Epic Universe Update: Major Construction, New Permit Changes and Ride Rumors

With so many rides being built at once, in all corners of the construction site, it’s all hands on deck as teams rush to get Universal’s Epic Universe off the ground. This new theme park in Orlando is still scheduled to open in 2025, but the park is growing rapidly with every passing day.

Thanks to new aerial photographs from Bioreconstruct we’re able to check in on progress in each of the areas of the park. Plus, we’ll be cross-referencing work on the ground with new permit information to try and see the bigger picture. See the video version of this story for additional visuals.

Wide angle view of Epic Universe construction, Aerial Photos: bioreconstruct

Official concept art for Epic Universe with speculated lands labeled

Super Nintendo World construction at Epic Universe

Super Nintendo World

Starting off this update in Super Nintendo World, we can now make out the shape of the courtyard in the center of the land. Peach’s Castle, which will act as the entrance to the land, is being built in the foreground. Yoshi’s Adventure is being built in the background, with its round load station now in place.

Labels added showing location of areas within Super Nintendo World

Toad’s Cafe on the left side of the land has recently seen its entrance constructed, but we can see that the restaurant itself has not yet gone vertical.

Mario Kart building going vertical in foreground

Behind this area, the Mario Kart building has gone vertical. In addition to some outlines for the two dark ride tracks on the lower level of this structure being visible, the floor of the second level is starting to be installed now as well. This upper level will act as the entry into the ride building and queue areas. The ride will be contained entirely on the lower level.

Donkey Kong mine cart roller coaster track installation

The third ride for Super Nintendo World has seen a lot of work lately, as the Donkey Kong mine cart coaster has received several more pieces of track.

The new sections of track match track we saw in the video of off-site testing a few years ago. They represent some of the earlier scenes on the ride.

Donkey Kong roller coaster construction at Epic Universe

The different areas of track are painted different colors to help them blend into the scenery, as the real track for this attraction will be hidden beneath a fake layer of track above. That will allow it to appear as though the mine carts are jumping over gaps in the track. See our recent story for more rumored details on this attraction.

Retail location facing the hub in Epic Universe

Just outside of the Nintendo land, a structure is being enclosed. We believe this will be a Nintendo store, but it is located outside of the land, with entry from the hub. That way if guests cannot enter Super Nintendo World itself, whether because it is at capacity, or has closed for the day, etc, they can still purchase Nintendo-related items out front. This store is attached to a quick service restaurant, which has received its foundation, but not any walls yet.

Universal Monsters land construction at Epic Universe

Universal Monsters

Heading next to Universal Monsters, what we believe may be a roller coaster attraction has seen a lot of progress lately.

Possible roller coaster construction, arrow at multiple footers

It’s possible that this separate structure around the back of the attraction could be a maintenance bay for the ride. And several new footers have been added within the main structure for what could be the load station and first turn.

Permit notes related to possible roller coaster project, Image: fasttrack.ocfl.net

Recent permit notes that may be related to this project talk about drains within a “maintenance bay and in the loading area,” which is consistent with roller coaster rumors. Remember, the attraction in this section of the land was originally planned to be a theater of some kind. The original permit that described the attraction as a theater has expired this year, having never been approved.

Possible coaster area at left, main attraction on right

The possible coaster project appears to take over considerably more space than the original theater plan, but it should not affect construction of the area’s dining and shopping locations.

Comparing original permitted theater plan to current construction

Most of the expanded footprint for this ride is taking over a central courtyard that was designed within the center of the land.

Main attraction for Universal Monsters land

The other, much larger, attraction for the Universal Monsters land has received its entire roof. The front entrance area for this attraction has received steel framing that will likely be used to attach prefabricated facade pieces to the front. This area of the structure is expected to look like Frankenstein Manor.

