiring wrapped in small plastic bags all along the front and sides of the tower’s structure.

Comparing this section of the tower to how it appears in the scale model, it looks as though statues have yet to be added on the sides of the Chronos, and other decoration.

Zooming out, we can see all of the green ironwork-style arches have been installed on either side of the Chronos tower.

These arches feature similar golden sunburst accents as the base of the tower within the center.

Zooming out even further, to the areas around the entry, concrete arches can be seen, as well as detailed rockwork on both sides of the entry plaza. This rockwork starts a motif that carries on throughout all of Celestial Park, the name of the park’s central hub area.

Rockwork seen at number 1, arches at 2

Security & Ticketing

Looking further out around this entry courtyard just outside of Epic Universe, we can see two large covered areas. This is for security check, which should feature metal detectors and x-ray scanners just like the ones in use at the parking rotunda for the existing resort.

Another feature we may see in this area that is not currently at the existing parks, could possibly be kiosks where you can connect your digital tickets to your face. That’s because Epic Universe is expected to use facial recognition to allow everyone entry into the park, without the need for scanning your ticket.

Patent image for facial recognition system by Universal, U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

The kiosks within the security check area would be for anyone who has yet to connect their tickets to their face, but you will likely also be able to do this using the app before you even arrive to the park.

As for where to purchase a ticket, if you have not done so prior to arriving, the building to the right of security is for ticketing.

Permit image from fasttrack.ocfl.net with labels added

The round roof and covered areas out front are for a single long queue, which leads to multiple ticketing windows behind the round section.

Ticketing queue permit image from fasttrack.ocfl.net

Once you have your ticket, and have connected it to a photo of your face—either through the app or at a kiosk near security—you’re now ready to simply walk into Epic Universe via the Chronos portal.

While Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure have been testing this technology, those parks are still utilizing ticket scanners and more traditional turnstiles in addition to the face scanning. Only time will tell if Epic Universe will be ready for a ticketless system when it first opens next year, or if it’s something that will come online later.

A look at the entry areas as seen in scale model

Looking back at the entry plaza in front of security, the building on the left side is described as guest restrooms in permits.

Recently, a lot of landscaping work has been happening around this first round courtyard area in front of the entry plaza.

Here is where guests arriving by Universal buses arrive from the bottom path, or from the parking lot and drop off from the path seen on the right.

The photo below shows the Universal bus turnaround here on the far left of the image. It is right off of Epic Blvd, the road that leads to Epic Universe, and the road that all guests will take to get to the park’s main parking lot.

Epic Universe Parking

Zooming out even further we can see Epic Universe’s flat parking lot, located southeast of the the park itself.

The areas closest to the park entry are for drop off, non-Universal busses, preferred parking, and accessibility parking, but the largest areas are for the north and south parking lots of Epic Universe.

An area of the north lot is currently being used for construction staging, but most of the this parking area has been utilized by workers helping to bring the new park to life in the last couple years.

Just recently though, the lines have started to be redrawn for parking spaces in the lots. They were painted as alternating rows with single automobile spots, but now, this darker section is marked more like theme park parking, with two cars per spot, and all rows moving in the same direction. These lines are now ready for the park to open.

Old lines seen top-left, new lines seen over darker area

Between the north and south parking lots, you can see a long strip of unfinished land. It leads from the very back of the parking lot all the way to theme park’s entry plaza on the other side.

Strip with grass between north and south lots seen here

Earlier permitted plans seem to refer to this as a covered moving walkway, likely similar to the ones that take guests from the parking garages to CityWalk at the current resort. It is not clear if a moving walkway will actually be built or not, as work has seemingly not yet begun on one, but we shall see.

Possible location for moving walkway highlighted in yellow

To get into the parking lot, when driving in from Epic Blvd right outside of the park, cars will drive up a small road leading to a row of parking toll booths.

The framing for these parking booths has just started to go up now.

A small support building for the parking booths is being constructed beside this framing.

After paying for parking, cars will be instructed to either turn left for the south lot, or right for the north lot.

