• Epic Universe: A Complete Guide to What We Know So Far

Epic Universe: A Complete Guide to What We Know So Far

Luiz Alberto H.

Created: Mar 07, 2024

Last Updated: Mar 08, 2024

Epic Universe: A Complete Guide to What We Know So Far

A new major theme park is coming to Florida.

Let these words ring inside your mind once again. A new major theme park is coming to Florida. Last time this happened was way back in 1999, with Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom opening its door just a year earlier. This was last century, by the way! The internet was still learning how to walk, nobody knew what an iPhone was and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers were rocking radio stations worldwide with Californication.

Epic Universe is slated to open its doors sometime in 2025. While marketing material initially hinted at a summer debut, the exact timing remains uncertain. But you know what? It doesn't really matter. Want to know why? Because a new major theme park is coming to Florida.

This new theme park will apparently be massive. Universal says that it will almost double the size of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, and let’s just say that Islands of Adventure is already pretty big. The park will also be divided in multiple areas, much like Islands is divided into lands like Jurassic Park, Marvel Island and Hogsmeade. This is a smart idea, which allows creativity to flow and people to come up with all sorts of crazy attractions based on popular IPs we love.

Epic Universe will be divided into the following lands:

  • Celestial Park
  • Super Nintendo World
  • Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Ministry of Magic
  • Dark Universe
  • How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk

Being as massive as it is, Epic Universe won’t be located quite near Universal CityWalk. While many of us have grown accustomed to the convenience of stopping there before heading off to either Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure, Epic Universe said “nahhh” and opted for a different path, setting up shop approximately 4 miles to the south.

Is it still close? Well, yeah, especially for those staying at Universal hotels nearby, like the Aventura, but there won’t be a connected path linking the CityWalk to Epic Universe. Being as big as it is, Epic Universe needed a new open area to grace Orlando with roller coasters and cool attractions, and Universal found a new location which is actually rather familiar to us.

Epic Universe main image 2.webp

Five Lands, Tons of Possibilities

So, what is Epic Universe about?

As you might have imagined, we will find everything there that we already see in a traditional theme park. Stores. Restaurants. Awesome attractions. I mean, every theme park needs that, especially the “awesome attractions”. We want roller coasters, drop towers, dark rides and slow moving rides. We want every-thing! Wait, some of you might be asking… “hey, why are you so excited for something we already have in so many theme parks?”

That’s a simple answer, young padawan. The main reason is that everything will be built from scratch, with 2025 in mind. This means new technologies not only for the rides, but the entire infrastructure. It’s just like building a game PC, or seeing the iPhone getting more and more powerful as time goes by. Sure, you can upgrade and release patches to make these products work better, but starting from scratch always brings new possibilities for innovation.

Epic Universe Carousel.webp

There are also more reasons to be excited. Actually, dozens of them, starting with the lands. We will talk about them later, but I am extremely happy we will be getting a Nintendo land on the east coast now. I am also very happy to see Universal getting Dracula and Frankenstein the respect they deserve and creating a land solely based on their iconic monsters, which inspired multiple generations of fans and filmmakers.

Universal also promises to put the “park” into “theme park”, starting with Celestial Park. This means beautiful vistas and a lot of green so guests can take pictures or just chill walking around, surrounded by nature. Fountains spilling water, beautiful manicured trees, birds singing and a roller coaster zooming past your head. Perfect.

Universal promises around 50 attractions, but they are including rides, shows, restaurants and stores in that number. This is even bigger than Magic Kingdom’s 41 attractions, and let’s just say that Magic Kingdom has a lot to offer, from fireworks spectacles to parades, rides like Space Mountain and lots of restaurants.

Let’s dive into each of Epic Universe’s areas and get even more hyped up. Oh, before anyone asks, all pictures in this article were taken from Universal's official website. Let's go!

Celestial Park

Epic Universe Celestial Park.webp

This is what we can call the “Hub Area” of Epic Universe, connecting the theme park to every single land available. Celestial Park is the main point of entry, and what many are considering to be the star of the show for Universal’s new baby.

The main gate is called the Cronos Tower and, for those that don’t know, Cronos was the Greek God of time. It seems that we will be traveling through time and different dimensions as soon as we enter Epic Universe, which explains why there are several portals inside Celestial Park that lead guests to different worlds.

Celestial Park looks great. Remember when I said that Universal wants to put the park into theme parks once again? They did it! They just put the park there, right next to “Celestial”, see it? Mission accomplished, good job, Universal.

Okay, just kidding. This place looks amazing, and it does look like a park! There are trees everywhere, statues that seem to depict Greek Gods and several lagoons with water spilling all around, which makes me think of Epcot’s Journey of Water. Yeah, imagine a ride like Journey of Water Inspired by Moana, but stretched to a whole area!

