Universal’s Epic Universe is expected to open with four themed lands, as well as a central hub with a couple attractions of its own. Acting not only as the park’s central courtyard with portals into the individual lands, the hub will also feature a lot of the park’s main dining locations, in addition to a massive dual-track roller coaster.
Here is everything we know (so far) about the central hub at Epic Universe, including all of the latest rumors and permit information. Be sure to see the video version of this story below for additional visuals.
Now planned to open Summer 2025, Universal’s Epic Universe will be Universal Orlando’s newest theme park. With four themed lands, a massive central hub, and several new hotels, this huge undertaking is under construction now near the Orange County Convention Center, just east of I-Drive.
Today we are digging into the first of a five-part series where we are attempting to go over just about everything we know so far about this new theme park. We are starting with the massive 25-acre section of land that will make up the center of the park, known as Projects 900 and 901 in the permits.
After making our way through the park entry turnstiles, which is permitted separately as Project 920, we pass under a tall arch. This arch will be much taller than the iconic arch at the entrance to Universal Studios Florida, and will feature a large armillary sphere, with gyroscopic rings orbiting the sun at the center.
At the bottom of the arch will be our first portal, taking us away from the real world and into the so-called “Celestial Gardens” of Epic Universe. Portals will be how we will travel between the different worlds of the park. Each one will feature a similar base design, looking like a half-circle tunnel decorated like an astrolabe for space navigation.
The tops of each of these portals will be decorated with a large spire, which will act as a beacon, or in theme park terms, a “weenie,” so we can find our way in and out of each of the themed lands. These spires will be themed to match their corresponding land, like an electrical tower to represent the land based on Universal Classic Monsters, or a spire made of colorful pipes for Super Nintendo World.
Standing at the park’s entry courtyard, we will see cascading waterfalls in a water feature directly ahead of us. To our left and right will be covered walkways leading deeper into the park. These covered walkways will act almost like Parisian arcades, and even feature retail locations along the two routes. One of these will be the park’s main gift shop, rumored to be named “Sensorium Emporium.”
The central hub for Epic Universe will act not only as a hub for making your way between the themed lands, but also as a sort of Main Street, U.S.A.. There will be multiple retail locations, and several dining options within these central areas.
The hub is so big in fact, that it will actually be split into smaller areas, each with its own defining theme. These themed sections are expected to be inspired by different elements, like water, air, fire, earth, and ether (or space). These themes help to instruct the architectural style of buildings within each area, like a barbecue restaurant in the fire area or an underwater themed restaurant in the water zone.
The center of the central hub, which is the area themed to space, is where you will find the two attractions for this part of the park. One will be the largest and most thrilling ride at Epic Universe, a dual-track roller coaster, and the other will be a smaller flat-ride.
The dual-track roller coaster will not be hard to spot, with its two golden tracks jutting out towards the hub on the right side of the park, this will be the fastest and most thrilling of the four roller coasters for Epic Universe.
Manufactured by Mack Rides, the entrance to this roller coaster will be facing the hub itself, so it will not be a part of any of the themed lands within the park. Instead, it is expected that this ride will be themed to space travel in some way, to go along with the hub’s exploration theming.
It is rumored that this dual-track roller coaster will be named “Starfall Racers.” This is likely a reference not only to the space travel nature of the ride, but also its two tracks, which will race side by side for much of their individual circuits.
Thanks to an amazing POV visualiztion from Amusement Insider, we’re getting our best and most accurate look at what riding this launched steel coaster may be like. The coaster will be filled with multiple moments of airtime as the two tracks race side by side, with overbanked turns, and outerbanked hills, before reaching the ride’s second launch.
Immediately following the second launch is where we enter the ride’s signature element, a patented dueling roll element. Patented by Mack Rides, this move will have one track invert on the way up, and the other invert on the way down, as the trains twist around each other.
The latter half of the ride features a few more crossovers, as the two trains appear to dance with one another, rather than simply race. Each track will likely feature a couple inversions, and may reach speeds around 60 mph, (at least according to this visualization).
Despite the thrills and speeds, the coaster track itself may not reach over a height of 140 feet. The length of each of the two tracks appears to be around 4,750 feet, the same as Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Islands of Adventure.
In case the roller coaster is a bit too thrilling for your taste, it appears that this park will have a second ride located within the hub as well, this one a family spinner attraction. Long rumored to be a carousel of some sort, this attraction is depicted as what looks to be a round stained glass structure within the park’s central water feature.
While we do not yet have confirmation of exactly what sort of spinner attraction this will be, construction thus far seems to confirm that it will be a round flat ride of some sort.
At one point, instead of a carousel, another proposed concept for the park’s center attraction was for a Mack Twist ‘n’ Splash, which is like a teacup ride on water. Regardless of what it will end up being, it is speculated that this covered family attraction will be themed to constellations in space.
North of this ride, another feature of the park’s central hub can be found, a large Bellagio-style fountain display. This impressive fountain display will be surrounded by rows of amphitheater-like seating. What might make for a relaxing place to enjoy a snack during the day, may be utilized for a nighttime spectacular show after dark.
