UPDATE 5/01/2020: Orange County has asked that we take down the permit image at this time. Please do not share or recirculate the image. The image has been removed from this article, but previous graphics and new information have remained.
We’ve been covering the development of Universal Orlando’s upcoming theme park, Epic Universe since the earliest permits for land grading first appeared. In recent months we’ve been able to see site plans for many of the lands that are expected to be a part of this massive new theme park. Today however, we’re getting our first look at the entire theme park layout all together.
Thanks to a permit that was recently filed with Orange County, we’re getting a great overall view of the entire Epic Universe theme park plans, as they stand now. This site plan appears to include every single building and major structure. Let’s dig into the new site plan, as well as go over all of the information we have so far for each of the 4 main lands expected to open with the park, as well what we think might be found within the central hub.
Image Removed by Request of County
The site plan image above, which was obtained by Orlando ParkStop through a public records request, appears to show the entire layout for Universal’s Epic Universe. This document is not for construction purposes. It shows emergency vehicle access routes, fire hydrant locations, and water pipes to help local fire departments gain access in case of an emergency. In addition to the fire rescue details, the site plan also shows the foundations for every major structure currently planned for the upcoming park.
Since this image is not for construction, it is certainly possible that changes could be made to the individual elements pictured. The document says to refer to individual site plans for each of the lands for more detailed information. In the following paragraphs we will display those individual site plans—but first, let’s take a look at an updated concept art graphic for the park.
The image above is an official piece of Epic Universe concept art, but with labels added to point out the leading rumors and speculation for each of the lands, attractions, and restaurants. None of the labeled items contained in this graphic have been confirmed by Universal Orlando, but we will go over each of the lands below with all of the information we currently have. (Clicking on the image will reveal a high quality version that may be easier to read on your screen.)
Super Nintendo World
Located in the bottom-left area of the park, Super Nintendo World was the first land to be permitted for Epic Universe. This land will be split into three distinct areas. The first will be the Super Mario Land area which will be themed as the Mushroom Kingdom and feature shops, interactive play areas, a quick service location, and the family-friendly Yoshi omnimover ride.
Towards the back of that area will be entrances to an interactive Mario Kart dark ride, and a mini-land based on the Donkey Kong Country video game series. The Donkey Kong area will be home to a mine cart roller coaster attraction that will include both indoor and outdoor scenes. You can learn more about the site plans for this area in our original story from December here.
How to Train Your Dragon
The second site plan we were able to see from permits was for the How to Train Your Dragon themed land, which will be located in the bottom-right corner of the park. Featuring mostly outdoor attractions, this land is expected to be themed as the Isle of Berk as seen in the film series. It will feature a large roller coaster where riders will soar around the northern section of the land. There will also be a pair of Gerstlauer Sky Fly rides, a boat ride which is rumored to be a Mack Splash Battle, and a play area for children.
In the southern section of the land there appears to be a large building that will contain a theater. This theater could be for a live stage show, but no additional details are rumored for it at this time. There appears to be a large restaurant in the center of the land. While we originally speculated that this structure could be for a possible attraction, further investigation has revealed a kitchen support area attached. We now believe this will be a restaurant themed to the Great Hall from the How to Train Your Dragon films. You can see our original story about these site plans here.
One of the most anticipated lands for the new park, the Universal Monsters area will be located in the top-left corner of the park. Based on characters from Universal’s classic horror films, the land is rumored to be based on Frankenstein Village. Iconic locations like the windmill, Frankenstein’s manor, and the watchtower laboratory are expected to be featured.
The land is expected to open with two attractions. The main attraction is rumored to be a high-tech dark ride with an entrance through the Frankenstein manor. Rumors have it as a KUKA arm based ride, similar to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and starring many of the Universal Classic Monsters. A second attraction is rumroed to be an show of some sort. A third attraction has been put off, and is labeled as “Phase 2” in the site plan. Early rumors had this earmarked as a boat ride based on the Creature from the Black Lagoon. You can see our original story on the site plan for the Monsters area here.
Site Plan Image Removed
The fourth land for the park is rumored to be based on the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film series. It will be located in the top-right area of the park, just to the right of the on-site hotel. While we weren’t able to get a site plan from the permits filed for this land last month, we did talk about the rumored attractions and concepts for the land in a recent story, which you can see here.
The land is expected to be based on 1920’s Paris as seen in the second film. It would contain city streets with shops and at least one quick service location. The streets would lead to three different attractions. The main attraction, located in the back-left of the area, is thought to be an interactive dark ride featuring magical creatures from the series. Another attraction, seen on the right, is rumored to be themed to the French Ministry. A possible theater attraction is also rumored to be located between the two rides.
