Saturday SixUniversal Orlando Resort

The SATURDAY SIX Checks Out the EPIC UNIVERSE Preview Center (Model Details, Changes and More!)

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Last week in this fine blog series we took a stroll through Universal’s 2024 Summer Tribute Store, which was filled with Easter eggs, photo-ops, and incredible references to the history of the Universal parks. It was a store for Universal fans, by Universal fans, and it showed. We thought that experience would be hard to top, but lo and behold Universal finally opened the doors this week to the highly anticipated Epic Universe Preview Center!

Epic Universe Preview Center. (photo by ThemeParkChasers)

# 6 – Celestial Park

The focal point of the entire store is the INCREDIBLE scale model of Epic Universe in the center of the store.

The Epic Universe scale model. (photo by Inside Universal)

Throughout the course of this article we will be looking at the various pieces which comprise this model, including changes that have been made to the Epic Universe park since the model was created. We’ll also get some fascinating comparisons between the Epic Universe model and what is currently being built about 2.5 miles down the road.

We’ll start off by looking at the very start of the park and the impressive Chronos tower. The tower is both the Epic Universe icon along with being the portal into the actual  themepark.

Chronos, the Epic Universe park portal. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Below we have a shot of this exact area in its most current form taken by blogger-in-the-sky Bioreconstruct.

Chronos Tower construction as of June 6th, 2024. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

A closer look reveals even more details that should look absolutely stunning in person once the park opens to guests in 2025.

Chronos, the Epic Universe park portal. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

An even closer look reveals that there is a quote on the portal. This was deciphered by the Orlando Park Stop community and reads: With Sun And Moon And Stars And Time The Chronos Spins And Worlds Align – For If You Seek With Curious Heart, Your Compass True And Stars To Chart – Beyond This Gate Find Gardens Green And Epic Worlds To Fill Your Dreams.

Chronos! (photo by Phoebe Spengler)

Entering through the Chronos portal leads us directly into Celestial Park, the main hub of Epic Universe. Celestial Park is a pretty spectacular moment for theme park fans in that it was designed completely with original ideas and without the use of IPs, something that seemed would never happen again judging by the words of industry leaders like Bob Iger.

Luna Overlook statue. As if diving into the cascading water feature. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

In the model below we can see Celestial Park’s two attractions, Celestial Carousel in the middle and Stardust Racers in the background.

Celestial Carousel and Stardust Racers. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Celestial Carousel and Stardust Racers as seen in a Jun 6, 2024 aerial photo. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Celestial Carousel. (photo by @hhn_jacob)
A mythical flying beast on top of the Celestial Carousel. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Front of Stardust Racers in Epic Universe. The density of trees in the model indicates how this very large roller coaster will be mostly hidden from view from within Celestial Park. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Stardust Racers. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

A close up look shows us that the signage for the attraction says Starfall Racers, the original name for the coaster until its recent change to Stardust Racers.

Signage for Stardust Racers roller coaster.  (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Meteor Restaurant in Celestial Park. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Atlantic restaurant in Celestial Park. (photo by @hhn_jacob)

The Chronos tower is the start of Epic Universe, but at the very back of the park you’ll see the large Helios Grand Hotel.

Celestial Park leading to Helios Grand Hotel. (photo by @hhn_jacob)

Like Disney’s Grand Californian, Helios will have its own entrance into the park!

Helios Grand Hotel. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
A statue in front Helios Grand Hotel. Note that in the Helios model the celestial design element looks to be right above the statue, but recent aerials show that element has been placed much higher on the building and closer to the lounge at the top of the building. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

The other side of the model shows the porte-cochère where guests will enter the hotel.

Helios Grand Hotel. (photo by ThemeParkChasers)

# 5 – Dark Universe

Throughout the Preview Center you’ll see photo-ops of the portals which will lead directly into the lands of the park. After so many years it is still hard to believe that the Universal Classic Monsters are going to be seriously represented in a theme park. I honestly didn’t think it was ever going to happen, but the Dark Universal land looks almost too good to be true. A serious “pinch me, I’m dreaming moment.”

The quote on the portal into Dark Universe reads “The Air Itself Is Filled With Monsters” which the Permit Princess Alicia Stella – who is everyone’s go to source on everything Epic Universe – says is the original wording on the portal. Since that time it has been changed and will read “It’s alive. It’s alive.”

Dark Universe portal. (photo by @hhn_jacob)

Can you imagine that this creepy village is going to exist in an American theme park?!!

Village of Darkmoor. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

A burning windmill is ubiquitous in anything involving Frankenstein’s Monster and I love that we are going to have a restaurant based around this concept.

