Epic Universe Update: Universal Monsters Ride Details, Rumors, and Construction

Epic Universe will be Universal Orlando’s newest theme park when it opens by summer 2025. It’s expected to open with themed lands based on Nintendo, How to Train Your Dragon, the Wizarding World, and Universal Monsters. The Monsters area will contain a massive indoor ride and a spinning roller coaster, but what do we really know about these attractions?

Let’s check in on construction progress, new permit information, patents, and more to see what we can learn about the Dark Universe section of Epic Universe. See the video version of this story below for additional visuals.

Since our last full update we’ve continued to see dramatic changes around the Epic Universe site thanks to aerial photos taken by Bioreconstruct on social media, including the themed beacon now added to the top of the portal into How to Train Your Dragon.

Portal into Dragons area of park seen on right in this photo

One of the real mine cart coaster cars can now be seen sitting on the track at the Donkey Kong ride, (although it is wrapped up).

Wrapped ride vehicle at Donkey Kong roller coaster

And there has been major progress on the hotel at the back of the park, with half of the floors now built.

Hotel construction progress

Dark Universe

Today we will be focusing exclusively on the land we believe will be based on the Universal Classic Monsters.

Overview of Dark Universe, 1 is coaster, 2 is main ride

We expect this land to be named Dark Universe, based on rumors and recent trademark applications. After passing through the portal, which is covered in twisting tree roots and topped with an electrical tower-style beacon, we will enter the village of Darkmoor.

This fictional village is a place where real monsters exist. On our left will be the land’s main retail location, and on our right will be the village’s largest dining location.

Portal in front, retail on left, dining on right-back

The land will also feature a second dining location, themed as the windmill from the Frankenstein story. Permits indicate that this structure will have gas lines for special flame effects, likely so it can appear that the windmill is on fire.

Windmill-themed restaurant, arrow at new construction

We believe the land itself, which will feature a year-round gloomy and spooky vibe, will have an original score by composer Danny Elfman.

Dark Universe will contain two main attractions. The main one will be a massive indoor dark ride, set within a large gothic manor, which can be seen looming in the distance over the village. The other ride is a spinning roller coaster, zooming around behind the village’s shops, on the outskirts of town.

Composite site plan image created using multiple documents and permit info

Spinning Roller Coaster

Recent construction progress on the roller coaster attraction has seen a small forest of trees planted. The trees located to the left of the attraction will help to separate the area from the back of the nearby restaurant within the park’s central hub, especially once they mature and grow taller.

The back of the land’s retail structure has been painted to match the area, as seen in the next photo, and additional trees are being planted here to help block the view from the coaster.

New construction is happening around the coaster’s covered final brake run. The wall with a hole cut out of it, seen at number 3 in the next photo, will help block the view of backstage areas while still allowing trains to transfer to the maintenance building behind the station.

A similar wall can be seen on the other side of the building. At number 2 in the next photo we can see how a roll-down door has been installed in the hole in the wall.

Fence theming was added to the front side, which faces guest areas, as seen in the next photo.

We can see what appears to be a reach envelope tester on the last section of track near the final brake run. This can be used to ensure no elements are within the riders’ reach along the ride path.

Arrow at reach envelope tester object

The empty area within the center of the coaster track will be used for queue space. The framing seen closer to the station building will be for covered sections of queue right before the load area.

This attraction is expected to be a launched spinning family-friendly roller coaster, with a thrill level likely higher than something like Flight of the Hippogriff at Islands of Adventure, but lower than Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. This ride will not go upside-down.

Coaster station progress

The coaster was manufactured by Mack Rides, and is expected to feature a train design with back to back seating. Similar to other spinning coasters from the same manufacturer, the seats will alternate facing forward and backward, but since the ride may employ free spinning, it will not matter which direction you start the ride facing.

We will be discussing some of the rumored ride details, for both this coaster attraction, as well as the land’s main ride, so there may be possible ride spoilers from this point on. Keep in mind though, that none of these details have been confirmed at this time.

We expect this coaster attraction to be named “Curse of the Werewolf,” a term that has been trademarked by the company.

It is rumored that the exterior queue will be themed as a traveling village of tents, with vargo-style wagons seen near the queue entry area. The load station and plot of the attraction is rumored to revolve around Maleva the fortuneteller, a character from the original Wolfman film.

Maleva as seen in The Wolf Man (1941), Universal Pictures

The ride will start with a small launch, taking us to a barn-like structure in the middle of the circuit. Here is where we believe there will be a swing launch, which will launch us forward and backward through the structure multiple times, building momentum with each pass, until we have enough power to clear the remainder of the circuit.

Rumors have said that the barn in the middle of the ride may be a place where it is always a full moon, and may represent our personal transformation into a werewolf, as we have been afflicted with the curse.

Main Dark Ride

The main ride for the Dark Universe land will take place in a massive show building on the back-right corner. We expect this attraction to be named “Monsters Unchained: The Frankenstein Experiment,” a term that was only recently trademarked by the company.

Massive building seen on left for main dark ride

It has long been rumored that this attraction will feature all of the Universal Classic Monsters, which have been unleashed by some sort of experiment by a descendant of Dr. Frankenstein.