Site Plan Image Removed
The final area, which will be located all throughout the center of the new theme park, is another area we have not yet seen an individual site plan for. The graphic above was created using today’s permit image. The hub will feature a couple attractions, green spaces, water features, and many restaurants and shops. The entry area alone will contain several shops, and act like a “Main Street U.S.A.” for the park. Since there will only be one entry point in and out of each of the individual lands, all guests will pass through the hub areas when hopping from one land to the next. The variety of restaurants in this area likely has a lot to do with that.
The main attraction that is located within the central hub area will be a massive dueling roller coaster. Rumored to be a racing space-themed coaster, this thrill ride will have its entrance directly off of the hub, located between the Fantastic Beasts and How to Train Your Dragon lands. Another structure in the dead center of the park is rumored be an enclosed attraction of some sort. Rumors for this unknown attraction include either something like an indoor carousel or a show. Entertainment, including a fountain show, fireworks, and even parades have also been rumored for the central areas. We will have a more in-depth breakdown for the hub and entry area in a future story.
Site Plan Image Removed
So far we have seen project numbers and permits related to three area hotels for Epic Universe. By far the most interesting will be the one located directly behind, and attached to the theme park itself. (The other two hotels are expected to be built across the street, just south of the new park’s entrance area.)
The hotel will reportedly open with 500 rooms, as well as direct access into the theme park, a pool area, and an adjoining full service restaurant location. It appears from the site plans that the restaurant may be available to both hotel guests AND theme park guests, given its location. A water slide can be seen in the site plan near the pool area, a staple for all Universal Orlando hotels. Not much is known about the theme for the hotel, although the concept art appears to show it blending into the style for the theme park’s central hub.
While we’ve attempted to label each and every land and attraction for this new theme park based on the latest permits, rumors, and speculation, we are aware that it is still fairly early in the process. Some out there believe, for example, that the Fantastic Beasts area may be replaced with another location from within the Wizarding World, such as the British Ministry of Magic, due to diminishing box office returns for the films. Some are concerned that elements found within the hub areas may be cut for budgetary reasons or to save time.
While construction had been continuing despite the state-wide shutdown due to the global pandemic, Comcast, owner of the Universal Parks, admitted today during an earnings call that construction on Epic Universe has been delayed. While they had previously touted 2023 as the target opening year for the new park, Orange County mayor Jerry Demings says Epic Universal will be delayed until the following year.
Stay tuned for continuing coverage of Universal’s Epic Universe, including rumors, construction updates, and additional permit information as it becomes available. See all of our previous coverage at this link. Be sure to subscribe to the news feed or enter your email address below to never miss an update.
Please credit “Orlando ParkStop” and link to this story, if possible, when using the permit images and labeled graphics in your own media. Thanks!
Epic Universe Concept Art: Universal Orlando | Graphics by Alicia Stella | Aerial Photo: @bioreconstruct
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An interesting tangent to this: Have you seen the latest aerial photos of Super Nintendo in Japan? They show movement in the Phase 2 area. The rumor was that Japan wouldn’t be getting Donkey Kong because the Japanese aren’t really into the character. Plus, with such limited space, cramming the wildly-popular Pokémon made more sense. About that…
The entrance to Phase 2 can be seen and it definitely comes off as being jungle-temple-themed. The Mario Kart ride building also got a jungle mural on the entire length of it. Which doesn’t necessarily eliminate Pokémon – or Zelda, for that matter – but it’s exactly what’s going on in the Donkey Kong model you posted previously. The mural isn’t rectangular either, so if you compare it to the model, you’ll see that the temple ride building matches the missing jungle perfectly. This is building B1315 in your City Plan above. The lower left side of that building in the Plan also perfectly matches the foundations they have currently built.
While this doesn’t really have anything to do with Orlando, it MIGHT explain two things. One, that they are REALLY into this Donkey Kong coaster. I would’ve totally gone with Pokémon here. The Japanese are way more into Pokémon and cute characters, so a Pokémon mini–land seemed like a no-brainer. Which leads to two: This MIGHT explain why a Pokémon attraction is rumored to be going into the Epic Universe hub – or CityWalk – rather than into an actual park. Maybe the rumored Pokémon Safari was too much of a C-Ticket, so USJ will instead focus on the apparently more exciting CityWalk Pokémon experience? It will be interesting to see what happens next…