The Getaway
Universal Epic Universe Opens in 2025: Here's What's There

Over the last several years, Universal has wowed the world by delving into the Wizarding World and then by teaming up with entertainment giant Nintendo. After utilizing powerful new technologies like augmented reality and fusing them with classic theme park rides and expectations, Universal birthed two of the most innovative theme parks in the world. But the company shows no sign of stopping any time soon. Since 2019, Universal Orlando Resort has quietly been constructing something even more immersive and cutting edge: Universal Epic Universe. Though the pandemic halted construction, building resumed in 2021. Currently, the company plans for the park to span across 750 acres, and by its completion in 2025, total construction costs are expected to reach $4 billion. Executives at Universal promise that this new theme park will completely change the resort. With five new worlds containing over 50 attractions—as well as entertainment, dining, and shopping options—Universal Epic Universe is set to be one of the most ambitious ventures in theme park history.

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01 The vision behind Epic Universe

Celestial park attractions

Universal executives and designers have kept their lips sealed when it comes to specifics concerning the park's offerings, but we do have a general idea of what to expect. The company realized that it has some of the richest, most imaginative universes at its disposal. From the ground up, the goal of Universal Epic Universe is to immerse visitors in these beloved stories and make them feel as if they are actually walking through the Ministry of Magic or training dragons on the Isle of Berk. All of this is possible thanks to huge technological advancements utilizing both augmented reality and virtual reality, as well as some of the best animatronics visitors have ever seen.

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02 Location and accessibility

overlook of celestial park

The new theme park sits just 15 minutes south of the "North Campus" of Universal Orlando, which contains destinations like Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Universal Epic Universe is the first theme park of the area's "South Campus." The company has rebuilt the main highway between the two campuses to include a center median and the county's first elevated multi-modal traffic circle. Hotel guests and other visitors will have the option of hopping on an electric bus from the company's brand-new fleet. They can also choose to take an I-Ride Trolley, though it's less practical. Most visitors choose to ride share or take a bus, though those with their own vehicles can drive on the highway, as well. Universal Epic Universe's surface parking lot currently sits at 50 acres and is easily accessible from the newly extended highway.

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03 Park layout and design

park layout

One of the biggest problems with these massive theme parks is getting around. Because so many involve multiple years of expansion, they become logistical nightmares. However, Universal Epic Universe's designers are aiming to prevent that by utilizing a hub-and-spoke design. Visitors will arrive in a central hub—Celestial Park—that is essentially a giant garden featuring astrological and astronomical design motifs, as well as a range of attractions. From there, each "spoke" branches off into different worlds.

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04 Themed Worlds overview

Celestial Park atlantic

Each world that connects to Celestial Park will be completely unique. Every gateway functions as a way of shutting out the previous world, allowing visitors to step into a new universe, fully immersed. The confirmed worlds include SUPER NINTENDO WORLD, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Dark Universe, and How to Train Your Dragon.

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05 The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic

harry potter world

Fans of the original Wizarding World movies can already experience the streets of Diagon Alley, the village of Hogsmeade, Hogwarts Castle, and even the depths of the Forbidden Forest. But this new area will take visitors to new locations, like those seen in the Fantastic Beasts films. This all-new land blends together 1920s Paris and the iconic Ministry of Magic from the first movies. Much remains unknown about this world, but Universal has confirmed two attractions so far. The first is a dark ride that re-lives Harry's intense battle at the Ministry of Magic. The other is a stage show titled Le Cirque Arcanus, which is sure to mystify audiences.

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06 SUPER NINTENDO WORLD

super nintendo world portal

Many people are already familiar with the SUPER NINTENDO WORLD at Universal Hollywood, but executives promise that this new venture is far larger and more ambitious. After stepping through a massive Warp Pipe and a short ride on an escalator, guests will find themselves in Peach's Castle. You can expect to see rides similar to those of the SUPER NINTENDO WORLDs in Hollywood or Osaka but with the addition of the Donkey Kong sub-area. This jungle-themed region includes a massive temple and a one-of-a-kind roller coaster that mimics the mine cart levels from the Donkey Kong Country games.

