It’s official! Work is resuming on Epic Universe, the next theme park coming to the Universal Orlando Resort.
After pausing major construction back in July of last year due to the pandemic, the company formally announced today that they are going to start ramping things back up. Let’s talk about what the company had to say about the project, what this could mean for the park’s opening timeline, and more below. (See the video version of this story for additional visuals.)
During an investor conference for Morgan Stanley this morning, Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast, said that the Epic Universe project was slowly coming back to life, and that they’re going to start construction back up imminently. He said there is a “road to the resumption of business.”
Within an hour, Universal Orlando released an official statement in a press release, a blog post, and even an email blast to passholders, stating that “Epic Universe is Back!”
Universal says that the restart will begin immediately, but that it will likely take several months before reaching full-speed as they re-staff and reassemble vendor and contractor teams.
They also say this will result in thousands of new jobs across Central Florida. Once completed they expect it to bring in more than 14,000 permanent jobs, in addition to the thousands of jobs created during its development.
“The restart of construction of Epic Universe is a terrific moment for our employees and for our theme park business in Florida,” said Roberts. “It is our single-largest investment in the state and represents our enthusiasm for the spectacular park and the economic opportunities it will generate.”
Tom Williams, Chairman and CEO for Universal Parks & Resorts said “Our confidence in our collective future is as strong as ever.”
Located a couple miles south of the current Universal Orlando Resort, Epic Universe is being built on a 750-acre site, which will nearly double the size of the resort. In addition to the new park, several new hotels with a rumored total of 2000 rooms are also expected to be constructed, including one located at the back of the theme park itself.
To help connect to the two resorts, Kirkman Rd. is being extended 1.7 miles south. Universal is heading up the Kirkman extension project, which started preliminary work earlier this year, and is splitting the cost with Orange County. When completed by Spring 2025, this new stretch of road will feature eight total travel lanes, including two dedicated bus lanes that will help transport guests between the two locations.
The theme park has been expected to open with four themed lands, as well as a massive central hub featuring multiple dining and shopping locations, and even a couple attractions of its own — including a large, dual-track racing coaster.
So far the only part of the Epic Universe theme park that has been confirmed by the company is Super Nintendo World. That area is expected to contain the Mario Kart dark ride and Yoshi omnimover ride, like the ones that recently opened in Universal Studios Japan, in addition to a Donkey Kong mine cart coaster.
Other lands that were previously rumored were to be based on Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon, Universal Monsters, and the resort’s third Wizarding World land. (See the speculation map image above for labels and further details.)
In recent months we have spoken about more rumored ride systems and attractions, including a possible track layout for the hub’s roller coaster, and the possibility of a Virtual Reality flying broomstick ride for the Wizarding World.
With so much time passing between the official announcement of this project back in August 2019 and now, many are concerned that the park may have changed from its initial plans. We’ll be covering any possible changes to the plans as new permits for the park are filed in the coming months.
So, when will Epic Universe open? Originally, Universal told investors the park would be ready in 2023. Shortly after the parks closed temporally a year ago this month, it was reported that the project would likely be delayed only a year to 2024.
While Universal has not confirmed a date at this time, I have been speculating that we may not see the park ready for the public until 2025. This would give them enough time to get the project back on track, and it would line up with the timing for the completion of the Kirkman Rd. extension.
Regardless of when, today’s announcement was extremely good news, not just for theme park fans, but for Orlando as well. As Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said, “The resumption of the Epic Universe project couldn’t come at a better time. Our community has so many talented workers who will benefit from this massive project. I am confident it will deliver a huge economic boost to Orange County.”
That’s all for now, but be sure to subscribe to the news feed or enter your email below to never miss an update on Epic Universe. Official Graphics: Universal Orlando | Other images as captioned