Florida’s Game-Changing Theme Park Set to Rewrite History and Skyrocket Demand, Disney to Lose Millions

in Universal Orlando

A side-by-side image featuring the vibrant Epic Universe amusement park at night on the left, and Mickey Mouse dressed in a tuxedo on the right, positioned as if hosting or presenting.

Credit: Inside The Magic

Florida, Central Florida to be exact, is gearing up to usher in a new level of theme park history when a new location, the Universal Epic Universe theme park, opens its doors in 2025, essentially rewriting Orlando’s history on hospitality demand.

Collage of Universal Studios attractions with a "big changes ahead" sign, suggesting upcoming transformations or updates at the theme park.
Image Credit: Inside The Magic

Universal Orlando Resort’s Epic Universe Theme Park to ‘Rewrite’ Orlando’s History in Hospitality Demand

Summer 2025 will reshape Orlando’s theme park grasp on Florida and the rest of the country. Epic Universe is steadily taking shape in the heart of Orlando, Florida, promising an immersive experience when it unveils its gates in 2025. Boasting five intricately themed lands, over 50 thrilling attractions, and an array of retail and dining options, this eagerly anticipated theme park is set to redefine entertainment in the Sunshine State.

At the core of Epic Universe lies Celestial Park, a vibrant oasis replete with lush gardens, tranquil waterways, and winding pathways. The Starfall Racers dual-launch racing coaster anchors this celestial realm, promising an adrenaline-pumping adventure for thrill-seekers of all ages. This Universal park will rival all Universal destinations around the globe, including the likes of Universal Studios Hollywood.

Venturing into SUPER NINTENDO WORLD, visitors will find themselves transported into the iconic universe of Nintendo franchises. From the high-octane excitement of Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge to the whimsical charm of Yoshi’s Adventure and the pulse-pounding Mine Cart Madness, this immersive land promises to bring beloved characters and games to life in unprecedented ways.

A fantastical concept rendering of a vibrant and bustling How To Train Your Dragon - Isle of Berk inside of Epic Universe at sunset, with imaginative attractions and structures, boats on water, and visitors enjoying the whimsical scenery.
Credit: Universal Creative – Isle of Berk Overview

For those who taste the macabre, Dark Universe beckons with its haunting allure. Delve into the twisted experiments of Dr. Victoria Frankenstein and come face-to-face with the legendary Universal Monsters in a gothic realm teeming with thrills and chills.

Every journey through Epic Universe would be complete with a visit to Harry Potter and the Ministry of Magic. Step into the enchanting world of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and immerse yourself in the magic and wonder of J.K. Rowling’s beloved series.

Rounding out the experience is How to Train Your Dragon – the Isle of Berk, a fantastical land that invites guests to soar through the skies alongside their favorite dragons. From exhilarating flight simulations to immersive encounters with the franchise’s beloved characters, this breathtaking realm promises to capture the imagination of young and old visitors.

Universal Epic Universe concept artwork for Celestial Park.
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

A New Theme Park Means New Resort Hotels, Equalling More People

As construction progresses and anticipation mounts, Epic Universe stands poised to revolutionize the theme park landscape, offering an unforgettable journey into familiar and fantastical worlds. With each themed land promising its unique blend of excitement, adventure, and wonder, the countdown to 2025 has never felt more electrifying.

With all these exciting new rides, worlds, lands, entertainment, experiences, and more, Epic Universe will give Universal a lead over Disney, at least according to some new numbers.

One of the most extensive drives for this new theme park will be its three new resort hotels, which will be Lowe’s Stella Nova and Terra Luna hotels, along with the latest Helios Grand Hotel, which will allow guests to stay in the resort for minimum travel to the theme park and its lands.

According to Michael Weinberg, a managing director at Berkadia’s Orlando office, the upcoming debut of Universal Orlando’s two new resorts, set to open in early 2025 with a combined 1,500 rooms, is just a fraction of what’s needed to meet the surge in hotel demand expected next year.

Weinberg highlighted the significant impact anticipated from the unveiling of the Epic Universe theme park in 2025, stating, “If you add this big demand driver in the market and then you look back at previous big demand generators — like when they said [Wizarding World of] Harry Potter in 2010 — the spike was around 10%-15%.

Concept artwork for Universal Orlando Resort hotel Terra Luna and Stella Nova next to Epic Universe.
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

This is like adding four or five Harry Potters.” He emphasized the historical trend of substantial increases in demand following significant theme park investments, suggesting that 2025 could become one of the most critical years, if not the largest, in the history of Orlando’s hospitality demand.

Weinberg further asserted that the demand generated by Epic Universe would far surpass any increase in supply resulting from Universal’s new resorts. He elaborated, “The Universal Boulevard [hotel] corridor always has been No. 2, from a revenue perspective, behind I-Drive — but I think it now will take over.”

Universal Orlando initially unveiled exterior renderings of the hotels in April 2023. The Orlando Business Journal (OBJ) caught sight of the ongoing construction of Universal Stella Nova Resort and Universal Terra Luna Resort in October 2023 before their official names were disclosed. Additional details emerged gradually in November and December, culminating in the announcement on April 11 of their opening dates, January 21 and February 25, respectively.