Main attraction building seen on right side of land

Some of the attraction’s queue, as well as its load area is rumored to be placed on the second level of the building. Recent photos show that there are in fact two levels being constructed. This indoor attraction is rumored to use a tracked KUKA arm ride, similar to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

Patent from Universal for a round load platform utilizing a KUKA ride vehicle, U.S. Patent Office

Rumor says that the KUKA arm for this ride will attach to the base of the ride vehicle, instead of the back. This is in line with rumors that the ride will utilize a round load platform with the ride vehicles coming up from below. From the guest’s perspective, the KUKA arm will be hidden from view, but unlike Forbidden Journey, where it is hidden behind the bench, here it may be hidden below.

Close view of portal construction at entrance to Universal Monsters area of Epic Universe

The portal to enter the Universal Monsters land is the furthest along of all the park’s areas. Every land will have one of these portals, and while they will start with the same structure, they will be themed slightly differently to match the areas within.

Wizarding World construction at Epic Universe

Wizarding World

Another large indoor attraction that is seeing its ride building being enclosed can be found at the new Wizarding World land on the right side of the park.

Side view of massive ride building at Wizarding World

This massive structure is rumored to contain a ride based on the British Ministry of Magic.

Arrow pointing at new steel structure added to Wizarding attraction building

Steel for a unique section of the large structure is going up near where the building meets one of the pathways for the land. This is rumored to be near the front entrance to the ride.

The following overlay by Tommy Hawkins shows us a possible entry point and exit from the indoor ride. It is rumored we will enter and exit the British Ministry through large fireplaces using the Floo Network.

Overlay of permitted plans along with arrows for possible entry/exit to ride, Image: Tommy Hawkins

The next overlay image shows that all of the shops and dining that were permitted for this new Wizarding World land is lining up with current construction.

Overlay of plans at Wizarding World land, Image: Tommy Hawkins

After entering the portal to this land, it has been rumored we will pass under an arch. The land itself is expected to be modeled after Wizarding France.

Footprints for shops and dining after entering the arch

The Wizarding World land’s second major attraction has been rumored to have been cut. It would have been a Virtual Reality experience where you get to fly on a broomstick. Despite rumors of the attraction’s cancellation within Epic Universe, prep work for the site still seems to indicate that the facades are being constructed within the land.

Second main attraction was to be located top-right area of land

This attraction was set to take place within the French Ministry, as seen in the second Fantastic Beasts film. Permits for the attraction building are still active, but notes indicate that plans may have changed, and are being reviewed by the county this month. The original permit listed a maximum occupancy of 1,357 persons, so we will see if that changes as the permit is updated.

Prep work for shops and facades in Wizarding World

With work actually starting to happen on the ground near this area, it is possible they may only construct the facade for this attraction at the start, which will look like the fronts of buildings down a dead end city street.

Possible appearance for facades on right side of land, Image: Warner Bros.

Later, after a replacement attraction has been designed, they can build the actual show building behind these facades, once they are ready.

Hub-facing retail seen on left of Wizarding World entry portal

Just outside of the Wizarding World land, a retail structure is seeing its footprint readied for foundation pour. This is expected to be a large Harry Potter retail location facing the hub. Similar to the rumored Nintendo store on the opposite side of the park, this location would allow guests to shop for Wizarding items, even if the land itself is not open.

How to Train Your Dragon construction at Epic Universe

How to Train Your Dragon

The final main land that we expect to open with Epic Universe is based on How to Train Your Dragon. The roller coaster attraction for this area is seeing footers installed for the station and final brake run.

How to Train Your Dragon roller coaster station and first launch area

The station for this ride is expected to have a dual-load area with two tracks, similar to rides like Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Florida.

Section of roller coaster that passes through the area’s lagoon

Other sections of the attraction are becoming more apparent, like the first launch hill near the station, and the coaster areas that travel beneath the land’s lagoon.

Two yellow outlines in center for statues

Also in the lagoon, two areas have been marked off where we believe the two statues that welcome visitors to the island of Berk in the films will be installed.

Statues in front of Berk as seen in films, Image: DreamWorks

According to permit records, gas lines for fire torches may be connected to these statues.

