We bloody love a theme park here at The Last Movie Outpost. Nobody does theme parks quite like Florida. The size, scope, ambition and attention to detail in your Florida parks is second to none, and the fact they are all within a 30 minute drive of each other, surrounded by countless hotels, restaurants and other attractions, presents a kind of convenience it’s difficult for vacation lovers to resist. Especially if you have a family with a low boredom threshold.
That wine tasting trip to the Bordeaux region, just chilling on a tropical beach or poking around Ancient Greek ruins just isn’t going to cut it with a child or a teenager raised on a steady diet of on-demand entertainment and information at the speed of thought.
So plastic fantastic entertainment, Florida style is the go-to! What used to be a packed two weeks can easily be stretched to three now since new parks and attractions opened in the last couple of decades. They are still not finished. Universal is planning something big.
Universal is high on any Outposters “To-Do” list when visiting the sunshine state. This is because it’s a little removed from the wholesome family fun of Disney and the theming generally suits our geek interests.
We like it so much we dedicated a four part special to a single ride!
However Universal has always had something of a problem which it shares with Disney’s other US park in Los Angeles. It’s trapped. Surrounded on all sides by other businesses and highways it lacks space to expand. Not something that Mouse House down the road has to worry about, with thousands of acres of prime swamp to expand into.
Now they seem to have come up with a solution to their zoning woes. They are not expanding in the same location. They are going for broke somewhere else.
At the end of last summer they announced that they are working on a brand new theme park in Florida, Universal’s Epic Universe. And it’s separate from their other main parks of Universal Studios and Universal Islands Of Adventure plus the water theme park (Volcano Bay) and the night-time entertainment and retail district (CityWalk). It’s even separate from the six Universal hotels (Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Royal Pacific Resort, Sapphire Falls Resort, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Aventura Hotel). This is now to be known collectively as the North Campus
Epic Universe is the first park to go into what will become the South Campus, 15 minutes down the road. That’s not all. An old, abandoned 64 acre site that was home to the classic Wet And Wild water park sat directly between the two areas.
On this location the company have already built the Endless Summer Resort and Hotel and opened it just in time for COVID19. Check out the area map.
The North Campus is roughly 725 acres, whereas the newly acquired South version is district is 750 acres. So this gives them the opportunity to double in size and removes the restrictions being boxed in by highways placed at the old park.
Universal say they will provide shuttle busses across their sites and to ease traffic they are spending $160m in Orange County to improve Kirkman Road and the interchanges.
Commentators have noted that Epic Universe, based on the drawings, is the first Universal park to adopt the traditional wheel-and-spoke design that Disney employ in all their parks.
However their deployment of this park design has been given a Universal spin. Rather than a single feature like Cinderella’s Castle the conceptual art shows this area as massive and containing structures, attractions, dining and rides in its own right.
What does seem new in the plans are that each of the parks four different lands are totally isolated from each other, meaning you have to go back to the central hub to transit from land to land. This prevents them blending into each other along the fringes and blurring theming. It points to immersive lands, such as the Wizarding World of across at the other campus.
One such land is Super Nintendo World. This will be based on the land to be premiered at Universal Japan this year and in Hollywood in 2022.
The park is due to open in 2023, so we expect new lands to be revealed in due course. An Epic Monsters Land based on their classic catalogue including Dracula and The Wolfman is strongly rumored.