Scenic Paint, New Construction, and Multiple Attraction Permits – Orlando ParkStop

Scenic Paint, New Construction, and Multiple Attraction Permits – Orlando ParkStop

With two years until Universal’s newest theme park opens, some finer details are starting to show up around the Epic Universe work site. Now that colorful paint is appearing at Super Nintendo World and How to Train Your Dragon, it’s hard to believe the park won’t be opening sooner! With roads and other infrastructure, as well as three new hotels, Universal has more on their plate than just a new park though.

Let’s dig into construction progress for the whole park, new theming details, as well as some new permits, in today’s news update. See the video version of this story below for additional visuals.

Thanks to new aerial photos taken by Bioreconstruct on Twitter, we are able to see all of the progress around the Epic Universe site. Compare the official concept art below to the current state of the work site in the aerial photo.

Official concept art for Epic Universe with speculated lands labeled

Current look at construction of Epic Universe, Aerial Photos by: Bioreconstruct

Super Nintendo World

Diving right into construction progress around the park, the portal into Super Nintendo World has received framing for what appear to be escalators.

Wide view of Super Nintendo World at Epic Universe

As we have previously reported, we will enter the warp pipe themed portal and then use escalators to take us from the ground to the upper level. That way we can enter through Peach’s Castle, which is being built on the upper level in Epic Universe, similar to how it is in Universal Studios Japan, and not how it is in Hollywood’s smaller version of the land.

Portal entry into Super Nintendo World

Plans also call for an elevator with a small path leading to it within the warp pipe, but most guests will be entering via an escalator. After arriving to the upper level, we will still pass through the lobby of Peach’s Castle, with paintings hanging on the walls, before emerging into the main Super Nintendo World land.

Also visible atop the warp pipe-themed portal entry, new supports have been installed. Each of the portals into the lands of Epic Universe will feature at least one tall themed element, known as beacons. This will help with wayfinding within the center of the park, making it easier to locate the lands’ entries. Nintendo’s is expected to be themed as several colorful pipes, with power-ups above them.

Future Mario Kart entrance seen at number 2

Inside of the land, the many structures within the Mushroom Kingdom courtyard are being enclosed, including the entry facade for the Mario Kart ride. This ride entrance, located on the second level, will be shaped like Bowser’s Fortress.

Arrow at opening for indoor scene in middle of Yoshi ride

Areas surrounding the Yoshi’s Adventure family ride are being enclosed as well, including the indoor scene in the middle of the ride path. Below the Yoshi ride, the entrance portal to the Donkey Kong Country mini-land at the back of the area is beginning to take shape.

Opening for Donkey Kong land seen on right

The Donkey Kong mine cart roller coaster attraction is already receiving theming, including golden bricks along its temple facade.

Donkey Kong coaster, with arrow at area being painted

This unique roller coaster will make it appear as though you are jumping over gaps in the track by hiding the real track below.

Back view of Donkey Kong roller coaster attraction

A water feature leading from a waterfall on the front of the temple facade has been shaped, showing the water flowing from the temple to an outdoor section of the ride where we pass over the water. Pipes have been installed in this area, which will reclaim the flowing water from where it ends.

Water feature at center of photo

The future ride entrance is located to the left of the start of this water feature.

Ride entrance where people seen in photo

What appears to be the pyramids for a section of the Mushroom Kingdom is being staged within this area before it is installed.

While there will only be one entrance into Super Nintendo World, plans do show a couple exit paths on the lower level. These exit paths pass right by a retail location that we expect will be a Nintendo store that faces the park’s central hub.

Retail location facing hub, connected to quick service restaurant seen on right

Work on the exterior of this possible Nintendo store continues, as well as the connected quick service restaurant on its right.

Central Hub Rides

Nearby, in the center of the park, a lot of work is happening at the hub’s central flat ride.

Work on flat ride in center of Epic Universe

Expected to be named “Constellation Carousel” according to a recent trademark, the structure for this attraction is shown to have an almost stained-glass-style canopy over top in official concept art.

Domed attraction as seen in official concept art

The support structures for this domed roof are being installed now. Although only a couple supports have been installed so far, we can see the footings for each of the supports all the way around the structure.

We do not expect the entire structure to be enclosed, and you can see a cut-out shape that may remain open air near the base of each support. This would allow riders of the carousel to still have a good view out into the park, and surrounding water feature that the attraction sits on.