While Epic Universe is opening with a flat parking lot, it’s always possible they could add parking garages later if and when they choose to expand the offerings here. This would be just like they did with Universal Studios Florida’s flat parking lot back in the 1990s.

Universal Studios Florida with parking lot in 1990s, Image: attractioninsight.com

This guest parking lot is separate from Team Member parking, which is located directly behind the park. Plus, guests of the Helios Grand Hotel have their own parking garage, located behind the hotel behind the park.

Helios hotel parking garage seen at bottom left

Park Entry Buildings

Heading back to the park entrance, let’s briefly explore what is in each of these buildings just inside the park.

Located to your left when facing the Chronos entry we can find wheelchair and stroller rental, as well as the park’s lost and found.

Entry buildings in permit image with labels added

Just inside the park on the left are all-day locker rentals. The large building on the left side after entering contains Epic Universe’s main gift shop, expected to be named “Other Worlds Mercantile.”

As seen in the permit image below, which was filed publicly with Orange County, we can see the entrance to this main gift shop on the left, but there is a smaller storefront on the right; on the end of this building. This is “Moonship Chocolates & Celestial Sweets,” a candy and sweet shop that has been officially announced.

Permit image showing storefronts near entrance to Epic Universe, fasttrack.ocfl.net

On the opposite side of the entrance, looking to your right when standing in front of the Chronos tower, you can find the park’s main Guest Services location, as well as Health Services featuring a baby care center.

After passing through the portal into the park, there are restrooms on your right, connected to some smaller retail locations with multiple entrances.

Shops on right of park entry seen in model

These smaller shops are expected to include “Various Emporia” and “North Star Wintry Wonders,” both of which have been trademarked. The North Star store will be the park’s holiday shop.

You should also be able to find the park’s photo pickup location on this side, expected to be named “Lens Flare,” another trademarked term.

Official concept art for the entry buildings at Epic Universe

On the very end of this structure will be a Starbucks location. Plan images filed with Orange County list this part of the structure as coffee shop, but additional permits have referred to it as Starbucks by name.

While these guest areas can be found on the lower level of this structure on the right side of the park’s entry, a special VIP lounge and events space is listed in permits as being located on the upper level.

VIP area with staircase seen in official concept art

Stairs to this VIP area can be seen in recent construction.

Here is a look at this VIP spiral staircase as seen in the scale model.

Official concept art for Luna Overlook gardens area

Luna Overlook

Before we wrap up, let’s take a quick look at Luna Overlook. While guests can choose to go either left or right after entering Epic Universe, this small scenic area can be found between the two branching paths.

Straight ahead will be the Luna statue, as seen above in official concept art, and seen below in the model.

Newly poured pavement can be seen here. At the edge of this overlook are two torches, seen already built.

This railing overlooks cascading waterfalls, which appear to feed into the central water features for all of Celestial Park, the central hub for Epic Universe.

Standing at the edge of Luna Overlook, we can look out over all of Celestial Park, with dancing fountains, trees and greenery, and the Helios hotel rising up in the distance.

In the center of the park sits Constellation Carousel, which is seeing its colorful, ornate domed roof panels installed, but we will check in on that—along with the rest of the park—next time.

That’s all for this update, but be sure to check out the video version of this story for additional visuals. A huge thank you to Bioreconstruct for the amazing aerial and on the ground photographs. You can follow him on X (formerly Twitter), Bluesky, or Mastodon for more incredible theme park photos.

Subscribe to the news feed or enter your email address below to never miss an update. Official Art: Universal Destinations & Experiences | Aerial & Model Photos: Bioreconstruct | Permit Documents: fasttrack.ocfl.net | Graphics and Overlays: Alicia Stella | Other Images as Captioned

Subscribe to Receive Email Updates

Consider supporting us on Patreon for as little as $1/month. All patrons receive behind the scenes posts and exclusive podcasts. Learn More

  • Brian


    It seems to me that all the fired Disney designers that went to Universal were able to breathe life into their vision for The Epcot entrance overhaul and amplify it to become Celestial Park. Love Karma. I am very excited to spend time at Epic universe. If I was younger I would be super excited.

Leave a Comment