Let’s see some of the confirmed attractions for Celestial Park:

Starfall Racers

Ohhh, this one promises to be an amazing time. Starfall Racers is a dual roller coaster that is all about speed. Similar to the defunct Dueling Dragons at Islands of Adventure, there will be two vehicles racing against each other in a steel roller coaster that is all about speed. The idea here is that we are riding two comets through the galaxy, which sounds pretty fun. When night falls, it's just the vehicles that light up the scene, while the tracks stay hidden in the dark. This gives the idea that two celestial bodies are moving in the sky, which sounds awesome.

I am really loving this trend of roller coasters being all about speed, air time and amazing drops. We already see them with Islands of Adventure’s VelociCoaster, Mako at Sea World and even Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens. It looks like Starfall Racers will also be about speed. I mean, it needs to be, they are racing, after all! Oh, and they are comets. Comets are supposed to be fast. Ultra fast. Starfall Racers reaches speeds of up to 62 mph and heights of up to 133 feet. I. Can. Not. Wait.

Carousels are fun. Fun and classic. Every theme park should have one, honestly! Epic Universe promises to give us a new, upgraded form of carousel with this attraction. Guests board celestial dragons, unicorns and all sorts of mythical creatures to “ride the constellation themselves”. Universal also mentions that each vehicle will have the ability to move in a full 360 degrees, promising a visual spectacle with lights and various effects that will surpass anything we've ever experienced in a carousel.

This is shaping up to be a very beautiful ride that will be perfect for pictures… oh, and to bring your special date as well. I can already see a lot of people proposing in front of those beautiful, majestic celestial horses.

Astronomica

Oh, a water play area! This means that your kids will definitely love this, and that they will definitely get soaked. There isn’t much to say about this one, honestly. It's mainly a spot designed to cool off the little ones, with water shooting up from the ground. While we've seen similar setups in other theme parks, the scale here is grander than usual: Astronomica is huge, so brace yourself for lots of soggy children roaming around, either splashing about, lounging, or with their parents in hot pursuit.

The Atlantic

This is the main dining option in Celestial Park, which sits right next to the Neptune Pool. Wait, Neptune is the counterpart of the Greek God Poseidon, but the main entrance uses the Greek God name Cronos, what is going on here? Honestly, it doesn’t matter. This place looks awesome, with glass walls everywhere and visual effects on the ceiling showing fishes and all sorts of creatures. Yeah, the idea here is that you are eating inside a giant aquarium, so expect a lot of seafood. For those that hate shrimps and tilapia, they will also be offering steaks. Yummy.

The Blue Dragon Pan-Asian Restaurant

This restaurant seems inspired by old chinese mythologies, so expect a lot of bright colors and a lot of… dragons! Yes, we are talking about Chinese dragons, those charismatic creatures that look like Mushu from Mulan. Universal says that the walls will feature neon images of dragons fighting and chasing after each other, which is a nice touch. This place will also feature a bar, which sounds like a good place to have a beer after a full day exploring the multiverse.

The Nintendo Superstar Store

Oh god, I will wait until we talk about Super Nintendo World to lose my mind about the world of Nintendo. *Ahem*. Well, this is going to be a big store where you will be able to purchase a bunch of merch based on Mario, Yoshi, Link, Zelda, Donkey Kong & more. You will be able to find everything here, from plush toys to t-shirts and maybe even games? I’m going to need two or three backpacks for all the 1up mushrooms and action figures I’m gonna buy here.

The Helios Hotel

One of the main landmarks in all Epic Universe, this is a hotel built inside the theme park. No, no, I don’t mean it’s close by like the Aventura Hotel, this one is literally inside Celestial Park. Crazy, huh?

The Helios looks great, with glass windows everywhere and several fountains in front of it. It does look like a place that belongs to a God. Well, Helios is the Greek God of the Sun, which makes sense since the entrance is themed after the Greek God of time, Cronos, but still goes against having the Roman God of freshwater Neptune instead of Poseidon, the Greek God of the Seas. Hm, I guess I’m just complicating things, sorry!

Super Nintendo World

Epic Universe Super Nintendo World.webp

Yess, I can let my inner fanboy talk! I've been waiting to visit Super Nintendo World for a long, long time. I mean, I started playing games all the way back on the Atari, then moved to the NES, SNES, N64, skipped the Gamecube, got a Wii, WiiU and then a Switch. I even got the WiiU, and that thing was NOT good. Some of my favorite games of all time are The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Super Metroid, and now I’m eagerly waiting for the launch of the Switch successor sometime in 2025. So, yeah, I’m excited about this land.

