New rumors and official details point to changes being made to the current lineup of attractions at Universal Orlando’s upcoming theme park.
Universal’s Epic Universe is getting back on track after major construction was paused temporarily due to the pandemic. But with so much time passed since it was first announced, could we see possible changes to the park’s plans?
First announced August 2019, the new park is being built a couple miles south of the current Universal Orlando Resort, near the Orange County Convention Center. An opening date has not yet been revealed, but the NBCUniversal CEO recently said it would be ready in a “couple years.”
While official details for the new park have been few and far between, (not much more than a single piece of concept has actually been released,) there have been rumors and speculation based on permits and site plans that have been submitted to the county for approval.
Until now, Epic Universe has been rumored to contain a Super Nintendo World land (similar to the land that recently opened in Universal Studios Japan,) a Universal Monsters land, a land based on DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon and another Wizarding World land for Orlando.
The theme park’s hub is also rumored to contain a couple attractions of its own, as well as dining and shopping locations. A large hotel is also expected to be connected to the back of the theme park.
The land that many believe could be the first to receive changes is the Wizarding World area. The third of these lands for Orlando, after Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, the Epic Universe version was rumored to include two attractions themed as Ministries of Magic. One would be set within the British Ministry, and the second would be set within the French Ministry.
However, a new rumor recently revealed that the second attraction, which was expected to be a Virtual Reality ride where you get to pilot your own flying broomstick, may be making its way to Universal Studios Florida instead. This attraction may become part of an expansion to the Diagon Alley area. (See the video above for more details on the rumor.)
If this turns out to be true, that would take away a large piece of the Wizarding World land from Epic Universe. This may be the first indication that plans could be changing for the new park.
Even though it is rumored that one of the two main attractions for the rumored Wizarding World land at Epic Universe is leaving, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the land itself will be going with it.
The other Wizarding attraction, expected to take place within the British Ministry, may remain. It does appear to be the largest ride at the new park, at least according to permits. The other side of the land may remain empty, and be left as a future expansion spot for the Wizarding World when the park first opens.
If one attraction is leaving Epic Universe, could that mean that something else could be added to the park’s plans instead? Maybe instead of replacing a Potter attraction with another Potter attraction, other rides could be added elsewhere in the plans?
The NBCUniversal CEO, Jeff Shell said something interesting earlier this month. During a virtual Q&A meeting, he said that Epic Universe would contain attractions based on intellectual properties including DreamWorks, Nintendo and Illumination.
While Nintendo and DreamWorks fit with lands we are expecting for the new park, (Super Nintendo World and How to Train Your Dragon respectively,) this was the first time the company, or really anyone, has suggested Illumination would receive some sort of presence at the new park.
Illumination is the company behind films like Minions, The Secret Life of Pets and Sing. And all of these films have attractions represented at Universal Parks around the world. The Secret Life of Pets just opened their first ride in Hollywood, and Sing has a show in two of the company’s Asian parks. All of the resorts have at least one ride based on Despicable Me.
Is it possible that one of the expansion areas for Epic Universe could receive some sort of “Illumination Land”? Could attractions like Hollywood’s Pets dark ride be cloned at this park, alongside the Sing live show and Super Silly Fun Land from Universal Studios Beijing?
It’s still too early to know for sure what exactly the company’s CEO meant when he said that, and new permits may reveal if any major changes have been made to the plans as construction ramps back up, but there was one other notable thing he said during that virtual meeting.
When referring to Nintendo for Epic Universe, he said that the park would be anchored by the property. In fact, he said it would be anchored “especially” by Nintendo.
Currently, the plans for the park have Super Nintendo World as the smallest land, only half the size of the Dragons land. But, the Nintendo land sits next to an expansion pad that if it were combined with the land, it would double its size.
Many are wondering if we could see additional Nintendo attractions not only greenlit for the new park, but perhaps even pushed through quickly so they could open with the park? There were rumors in the past for a Pokemon themed land being developed to replace KidZone in Universal Studios Florida. Perhaps those plans could be restarted and moved to Epic Universe?
We might get a better idea if any of these rumored or speculated concepts could be true after new permits are submitted with the county and construction returns to the site in the coming months.
Until then, all we can do is infer and wonder, about what, (if anything,) might change, for Universal’s largest domestic theme park, Epic Universe.