The exterior facade for the ride’s entry is designed as a large gothic manor. Some architectural details are becoming more apparent as construction continues, with arched roof lines and decorative elements now visible behind scaffolding.

Newly added details seen at arrows

A large tower sits in the center of the manor facade.

This building design is thought to have been partially inspired by the former Château Miranda in Belgium, which also features a similar layout.

Photo of former Castle Miranda in Belgium, Photo: Wikipedia

Recent aerial photography reveals additional themed elements being added to an exterior queue section for this ride.

This exterior queue area seems to resemble an old, dilapidated garden, almost in the style of a graveyard, with garden walls separating sections of queue.

The queue entry for the attraction can be seen in front of the building, with a winding pathway leading to the manor’s front door. This concrete path may turn out to be themed as a small bridge over an old, dried up moat in front of the large building.

Thanks to some recent permit information, we now know some of the names for the different queue areas located within the manor itself. The first of which is a grand staircase, featuring two sets of rounded stairs upon first entering the manor. Other areas are labeled as the Study, Library, Great Room, Dining Room, and Corridor.

Moving deeper into the queue, permits indicate that this attraction will feature double-sided lockers as you get closer to the load area. Similar to the set up at VeloiCoaster, this will allow riders to keep their personal belongings on them while waiting in line, stow them shortly before boarding the ride, and then retrieve them on their way out after riding.

Patent for a type of KUKA ride restraint, Image: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Lockers will be required for bags and loose articles because this attraction is expected to employ a KUKA arm ride system, similar to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Like that ride, this ride will feature seating attached to a moving robotic arm, which will be traveling along a tracked ride path through multiple scenes.

Unlike Forbidden Journey, the load and unload area for Monsters Unchained is expected to be rounded, and not in a straight line.

Patent for a rotating load platform, Image: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Universal has patented several different technologies to be used within a rounded load area, and the patent illustrations show a KUKA arm ride vehicle.

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

In this configuration the KUKA arm will be extended through the floor of the load area, giving the illusion of a regular style dark ride.

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

For this ride, we believe the load area and later sections of the queue to be themed as Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory.

Patent image showing riders seated within a themed ride vehicle

The ride vehicles are expected to be themed as part of an experiment, and patent images even show gears, coils, and medical table-like seating on the ride.

Patent image showing gears and coils for ride vehicle design

The possible ride name, “The Frankenstein Experiment,” reinforces the rumors that we ourselves are participating in an experiment.

Patent image showing coffin-like seat backs for ride vehicle design

It has been reported that the track for this attraction was manufactured by Peterson Incorporated. While that company has produced roller coaster track in the past, we no longer believe that this ride will feature roller coaster track. It is expected to use the same type of pinch track that Forbidden Journey uses.

Track for the Monsters Unchained ride previously staged nearby

The graphic below shows the ride’s layout. It was created using the latest permit information available, publicly found on the Orange County permitting website.

In the graphic we can see where the queue entry is, including those manor themed queue areas. The extended queue areas, including the garden, can be seen behind the manor. And then the two story interior queue continues to the right, passing through a hallway of double-sided lockers, as we make our way to the rounded load area, now confirmed by recent permits.

The dark purple areas seen in the image may represent the attraction’s main ride path, winding from scene to scene, with some divider walls between areas visible.

Monsters Unchained expected to not utilize long dome screen moments, Photo: Universal

Unlike Forbidden Journey, we can now confirm that this attraction will not contain projection screen carousel moments. Those moments on Forbidden Journey, where our ride vehicles move in sync with the screens for several sections of the ride will not be utilized on this ride at all.

Instead, it has long been rumored that this ride may feature more physical sets and animatronic figures. However, that does not mean that this ride will not feature some type of screens.

Official photo from inside of Minion Blast attraction

It is now rumored that this attraction will feature some large LED screen displays in certain scenes. Some recent attractions, like The Bourne Stuntacular and Villain-Con Minion Blast feature large scale LED screens. Unlike projections, these types of displays allow for brighter lighting, and even create their own light source, so can be more useful depending on the needs of an attraction.

Possible LED screen moment found in layout

The latest ride layout seems to include a curved section at the middle point of the ride, highlighted above, which may even feature one of these large screen sections.

Universal has even patented a type of technology for curved LED screens for use on dark rides, that may be related, seen below.

Patent image for curved LED screens for indoor ride

The animatronic Monsters for this attraction are being manufactured by Roush Industries, and are rumored to include characters like Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, The Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Hunchback, The Wolfman, and more.

Most of the Universal Classic Monsters expected to appear on main ride, Image: Universal Pictures

Permitted plans also describe an exit gift shop, on the right side of the manor facade. A recent trademark for “The Manor Storehouse” for use in retail location, may be the name for this gift shop.

Permits also describe an on-ride photo pickup location within this area of the building, so we can confirm that this ride is planning to feature an on-ride photo.

One last thing mentioned in permits for the front of this building, as well as other areas of the Dark Universe land, are what are described as “Fog Rooms.” Permits say these will be used for fog equipment.

So imagine a day, not too far from now, when we will be walking down the winding streets of Darkmoor Village, and we start to see a large manor appear in the distance, through the rolling fog.

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.

Overview of entire Epic Universe theme park site

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

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