3 Questions Answered About Future Universal Orlando Projects

Our inbox gets questions all the time from readers about various articles we have written here at Theme Park University. Since we have been hot on the trail of Universal rumors for quite some time, I figured we’d answer a few reader questions regarding some of those future announcements. Let’s dig in!

TPU reader Jason M asks, “Hey TPU, with the recent opening of Toy Story Land, I expected Universal Orlando to play Disney’s game and announce something on June 30. But we got nothing. Why didn’t we see any announcements about the new Hagrid coaster, the new nighttime show Universal Studios Florida… anything at all?”

Jason, that’s a great question and one that I don’t have an exact answer for. I can tell you at least some of it has to do with how attendance numbers are doing not only at Universal Orlando, but all theme parks in Central Florida. As you may have noticed, all the major players ran heavily discounted ticket deals in May and June to get numbers up during the crucial summer season.  That’s not normal.

There are some theories as to why numbers were forecasted to be soft in Orlando during early Summer 2018. A lot of it has to do with Fast & Furious Supercharged being the only major attraction to open in Central Florida. Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Infinity Falls at SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration all coming online after Memorial Day definitely hampered visitations in June.

However, there is also fear that guests are waiting for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Fall 2019. Believe it or not, major expansions like this drive visitor vacations and some guests do postpone Orlando vacations until they can do the next really big thing. No doubt, there is truth in this as well. Thus, Universal is now a little trigger shy to make any major announcements for next year due to at least the thought that guests could wait to spend their vacation dollars later rather than sooner.

Personally, I believe both Star Wars opening in 2019 and a lack of new attractions in the early Summer 2019 have a lot to do with it. Also, it’s fair to mention that Orlando parks and hotels now consider June to be a peak time of year, thus prices are typically at their highest. Combine that with the temps getting in the upper 90’s and everything else we just mentioned and it makes sense why numbers are down.

Without question, Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration will get lots of press very soon and will no doubt be Orlando’s sleeper hit of the summer when it debuts. Speaking of that new show…

Next up, reader Melissa P asks, “Hey, what is going on with the name of the new show in the Universal Studios Florida lagoon? I remember you kept using the word “epic” in a lot of your articles. And epic isn’t even in the name of the show. Was I misreading that hint you kept dropping?”

Nope, you were reading my hints correctly. For months now, the working title I kept hearing was “Universal Epic” which was to replace the old Universal Cinematic Spectacular.  Now it sounds odd, but the final name that was announced? Epic was not in the title at all. Don’t believe that it was an original working title?

Scattered around the Universal Studios Florida lagoon on the New York side are these boxes. They are actually designed to hold the projectors that will be used in the new show. If you notice though, all of them say “EPIC Shipping & Cargo”, which is a nod to what the original name was going to be.

As these things go, meetings happen and lots of people put their fingers in projects like this and changes are made last minute. In this case, the “epic” part of the new nighttime show name was dropped. However, it’s a nice piece of trivia to give your friends next time you’re walking through Universal Studios Florida.

Speaking of trivia, there’s a nice tribute (shrine?) to a Universal Creative executive in this section of the park now. You’ll notice to the right of Richter’s Burgers there is a section of the dock dedicated to Hightower Whiskey.

This is actually a nod to Mike Hightower, who’s been with Universal since 1995 and played a major role in the entertainment department. There are many nods to Universal executives and creative types scattered around the resort, but this is one of the largest I’ve seen.

Finally, reader Rebecca S asks, “You seem to know a lot about the new park that Universal Orlando is building, but hasn’t announced yet. Can you give us any hints about what to expect?”

I’ve gotten this question a lot over the past few months and to answer your question: it’s complicated. Keep in mind, Universal hasn’t formally acknowledged they are even building a new park in Orlando yet. There are several reasons for that as stated in a previous article. That doesn’t mean that a team isn’t secretly and quietly been hard at work designing this new park so when the proper permitting, land purchases and more is ready to go that they can start releasing some of the info to the public.

As with any new project (and even as we have seen with “Universal Epic”), things change. However, I’ve heard from several sources that a central theme and respective lands have been locked down.  Now you can call me paranoid all you like, but I know there are many eyeballs reading TPU every time I write about Universal from within the company who are higher up. Sometimes I’m a little too on the money if you catch my drift.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to let you tell me what the lands in the new park are going to be. Here’s how this is going to work. You (the readers of Theme Park University) are going to guess (if you truly know, that’s even better) what the new lands are going to be in the fourth park. If someone gets all six correct, I’ll give them credit in a follow-up article in the near future. Here are the parameters.

  1. There are four new lands that represent four brands that Universal either owns or has the rights to. You have to give me all four and be correct with all of them, not just three out of four. There is also an entrance plaza, just like with any park, but it isn’t tied to one specific IP – so that one doesn’t count.
  2. As a hint, I’ve told you exactly what one of them is in several previous articles.
  3. This is not what you’d personally like to see as lands in the park. If you’re a big fan of Woody Woodpecker and think he deserves his own land at a brand new theme park because he’s super popular? You’re out of touch with reality. This is about what would be a good fit for a new park designed for the masses.

Got it? You can only guess four, so you’ve got to be exactly on the nose! So give me a response on either the TPU Facebook or Twitter account with what those six lands would be and let’s see who can name all of them!

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