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On Aug. 1, Tom Williams, chairman and CEO for Universal Parks & Resorts, announced that Universal Orlando Resort will debut a new theme park, Universal's Epic Universe. The park, which will open in 2023, will become the most innovative park Universal has ever created, he said, which will allow clients to immerse themselves in some of their favorite stories.
“Our vision is a big one,” Williams said. “We want to create a level of experience that forever changes the theme park landscape as you know it.”
Mark Woodbury, vice chairman of Universal Parks & Resorts and president of Universal Creative, also acknowledges the scope of Universal’s vision for the new park.
“Epic is a word that gets tossed around a lot in today’s day and age,” he said. “When we label something as ‘epic,’ we want that experience to live up to the promise that the word makes, and Universal’s Epic Universe will be an experience genuinely worthy of its bold moniker."
Williams is confident that Universal’s vision will be achieved. He pointed to the continued success of Woodbury’s team at Universal Creative: Universal’s Islands of Adventure park tops TripAdvisor’s 2019 list of the 25 best amusement parks in the world for the fifth year in a row (Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood earned the No. 3 and No. 6 spots, respectively). Because of that level of success, Williams says, Universal knows it has an obligation to make Universal’s Epic Universe the biggest and best park yet.
“Over the last couple decades, every single one of our new attractions has been bigger and better than ever — more innovative and more immersive, with more storytelling, better characters and better environments,” he said. “As we reveal details about the new park, you’re going to see that the layout is different, the concepts are different, and everything we’re thinking about is different.”
With the new expansion, Universal Orlando Resort will be divided into three “campuses”: North Campus, which includes the three current theme parks as well as Universal CityWalk and six on-site hotels; Mid Campus, the location of Endless Summer Resort, which comprises the 750-room Surfside Inn & Suites (currently open) and the 2,050-room Dockside Inn & Suites (opening March 2020); and South Campus, which will include the new Universal’s Epic Universe theme park, as well as an entertainment center, hotels, shops and restaurants.
With that much real estate involved, Williams says Universal is dedicating a lot of planning and funding to facilitate the ease of guest movement between the three areas. In fact, Jerry Demings, the mayor of Orange County, Fla., reported that Universal pledged $160 million to the Kirkman Road extension, a 50/50 public-private partnership designed to improve transportation and access to Orlando’s tourism corridor. According to Demings, this will make the growth in Orange County “exponential and epic.”
Theme park fans are already speculating about which franchises and characters will make appearances at Universal’s Epic Universe. Guesses range from Nintendo and Universal classic monsters to subjects of “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Fantastic Beasts.”
While Williams has been careful not to divulge any specific details, he does promise one thing.
“I can guarantee it’s going to be epic,” he said. “And, last I heard, a universe is bigger than a world.” The DetailsUniversal's Epic Universewww.universalorlando.com