Before Universal’s Epic Universe was even announced in 2019, it was rumored that the new theme park would contain a land based on the Universal Classic Monsters. That’s the franchise from the company that includes iconic characters like Frankenstein and Dracula.
Site plans and permits for the area we believe will be based on Universal Monsters seem to show a large attraction building. Inside is rumored to be a dark ride that will utilize a KUKA arm ride system similar to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
There has been little evidence to support the rumor of this particular ride system being used for this new attraction, until now. A new patent filed by Universal appears to show a modified version of the KUKA arm ride system, and there’s good reason to suspect it could be for Epic Universe’s Monsters ride. UPDATE: A video version of this story has been added below, featuring additional details and visuals.
Known as Project 902 in the permits, the plans for the area we think will be themed to Universal Monsters contains two attraction buildings, as well as restaurant locations, retail, and a phase two expansion plot along the west side. The expansion has been rumored to be a high tech boat ride based on the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
As for the two attraction buildings we can see in the plans now, the smaller one has been rumored to be some sort of theater show. The larger of the two, known as Building 1501 in permits, has been rumored to be a massive dark ride, similar in nature to the groundbreaking Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride.
The size of the building is comparable to the building that houses Forbidden Journey at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, located just a couple miles north of the future home of Epic Universe.
While it is thought to use a similar ride system, there are rumors that suggest this new attraction will differentiate itself from the Potter ride in multiple ways. For one, the Monsters attraction is rumored to contain little to no screen elements. It is not expected to contain any of the screen dome carousel moments found on the Potter ride, instead hopefully opting for more physical sets and animatronics.
A new patent from Universal may help prove some of these rumors to be true. Titled Support bar mounted system and method of minimum close indication for ride vehicle, the patent focuses on a new type of restraint that could be used without the need of an indicator light, among other unique properties.
The images filed with this particular patent not only include what looks to be a KUKA-type ride system, where a robotic arm is used to move riders around in different directions while traveling along a path, but it also features close-ups that seem to contain themed elements for a ride vehicle.
Rumored to take place within Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory at the edge of the village, this attraction is thought to feature all of the Universal Classic Monsters.
Some of the themed elements shown in the patent image seem reminiscent of coils and materials you would find around Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory. There are also menacing spikes seen along the top of each of the seats.
It’s of course worth noting that images used in patents don’t always display actual ride details, and are meant as visual illustrations only. We have seen some patent images that did end up matching reality almost identically though, (like the AR Viewers for Super Nintendo World).
What’s intriguing to me, is why this type of ride restraint would be needed in the first place, and how it is different from the ones used on the Harry Potter ride. One of the key features is be able to tell if the restraint is secure without an indicator light. The patent even describes how this could be used for a “ride vehicle without a hood.”
Except from the patent:
With most ride vehicles, a physical indicator can be easily mounted to a hood or ride vehicle floor, and/or mounted electrically, allowing a ride operator to determine if the passenger is properly restrained. However, for ride vehicles without a hood or ride vehicle floor, or for ride vehicles that minimize electrical connections, mounting a non-electrical minimum closed position indicator may be difficult, particularly if only a limited number of ride vehicle surfaces (e.g., seat back, seat pan, and/or restraint system) are available for mounting the indicator.
The ride vehicles for Forbidden Journey feature walls and a hood which help to somewhat block the rider’s peripheral vision, while also focusing their attention forward. This is especially useful for tight sets and screen dome sequences where you are meant to only look at what is directly in front of you.
The images seen in this patent seem to show a ride vehicle with much more open space around the riders. This is in line with rumors for no screen dome portions of the Universal Monsters ride at Epic Universe.
The patent images do seem to illustrate one more clue that could point to this being developed for a Universal Monsters ride: The seats look like they are shaped like coffins. Looking at the image below, what do you think?
Another patent from some of the same authors as the ride restraint patent, called Loading turntable systems and methods, shows a new type of loading platform that could also be utilized for a KUKA-type ride system. Rather than loading guests along a straight moving walkway, this concept uses a rotating platform.
The key feature for this patent is that if a rider is taking too long to get out of the ride vehicle, the vehicle can continue to rotate around the entire platform again instead of continuing to the ride path. This prevents having to stop the entire ride when someone is taking too long at load or unload.
Unlike previous patents we have explored for Super Nintendo World, where many were developed in Japan, the patents discussed today are from Orlando, Florida. We will keep an eye out for additional patents and permits related to Epic Universe in the coming months as construction ramps up for this new theme park!
That’s all for now, but if you’d like to bring a piece of the parks home, Souvenir Scents has candles and wax melts that smell like the ET ride, Butterbeer, and more. Save 15% off with my promo code PARKSTOP this holiday season at SouvenirScents.com.
Don’t miss the video version of this story featuring additional visuals. You can see our previous Epic Universe updates here. For a deep dive into all the areas of the upcoming park, see our Everything We Know story, or check out our How Big is Epic Universe piece for a better idea of the upcoming park’s size!
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