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07 How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk

how to train your dragon portal

As it currently stands, the Isle of Berk is set to be the biggest world within Universal Epic Universe with a whopping 14 acres. The instant you step through the portal, you'll find yourself in a massive lagoon that is straight from the films—including the two giant Viking statues. Directly in front of the entrance, guests can watch as riders on Hiccup's Wing Gliders speed past, snaking above and below the waterline. Visitors can also hop on Dragon Racer's Rally or Fyre Drill to feel like they are actually riding iconic dragons like Toothless. We also know that some kind of stage show will take place in the Isle of Berk and is likely similar to Universal Studios Beijing's "Untrainable." There will also be a main restaurant with 244 seats, built into a mountain or hill.

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08 Dark Universe

dark universe portal

Cinema enthusiasts are probably aware of Universal's attempt to launch a cinematic universe utilizing the classic movie monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein's monster. While that never really got off the ground, Universal didn't abandon creature feature fans. Rather than a film franchise, Universal shifted its focus to a Universal Epic Universe world focusing on the rich history of horror movies. From the minute you stroll through the imposing portal, you'll find yourself in a ruined village that could fit into any one of Universal's classic films. A snaking path and crumbling walls hide the rest of the area from view, making it feel as if you are exploring a dark village. A large manor called Monsters Unchained: The Frankenstein Experiment makes up the main area and uses robotic arms, motion projections, and physical scenes to fully immerse you in the horror. If you hear screaming nearby, it likely comes from the wooded area with a small, spinning coaster called the Curse of the Werewolf. As you explore, you'll find a burning windmill, shadowy landscapes, and a tavern named "The Stake House."

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09 Celestial Park attractions

Starfall racers ride

Beyond being the main hub of Universal Epic Universe, Celestial Park also has a range of attractions. The first is Starfall Racers, a dual-launching racing coaster that reaches 62 mph in speed and 133 feet in height along 5000 feet of track. At one point, two coaster vehicles will even perform a hair-raising inverted crisscross at extreme speeds. Visitors can also take it easy on the Constellation Carousel, the grand centerpiece of the park. Enjoy a 360-degree journey through the stars as constellations whirl by you. Astronomica is an interactive wet-play area that also functions as a compass rose to guide guests through the Epic Universe. Many of the area's restaurants are in Celestial Park, as well. Offerings include the Blue Dragon Pan-Asian restaurant that features a variety of Asian cuisines and The Oak & Star Tavern which focuses on savory barbecue. Perhaps the shining jewel of the food options is Atlantic—a full-service surf and turf restaurant set inside an aquarium.

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10 Hotels at Epic Universe

Helios hotel exterior

All of the wonders of the Epic Universe will take several days to enjoy, but there are plenty of accommodations for those who wish to stay on-site. Within walking distance of Celestial Park's center is the Helios Grand Hotel, which acts as a backdrop for the whole Epic Universe. As you might expect from something carrying the name of the Greek God of the Sun, the Helios features casual but elegant, Mediterranean-inspired decor. Guests can also choose to stay at one of the sister resorts, the Universal Stella Nova Resort and the Universal Terra Luna Resort. The galaxies and planets above inspire these hotels, with the Stella Nova utilizing teal and purple colors and Terra Luna using gold and green. Designers wanted Stella to represent the infinite vastness of the skies beyond while Terra embodies pushing the limits of discovery. All hotels feature plenty of rooms, as well as food and drink options.

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11 Unique experiences and entertainment

The Epic Universe can be a completely different experience once the sun sets. For example, the Celestial Park is a beautiful, lush garden during the day, but transforms at night into a beautiful light show with a fantastical atmosphere. Even the rides change. The Starfall Racers coaster adds a dizzying number of lights so riders can feel as if they are literally zooming through the stars themselves. Universal executives promise similar events and transformations throughout all of the worlds. Imagining what happens in the Dark Universe might just send shivers up your spine.