Newer photo showing additional supports installed

A maze of pipes are being installed, all leading to and from a water pump room which was installed first below the ride level. These pipes will be for water within this central lagoon in the middle of the park, as well as waterfalls within the lagoon section near the entry to the park. There are also decorative fountains expected within the central lagoon, which pipes are just now starting to be installed for.

Pipes seen under the ride platform

The lagoon near the front of the park is where you find the full-service restaurant structure seen in the next photo. The tiered dining room inside will feature views overlooking the water through picture windows on the sides of this octagonal-shaped dining establishment.

Dining location construction at Epic Universe

In addition to a carousel, the second attraction for the park’s central hub is this massive dual-track roller coaster.

Large roller coaster seen at center of photo

Expected to be named Starfall Racers, according to a recent trademark, most of the work related to this attraction in recent weeks has been for structures beneath the track, but some new track has finally been installed!

The new track is located on top of the station structure, seen at number 1 in the next photo, and wrapped in corrugated plastic to protect it during construction, will be the ride’s final brake run. The covered area to the right, seen at number 3 in the photo, may be related to the ride’s entry and queue areas.

There is still a lot of track to be installed for this attraction, especially for the latter half of the ride, beginning with the coaster’s second launch and what will become its tallest point.

Additional work and staging near ride entry

The supports for the second launch were just installed, seen in the next photo above the maintenance bay. And a couple pieces of track were added as well, leading into this area and seen at number 1 in the photo below, so that may be the next section to be completed.

Second launch about to be installed at number 1

Park Entrance

Recent permits included updated plans for the central hub areas of Epic Universe, including the park’s future entrance. Construction on this area has been quick, with the buildings on the right side of the entry area already enclosed and a roof installed.

Park entry area seen at number 1 in this photo

Now, new steel has been installed along the front of these structures. This is for the covered walkway, just inside the park, on the right. This covered walkway is set in front of what permits call multi-purpose buildings, which may include guest services, stroller and wheelchair rentals, and retail.

Covered walkway structures seen at number 2, new footings for arch at number 1

Also showing up in this area are what may be the first sections of the park’s large entry arch. Unlike the arch at Universal Studios Florida, we will enter Epic Universe under this arch after passing through the turnstiles and security booths, which will be built below this area.

Permitted plans filed with Orange County with labels added

The image above shows how the area looks in the recent permitted plans, and the image below show how the arch appears in the official concept art.

Close up of park entry in official concept art

Dark Universe

Heading back into the park’s lands, let’s take a look around the Universal Monsters area, which we believe will be named Dark Universe.

Overview of Universal Monsters land, number 1 at portal entry into land

The portal into the land has received the most themed elements. Even though most of the portals start with the same basic shape, they are being covered in their own themed elements to help set the tone for the land you are about to enter.

The Dark Universe portal was rumored to contain a beacon atop themed as an electrical antenna, reminiscent of Frankenstein, and it is starting to look like that may be what is being built at the very top here.

Portal into the “Dark Universe” area of Epic Universe

In addition to the antenna on top, we’ve been expecting an old tree with roots wrapping around the portal to be added, and it appears that is exactly what has been built. This mesh framing appears to look like tree roots. Some rockwork-type elements have already received a top coat, which these roots will receive next.

Restaurant seen on right inside land, retail location on left

Inside of the land, the area’s main restaurant, expected to be named The Stakehouse, can be seen on the right in the photo above. So far a trademark has not been filed for that name. A new trademark that could possibly be related to the park has been filed since our last update however.

Recent trademark that may or may not be related to the park, U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

“Oddities & Monstrosities” has been filed for use as a retail store. Perhaps that could be the name for the land’s main retail location, located on the left side of the entry street. We do not have confirmation that this trademark will be used for this park, but it was filed along with others that will be, so it is possible.

Ahead of us, at the end of the land’s main street, the facade for the area’s main attraction is still covered in scaffolding as it receives more details.

Main attraction’s entry facade covered in scaffolding on right, “drink stand” seen at arrow

It has long been rumored that this indoor ride will feature a ride system similar to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. A new Notice of Commencement for work related to this area of the park may have finally just confirmed this, as the document lists KUKA Robotics Corporation as the contractor. That is the company that produces the robotic arms used on the Harry Potter ride.

