As you may have heard us discussing in Episode 38 of the podcast, Universal Orlando Resort held a press conference at the Orange County Convention Center today. The purpose of the presser was not formally announced, but as many had expected, it was held to announce the opening of a new theme park in Orlando!
According to Chairman and CEO of the Comcast Corporation, Brian Roberts, "Our new park represents the single-largest investment Comcast-NBC-Universal has made in its theme park business and in Florida.” Universal Parks & Resorts is a wholly owned subsidiary of NBC-Universal, which in turn, is a division of the Comcast Corporation.
Chairman and CEO of Universal Parks & Resorts, Tom Williams, said that they don’t want to unveil all their plans for the park due to competitive concerns, but he did offer up some verbal teasers including the suggestion that, “a Universe is bigger than a World.” Williams also said, “Our vision for Epic Universe is historic. It will build on everything we have done and become the most immersive and innovative theme park we have ever created." John and Eric speculated about a Nintendo World during the podcast. This isn't purely rumor. Universal and Nintendo did announce a partnership to create theme park attractions based on Nintendo’s popular gaming franchises back in 2016. There were also pictures of a Super Nintendo World model leaked in that same time frame; although, it could have been commissioned for the park in Osaka, Japan rather than Orlando. In any case, the model appears to be based almost entirely on the Mario Brothers game franchise.
Other rumors have suggested additional themed areas that might be part of the design including: Fantastic Beasts, How To Train Your Dragon and Universal's classic monster franchises (e.g. Frankenstein, Dracula).
According to company officials, the new park will require an additional 14,000 employees, including professional, technical, culinary and other specialized positions. It's a significant expansion to the 25,000 people employed at their three existing parks and may well be indicative of the size and breadth of their investment.
Based on a map that was later released via the official Universal Orlando Resort Twitter account, Epic Universe will occupy some 750 acres - about as much land as the entire existing Universal Orlando Resort, combined.
Unfortunately, there were no official announcements regarding the construction plans or park opening dates. Although, clearing and grading of the property began several months ago. Executives promised that more news will be released in the near future.