Universal’s Epic Universe Is “Bursting Out of the Ground,” Ready to End Disney’s Reign in Orlando

Universal’s Epic Universe Is “Bursting Out of the Ground,” Ready to End Disney’s Reign in Orlando
Credit: Universal/ Dreamworks/ Nintendo/ Canva

What if I told you there hadn’t been a new significant Theme Park built in Orlando since 1999? You’d probably feel like that sounds wrong, but it’s the truth. Although there have been new additions and remodels, a new Park hasn’t called Orlando home in over twenty years. However, all that is about to change: announced in 2019, Universal’s Epic Universe will open summer of 2025. Its concept and development have everyone talking! Universal Orlando will bring Central Florida’s first NEW Theme Park this century, and if the hype is true, it could be the final straw as Guests continue to grow indignant toward Disney World

What Do We Know About Epic Universe

Epic Universe

Credit: Universal (Epic Universe)

The excitement around Epic Universe is palpable. Rumors run deep as construction on the new Park continues going up. While doubling the existing size of Universal Orlando, to say that the inclusion of Epic Universe to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure is highly anticipated would be a tremendous understatement. Incorporating new technology, beloved intellectual properties, and new takes on extinct fan-favorite attractions, Epic Universe may be the Park that finally converts many Disney fans. 

As Universal Studios has gained more popularity recently, we can safely assume that opening a brand new Park with fan-favorite IPs such as Super Mario Bros., Universal Monsters, and How to Train Your Dragon will easily draw Guests to the Park. If that wasn’t enough, a brand-new addition to Universal’s Wizarding World lands will also be part of Epic Universe. The popular vote from the rumor mill currently rests with the Ministry of Magic, joining Hogsmead, Hogwarts, and Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando.



In an interview with Attraction Magazine, Universal’s President and COO Tharin White had this to say: “This is going to be one of the biggest theme parks and one of the highest budgeted theme parks ever built.” As aerial photos show a great deal of progression on the Park, and we start to get a realistic idea of the scale of Epic Universe, it’s increasingly difficult to argue. Seeing the How to Train Your Dragon statues in place as well as the massive green and yellow tracks of Epic Universe’s own dueling coaster (which is a nice nod to Dueling Dragons), is setting a powerful precedent for what Guests can expect upon opening in two years. “This is definitely going to be a really positive replacement. I mean, this is a worthy replacement for a dueling coaster,” White said.

The Rivalry between Disney and Universal

Oswald Disneyland

Credit: Disney

The sheer size of Epic Universe is enough to make any other Theme Park operating in competition with Universal Studios jealous, maybe even nervous. Coming off of the successful reinvigoration of Super Mario Bros, and combined with undying hysteria for Harry Potter, the new addition will do some damage to those attempting to keep up with the Jones. This includes Disney, who has been in competition with Universal longer than some of us have been alive.

Although Walt Disney World only sits a few miles down I-4 in Orlando, it remains relatively untouched and secluded from the rest of the world. That was at least until recently when Disney entered into a legal battle with the governor of Florida, Ron Desantis. Although Disney has operated in its own bubble since 1971, one thorn in its side has always been its “little brother” down the street. The competition between Universal and Disney is well-documented, and to quote Walt himself, “It all started with a mouse.” Well, in this case, it was a rabbit.


Feuding between the two companies began when Walt Disney found himself swindled out of the rights to his initial foundational character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Universal took over the character, thus leading to an eternal waging of war between the two companies. Interestingly enough, losing Oswald to Universal forced Walt and Ub Iwerks to sit down and find a new lead for Disney, and that is how Mickey Mouse was born. Although Disney regained the rights to Oswald, this wouldn’t be the last time Disney and Universal would face off. 

Michael Eisner with Mickey Mouse

Credit: Disney

In 1981, Disney was experiencing a surge in their Parks. Life was good! Soon-to-be Disney CEO and then President of Paramount, Michael Eisner, was working with MCA CEO Sidney Sheinberg to bring a movie-central Theme Park to Orlando. Sound familiar? It should; we’re talking about Universal Studios. Of course, you probably know the rest. Eisner left the company and became chairman at Disney in 1984. Shortly after his Disney career began, Eisner made waves when introducing Disney’s newest Park idea, MGM Studios. This idea was almost a carbon copy of the project that he was privy to while at Paramount, and the move only served to deteriorate any relationship between the two brands.

