Universal Orlando Update: Rip Ride Rockit Rumors, Epic Universe News, & CityWalk Construction

While it may be full steam ahead putting the finishing touches on Epic Universe, things around the rest of Universal Orlando appear to be quieting down. Now that Minion Land and DreamWorks Land are done, what can we expect to start work on next around the two existing parks, and could there be changes on the way for Epic Universe’s grand opening plans?

Let’s explore these topics and more in today’s news update. See the video version of this story below for additional visuals.

DreamWorks Land Now Open

DreamWorks Land has soft opened at Universal Studios Florida, and will have its official grand opening next week. With themed areas based on properties like Shrek, Trolls, and Kung Fu Panda, the area repurposes much of the former KidZone area while also adding some unique new touches worth exploring.

Plus, the new Imagination Celebration show is a vast improvement over the interim DreamWorks Destination that was held here previously.

The much needed refresh for the park’s kids area also included some new placemaking for the nearby E.T. Adventure, which reportedly saw ride system improvements during its recent short refurbishment.

The ride now has a new entrance arch and painted scenery is being added around the surrounding buildings to help differentiate it from the nearby DreamWorks area.

Summer Tribute Store now open at Universal Studios Florida

New Entertainment & Ghostbusters

DreamWorks Land is not the only new offering for this park this year, as the all new Cinesational lagoon show begins June 14th, and the Universal Mega Movie Parade starts July 3rd.

As we initially reported back in February, both of these new entertainment offerings will mark the triumphant return of the Ghostbusters franchise to Universal Studios Florida. The parade will even feature a float with a 16-foot Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

You can already find some Ghostbusters representation in this year’s Summer Tribute Store, open now in the Hollywood section of the park. With retro photo ops and an incredibly impressive diorama, this themed retail space is also full of Ghostbusters merchandise in preparation for the properties proper return to the park this year.

Ghostbusters has been rumored to possibly receive a new attraction in the coming years as well. It is not currently rumored to be a ride. Instead, the current theory is that we may see some sort of interactive special effects show featuring the Ghostbusters taking over the former Blue Man Group Theater, but this may only be speculation at this point, as there aren’t any permits or proof of work starting on such a project.

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit Rumors

One rumor that has picked up steam over the last year or so, is for the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster to be torn down and replaced with an entirely new roller coaster in the near future.

Original rumors had the aging Rockit coaster closing by mid-2025 at the soonest, but so far Universal has not announced a closing date, (or even acknowledged the possibility).

The banner on the ride’s lift hill has not returned since it was last removed for an incoming storm though, despite being replaced after the last time it was damaged. And most of the ride’s songs have been removed, leaving only one musical selection per category. These are being considered small signs of the attraction’s future closure.

The current rumor is that this ride will eventually be replaced with an Intamin steel launched spinning coaster. This would be the same coaster model as the one being used for Fast & Furious: Hollywood Drift over at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Official logo from Universal Studios Hollywood

In fact, it is rumored that Orlando’s new roller coaster could be an east coast variation of the Hollywood Drift ride, but with a different layout of course, given that Orlando is lacking the hillside that separates the park’s lower and upper lots.

Universal Hollywood has seen delays in constructing it’s Fast & Furious themed coaster, leading to an official opening year of 2026. It’s possible that these delays may mean that Orlando’s project could be put off a year as well, especially if the ride system, which is a new variation for Intamin, needs more time to test and get right.

Spinning coaster example from Intamin

Unlike existing spinning coasters from the company, the Hollywood Drift ride will feature several inversions. It will also be much faster than prior iterations, which are promoted as family coasters, as the Hollywood Drift ride is expected to feature a top speed of around 73 mph.

With the space constraints between the sound stages and attractions of Universal Studios Florida, the theoretical east coast variation of the drifting coaster may end up with less speed, but could still be more thrilling than the existing Rip Ride Rockit coaster.

Speculation would have the entrance and load station for this possible new coaster moving elsewhere, as the current one it is too close to Universal Studios Florida’s new Minion Land area.

If Ghostbusters does get a show in the Blue Man Group theater it’s likely that the best location for the new ride entrance may be closer to the New York area of the park. In fact, Rockit is even currently designated as a part of New York according to the official park map since Minion Land opened.

