Universal ‘literally right on track’ for Epic Universe’s 2025 opening
Orlando, USA - May 8, 2018: The large rotating Universal logo globe on May 8, 2018. Universal Studios is one of Orlando famous theme parks.

Orlando, USA - May 8, 2018: The large rotating Universal logo globe on May 9, 2018.
'I think we're opening a theme park (at) the right time.'

Construction for Universal Orlando’s new theme park is on schedule to open by Summer 2025, an executive said Monday as he also traded shots with The Walt Disney Co. over their animation business.

Universal’s Epic Universe’s infrastructure and much of the steelwork are already completed so the construction process has moved into the vertical phase and is being built off the ground, said Jeff Shell, the CEO of NBCUniversal, which runs the theme park division.

“We’re right on track. Literally right on track,” Shell said during a question-and-answer session at the UBS Global TMT Conference.

Shell didn’t say exactly when the park will open but called the new park’s arrival “perfect timing” as Orlando International Airport opened a new terminal recently and the theme parks are packed with hotel bookings.

“There’s clearly a demand-supply imbalance. I think we’re opening a theme park (at) the right time,” Shell said.

What makes Epic Universe different from the two existing Universal Orlando theme parks — Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios — is its location near the Orange County Convention Center. For Universal, it’s going to be “an interesting experiment for us,” Shell said as the park seeks to tap into the nighttime convention business. Epic Universe was built so it can open one land for events while keeping the rest of the park open.

Nintendo is coming to Epic Universe, but Universal hasn’t officially shown what other land themes and rides will be debuting.

Shell acknowledged the importance of NBC’s DreamWorks Animation and Illumination for creating the “Shrek,” “Minions” and “Despicable Me” franchises. Characters from those films are appearing at the theme parks so the animation business has “giant implications” for the company, Shell went on to say.

Shell brought up competitor Disney which recently released the animated movie “Strange World” that’s been a major box office flop.

“Go back 10 years and say, ‘Is Disney ever going to be challenged in animation?’ I think most people, including me, would say ‘Impossible.’ They are the dominant player in animation. Their position is not going to be challenged ever,” Shell said. “I honestly think that not only are we challenging Disney and animation, but I would take our animation business over theirs.”

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704