The only confirmed land for Universal Orlando’s next theme park, what can we expect to find here, and how is construction progressing?

Universal’s Epic Universe, which was first announced in August 2019, will be the company’s largest theme park in the country.

While several lands have been rumored for the new park, only Super Nintendo World has been confirmed by the company—and even that was only in an investor’s earnings call, and not a public press announcement.

Universal Orlando
Official concept art for Universal’s Epic Universe

The Super Nintendo World area is expected to be built in the south-west corner of Epic Universe. Think of this as the Adventureland portion, if you were entering Magic Kingdom.

According to permits for Epic Universe, it appears that the Super Nintendo World land will be nearly identical in layout to the world’s first version of the land, which opened earlier this year at Universal Studios Japan.

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Permitted site plan with colors and labels added

Just like the land in Japan, Epic Universe’s Super Nintendo World will include the Mushroom Kingdom themed area with interactive experiences, dining and shopping, as well as the Mario Kart dark ride and the Yoshi’s Adventure omnimover.

In fact, the first pieces of ride track that have shown up to the Epic Universe work site appears to be for the Yoshi omnimover ride.

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Track now seen being staged at Epic Universe construction site

The Yoshi ride and Mario Kart rides are expected to be nearly identical to their Japan counterparts, in size, content, and appearance.

It has been rumored that multiple copies of all of the attractions’ animatronics and scenic elements were created at the same time, not only for Universal Studios Japan and Epic Universe, but for the Mario Kart ride in Universal Studios Hollywood as well, (which is currently under construction and expected to open next).

The biggest difference between the proposed layout for Epic Universe and the existing version of the land in Japan, is the addition of a Donkey Kong themed mini-land beside the show building for the Mario Kart attraction.

While the land in Epic Universe is expected to open with the Donkey Kong Country area from the start, Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan has designated their Donkey Kong area as a phase two expansion.

Universal Studios Japan
Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan

The Donkey Kong area is expected to contain a mine cart roller coaster, where the cars appear to jump over sections of missing track—just like in the video game series—as well as small shops, snack stands, and a character meet and greet.

Just in the last few weeks it appears that construction has started back up for the Donkey Kong expansion area in Japan, with the largest show building for the land already starting to take shape. Previously only some of the coaster’s footings were installed before construction was halted earlier this year.

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Donkey Kong expansion under construction in Japan

Meanwhile in Orlando, while work has been slow to restart after Epic Universe’s major construction was paused temporarily due to the pandemic, it appears that it is preparing to pick back up in the coming weeks.

The first new permit to be filed since last year was just submitted to Orange County last week. While it is only for an additional electrical pole to be installed in what will become the park’s backstage area, it is a start.

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Work ramping up in backstage areas

Work is being focused on the backstage area currently to construct warehouses that will be used to store materials needed to construct the theme park, keeping them away from the elements. A parking lot was already added to this area previously.

Once major work begins again for the main areas of the park, Super Nintendo World is expected to take the lead. Being the most prepared, with the plans already fully developed, and many of the land’s elements already fabricated, it should be the easiest to start with.

Universal Orlando

While Universal has yet to offer up an official opening date for the new park, many believe it will be open by 2025 at the latest.

Stay tuned to the Shark, as we will be breaking down each of the areas of Universal’s Epic Universe, utilizing permits, patents, rumors and more, to figure out just what this massive new theme park will offer.