Epic Universe News Update: Preview Center, Stardust Racers Fog, Lagoon Tests, and Construction

Things are getting serious as Universal unveils the Epic Universe Preview Center ahead of its grand opening in 2025, featuring a full model of the park. Construction on the ground is looking more like this model every day, with water testing in the park’s central lagoons, fog effects at the dueling coaster, boats arriving in Isle of Berk, and much more.

Let’s look at work happening in all areas of Epic Universe, and see what we can learn from the preview center, in today’s news update. See the video version of this story below for additional visuals.

Epic Universe Preview Center at CityWalk, Photo: Seth Kubersky

Preview Center

Media and Team Members have been experiencing the new Epic Universe Preview Center, located within CityWalk Orlando. The main feature of the Preview Center is the actual scale model of Epic Universe.

Epic Universe model at Preview Center in CityWalk, Photo: Seth Kubersky

Extremely impressive, this model can help confirm many details that have long been rumored, but it is also worth keeping in mind that the model is not entirely up to date.

Dark Universe seen in Epic Universe Model, Photo: Seth Kubersky

The model is missing some buildings—namely smaller ones—and many structures are slightly different looking from what is actually being built.

Interestingly, some things are included that have not started construction, but it is unclear if they’re leftover from an older version or just haven’t begun to be built yet.

Ministry of Magic at Epic Universe in model, Photo: Seth Kubersky

Guests can use their mobile devices to reveal Augmented Reality sneak peeks into some attractions, and see fun things overlaid on to the model.

For instance, the windmill in Dark Universe is indeed on fire, as we had long suspected could be the case.

View of the model with Augmented Reality overlay, Image: Seth Kubersky

The two lands that have not yet had their full details revealed, Dark Universe and Ministry of Magic, show “Additional Details Coming Soon” when you point your device at them, with “Coming Soon” labels seen on the their main attractions specifically.

The Preview Center also includes photo ops shaped like the portals into each of the themed worlds of Epic Universe.

Photo op with new concept art in Preview Center, Photo: Seth Kubersky

These portals include concept art, including new art we have not yet seen for Dark Universe and Ministry of Magic.

The new art seen below is the first confirmation the village in Dark Universe will in fact be named Darkmoor.

Photo op featuring new Dark Universe concept art, Photo: Seth Kubersky

And finally, merchandise is for sale here, themed to these four themed worlds, as well Epic Universe in general.

Epic Universe merchandise available at Preview Center, Photo: Seth Kubersky

The new Preview Center opens to all guests this week, likely by Thursday, June 12, 2024 at the latest.

Celestial Park

For now, we’re kicking off our construction update around the actual park in Celestial Park, Epic Universe’s central areas

All aerial photography by Bioreconstruct

The Chronos entry arch has grown taller since our last update, but still has another section to go at the top.

Chronos is what Universal calls this entry portal into the park.

Chronos Tower official concept art for Epic Universe

The ironwork arches on either side have been installed as well.

Rockwork can be seen to the right and left of the entry. The spiral staircase seen in the photo below leads to a VIP area on the second floor.

Heading to the center of Epic Universe, all of Celestial Park’s lagoons and pools have been filled in with water for testing. This even includes the cascading waterfalls at the front of the park.

The water appears a bit muddy, but that may just be for testing and perhaps it is not being filtered yet.

Framing is starting to go up for the phase two dining locations near the front of the park. These two new dining locations will share the same building, but are not expected to open with the park. The building doesn’t even appear in the model at the preview center, with just trees blocking the area instead.

New trees have been added near the Atlantic full service restaurant, as well as in front of The Oak & Star Tavern quick service location, and around the concierge kiosk in front of Dark Universe leading all the way to the Blue Dragon Pan-Asian Restaurant at the back of the park.

New trees near Atlantic restaurant

Trees added at The Oak & Star Tavern

Trees and light posts around concierge kiosk

Landscaping progress around Blue Dragon Pan-Asian Restaurant

The newly renamed Stardust Racers has seen scaffolding return surrounding its comet-shaped icon.

Landscaping happening around the front of Stardust Racers, while testing for this dual-track roller coaster continues.

The covered extended queue for Stardust Racers is seeing new progress.

Here is how the model depicts this exterior queue area behind the station building.

Model version of Stardust Racers’ extended queue, Photo: Seth Kubersky

For the first time ever, we’ve gotten a look at a fog mist effect for Stardust Racers, (seen below,) located at the exit to the launch tunnel. This is the attraction’s first of two launches. The track for this section of the ride is black in color, to help it not be as visible within the tunnel.

