After years of rumors, leaked documents and speculation, we may finally get an official announcement for the new theme park being built on a large piece of land Universal acquired near the Orange County Convention Center.
This Thursday, August 1st, at 10AM, Universal will make what they’re calling an “Epic” announcement to an audience of invited guests from the media. The presentation will be held at the Orange County Convention Center, and is said to be 20 minutes long, followed by a question and answer session. Before we hear what Universal has to say, let’s recap some of the information we’ve spoken about for the rumored new park, as well as some new information that may be included in their presentation!
What’s in a Name?
A little over a year ago we reported on possible names for the new theme park. Some of the new trademarks found around that time were for FANTASTIC WORLDS and EPIC UNIVERSE. Other options floated by Universal in guest surveys included Epic Worlds, Legendary Worlds, Legendary Lands and DreamPark—although trademarks were never found for those options.
Cut to half a year later, and in January we got our hands on a supposed a leaked document which declared to Comcast executives that the name for the new park would in fact be Fantastic Worlds. This was the first name trademarked, and it was/is always my favorite of the bunch.
Here is a quote from the leaked document about the name: “The Fantastic Worlds name signifies the many beloved ‘Worlds’ from all types of media that our guests want to step into, experience and explore, in a fully immersive way – from rides, to restaurants, shows, shops, and even restrooms.”
In the months after the leaked document was shared I have of course reminded folks that while that is the name today, until an official announcement is made, the new theme park technically does not yet have a name. Disney’s Animal Kingdom was originally to be called Disney’s Wild Animal Kingdom, and in recent history, Volcano Bay was originally known behind closed doors as WonderSea Island.
A few months back, Warner Bros. claimed that the Fantastic Worlds tradmark infringed on one of their marks. While we do not know exactly how that situation transpired behind closed doors, many worried this would affect the new park’s name going forward. While I hope it’s not, it is entirely possible the new park could be announced as “Universal’s Epic Universe,” despite the obvious redundancy. Hopefully we find out for sure on Thursday!
The Makings of Something Epic
Some of the more exciting discussions we’ve had about the new theme park, are what types of rides and attractions it could contain. Of course, the most notable of the rumored lands for the new park is Super Nintendo World. Originally planned to be built at Universal Studios Florida, the Mario-themed land was instead moved to the new park.
Earlier this month we got a good look at the original Nintendo plans when photos of a model leaked onto the internet. Originally posted by the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast, the model shows off all three rides we can expect to show up at the brand new Universal Orlando theme park: Mario Kart, Yoshi’s Adventure, and Donkey Kong’s Mine Cart Madness.
Something else we learned from the leaked internal document is that a land based on the Classic Universal Monsters is also being considered for the new park. The land would feature the iconic Dracula’s Castle and at least one technologically advanced ride that could bring all of the classic monsters together into a single experience. See our video below for more details on this possible land.
Other rumored lands for the new park include DreamWorks Animation, specifically How to Train Your Dragon, and a land from the Wizarding World franchise, most likely based on the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series. While very little information has been found, there’s more evidence out there than just speculation to support these as possible lands.
A Place to Lay Your Head Down
Something we have not discussed very much around here is the possibility of the new theme park featuring its very own hotel, which could be connected to the park itself. The rumored hotel would be located at the very back of the park, and seen behind the park’s central hub and icon. With direct access into the park for hotel guests, this would certainly be something new for Universal Orlando.
The location for the new hotel can already be seen in some of the publicly released development plans. It will be at the very end of the hub/main street-type area inside of the new theme park. And it will feature a large lagoon behind it. That would give guests the option to have views overlooking the theme park, or a waterfront view on the other side.
Paved Over Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot
Something we have reported on around here in recent months, are the development plans that were filed publicly with Orange County. The plans show us early development of the area in question, and have even hinted at the location and shape of the new theme park itself.
While the plans clearly show a massive flat parking lot to start, it’s of course possible that later on down the line, parking garages could be added instead. After that, the new resort may even receive an entertainment district—similar to the CityWalk area at the original Universal Orlando Resort—as well as new hotels, or even an additional theme park or water park. The land itself is nearly as large as the original resort, and a new theme park with one hotel may only be phase 1.
We also learned about an expansion to Kirkman Road that will eventually connect the original resort with the new location. The Kirkman Road expansion is actually being built by Universal in conjunction with Orange County, and it will contain dedicated bus lanes to help shuttle guests between the new park and the existing resort. See our video all about the new site’s development plans above.
Don’t Let Your Imagination Run Wild
While there is obviously SO MUCH they could talk about at the press conference, I believe that they may only share a few key talking points. While many of us have been following the news of Universal purchasing the land and developing a new park for years now, the general public is still unaware that a new park is actually on the way.
I’m guessing they will announce that they are building a new park, and maybe release the new park’s name and one piece of concept art, along with a logo. Part of the presentation may be focused on how Universal is working with Orange County on several infrastructure projects, including the Kirkman expansion.
NBC Universal CEO Stephen Burke talked about the parks in a recent Comcast earnings call, and how one-third of NBC Universal’s total operating cash flow comes from the parks division. He also said: “We continue to remain very bullish on the parks business. We think there’s a lot of opportunity down in Orlando. We built a lot of hotel rooms. We’ll be talking more about investment in the state of Florida.”
I think this Thursday will be quite exciting. Universal has huge things planned for Central Florida over the next decade and beyond, and no matter what they announce, it’s certainly going to cause a stir.
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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. Development Plans: Orange County / Graphics by Alicia Stella / Other Images as Credited