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Epic event: Universal Orlando reveals details about new theme park

  • Artist concepts of the front gate of Universal Orlando's Epic...

    Artist concepts of the front gate of Universal Orlando's Epic Universe theme park. (Universal Orlando) Image released Jan. 30, 2024. Embargoed until 8 a.m. Jan. 30, 2024.

  • Artist concepts of Celestial Park, a land planned for Universal...

    Artist concepts of Celestial Park, a land planned for Universal Orlando's Epic Universe theme park. The area includes a roller coaster, carousel, dining, shopping, gardens and a hotel and also serves as a portal to other lands. Epic is scheduled to open in 2025. (Universal Orlando) Images released Jan. 30, 2024. Embargoed until 8 a.m. Jan. 30. 2024

  • Artist concepts of Celestial Park, a land planned for Universal...

    Artist concepts of Celestial Park, a land planned for Universal Orlando's Epic Universe theme park. The area includes a roller coaster, carousel, dining, shopping, gardens and a hotel and also serves as a portal to other lands. Epic is scheduled to open in 2025. (Universal Orlando) Images released Jan. 30, 2024. Embargoed until 8 a.m. Jan. 30. 2024

  • Artist concepts of Celestial Park, a land planned for Universal...

    Artist concepts of Celestial Park, a land planned for Universal Orlando's Epic Universe theme park. The area includes a roller coaster, carousel, dining, shopping, gardens and a hotel and also serves as a portal to other lands. Epic is scheduled to open in 2025. (Universal Orlando) Images released Jan. 30, 2024. Embargoed until 8 a.m. Jan. 30. 2024

  • Workers install siding on a building, as construction is underway...

    Workers install siding on a building, as construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • A rollercoaster is under construction at Universal’s Epic Universe, on...

    A rollercoaster is under construction at Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January...

    Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January...

    Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January...

    Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Workers install windows on a building, as construction is underway...

    Workers install windows on a building, as construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January...

    Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January...

    Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January...

    Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Workers install siding on a building, as construction is underway...

    Workers install siding on a building, as construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January...

    Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January...

    Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Workers install windows on a building, as construction is underway...

    Workers install windows on a building, as construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January...

    Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January...

    Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Workers install windows on a building, as construction is underway...

    Workers install windows on a building, as construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January...

    Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

  • Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January...

    Construction is underway for Universal’s Epic Universe, on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

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Epic Universe theme park will feature a dueling coaster named Starfall Racers in its Celestial Park area, a new Wizarding World of Harry Potter land, roaming monsters and “How to Train Your Dragon” attractions, confirmed Tuesday.

The under-construction park is scheduled to open in 2025. Epic Universe was announced in 2019, but the company has shared details about the attractions sparingly.

Tuesday’s news release provided the first major bundle of park details, and it concentrated on Celestial Park, the first area that visitors will encounter at Epic. Universal said it will consist of gardens and waterways, the Constellation Carousel, the Astronomica wet-play area, dining options and shops.

Celestial Park will serve as a portal to four other lands, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic, How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk, Super Nintendo World and Dark Universe, home of the experiments of Dr. Victoria Frankenstein. The announcement marks the first confirmation of the lands by the company.

Artist concepts of Celestial Park, a land planned for Universal Orlando's Epic Universe theme park. The area includes a roller coaster, carousel, dining, shopping, gardens and a hotel and also serves as a portal to other lands. Epic is scheduled to open in 2025. (Universal Orlando)Images released Jan. 30, 2024. Embargoed until 8 a.m. Jan. 30. 2024
Celestial Park will feature gardens, rides and attractions plus serve as a portal to the other lands of Epic Universe. (Universal Orlando)

Epic Universe will be located a couple of miles southeast of the cluster of Universal Orlando’s current attractions: Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay water park and Universal CityWalk, an entertainment and shopping district.

“Universal Epic Universe marks a huge transformational moment for Universal Orlando Resort, and it will change everything about our destination,” Karen Irwin, president and chief operating officer of Universal Orlando Resort, said in a written statement.