The other ride for Celestial Park, Constellation Carousel, has seen its domed roof supports painted gold.

The first actual blue roof panels are being installed on the carousel’s dome.

Blue roof tiles being lifted into place

An unpainted test section had been in place for many months prior, but this is the first colorful final pieces we have seen be installed.

Fancy ornate safety railings have been installed along the lagoon side for the carousel. We can see an unfinished section on the left, which has temporary railings still in place for now.

In the next photo we can see all three “attractions” for Celestial Park in one photo: the Stardust Racers roller coaster in the background, Constellation Carousel at center, and the Astronomica splash pad on the left.

At the very back of the park, we can spot this star design being created within the pavement on a bridge.

This bridge passes over a water feature that leads to a waterfall into the park’s large fountain display.

We can even see the water cascading down during testing.

Zooming out to take a look at the hotel at the back of the park, the Universal Helios Grand Hotel, we can see that the sunburst icon has been installed near the top.

This sun looks down over all of Celestial Park.

Dark Universe

Heading now to Dark Universe, the world of Universal Monsters, courtyard design work is happening right outside of the land’s portal entry.

Inside of the land, a bell has been installed within a bell tower near the front of the village of Darkmoor’s main street.

This bell tower is attached to the land’s main dining location, which has long been rumored to be named Das Stakehaus—as in stake through the heart, but also a place that serves steak—however, a trademark for that term was never found. We will hopefully find out the restaurant’s official name with more details for Dark Universe are revealed, probably this month.

One new trademark that was filed recently and is related to this land is for the Darkmoor Monster Makeup Experience.

Trademark application likely related to Epic Universe, U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

Permitted plans for this land show a section of the retail building, which is located across the street from the restaurant, as being labeled as for “Make-Up.” This new trademarked term may be for this section of the land’s main retail location.

Moving to the end of the village street, the entrance to the land’s main ride, expected to be named Monsters Unchained: The Frankenstein Experiment, seems to have had some writing added to it.

This manor gate leads us into Frankenstein Manor, and it does appear that the writing could say the name “FRANKENSTEIN,” but in a unique font.

The front facade for the large manor has received more theming, but is still mostly covered in scaffolding, making it hard to make out finer details.

More railings have been added within the exterior extended queue for this attraction.

More trees have been added between this ride and the windmill themed dining location at the back-corner of the land.

The land’s other attraction, a spinning roller coaster, continues to test. We expect this ride to be named Curse of the Werewolf.

Looking closer at one of the two trains seen testing within these photographs, this train appears to have the sides uncovered on one of the cars, revealing the final theming for the side walls, which appear golden.

This roller coaster attraction has been rumored to feature the fortune teller character from The Wolfman.

The official model has proven the rumor for colorful tent awning roofs over sections of the queue and the final brake run.

Model of the spinning coaster station area, Photo: Seth Kubersky

How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk

Moving into How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk, the small decorative boat located within the land’s lagoon near the entry portal has received its sails and color.

This lagoon is the first thing guests see when entering the land.

Queue walkway prep for pouring is happening near the entrance for the land’s boat ride, named Fyre Drill.

Connections for more targets have been installed near the start of the ride. Riders will spray these targets competing against the other side of the boat on this interactive attraction.

Many more boats have arrived and are currently being stored near the pump house behind the ride.

Some of these boats are still being assembled, and not all of them have had their figureheads added to their bows and sterns yet.

The four boats in the next photo, located under the awning, were previously seen in the water, and were used for ride testing. This boat on the right-bottom of next photo appears to be wheelchair accessible.

The boats can be launched back into the ride path via this access canal that leads from this boat yard to the ride lagoon.

Nearby, progress is being made at the gift shop located in front of the land’s live stage show theater.

Themed walls are being added behind the Haddock Paddock meet and greet area, where we will be able to meet some of the dragons and characters.

At the center of the land, the Mead Hall quick service dining location continues to receive work along the base of the structure now that the mountain on top is complete.

Work is progressing on exterior queue areas for the land’s roller coaster ride, named Hiccup’s Wing Gliders, including frames over the future entry path and exit path from the ride.

One of the coaster trains can be seen parked on the track leading from the maintenance bay.

Themed elements have been added to the coaster’s first of two launches. In story it appears that winching these two large boulders up and dropping them is what propels our train.

The story says that Hiccup has built this contraption to let us feel what it is like to fly on a dragon.

In front of the coaster’s second launch, which is now filled with dragon eggs, we can see major progress happening on the kids’ play area, named Viking Training Camp.

