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Epic Universe, Universal Orlando’s 3rd theme park, resumes construction

Universal Orlando Resort's Epic Universe concept art

Nature is healing. This morning Universal Orlando Resort, part of the Comcast family, announced that, after a 7 month pause, work is resuming on Universal Orlando Resort’s Epic Universe – a widely anticipated theme park that will grow the Orlando Resort beyond its existing footprint.

The original reveal for Epic Universe actually came long after word had begun on clearing the land for the theme park. Then, in July 2020, construction crews were asked to pause their projects as the company adjusted plans in the midst of the pandemic.

Work will restart immediately – but is expected to take several months before reaching full-speed as Universal re-staffs for the project and reassembles its vendor and contractor teams.

This is good news for the central Florida economy as the construction is expected to result in thousands of jobs. These positions include highly skilled professional positions, all levels of construction jobs and beyond.

When complete, the Epic Universe project will infuse billions of dollars into the Florida economy – and create more than 14,000 permanent jobs in addition to the thousands of jobs that will be created during its development.

“The restart of construction of Epic Universe is a terrific moment for our employees and for our theme park business in Florida,” said Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation. “It is our single-largest investment in the state and represents our enthusiasm for the spectacular park and the economic opportunities it will generate.”

“We are excited to begin work on Epic Universe again and for what this moment means for our industry, our community, our business and our team members,” said Tom Williams, Chairman and CEO for Universal Parks & Resorts. “Our confidence in our collective future is as strong as ever.”

“The resumption of the Epic Universe project couldn’t come at a better time,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings. “Our community has so many talented workers who will benefit from this massive project. I am confident it will deliver a huge economic boost to Orange County.”

The folks in the executive suite at Walt Disney World may not think so, but the stronger Universal Orlando Resort becomes, the better it is for Disney. Having to innovate to stay ahead of your competitor is a great driver for growth.

Universal’s exuberance for the future might be over projected. Domestic travel might return swiftly, but international travel might take years to return to 2019 levels. That said, there is clearly a pent up demand for travel after being stuck at home for the last 12 months.

The timeline for building a new theme park from the ground up is typically 3-5 years. Epic Universe had about 1 year under its belt already at the time of pause and was just about ready to go vertical.

It’s still unknown if the original plans for EPIC have changed. For instance, the park might open without a complete complement of lands and continue construction on new lands if demand materializes.

No official opening date has been announced, nor do we expect to hear one until Universal gets a much better handle on how the project is progressing over the coming months and years.

As originally announced, Epic Universe will feature a new theme park, an entertainment center, hotels, shops, restaurants and more. It will be located on a 750-acre site that nearly doubles Universal’s total available acreage in Central Florida.

The park itself is located a few miles from Universal Orlando’s current theme parks in Southwest Orange County – specifically, south of Sand Lake Road and east of Universal Boulevard. It’s just across the street from Rosen Shingle Creek and very near the 528 Highway.

“Our vision for Epic Universe is historic,” Mr. Williams said at the time the project was announced. “It will build on everything we have done and become the most immersive and innovative theme park we have ever created.”

At The Disney Blog, we’re taking a wait and see approach, but it’s good news that work has begun again. We hope Universal’s epic optimism in the future is well placed.