Pokemon and Zelda Rumors

While Rockit’s days may be numbered, whether it closes in 2025 or 2026, it seems as though The Simpsons Ride may have a bit more time to stick around than we had originally thought.

The Springfield replacement project is once again rumored to be completed by around 2030, and it is still rumored to be based on Pokemon—although Orlando’s version could be different from the ride coming soon to Universal Studios Japan.

It is believed that The Simpsons contract is up in 2028, and they may attempt to keep it open as long as possible before closing.

Zelda is still being eyed as the replacement for Lost Continent in Islands of Adventure, but rumors suggest that ride concepts for this future addition have (once again) gone back to the drawing board. There are currently no permits or plans for demolition of the abandoned Sindbad theater and Poseidon buildings at this time.

Epic Universe Preview Center opening soon, Photo: Bioreconstruct

CityWalk Construction & Rumors

The Epic Universe Preview Center in CityWalk was officially announced to be opening this month, and is rumored to open as soon as next week. A portal entry is being added to the front of the building this week, with signage installed just today.

Portal and signage at entrance to Preview Center, Photo: Bioreconstruct

The preview center will showcase the large scale model of the entire park that we saw in promotional footage earlier this year. Plus, we may be able to peer into the attractions using AR technology. There will also be photo ops themed to the park’s five worlds and new merchandise.

Also in CityWalk, the former Cinnabon and surf shop parcels have been completely gutted, with their front walls removed. These parcels are being combined with the existing Universal Studios Store, and are expected to become home to a new Super Nintendo World themed retail location. This expansion and its Super Nintendo World storefront may not be ready until early next year, likely before Epic Universe opens.

Recent aerial look at Epic Universe, Photo: Bioreconstruct

Epic Universe News Update

Speaking of when Epic Universe opens, Steve Tatham, Executive Creative Director of Epic Universe, speaking on the Superbold Podcast last month, said something interesting about when the new park is set to open, and it was not summer 2025.

Early in the episode, Tatham says the following when summarizing Epic Universe:

“In short it’s a major new theme park in Orlando. It’s a full scale park, more than a hundred acres—the size of existing major parks that are here in Orlando—and it’s set to open at the beginning of next year, before next summer.”

Chronos Tower official concept art for Epic Universe

Quickly looking at construction happening around Epic Universe, we can see that the Chronos tower at the park’s future entrance continues to grow taller with each passing week.

Chronos tower construction progress, Photo: Bioreconstruct

An exciting milestone was hit at Super Nintendo World, as the face for the Donkey Kong mine cart coaster’s temple facade has been installed.

Donkey Kong construction progress, Photo: Bioreconstruct

And in breaking news, it appears that Universal has officially renamed Starfall Racers to Stardust Racers. As we spoke about in our previous update, the company was facing opposition to their Starfall Racers name by the Starfall Education company, and it appears that the two parties have settled the dispute with Universal agreeing to not use their original term.

Name changed to Stardust Racers on official Universal Orlando website

The official website and press releases have been updated to reflect the new Stardust Racers name for this dual-track launched roller coaster at Epic Universe.

We will share a much more detailed Epic Universe construction update in the coming weeks, but for now it is worth mentioning that while some timelines may be shifting around the many rumored projects for Universal Orlando, it is still rumored that an expansion to Epic Universe is being fast tracked. It is likely that we’ll continue to see construction continue, even after the new theme park opens next year in 2025.

Stardust Racers recent construction progressPhoto: Bioreconstruct

That’s all for this update, but be sure to check out the video version of this story for additional visuals, and stay tuned for more updates coming soon.

Subscribe to the news feed or enter your email address below to never miss an update. Official Art: Universal Destinations & Experiences | Original Photos: Alicia Stella | Other Images as Captioned

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  • travmatte


    I hope that Uni can persuade Lockheed-Martin to move its offices from the facility that still stands directly adjacent to EU. I’d like to see this multi-acre site used as an expansion for Dark Universe. Ultimately, I’d LOVE to see this area “spin-off” from the rest of the park- where HHN could be held all year long, as an independent park(I like to call Monsterland) that is only open on weekends, from dusk to dawn. Tickets would only be sold in advance, online.

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