The last attraction for the land, a set of two Sky Fly rides named Dragon Racer’s Rally has seen most of the scaffolding come down around the decorative grandstands behind the ride.

The paint on these stands looks to be complete. And we can see the many dragon houses which are attached to the stands, which the roller coaster ride passes through.

Even the backside of the stands feature fully themed dragon houses.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic

Checking in on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic, new trees have been planted within the small park-themed area located between the land’s entry portal and the Parisian arch.

Looking closer, we can see these trees added as part of the forking path guests will have to choose to go right or left on after entering the portal. These will help block the view into the land from outside.

On the model, a large golden phoenix statue can be seen on the other side of the arch, viewable only from within the land.

Phoenix statue on back of arch in model, Photo: Seth Kubersky

New concept art seen in the Preview Center confirms the name for the cafe on the left side of the land as “Café L’air de la Sirène,” which we first discussed as the possible name for this dining location last year.

The final appearance for the circus tent-themed entry to the land’s show can also be seen in this new official concept art.

Close up of new concept art from Preview Center, Photo: Seth Kubersky

Back to construction progress, tree wells are being installed for trees to be planted along the pavement in this small dead end area on right side of the land.

This area is expected to be themed as the plaza just outside of the French Ministry, as seen in the second Fantastic Beasts film.

Image: Warner Bros.

A VR ride set within the French Ministry was originally planned for this section of the land, but was cut. Although, a new small structure can be seen behind this area on the model, so perhaps something could be added here, but so far nothing is under construction.

Small mystery building located behind this area in model, Photo: Seth Kubersky

All the way on the far left side of the land, the exterior queue for the British Ministry of Magic ride is getting framing for an awning covering,

This huge building is for a ride we believe will be named Harry Potter and the Battle at the Ministry, and it is possible we may learn more about this ambitious new ride as soon as next month.

Super Nintendo World

Moving into Super Nintendo World, the front area of the land, named Super Mario Land has seen more colorful items uncovered, like the Goomba seen below.

But visible progress has been slow on the front of Peach’s Castle.

The spinning base for the Goomba Crazy Crank key challenge has been installed.

Lots of color continues to be added all along these walls on the upper level of the land.

Progress is being made in the courtyard on the lower level, where this character meet and greet backdrop is taking shape.

The entrance to the future Toadstool Cafe has a doorway, but still no mushroom-shaped roof.

The clouds at the top of Mt. Beanpole have been testing in recent days, and could be seen moving side to side.

What looks to be a flying koopa, but all wrapped up, can be seen on yoshi ride, located across the ride path from the Conkdor.

Behind the Super Mario Land area we can find the Donkey Kong Country area.

The face for the top of the golden temple has been installed.

This face also acts as the start of the waterfall at the top of the Mine Cart Madness roller coaster ride.

Small decorative palm tree shapes can be seen lying on their sides here along the temple front, not yet installed.

Themed planks have been added to this bridge which mine carts will cross over after the ride’s main lift hill and barrel launch.

Looking closely at the entry back into the temple after this bridge, we can see how the real track curves to the right while the false track continues forward. This part of the ride is rumored to feature a near miss head-on collision with another cart with Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong in it.

After this section the spike theming has been installed where it will appear that our mine cart is jumping over a gap in the track.

The rocks at number 3 in next photo have all received their paint, located behind a scene where it will appear that our cart is skating along the surface of the water, at number 1.

Here are screaming pillars located near the water feature scene.

Within the courtyard in front of the ride, the themed style of painted ground can be seen closer to the ride entrance, with the unpainted sections seen below.

The drink stand has seen roof framing installed.

And new supports for Donkey Kong’s Treehouse have been installed, seen at number 1 below. The treehouse will be a backdrop for his meet and greet area.

The structure for an airplane-shaped retail location has appeared near this mini-land’s entry, seen at number 2 above.

Jungle-shaped backdrops are being installed along the backside of the area’s entry warp pipe opening, seen on top-right of next photo. And framing for a future backstage gate is being installed, seen at top-left.

On the other side of this backstage gate, and in front of the ride’s main temple facade on the right, we can see what could be a small expansion plot set aside for Donkey Kong Country.

It has been speculated that this small area could someday be home to kids’ play area, but so far there aren’t any publicly available construction plans for anything like that.

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 Photos: Bioreconstruct | Preview Center Photos: Seth Kubersky | Permit Documents: fasttrack.ocfl.net | Graphics and Overlays: Alicia Stella | Other Images as Captioned

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