Originally set to open 2023, a pause on construction for Universal Orlando’s new park may have pushed it to 2025, but could it open sooner?
Earlier this month Universal announced that work on their newest theme park in Orlando, Epic Universe, would be ramping back up over the next few months. Major construction had been paused since last year due to the pandemic.
Originally, Universal had told investors that the park was targeting a 2023 opening, but after pausing development since last summer, many were expecting the park’s opening to at least be delayed until 2024.
Shortly after the announcement of the park resuming construction, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said that Universal told him the park was now going to be opening early 2025.
While 2025 may seem far away, the timing does line up with road work that is only just now starting on the Kirkman Rd extension. This road is being extended a couple miles south to connect the existing Universal Orlando Resort areas to the future Epic Universe site, and it isn’t expected to be completed until spring 2025 at the latest.
Of course, while the Kirkman Rd extension will be useful for helping to spread out traffic, it will not be the only way to reach the new theme park. Universal Blvd will connect to the new park (via Destination Pkwy.) Universal Blvd will also be a way to reach additional future hotels in development.
So, theoretically, Epic Universe could open sooner. But, what if just part of it were to open sooner?
In the official press releases for the new park, Universal says they’re building a new theme park, hotels, and an entertainment center. The site plans for the new area seem to only include the main theme park, parking lot and hotels, leading many to believe that the “entertainment center” they’re referring to is the theme park’s massive central hub.
Some out there have theorized early on that Epic Universe would feature an open hub concept, where guests could visit the shops and dining options within the center of the park without having to purchase a theme park ticket itself.
In this concept, if you wanted to enter any of the lands and ride the rides, you would be required to pass through some sort of turnstiles and prove you have access. (Utilizing facial recognition technology to make the process of walking into the lands without showing your ticket has also been proposed.)
Since the park will be set up with all backstage access roads coming in from the perimeter of the park, it’s technically possible that they could possibly open the theme park to the public in phases. To be clear, this is only some theorizing and speculating on what *could* be done, and not an actual rumor.
Whether they wanted to open parts of the hub, or even one of the theme park lands itself to guests before the rest of the park is even ready could be a way to start earning a return on the park before it’s even complete.
I would suggest the best opportunity to do something like this would be to build and finish Super Nintendo World as fast as possible, so you could allow guests to enter it before the park officially opens.
Super Nintendo World is already designed. Many of the fabricated set pieces and ride elements have reportedly already been manufactured. And even the permits for the land’s site plans were approved last year.
Again, just throwing this idea out there, but perhaps Universal could charge guests for a “preview” ticket to visit Super Nintendo World—and/or parts of the center of the theme park—a year or so ahead of its official grand opening?
Just a few days ago, Chief financial officer for Comcast, (Universal’s parent company,) Mike Cavanagh said: “We’re back in business to turn that project back on delivery in a couple years down the road.”
I’m not sure exactly what he meant, but it sounded to me like they’re going to move on this project at light speed. And who knows, maybe even get the whole ship back on course.
What do you think? I know I would pay for a chance to experience the Mushroom Kingdom in Orlando in 2023 or 2024, instead of waiting till 2025.
But then again, with the aggressive way Comcast has been with the construction of new projects over the last decade, maybe they’re going to throw so much at Epic Universe that the whole thing ends up opening sooner than anyone’s expecting.