Universal Orlando's New Epic Universe Park May Have A Very Unusual Design, But It Could Be Amazing

Epic Universe concept art
(Image credit: Universal Parks and Resorts)

While it’s a big deal whenever any theme park unveils a brand new attraction, that happens basically every year at the major parks. What doesn’t happen every year is an entirely new theme park, which is why fans have their eye on Universal Orlando Resort as its third park, Epic Universe, is set to open in 2025. And when it does, it may be unlike most other parks of its kind. 

While there’s a lot that we think we know about what Epic Universe will be when it opens to the public, only the planned Super Nintendo Land has ever been officially confirmed. One interesting rumor, however, is that the park may include an “open hub”. Which is to say that part of the park might be available for guests to visit without a ticket. Recent comments by Comcast CEO Jeff Shell at the UBS Investor Conference (via Scott Gustin) would seem to lend credence to the rumor, as he recently explained that the park is actually built for guests to visit one land and not the whole thing. Shell said…

That park is close to the convention center, so it’s an interesting experiment for us. We believe we can get the attendance we need just on the basis of the demand in the market, but it’s also going to be interesting to see as the convention business comes back, the park is built so that you can come into one land and not the whole park, then are we going to get night time convention business?

Concept art of Universal Orlando's third park, Epic Universe, shows a park that is build much more like Disneyland or Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom than other Universal parks. It uses a “hub and spoke” model where the different lands come together into a central plaza, and guests can go off in any direction to whatever area they wish to experience. 

The Open Hub Rumor 

The open hub rumor, which has been around for a while, has indicated that the area where guests enter the park might actually be open to the public, meaning that guests that wanted to go shopping or dine in some of the park’s restaurants, would be able to do so without buying a ticket. It would be like being able to visit Main Street U.S.A at Disneyland for free and only needing a ticket if you wanted to move on to visit the rest of the park.

It’s an interesting idea that has some obvious upsides. As Jeff Shell says here, visitors who are visiting Orlando’s convention center for work could pop over to Epic Universe, which isn’t that far away, and spend money. One certainly doesn’t expect somebody spending the day at the convention center to buy a ticket just for an evening’s entertainment. 

What Else It Could Mean For Epic Universe 

Of course, it’s also possible that Shell is saying something a little different. Because of the hub system, perhaps Epic Universe will have the ability to sell tickets for only part of the park. Whatever technology that could be implemented to allow for an open hub could also potentially be used to allow, or prevent, guests from moving to various areas of the park depending on what kind of ticket they had. 

We could also see things change over time. Perhaps the hub area will be limited guests for most of the day, but will open in the evenings as a way to entice additional visitors to come and spend money. 

Up until now theme parks have always been all or nothing. Since Disneyland did away with ticket books, parks have given guests the ability to do whatever they want inside as long as they pay the upfront cost. It certainly sounds like Epic Universe is going to do something different. What exactly it means, or how it all works, we’ll have to wait and see. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.