“This will be the exciting culmination of our amazing growth over the past 30-plus years and will transform Universal Orlando into a weeklong vacation destination filled with the most thrilling experiences imaginable,” she said.

Universal released two videos to accompany the announcement, one of which showed a digital fly-through of the Celestial Park attractions. The other featured narration by Mark Woodbury, CEO of Universal Parks & Destinations; Molly Murphy, president of Universal Creative; and Brian Robinson, chief creative officer of Universal Creative.

Epic’s Celestial Park also will include Universal Helios Grand Hotel with 500 rooms and its own entrance into the theme park.  The resort will be “integrated into the park like no other theme park in the world,” Woodbury said.

Universal previously had announced the names for two other Epic resorts: with 750 rooms apiece. The hotels are co-owned and operated by .

Alicia Stella, who has been tracking the Epic project for her Theme Park Stop website, said she was pleased to read Universal’s confirmation of attractions and to look at new visuals.

“There’s an emotional reaction to seeing all of these,” she said. “We haven’t had new concept art since August 2019, so seeing everything fleshed out and how it’s supposed to look when it’s done instead of in construction is kind of breathtaking to take it all in.”

The look of Celestial Park impressed her, she said.

“I think the Starfall Racers and Constellation Carousel not being tied to any specific intellectual property is … I want to say groundbreaking in this day and age. I don’t know how else to describe it – unheard of? – since the Potter age of theme parks,” Stella said.

Dennis Speigel, owner of International Theme Park Services Inc., said Epic was living up to the hype of the past few years.

“You look at the scope of the attractions, the five worlds and the layout, the size, and having the Helios Grand Hotel situated on site like they do, right at the doorstep … all of those things allowed for huge attendance uptick,” he said.

“They took the best of the best with their product. They took the Harry Potter, they took the monsters, which are the driving force behind Halloween, Super Nintendo World, which we’ve seen the success that they had in the other parks where it’s gone. I mean, they took the best of the best,” he said.

 

A rollercoaster is under construction at Universal's Epic Universe on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)
A rollercoaster is under construction at Universal’s Epic Universe on Monday. January 29, 2024. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

Other fresh facts on the Epic front include:

• Starfall Racers will be a dual-launch coaster that peaks at 62 mph and at 133 feet up. That’s almost as fast as Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at Islands of Adventure (which goes 65 mph) and almost as high as Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (at 167 feet) at Universal Studios.

• The coaster will have a maneuver known as the Celestial Spin in which “the coaster vehicles perform an inverted cross-cross while speeding through the air,” the news release said.

• The new Harry Potter land will blend 1920s Paris (a la “Fantastic Beasts”) with the Potterverse’s Ministry of Magic.

• Visitors will enter Super Nintendo World through the green pipe and encounter Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Donkey Kong. . Woodbury said it’s “the most interactive, colorful world we’ve ever created.”

• Dark Universe will be where “Universal’s classic monsters are reimagined in an ominous and chilling experience,” Murphy said.

• Celestial Park eateries will include Atlantic, a full-service option set inside a Victorian aquarium; Blue Dragon Pan-Asian Restaurant with neon dragons; Oak & Star Tavern with barbecue; and Pizza Moon. Stores will include Nintendo Super Star Store and Moonship Chocolates & Celestial Sweets.

Workers make progress on one of the hotels under construction at the Epic Universe site on Monday. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel)
Workers make progress on one of the hotels under construction at the Epic Universe site on Monday. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel)

• Fountains within Celestial Park will reach up to 135 feet and be accompanied by music and interactive lighting.

• The video and concept art showed themed semicircular entrances from Celestial Park into the other lands. “Epic Universe is built on an amazing concept – the idea that you can go into a world through some sort of portal and you come out in a world you never could dream of. You can experience it,” filmmaker Steven Spielberg said in one video. He is listed as a creative consultant.

• A preview center for Epic Universe will open at Universal CityWalk later this year.

Email me at dbevil@orlandosentinel.com. . . Subscribe to the Theme Park Rangers newsletter at .

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