Alongside the opening dates, renderings of the interior designs and information about amenities were also revealed.

Aerial view of a large resort at Universal Orlando with two colorful building complexes surrounding a central lagoon and pool area, set amid lush greenery with a parking lot in the foreground.
Credit: Loews

Paul Sexton, managing director for HREC Orlando, characterized Universal’s Stella Nova and Terra Luna projects as emblematic of a trend reminiscent of Las Vegas-style hotel development in Orlando. He noted that these projects signify a shift towards the construction of large-scale hotels by the very entities that drive demand for accommodations.

Sexton suggested that this type of hotel project may become more prevalent in Orlando’s landscape, citing the challenges of developing smaller select-service hotels like Courtyard by Marriott or Hampton Inn due to construction costs and other factors. He emphasized that lodging projects are evolving to be larger and more intricate, indicating a trend toward a more upscale local inventory.

According to industry insights, there’s a noticeable trend where many of Orlando’s lower-end hotels and motels are undergoing conversions to alternative uses, paving the way for the rise of upscale and luxury properties. Notable examples include the Conrad and the JW Marriott Bonnet Creek.

A vibrant Universal Orlando resort scene with people enjoying a sunny day around a large swimming pool surrounded by palm trees, loungers, and a colorful, mosaic-tiled building.
Credit: Loews

New Theme Park? Not Before a Whole New Land Within Universal Studios Florida

The highly anticipated debut of Epic Universe is poised to unleash a surge of interest from millions of potential tourists to the region. Projections from Visit Orlando suggest that this influx of visitors could propel Central Florida tourism visitation even further beyond the remarkable 74 million benchmark recorded in 2022.

With its immersive experiences and captivating attractions, Epic Universe is primed to solidify Central Florida’s status as a premier global destination for travelers seeking unparalleled entertainment and adventure.

These resort hotels and the new Universal theme park will drive Florida tourism through the roof when everything opens in 2025. It should also be noted that Universal Studios Florida will soon open a new land. Universal Studios Florida is gearing up to unveil an exciting addition to its roster of attractions with the launch of DreamWorks Land, slated to debut in the summer of 2024.

Universal DreamWorks land - Shrek, Donkey and Puss posing in front of the Universal Studios Globe.
Credit: Inside The Magic

Universal to Beat Out Disney in 2025 and Beyond?

This vibrant themed area will draw inspiration from beloved DreamWorks Animation characters, including favorites from Shrek, Trolls, Kung Fu Panda, and Gabby’s Dollhouse. DreamWorks Land promises to provide a delightful experience for visitors of all ages, offering interactive attractions and immersive experiences designed to captivate the imagination.

This eagerly anticipated addition will replace Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone, ushering in a new era of family-friendly entertainment at Universal Studios Florida.

The introduction of DreamWorks Land, the anticipated opening of Epic Universe, and the debut of Universal’s new resort hotels are poised to have a transformative impact on Florida’s hospitality industry in 2025.

A Universal Orlando Resort photo with a versus graphic and the Disneyland Paris castle on the right hand side.
Credit: Created by Inside The Magic

Firstly, these developments will significantly increase the overall capacity for accommodating tourists, thereby addressing the growing demand for lodging in the region. With new theme park attractions and resort accommodations, Florida will be better equipped to cater to the expected visitors in 2025, ultimately boosting the state’s hospitality sector.

Moreover, the addition of DreamWorks Land and Epic Universe will diversify the entertainment offerings in Orlando, providing travelers with even more reasons to visit the area. This expanded array of attractions will help attract a broader demographic of tourists, including families, thrill-seekers, and fans of popular entertainment franchises.

Regarding competition with Disney World, Universal’s ongoing expansion efforts aim to make the resort a more compelling destination choice for visitors. With innovative and immersive attractions like DreamWorks Land and Epic Universe, Universal Studios will enhance its appeal by offering unique and captivating experiences that differentiate it from Disney’s.

Credit: NBCUniversal (left), Disney (right)

By investing in new attractions and resort accommodations, Universal is positioning itself to compete more effectively with Disney World and attract a larger share of tourists to the Orlando area.

Combining new theme park developments, resort hotels, and expanded entertainment offerings will contribute to Florida’s hospitality industry’s growth in 2025, making Universal Studios a more appealing destination choice for travelers than Disney World.

Disney needs help with its parks as prices continue to spike despite their newest theme park ride, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, not opening until late summer as new rumors indicate that previews will commence early to mid-June.

A graphic comparing Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. The left side shows the entrance sign of Disney World, and the right side displays the Universal globe logo. Text "vs" is centered between them.
Credit: Inside The Magic

Universal Epic Universe to Reign Supreme in 2025

With this new ride, hoping to bring in the same joy and wonder that Splash Mountain did when it was opened inside Magic Kingdom, Disney is banking on this new attraction to succeed beyond expectations. Disney CEO Bob Iger has made many promises, but more needs to be delivered.

This type of problem usually drives people away from Disney and towards the epic new theme park from Universal, which will usher in a new era in the industry.

Will you visit Universal’s Epic Universe in 2025 and 2026? Do you think Universal will overtake Disney after Epic Universe opens in 2025?

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