Super Nintendo World looks a lot like its counterpart in Hollywood, which isn’t bad at all. That area is already quite atmospheric and looks beautiful, full of piranha plants, Goombas and Thwomps (the massive rock-like guys). If you are a Mario fan, it does feel like stepping inside the Mushroom Kingdom. It goes even beyond that, though! It appears that Nintendo World in Orlando will feature the Donkey Kong Country expansion when it launches in 2025. C’mon, Universal, can we have Zelda next?

Let’s see some of the confirmed attractions for Super Nintendo World:

Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge

This is the most well known attraction in Super Nintendo World, based on Super Mario Kart, which launched back in 1992 on the SNES. This ride will probably be an exact copy of what we have in Tokyo and in California. Guests board a vehicle and then use AR glasses to shoot green shells at various targets and racers. This ride actually won the “Best New Family Attraction of 2023” as voted by the Golden Tickets Awards.

Yoshi’s Adventure

We all love Yoshi. I think. That cute green dinosaur has been following Mario since Super Mario World in 1990, and he will now have a ride in Universal Orlando! This will be a chill five minute dark ride which is perfect for toddlers, young children… and adults. I mean, who doesn’t want to take a tour of the mushroom kingdom, seeing up close the amazing props and animatronics used across Super Nintendo World? I want to hop as soon as possible in my very own Yoshi and take as many pictures as I can.

The Donkey Kong Roller Coaster

Previously announced for Universal Studios Japan, it looks like the Donkey Kong roller coaster will also grace Epic Universe, judging by aerial pictures taken from drones. This looks like a family coaster, which will use what Universal is calling a brand new system to simulate your vehicle “jumping” from one track to another. I honestly can’t imagine how it feels like, so this seems like the sort of attraction that you need to experience before coming to any conclusions. I just hope they keep the Donkey Kong soundtrack playing the entire time we are riding this one.

As it’s also the case with Universal in Japan and Hollywood, you will be able to buy Power-Up bands to participate in several minigames across Super Nintendo World. Even if you are not a big fan of games like this, the wrist watch does look cute and could be a nice souvenir so you always remember your trip to the Mushroom Kingdom.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Ministry of Magic

Epic Universe Harry Potter.webp

Wait, another Universal park and another land based on Harry Potter!? Who would have thought that this wizard with the funny glasses was extremely popular! We have Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, the Diagon Alley in Universal Studios and now we will have the Ministry of Magic in Epic Universe.

The funny thing is that the Ministry of Magic is a different franchise set in the Harry Potter universe, in a completely different time period when compared to what we have in the two other theme parks. This area promises to take you to Paris in 1920 and London in the 1990s, so it seems that there will be two different areas inside this land? We still don’t know that.

We do see concept art showing towering buildings and imposing structures, which is a very different look from what we see in Hogsmeade with the cozy villages. It almost gives the Ministry of Magic a gothic aura, making it feel more dangerous and mysterious.

Not many details have been shared about this land. Wizards are keeping secrets sealed, but there is a huge building that many fans believe will house the main attraction, called “Harry Potter and the Battle at the Ministry”. This name fits the style used by Universal so far, since we already have Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

Harry Potter and the Battle at the Ministry

Not much is known about this one, but we do know it’s going to be a dark ride. There are rumors that it will take inspiration from Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, while other guests think it’s going to be a drop tower ride similar to Tower of Terror. We do know that this is probably going to be the main star in the Wizarding World of Epic Universe, so it makes sense that Universal goes big and hard for this attraction, spending as much as they can to impress guests.

Dark Universe

Epic Universe Dark Universe.webp

I want to start by congratulating Universal for actually giving the Universal Monsters a whole new area in Epic Universe. Classic monsters like Dracula, the Mummy and Frankenstein’s monster (Frankenstein is the name of the doctor!) aren’t that particularly popular nowadays, even more so with Gen Z.

There will even be a small storyline going on in this land. According to Universal, Dr. Victoria Frankenstein created a bunch of monsters and set them roaming across the Dark Universe. Aww, such a cool doctor! If I’m a monster, I want to be set loose in a theme park as well, not in a haunted forest or something similar.

The Dark Universe looks, well… dark. Spooky. It makes sense, if we are going to be taking pictures and asking for autographs from the Wolfman and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Can you imagine this place during Halloween? I am sure that Universal will hold several special events here.

The main landmark in the Dark Universe is a huge mansion that resembles an old haunted house, and seems that it will also host a ride based on Frankenstein. Universal has yet to unveil the official rides for this section of the park, but rumors are already circulating.

