It has only been one week since our last Epic Universe construction update, but with so many dramatic changes around the site, it’s already time for another check in! Scaffolding has come down around the beautifully-themed portal into the land based on the Universal Monsters, plus ride cars have shown up on the track for Yoshi’s Adventure, and more.
Let’s check in on those construction milestones, and additional work happening around the Epic Universe site, in today’s news update. See the video version of this story below for additional visuals.
Jumping right in, the scaffolding has come down around the portal into the Dark Universe land, the area we believe will be themed to the Universal Monsters. Thanks to the incredible aerial photography of Bioreconstruct on social media, we’re getting an updated bird’s eye view of construction.
As we first described last year, this incredibly detailed rockwork themed entry portal is covered in wrapping tree roots, which have taken hold around the structure.
The small section on the front-right may be for a planter. And we can see these workers in the next photo to help get a sense of scale for the structure, which, as tall as it is, has not even seen its tallest point added yet.
As with all of the portals for Epic Universe, the front gateway plate has yet to be installed. Just like the cross section version we saw in permits for Super Nintendo World last week, as well as the photo of one posted online, each portal will receive one of these metallic rings on the front, which we will pass through to travel to other worlds.
The colors of each of the gateways will vary to compliment the land, as well as the orbs at the center top. Plus, it is rumored that each gateway may include words or a phrase engraved around the face that is related to the area you are entering.
What may be connections for this front faceplate gateway can be seen around the edges of the unthemed arched entry on the front of this portal, seen in the photo above. The gateway arch will overlap some of the theming seen around the opening.
But the front faceplate is not the only part of this portal that has yet to be installed. We still expect another section of electrical antenna to be added to the top of the structure before it is topped off.
Inspired by the Frankenstein story, the beacon for the Dark Universe portal is themed as an electrical tower—like the one that gave Frankenstein’s Monster life.
Wiring can be seen at the very top of the structure now, which may be related to some type of electrical-style effects.
What appears to be a white tube is installed within the section of tower that is currently the tallest point. This tube may feature animated electricity effects which could look like a Tesla coil or plasma ray in appearance.
At number 4 in the next image, this unfinished opening may be for maintenance access for these electrical effects.
Several test samples for the different styles of rockwork and brickwork can be seen around the structure, seen along the ground in the photo above. These are used by the artists as reference models.
Epic Universe Portals
Of course, this portal into the Dark Universe land is only one of many that will be in use around the park.
Super Nintendo World’s portal, (seen above,) will feature tall warp pipes as its beacon, each with floating power-ups above them.
And after passing through the metallic gateway arch outside, inside the portal we will encounter the green warp pipe, (as seen in the edited permit image below,) before we board escalators to make our way up to the land.
The portal into the Wizarding World is nearly complete already. The finishing touch will be the yet to be installed statue of a hand holding a wand, rumored to be placed atop the column-themed beacon on top of the structure.
The How to Train Your Dragon’s land’s portal will be themed as the same green hillside and cliffs seen nearby within the circle of roller coaster track. And its beacon is a lookout tower at the entrance to the Isle of Berk.
But the entrances into the lands aren’t the only places we will find portals at Epic Universe.
We will actually pass through a portal to even enter the park in the first place. The entry arch at the entrance to Epic Universe will be themed similarly to the arch at the entrances to Universal parks around the world, except it will be larger, and contain the same celestial style gateway as of the lands’ portals at its base.
The structure for this gateway portal arch is taking shape now, as blocks have been placed to create the concrete forms around.
We can see that this rounded design is just the portal entries for each of the lands of the park. This way, walking through this main entry arch at the start of your day will help to inform the guests on how to move around from world to world later.
Moving into the theme park, into the central hub which is expected to be called Celestial Park, new forms have been added within the start of the hub’s first water feature.
Multiple wooden box forms can be seen within this area, as work progresses on pumps the cascading waterfalls.
Sand has been added to the basin in front of the octagonal-shaped restaurant, as the reflecting pool-style water feature here prepares for its concrete pour. It looks like a rebar border has been added at the edge of this shallow pool, separating it from the existing pool nearby.
Work is just getting started to theme and decorate the large icon at the front of Starfall Racers, the park’s dual-track roller coaster.
One ring of this structure has been covered in a bronze-like layer, with a hint of something green along the inner edge. Green can also be seen along the lowest part of the metal structure.
But now what could be some sort of metallic panels are being installed around the rocket or shooting star shaped structure within the center. A stack of these thin bronze panels can be seen on the platform below.
It is expected that this icon will be bronze and silver once completed, so we may be seeing the first steps on enclosing the structure.