Statues within lagoon as seen in permits

We are still waiting for work to pick up on the theater attraction for this area, as well as the boat ride, which has been carved out so far, but work is picking up on the Great Hall restaurant within the center of the land.

Coaster at top, boat ride at bottom, Great Hall in center

Footprint for How to Train Your Dragon theater attraction

The columns being constructed in the middle of the land will be seen within the Great Hall dining room.

Columns for the Great Hall restaurant

Work continues on the largest roller coaster attraction for Epic Universe

Central Hub

While not a land themed after any specific property, Epic Universe’s central hub will also contain a couple attractions, as well as lots of dining locations. The largest attraction will be a two-track racing roller coaster.

Coaster track staged nearby, arrow at a piece being moved

So far no additional track has arrived since we first reported on track for this massive roller coaster showing up last month, but work has continued on pouring foundations for the attraction itself.

Location of track staged on right, coaster area on left

You can see how close by the track is being staged to the roller coaster site in the photo above.

Coaster track seen with official Epic Universe logo

One theory says the two colors for this new coaster are inspired by the logo for Epic Universe itself, as this attraction may act as the park’s thesis statement, where we are exploring the universe in search of fantastic worlds.

Large fountain near back of the theme park

Foundation work continues for a large Belagio-style fountain display.

Possible flat ride within park’s central lagoon

Foundation work going on at the possible flat ride within the park’s central water feature as well.

Overlay showing plans on top of hub area, Image: Tommy Hawkins

The overlay above gives us an idea of what the fountain and surrounding areas could look like when completed.

Future site of hotel at back of the park, located in front of pond

Hotels and More

New notices of commencements have been filed with the county for foundation work to begin soon at the hotel at the back of the park.

Permit notes confirm 500 rooms for this hotel, Image: fasttrack.ocfl.net

Recent permit notes have confirmed that this hotel will in fact have 500 rooms.

Future home of hotel across from Epic Universe, located just north of this area

A notice of commencement was also recently filed for foundation work at Project 912, the hotel being built across the street from Epic Universe.

Overlay showing possible layout of this hotel in foreground, and its sister hotel in background, Image: Tommy Hawkins

The overlay graphic above shows the new hotel’s approximate location based on permitted plans and site prep work.

The notice of commencement lists Finfrock Construction as the contractor for that project, as we expected. This particular hotel will be built similarly to Universal’s Endless Summer Resort, which the company also built, where the walls are poured first on the ground, and then lifted into place.

Large warehouses being built backstage

The warehouses located long Sand Lake Road, in the backstage area behind Epic Universe are being constructed that way now. Permits say the warehouse on the left is for “Tech Services” and the one on the right is for “Food and Beverage.” The backstage offices and team member services building was also constructed this way.

Team Members services and office building backstage

And finally, as we recently reported, large sections of the guest parking lot for Epic Universe have not only been paved, but parking spot lines have been painted. While it is probably too soon to be painting lines on a parking lot for a theme park that will not open until 2025, there does appear to be a valid reason for doing so.

Guest parking lot sections paved and already in use by workers

So many workers are now arriving on site to work on the park, that the backstage and temporary work site parking lots were not large enough to contain all of their vehicles. The Orlando Sentinel reports that by next year, we may see up to 10,000 workers on site daily to get this new theme park built in time for its grand opening in Summer 2025, and from the looks of how many cars are already showing up in the parking lot, that’s easy to believe.

One last look at Epic Universe construction

That’s all for now, but a big thank you to Bioreconstruct on Twitter for providing us with these incredible views from the air. See the video version of this story for additional visuals. Be sure to check out our last update for more details on the three hotel projects at Epic Universe, and subscribe to the news feed to never miss an update!

Subscribe to the news feed or enter your email address below to never miss an update. Official Concept Art: Universal Orlando | Aerial Photos: Bioreconstruct | 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


Leave a Comment