Fireworks can be seen in the official Epic Universe concept art, and permits with Orange County show a dedicated fireworks launch site located within the middle of a retention pond behind the theme park.
At the back of the theme park will be a 500-room hotel, known as Project 910 in permits, which is rumored to be named “Universal’s Helios Grand Hotel.” Not only will this 10-story hotel be the backdrop for the central hub, but it may play a similar role as something like Cinderella Castle during the fireworks show, with fireworks appearing above it. Permits also show a rooftop bar for this hotel, which may offer views of the possible nighttime show.
Near the hotel, plans submitted to the county also indicate that there is a space being set aside for a future parade building. Epic Universe is not expected to open with a parade, but they are preparing for the possibility of adding one down the road.
In addition to the main Emporium gift shop near the park entrance, the hub will contain a few more retail locations. One of the shops will be exclusively for Nintendo-related merchandise, and will be located in front of Super Nintendo World. With this shop facing the hub, guests will be able to shop for a wide selection of Nintendo items without having to enter the land.
Another stand-alone gift shop themed to the Wizarding World is expected to be located directly in front of its land as well. In addition to making it easy to shop for Harry Potter and other Wizarding World related items without having to step foot in the land, this, as well as the Nintendo store, could be handy in case the lands themselves are at capacity and cannot receive any more visitors. These shops in the hub may also be able to stay open later than the lands, for additional shopping after park close.
The hub areas of Epic Universe will be home to half a dozen different dining locations, including what may be the only full service restaurants in the park. Each of the lands will contain one or two dining locations as well, but they will not offer full service dining where you order from your table.
Starting near the front of the park and working our way around clockwise, the first dining location is named “ATLANTIC” in early concepts, and is shaped like an octagon in official concept art. This upscale dining location, featuring both restaurant and bar seating, will be themed to the ocean, with floor to ceiling picture windows overlooking the park’s southernmost water feature.
Next up is a pizza quick service restaurant named “Moon Pie,” located near the Nintendo store. Across from Super Nintendo World is a dessert location named “Cosmic Cakes.”
Continuing along, a barbecue restaurant called “Elysian BBQ” is located just outside of the Universal Monsters land. Permits also describe a Starbucks location along this side of the park, likely near the fountain display.
Directly in front of the hotel, at the back of the park, is a full service restaurant named “Yin-Yang” in early concepts. Initial plans had this dining location originally attached to the hotel, but it looks to only be a part of the park’s hub now.
On the right side of the fountain, inside the park, plans call for an Italian restaurant and bar named “Cassini,” which is themed as an observatory, to go along with the space theme of this area. A quick service location, named “Meteor Burger,” was also planned for this area, closer to the racing roller coaster, but it was cut from site plans shortly before construction began.
One final, and very large, dining location, is a food court-style eatery named “Zephyr Market.” Located near the entrance to the How to Train Your Dragon land, permits say this dining location will contain over 400 seats.
Permits also call for more than a dozen small kiosks, stands, and gazebos sprinkled throughout the hub areas, several with small kitchens and kitchen equipment for snacks and drinks as well.
Not having to rely on existing intellectual property the way that the four themed lands will, the hub areas will be Universal’s chance to create something wholly unique to Epic Universe. The visual language for these areas will be rich, with ornate flourishes and layered style that some have compared to the quality of Tokyo DisneySea.
The hub’s style could be described as timeless adventure, in the vein of illustrations reminiscent of Jules Verne or H.G. Wells: Where we are on adventure, traveling from portal to portal, crisscrossing through a futuristic port as seen through the lens of the past.
Of course, due to the unique set up of Epic Universe, some have theorized that the park could open the central hub areas to everyone, regardless if you have a park ticket or not. Then you could enter each of the individual lands only if you have a paying ticket.
I’m not so sure about the validity of the open hub rumor myself, but, with only one way in and out of each land, similar to something like Diagon Alley, they will be able to restrict entry quite easily. For example, they can close off access to a land that is currently at capacity. It’s also possible that the hub could stay open longer than the individual lands, allowing guests time for dining at the many restaurants, before the nighttime show. We’ll just have to wait and see.
That wraps it up for this installment, but we will be revealing more details for each of the lands at Epic Universe next, including never before seen details, so stay tuned for more updates! Be sure to check out the video version of this story for additional details.
Subscribe to the news feed or enter your email address below to never miss an update. Official Art: Universal Orlando | Graphics: Alicia Stella | Aerial Photos: Bioreconstruct | Coaster in Main Image: Amusement Insider | Other Images as Captioned
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Any idea why Meteor Burger was scrapped? It looks really cool in the concept art and the pun is great! Is anything taking it’s place?
No idea why it was removed from the plans. Perhaps it is being saved for later. Maybe they felt they had enough dining locations already in that area? Or maybe they wanted to leave that space clear to make room for the entry path to a future expansion plot behind it. Regardless, they did build the attached restrooms, so that area is still not entire clear anyway.