Universal's Epic Universe reveal announcement was light on details but high on scale and ambition - is this Universal upping the theme park game again?
We all knew it was coming. Groundwork has been taking place for months and leaks told us what to expect from the park, but that didn’t make today’s announcement any less exciting.
For the past decade, Orlando has been a battleground between Disney and Universal, the latter who has seen constant record growth in attendance in their resort as a result of heavy investment in hotels, a new waterpark and two large scale themed lands dedicated to Harry Potter. Disney has begun to respond to this with ‘Pandora – World of Avatar’, heavy investment in new rides, accommodation and resort infrastructure and a certain outpost on the planet of Batuu soon to debut.
However, there hasn’t been a new major THEME park in Orlando in over 20 years, where Universal’s Islands of Adventure quickly followed Disney’s Animal Kingdom and these revolutionary new lands that rewrote the rules on themeing and guest experience are simply that – lands in an existing theme park. To get to Batuu you will have to walk past a theatre showing a Frozen singalong and past the Muppet theatre. To get to Diagon Alley you have to walk past Fast & Furious Supercharged.
Using a ‘hub and spoke’ design for Universal’s Epic Universe will help greatly solve the above problem. The main stretch along the center from the main entrance leading up to the hotel will clearly have themeing, landscaping and character, but it wont have rides and attractions of yesteryear interrupting your path towards Nintendoland for example – this is the first entire theme park built around the concept of ‘immersive’ individual lands.
What this all mean for the end user – the thrillseeker or family on holiday? It means quality and lots of it. Whilst there have been projects like Hogsmede and Pandora, both Disney and Universal have produced lesser received projects like Toy Story Land and Fast & Furious Supercharged respectively. Whilst today’s announcement is no cast iron guarantee that each of the four lands pictured will be out of world (cuts are common in theme park development as costs during construction rise and rise) it is a stake in the ground from Universal that the heavy investment and very high quality lands and attractions we’ve seen is far from a passing trend – they are successful to the point of being able to justify the creation of first major new Orlando in over 20 years. The gloves are off Disney, and it’s your move next.