Universal Orlando Resort has revealed the first official look at one of five new lands slated to open as part of its Universal Epic Universe park, and confirmed the themes of three additional lands.
On Tuesday, the Florida-based NBCUniversal theme park and resort teased Celestial Park, a land that embodies the literal “park” experience with lush, living gardens, shimmering waterways, and stroll-worthy paths alongside astronomical and mythological-inspired architecture. It also confirmed the themes of Epic Universe’s three previously unannounced parks beyond Super Nintendo World: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic, How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk and Dark Universe.
“Universal Epic Universe marks a huge transformational moment for Universal Orlando Resort and it will change everything about our destination,” Karen Irwin, president & chief operating officer of Universal Orlando Resort, said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
A gateway to Epic Universe’s four other lands, Celestial serves as the first stop for all park guests, and will feature in-park accommodations, fountain shows, a wet-play area, a carousel, a dual-launch racing coaster, and themed restaurants and shops.
The grand centerpiece of Celestial Park is Constellation Carousel, an all-ages attraction that takes guests on a whirl through the Milky Way. Park attendees will not only glide forward and backward on constellations, but make 360-degree rotations in what the park describes as a “dance of music and starlight.”
Among the park’s other attractions is the Starfall Racers, which launches guests into a rocketing race along 5,000 feet of track aboard competing comets, reaching up to 62 mph and heights of 133 feet. A dual-racing attraction, the coaster also features various maneuvers such as the “Celestial Spin,” which sees two vehicles perform an inverted crisscross while speeding through the air.
A central and immersive feature of the park will be the interactive wet-play area, Astronomica. A collection of crystal blue fountains that spring to life around guests, the attraction doubles as a giant compass, pointing park attendees to the various lands of Epic Universe. Additional fountain shows, some reaching up to 135 feet in the air and programmed to sway to music and interactive lighting day-round, will be located throughout the land’s seven acres of water.
The park will serve as home to the Universal Helios Grand Hotel, a 500-room resort located at the end of the park, with unique views and a dedicated entrance, bringing guests to the place in the world where the heavens and earth unite. A collection of themed restaurants and shops will also be available, including the Atlantic, a full-service “surf and turf” restaurant inside a Victorian aquarium with views of the land; the Blue Dragon Pan-Asian Restaurant, another full-service experience accented with neon dragons and ethereal lanterns that features an authentic Chinese, Japanese and Thai menu.
The Oak & Star Tavern’s savory barbecue, Pizza Moon’s variety of pizza pies, and Moonship Chocolates & Celestial Sweets’ unique selection will serve as quicker service options, alongside retail locations like the Nintendo Super Star Store.
Portals that capture the distinct theme and creativity of the remaining four lands take guests from Celestial Park to inside the Ministry of Magic, where park attendees will experience the 1920s era of the wizarding world. This land serves as a blend of Paris in the Fantastic Beasts films and the British Ministry of Magic from the Harry Potter series.
Super Nintendo World — which already opened at Universal Studios Hollywood last year and was confirmed as part of Epic Universe in February 2023 — will usher guests through the iconic green pipe where they can access attractions and experiences based in the shared universe of Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Donkey Kong.
First teased as a Dreamworks’ land last July, the Isle of Berk allows park-goers soar with dragons and take part in Viking adventures inspired by How to Train Your Dragon movie franchise. Finally, the Dark Universe will call upon fans of Universal’s classic horror films, with encounters featuring the experiments of Dr. Victoria Frankenstein amid a shadowy landscape home to monsters, myth, and mystery.
Universal’s Epic Universe is part of a larger strategy for the Universal Destinations & Experiences division to increase weeklong vacations on-site. Together, the five lands will feature more than 50 attractions, entertainment, dining, and shopping experiences. It’s the newest of now four NBCUniversal theme parks based out of Florida, with the other three being Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay.
In September, CEO of Universal Destinations & Experiences Mark Woodbury announced the park would use “facial recognition, photo validation technology” to support a “frictionless experience.”
“It’s the most technologically advanced park we’ve ever done,” Woodbury said at the Bank of America Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. “And that speaks to both the attractions themselves, the next generation of robotics drone technology, all the way through to the guest experience. The full guest journey is really being taken to a whole new level.”