Fans Unhappy with Disney World

Space Mountain Full Trash Can

Credit: Disney/ Disney Dining

There are several other chapters to the Universal versus Disney rivalry. The story runs deep from the sketchy partnership with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to odd distribution rights over Marvel characters. Although most loyal Disney fans are familiar with the history between the two entertainment giants, this hasn’t stopped Guests who frequent Walt Disney World to begin stepping out of the Disney bubble in preference of that “other Park down I-4.”


Much like the real world, there is a great divide between Disney World visitors and supporters. As Disney continues to ignore one side of their fanbase and throws their hat into different socio-political arenas, more frequent visitors say, “Enough!” Fans are not only unhappy with the direction The Walt Disney Company is taking by supporting and promoting hot-button social issues; they’re upset further that the company they’ve been so loyal to is bleeding them dry financially. Walt Disney World has become lavish; even when attempting to “cut the fat” and visit on a budget, the traditional family needs thousands of dollars to vacation at the Resort. Add on penny-pinching measures like charging for Genie+ (essentially Fastpass), complicated reservation systems, and E-ticket attractions that aren’t guaranteed to operate; many fans have had enough of Walt Disney World. 


Fans Flocking to Universal Orlando

Those same fans who have seemingly given up on Walt Disney World are finding peace over at Universal Studios. Although not much cheaper, Guests are happy to spend their time in the Parks, not staring at their phones or vying for early morning, lotto-style, virtual queues. Sure, the experiences differ. Customer service is not up-to-par with Disney World, but according to Disney Guests, Cast Members are different from what they used to be anyhow. Other fans cite the prices of Annual Passes to Universal Studios, which stand at half the costs of Walt Disney World, along with add-ons such as Halloween Horror Nights, as a better buy.

Needless to say, Universal Studios, with its adult-oriented focus, is becoming more popular among the Disney faithful. Not only is Universal cheaper, but the attractions and shows are also geared towards audiences seeking thrills compared to fairy tales. Many have tried Universal out of necessity due to the rising cost of visiting Walt Disney World and have realized that they enjoy it. Butterbeer, Minions, Marvel Comics, Jurassic Park, Super Nintendo World; what’s not to like?

Epic Universe Will Change the Game For Disney and Universal

WDW Disneyland Universal

Credit: Disney and Universal

The 750-acre expansion of Universal Studio’s Epic Universe will put massive pressure on Disney to keep up. Although Disney has hinted at some potentially exciting news with the suggestions of reworking parts of Animal Kingdom and building a villain-themed Park, more concrete is needed. On the other hand, Universal is steadily working through record temperatures in the middle of the summer to get Epic Universe up and running on time. Considering it took Disney over four years to build Tron Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom, I’d say the expedition of Epic Universe by Universal is pretty exciting.


Ultimately it remains to be seen how Disney will counter the opening of Epic Universe or if they even can. But as Guests continue to complain about Park conditions, Disney’s insistence on alienating groups of people by involving themselves in political spectacle leaves fans conflicted. In contrast, their films continue to perform terribly; Disney must think of something to keep up. Unlike the popular additions of the Wizarding World to Universal Orlando, Disney doesn’t have Star Wars as its competitive “ace in the hole” anymore. In fact, their last “Star Wars” idea will be closing its doors in a few weeks. That ship is quit literally, grounded.


About Michael Arnold

Michael is a father, husband, and an Army Veteran. Michael spends his weekends at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando checking out new merchandise and food. Michael is a graduate of the University of Alabama and has an education background in Public Health. You can find Michael riding Pirates of the Caribbean over and over again or binge watching new Marvel and Star Wars content. Han shot first. Thor is the strongest Avenger. Roll Tide and Wash Your Hands!