Super Nintendo World
Heading into Super Nintendo World, after taking the escalators up from the portal, guests will enter the land on the second level through Peach’s Castle.
There will be multiple exits on the lower level, a feature that is not seen at the land in Universal Studios Japan. All of these lower level exits will follow a path beside the land, (seen at the arrow on left side of the next photo,) and out to the park’s hub.
The shape for Peach’s meet and greet gazebo can now be seen to the left of her castle, seen at the arrow in next photo.
From the angle in the above photo we can see how the hillside backdrop for the land have been smoothed out and readied for color.
Pavement has been poured in front of the Mario Kart entrance, on the very top of the layers of foam bricks we saw being installed last week.
Mt. Beanpole has received a ton more color, now reaching around the front of the mountain.
This work-in-progress section in the next photo shows the layering of colors before the final touches are added on top.
And speaking of paint, a bottom-layer primer or sealant gray color is being added on top of the insulation panels for most of the structures within the land, including the front of Peach’s Castle, the facades for the interactive play areas on the land’s second level, and Toadstool Cafe on the lower level. The entrance to the cafe is partially covered in plastic sheeting.
Another big milestone for the land has been met, as we’re getting our first look at some of the Yoshi ride cars that have been placed on the track!
Yoshi’s Adventure is a family-friendly, omnimover-like ride elevated over the ground. These several ride vehicles can be seen just after the ride’s only inside scene.
There are several Yoshi-shaped ride vehicles, which are covered in a black material. You can even see the shapes of their heads in the front of the cars, facing us in the next photo.
There is also what appears to be one ADA vehicles on the tracks, seen under the white plastic. This is a Yoshi egg-shaped car used for accessibility and wheelchair access on the ride.
A section of track is exposed underneath the egg car as workers work on the vehicle.
Below the Yoshi ride, the future rounded entrance of the land’s main retail location, named 1-UP Factory, can be seen on bottom right of the next photo.
The rounded opening seen to the left of the retail location, on the other side of the Yoshi bridge, may be one of the several on-the-ground exits out of the land.
Heading behind the main Super Nintendo World area and into the Donkey Kong Country mini land at the back, the arrow in the next photo is pointing at the future location of an expected waterfall along the front of the mine cart ride’s temple facade.
More framing is currently being added for some sort of themed backdrop behind the section of the ride where it will appear that our mine carts are skating across a small water feature.
The arrow in the next photo is pointing at where the envelope tester cart was placed the last time we checked in, but it is now missing.
This section is a transfer track, which can move side to side to take carts on and off the track. It is interesting to note that this transfer track section includes both the false mine cart track at the top, and the real track, which is seen below.
The arrow in the following photo is pointing to a section of the ride where it will appear that our cart is jumping over a gap in the track, over a bed of spikes.
You can see where the mine cart track ends, but our vehicles will actually be traveling along the sideways track, which is painted to blend into the surroundings.
Also from this angle photo, if we look closely behind the scaffolding, it does appear that theming work is happening along this temple wall. Unthemed “chips” can be seen installed and poking up above the scaffolding on the right, whereas themed brickwork can be seen already started on the left side, poking up above the building.
Epic Universe Hotels
Before we wrap up, let’s quickly check in on some of the work happening at one the new Universal hotels being build across from Epic Universe.
Colorful reflective tiles continue to be installed along all sides of this hotel, known as project 912 in permits and expected to be named Universal Stella Nova Resort.
In the next photo we can see workers adding tiles around a window, but this close up view gives us an idea of how large these individual tiles actually are.
Tiles are being installed around the rounded shape on the front of the hotel, (seen on the left side of the next photo,) near the resort’s main entrance.
Tiles are just now starting to show up on the final of the four sides of the hotel as well.
As this story was being prepared, the official website for the Universal Stella Nova Resort was briefly made public, discovered by @Formigator3000 on X (formerly known as Twitter).
On this public-facing page, several concept images were shared, including a look at what both of these hotels, Stella Nova and its sister resort, Terra Luna, will look like once completed.
We will have more details from this resort’s official website posting soon, but the most interesting tidbit is that the site said that Universal Stella Nova Resort will be opening January 21, 2025—saying specifically that it will be before the Epic Universe theme park opens. It says that complimentary shuttle transportation to Universal Orlando’s current theme parks and Universal CityWalk will be available.
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 photographs. You can follow him on Twitter or Bluesky 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 Orlando | Aerial Photos: Bioreconstruct | Permit Documents: fasttrack.ocfl.net | Graphics and Overlays: Alicia Stella | Other Images as Captioned