12 Dining and culinary experiences

blue dragon restaurant

In some theme parks, the restaurants can feel a little anachronistic and take you out of the experience. You enter the building after traveling through space, only to find yourself in a generic burger chain. That's not the case in the Epic Universe. The designers wanted every aspect of the park to keep you immersed, even the restaurants. One example of this is the Blue Dragon. Guests dine under constellations as the interior mimics a beautiful courtyard, complete with floating lanterns.

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13 Shopping and merchandise

nintendo store

If you need souvenirs to take home, don't forget to stop by one of the many themed stores within the park. Each area—including Celestial Park—will have its own little shops, each of which was carefully designed to avoid breaking your immersion. As you explore SUPER NINTENDO WORLD, you'll find the Nintendo Super Star Store which has unique lore within the park. It's bursting with colorful keepsakes that guests will not be able to resist. In the Wizarding World, you'll be able to stop by every Dark Wizard's favorite oddities shop, Borgin & Burkes, to pick up some specialty magic items.

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14 Guest services and amenities

registration at the hotel

Universal designers and executives want the Epic Universe to truly represent the future in every area—not just the attractions. The park will offer several cutting-edge guest services that make it far more friendly to all visitors. With the new child swap area, one guardian can wait with a child while the other rides, then swap without having to wait in line again. The same concept also exists for older guests who might not meet the height requirements. Universal Epic Universe will also include many conveniently located nursing facilities for infant feeding. Rest areas for people who need breaks from walking are also readily available, while options like mobile food ordering and virtual queues make picking up food quick and simple.

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15 Anticipated impact on Orlando's tourism

celestial park gardens

It should go without saying that the Universal executives—and most theme park fans—expect the Epic Universe to be a massive success. Anything this innovative is bound to draw the crowds. Universal Epic Universe also feeds directly into the other areas in the Universal Orlando Resort and the available public transit makes it simple to go visit the wider Orlando area. This park will bring a massive boost in tourism to Orlando and all of the economic benefits that more visitors bring with them.

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16 Preparing for your visit

pool

At the time of writing, Universal is offering several ticket options. Florida residents have access to multi-day tickets at a lower rate, and there is a buy two days, get two days free package. The Universal Orlando vacation pack includes four nights in a hotel, three annual passes, and a bundle and save discount. Beyond these, there are coupons for hotel stays of longer than five nights. Costco members can also save some cash on tickets. The park is likely to be extremely busy once it opens in 2025, so the best advice is to wait out the first couple of months if you want to avoid the huge crowds. Try going in off-seasons like Spring or Fall and avoid major holidays since the park will be hosting unique, crowd-drawing events. Give yourself plenty of time to visit each area because there is a lot to experience and you don't want to try to cram it all into two days.

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17 Epic Universe and environmental sustainability

guest room

Keeping the future in mind, designers knew the Epic Universe would be a huge undertaking that required an immense amount of resources. Keeping it running would also be costly. They implemented sustainable building practices, using green technologies wherever they could. The goal is to have the vast majority achieve LEED certification, proving their efficient designs, reduced waste, and use of renewable energy. Rooftop solar panels across the park will provide it with power, the fleets of buses are electric, and the parking lots will include EV charging stations to encourage visitors to drive greener cars.

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18 Looking ahead: Future expansions and developments

dining area

Nobody knows what exactly the future of the Epic Universe entails, but it's bound to be visionary. Rumors have spread that park executives are planning a "phase two" expansion of the park that will include several new attractions shortly after the park opens for the first time. SUPER NINTENDO WORLD might be getting a spooky new area that references the Luigi's Mansion games. The Dark Universe might also be getting a boat ride using themes from the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

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