Here are the rumored rides for the Dark Universe:

The Wolfman roller coaster

Drones have taken pictures of what looks like a family coaster based on the Wolfman, set inside the Dark Universe. Isn’t it funny that a family coaster will be located inside an area that is supposed to be spooky? It’s like taking Slinky Dog Dash at Hollywood Studios and putting it inside the Tower of Terror. Maybe this is a clue that the Dark Universe is supposed to have that “B-movie” feel to it instead of actually being scary? We still don’t know.

The Frankenstein Ride

This one will be set inside the main structure of the Dark Universe. Some people say that this one will be a motion simulator like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and, if that’s the case, I just want Universal to pay attention to two things: first, make the visuals look better. Forbidden Journey really needs an update when it comes to the screen resolution, after all. Second, make the ride vehicles comfortable, for the love of God. I really dislike the vehicle in Forbidden Journey, as it feels like you are being shoved aside by that metallic arm instead of going through a fun adventure.

These are only rumors for now. We know it’s a dark ride, but it could also take inspiration from Rise of the Resistance, or Tower of Terror, or even be an indoor roller coaster like Revenge of the Mummy. I do love the idea of a ride featuring several Universal monsters trying to scare you, and I think that a thrill ride like a drop tower could fit really well here. The main problem is that the mansion doesn’t look that tall to hold a drop tower, so I guess we can scratch that idea.

How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk

Epic Universe Dragon.webp

This land is based on the popular franchise where people love to ride - you guessed it - dragons! We don’t have a lot of information about it, but concept art does show buildings and an atmosphere that resembles a medieval village, so maybe this land will be more similar to what we see at Islands of Adventure.

Universal does talk about “soaring to the skies with dragons” and says that guests “take battle in wild boat battles”. Does this mean we'll be getting a water ride here? Yep, it's pretty much confirmed, and not unexpected given the absence of boat rides in the other lands. While Universal Studios Florida doesn't have any water rides, Islands of Adventure boasts three of them, each offering its own unique perks (and drench factor tier lists). I'm really hoping that Epic Universe elevates the concept of a log flume ride to the next level.

While we're still awaiting official confirmation of the rides included here, aerial photographs provide some insight into what we can expect.

Ride the Skies… with your own dragon..! 

Well, this ride is actually marketed in Universal’s official campaign, so we know it’s coming. We also know that it’s not related to a roller coaster. Some people are calling it a “dragon race spinning ride”, and some leaked images depict vehicles with individual seats, apparently allowing guests to exert pressure on both sides and tilt their vehicles left and right.

Some experts online say that this ride will take heavy inspiration from the Sky Fly ride located at the Gerstlauer theme park in Germany. This does look like a fun thrill ride!

A dragon roller coaster

Aerial pictures also show a new roller coaster being built in this area. Rumors say that this will be a steel launched coaster, which means that our dragons will catapult us to the sky. Some say that this will also be a family friend roller coaster, much like Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure in Islands of Adventure, as it also features multiple launches.

Hagrid’s is a big success worldwide, with waiting times easily crossing the two hour mark, so investing in that idea seems like a smart move. This also looks like a super long roller coaster that runs through the entire land, giving you great views of the lagoon and everything else that the Isle of Berk has to offer.

A NEW Boat Ride

I love water rides, be it the classic Splash Mountain or Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls, a very underrated soaking-simulator in Islands of Adventure. Rumors say that this one will be an interactive boat ride, where guests can actually spray targets in their path. Wait, is Universal mixing Men in Black: Alien Attack with a boat ride? This would be amazing. Imagine missing a target, only for an enemy dragon to spill fire (read: water) at you! Or maybe you hit a specific target and make new animatronics appear, or new visual effects to happen!

If this ride actually takes this route, I can see it more like Men in Black: Alien Attack or Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin than something like Splash Mountain or Jurassic Park River Adventure. Does this mean we won’t get a main drop to get soaked at the end? Based on some early images, it seems like there aren't any drops, which could be great for young kids and anyone who's not into thrill rides.

A NEW Show

yes, we will be getting a show in this land as well. Rumors say that this show will be similar to the one in Universal Studios Beijing called “The Untrainable Dragon”, which is a mix of puppetry, live actors and lots of visual effects on stage. The Beijing show lasts around 20 minutes, and it’s a pretty fast paced show similar to the Festival of the Lion King in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but with better effects and storytelling. 

Epic Universe Atlantic.webp

Closing Thoughts

Of course, Universal is still keeping a lot of details under wraps. They'll continue to unveil rides, stores, shows, and restaurants in the coming months. Epic Universe is set to keep growing, but it's exciting to see it in its early stages and imagine what it will become in the future. It gives us the chance to look back years or decades from now and ask: Did we get it right? Were our guesses close to reality or way off the mark?

One thing is for certain, and it's what keeps us incredibly excited.

A new major theme park is coming to Florida.

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