Recent document showing KUKA Robotics Corporation as the contractor,

To the left of the main ride’s entry, the framing for what permits call a drink stand is starting to make it look like a small cottage or barn with a chimney. That design goes along with the large barn section of the area’s outdoor roller coaster attraction.

Drink Stand seen at number 2, roller coaster seen at number 3

How to Train Your Dragon – The Isle of Berk

Over in the How to Train Your Dragon area, one of the two statues is receiving color, specifically the dragon statue on the right. These two statues are sitting within a lagoon, and will be the first things guests see when entering the land.

To get a sense of just how large the statues are, take note of the scale of the workers seen near the base on the right in the photo below, or the worker seen on the scaffolding near the head of the dragon. These statues are absolutely huge.

The lagoon that the statues sit in is receiving other themed elements, including several boats, which were also seen in permitted plans. The scenic boats are now covered in scaffolding themselves while they are being built.

Scenic boats seen at numbers 1 and 2

Various rocks can also be seen scattered throughout the area. And the walls have been themed, and many painted, to make this lagoon appear to have been constructed by the viking residents of the Isle of Berk themselves.

Painted themed walls seen at number 2

Work on a bridge over a section of this lagoon is going on now, seen at number 3 in the photos above and below. This bridge passes over a moment where the area’s roller coaster track passes below the water level.

Some themed elements are receiving work on land, beside this section of the lagoon, shown at number 1 in the photo above. Permitted plans seem to show these elements as rock shapes, but it is hard to tell as they are currently covered.

Multiple recent Notices of Commencement related to work within this section of Epic Universe lists LifeFormations as the contractor. That company, which recently changed its name to LF Studios, was behind many of the animatronics and figures for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and specialize in outdoor figures. The documents describe the work as for “Creative Elements,” so it’s possible that they have been hired to create multiple dragon animatronics or static figures for this part of the park.

Recent document showing LifeFormations as the contractor,

The foundations for the two Sky Fly spinner rides have shown up at the back of the Dragons area. And prep work has begun for what plans describe as a kids’ play area.

Area for Sky Fly rides and play area on right side of photo, just to left of Starfall Racers

The front of the dual-load station for the coaster attraction has been buried to make it level with the ground, while the back of this area is still set lower beneath it.

Coaster station on left, Great Hall restaurant on right

At the center of the land, footings for scenic elements are being installed atop of the roof of the Great Hall restaurant. It is rumored that a mountain-like structure will be built here, using forced perspective. That will give the Great Hall its cliff face appearance, as seen in the films.

A connected retail location has received its framing. This gift shop is connected to the Great Hall restaurant by a set of restrooms in the middle according to permits.

Great Hall restaurant with arrow at connected retail location

The tiered seating area for the land’s indoor stage show is still visible, for now. But the structure’s walls are nearly all up, and it will be getting its roof soon.

Stage show theater for How to Train Your Dragon at Epic Universe

Wizarding World

The entry into the area of the park we believe will be a new Wizarding World land continues to take shape, with a literal wall being constructed along the right side of the portal.

Entry area for WIzarding World land, with portal seen on bottom-right

This wall will likely be surrounded by trees and landscaping, but does show how the lands are intended to only have one way in.

Wall extending from portal to block in land from hub

The main street for this land is expected to look like the Parisian street, complete with arch, as seen in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. An open-air alley side street can be seen on the right, with the area’s two attractions located on the back-left.

Wide view of entire Wizarding World land, with large attraction building on back-left of area

The largest attraction is expected to be an indoor dark ride that has been rumored to be based on the Harry Potter series, which will be set within the largest indoor building at Epic Universe.

The smaller attraction looks to be an indoor stage show, which is rumored to be based on the Fantastic Beasts series. As we discussed in our last update, permits indicate that the stage show will include live actors and special effects. See our recent story for more details on the show, as well as what permits can tell us about the rest of the land as well.

The area on the back-right of the land continues to be fleshed out, with additional facades being installed, as well as a small retail location seen to the right of the concrete steps.

Number 1 are steps to nowhere at back of land, number 2 is where forced perspective backdrop is expected

These steps to nowhere will likely look something like the official concept art for the second Fantastic Beasts film, seen below, complete with a forced perspective skyline view at the top.

Official concept art from Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Warner Bros.

