This morning at a conference at the Orange County Convention Center, not too far from its future site, Universal Orlando announced their brand-new theme park, Universal’s Epic Universe.
After years of speculation and rumors, it’s very exciting to see an official announcement for the first major theme park to be built in Central Florida since Islands of Adventure opened in 1999. See highlights from today’s announcement below, as well as some of my guesses for the new park.
The new theme park, which Universal is touting as their fourth Orlando park, will be located a couple miles south of the current resort. The new section of land is a 750-acre site that nearly doubles the total size of the entire Universal Orlando. The new park will be located south of Sand Lake Road and east of Universal Boulevard.
“Our new park represents the single-largest investment Comcast NBCUniversal has made in its theme park business and in Florida overall,” said Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts. “It reflects the tremendous excitement we have for the future of our theme park business and for our entire company’s future in Florida.”
Universal confirmed that the new park will feature an entertainment center, hotels, shops, restaurants and more. No word yet on whether or not that means that the rumors of a free-access hub are true, and if theme park admission is only required for direct access into the themed lands themselves. This was a rumor early on in the design process, but many are saying it has since been dropped. We may have to wait and see.
And speaking of themed lands, while they did not speak about what properties and rides the park will feature during the announcement, the official piece of concept art does seem to indicate that we may have been right with some of the speculation in previous articles and videos. See my speculation map below for more details on the lands I expect we may see on opening day. (Of course, this is still very early and things could change moving forward.)
“Our vision for Epic Universe is historic,” said Tom Williams, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Universal Parks & Resorts. “It will build on everything we have done and become the most immersive and innovative theme park we have ever created. It is an investment in our business, our industry, our team members and our community.”
Part of today’s announcement also focused on infrastructure projects, including the Kirkman Road expansion that will help connect the new park to the existing resort. This will be a 50/50 public-private partnership in which Universal is investing $160 million to extend Kirkman into the area. The new road expansion will include dedicated bus lanes that will be useful for transporting guests between all of the Universal hotels and theme parks on and off property.
An opening year for Universal’s Epic Universe was not announced at today’s conference. Estimates have the new park opening by 2023 at the earliest and 2025 at the latest. Work is going on now for warehouses and other back of house support structures for the new park. We should hopefully see vertical construction begin on the park itself by the end of next year.
See our previous story for a breakdown of everything we know about the new theme park up until this point. And stay tuned for more rumors, speculation, and breaking news about this massive new project. We should have a new podcast with our first deep dive into the concept art up within the next few days. Until then, please credit Alicia Stella or Orlando ParkStop whenever sharing the speculation maps above, and thanks! The ride is just beginning!
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Stay tuned for more news on the new theme park and more! Subscribe to the news feed or enter your email below to never miss an update. Official concept art and logo: Universal | Development Plans: Orange County | Graphics by Alicia Stella