The tops of each of the French building facades are receiving intricate details, and it is rumored that some of these buildings along these Parisian streets may feature magical creatures to add some life to the otherwise realistic looking land.

New Universal Hotels

A lot of progress has been made for all three of the new Universal hotels for Epic Universe. The hotel at the back of the theme park, known as project 910, is making progress slowly. While work continues on the hotel’s first floor, the guest parking garage has seeming sprung up out of nowhere behind it.

Rounded hotel base, with new parking garage behind it on right

While one side of this hotel will feature views into the theme park, guests will check in and enter on the side opposite the park. After checking in, guests will be able to park in this small garage, exclusive for guests of this hotel only. When they’re ready to enter the theme park, all they have to do is exit their hotel out the back, with no need to drive anywhere.

Official concept art for Epic Universe showing hotel at the back of the theme park

While one side of this hotel will feature views into the theme park, guests will check in and enter on the side opposite the park. After checking in, guests will be able to park in this small garage, exclusive for guests of this hotel only. When they’re ready to enter the theme park, all they have to do is exit their hotel out the back, with no need to drive anywhere.

Opposite side of hotel, with new parking garage

According to permits, the parking garage for this hotel is being constructed by Finfrock, the same company behind the other two hotels across the street. Finfock specializes in a quick construction method of raising prefabricated walls into place. This hotel itself is being built by DPR Construction, and is using a more traditional building method.

Close up view of Project 910 hotel construction at back of Epic Universe park

Just south of the theme park, across the street, Universal is building two more hotels, known as projects 912 and 913. Since these hotels are being constructed by Finfrock, using the quicker construction method, the first of the two has already seen its main building constructed.

Kirkman Rd extension seen at number 1, project 912 hotel on right, and future site of 913 hotel on left

The hotel is known as Project 912, seen in the photo beliw, is located directly south of the park, on the right side of the newly extended Kirkman Rd. Work is starting on what should be the pool area of this hotel now that the main structure has been built.

Arrow at pool area for project 912 hotel, starting now

Closer view of project 912 hotel

On the other side of the extended Kirkman Rd., we can see work starting on its sister hotel, Project 913. So far only foundation work has started, but given the quick timeline for the other one, this project should be off the ground in no time.

Project 913 hotel site seen in foreground, with work just starting now

Foundation work beginning for project 913 hotel site

Roads and Parking

To get to Epic Universe, as well as these new hotels, from the existing Universal Orlando Resort, the company is working with Orange County to split the cost on extending Kirkman Rd. a couple extra miles south. This will allow it to connect directly from the existing theme parks and CityWalk, all the way down to Universal Blvd., near the Convention Center.

Kirkman Rd. extension construction seen in center of photo

Guests traveling between the existing parks and the new theme park will take an elevated exit off of this newly extended Kirkman Rd., as seen in a recently revealed illustration, shown below.

Kirkman Rd. flyover ramp exit to and from Epic Universe area, Orange County Planning Division

This flyover will allow general traffic to continue along ground level, and force anyone heading to or from the new theme park area to use the elevated exit. A traffic study conducted in 2019 says they project 28,000 vehicles to use this traffic circle per day.

Universal will be able to shuttle guests to and from their existing parks and hotels and the new Epic Universe site using dedicated bus lanes down the center of the extended Kirkman Rd.

Official map showing location of new park in relation to existing resort, with Kirkman Rd between them

And finally, below is a recent look at the parking lot for Epic Universe. As you can see this large flat parking lot is currently being used by the many people working on building the new park, and even for staging some elements, like the track for the dual-track roller coaster. But in just two short years, we’ll be parking here, for our first day at the new park.

Future flat parking lot for Epic Universe, with theme park located to its left

Closer view of staged materials in Epic Universe parking lot

That’s going to wrap it up for this update, but be sure to check out the video version of this story for additional visuals. A huge thank you to Bioreconstruct for the amazing aerial photographs. You can follow him on Twitter for more incredible theme park photos.

Be sure to check out the our last update for a closer look at permits for the Wizarding World area, and stay tuned for more construction updates.

Subscribe to the news feed or enter your email address below to never miss an update. Official Concept Art: Universal Orlando | Aerial Photos: Bioreconstruct | Permit Documents: | Graphics and Overlays: Alicia Stella | Other Images as Captioned

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