The Burning Blade Tavern. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
The Burning Blade Tavern as seen in May 23 aerial photo. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Dark Universe Manor, the entrance into the land’s E-Ticket attraction. (photo by @hhn_jacob)
Dark Universe will have ATMOSPHERE. (photo by @hhn_jacob)
Curse of the Werewolf coaster. (photo by @hhn_jacob)
Curse of the Werewolf train. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Top-most spinning car has uncovered theming in this June 6th aerial photo of Curse of the Werewolf. (photo by @bioreconstruct)


# 4 – Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic

The Wizarding World in Epic Universe has a chance to be able to steal the show because expectations couldn’t lower thanks to a film series (Fantastic Beasts) that is a slog to get through and a brazen attempt by the Harry Potter author to turn off 90% of the sane world (to point where Elon Musk – that’s right, ELON MUSK of all people had to step and say something to the effect of “maybe you should talk about something else for a change.”)

All that said, the first two Wizarding Worlds made for Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida set a high bar, but they needed to be directly tied to a source material. For the Wizarding World – Ministry of Magic, Universal Creative is going to be allowed to cook for the first time. After the last several years of seeing things like the VelocCoaster, the Bourne Stuntacular and CineSational, I think they are going to rise to the occasion.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic. (photo by @hhn_jacob)

As immersive as Diagon Alley is, the streets of Paris created for the Wizarding World in Epic Universe look to be even more bonkers.

WWoHP – Ministry of Magic. (photo by ThemeParkChasers)

The red tent you see in the middle of the WWoHOP – Ministry of Magic model is the entrance for a show in the land that rumors and innuendo suggest will contain a true “wow” moment for guests.

Le Cirque Arcanus tent. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Le Cirque Arcanus tent as seen in the WWoHP – Ministry of Magic portal concept art.
A street in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
A cauldron shop seen among the stores in a WWoHP – Ministry of Magic street. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Cauldron shop as seen in the Ministry of Magic portal concept art.
Cauldron shop location in WWoHP – Ministry of Magic as seen in this April 12th aerial. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
A statue in a street at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

# 3 – How To Train  Your Dragon – Isle of Berk

Portal. How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk.

I’m of the belief that How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk is going to be the breakout hit of Epic Universe. While Disney animated films dominate the discourse on theme park social  media the How To Train Your Dragon series of movies is a fan favorite, and let’s face it, dragons never go out of style.

How To Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk. (photo by ThemeParkChasers)

The yellow arrow below is pointing at the dragon Toothless, located outside of the Hiccup’s Winged gliders station.

The Isle of Berk. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

While in the actual Epic Universe, Toothless will be located inside the station, as seen in this May 9th aerial photo.

Hiccup’s Winged Gliders in The Isle of Berk. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

When I see scale models like this, it just makes me wish Universal (and Disney) would sell recreations in the gift shop. We need more ride vehicle toys!

One of Hiccup’s Winged Gliders roller coaster trains. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
A look at the concept model for grandstands in The Isle of Berk. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

The Untrainable show in Isle of Berk is going to knock people’s socks off. Those who have seen the version of the show in Universal Studios Beijing can’t give enough superlatives about it, and Epic Universe will have several extra years of technological innovations to make the show even better.

Untrainable Dragon show. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk. Untrainable Dragon show. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
June 6th aerial photo of the Untrainable Dragon theater in The Isle of Berk. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

# 2 – Super Nintendo World

Super Nintendo World is going to be the money printing machine of Epic Universe.

Everything about the land feels perfect.

Super Nintendo World. (photo by @hhn_jacob)

Walking into Super Nintendo World will be a literal dream come true for not just kids, but those of a certain age who grew up on the old Nintendo video game systems (where we didn’t have to “download content,” we had to blow into the cartridges to get them to work and we liked it. WE LOVED IT!)

Super Nintendo World. photo by Ashley Carter)
Bowser’s Fortress. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Yoshi’s Adventure. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Yoshi’s Adventure as seen in this April 25th aerial. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

I’ve had to read about “kinetic energy” when it comes to theme park lands for the last decade or more. I’m not even sure I totally understand what it means but I think Super Nintendo World has it (and then some.)

Power Up Band Challenge. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

I think with these two giant mushrooms acting as shade and the seats below, the Super Nintendo World has more seating for families than Toy Story Land when it originally opened.

Super Nintendo World. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Not only is there a main area in Super Nintendo World, but there’s effectively a second land themed that contains Donkey Kong Country – Mine Cart Madness.

Donkey Kong Country. Mine Cart Madness. (photo by ThemeParkChasers)

This is the #1 ride I am most looking forward to at Epic Universe.

Overview of part of Donkey Kong Mine Cart Madness. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
View of Donkey Kong Mine Cart Madness roller coaster track. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Can. Not. WAIT.

View of Donkey Kong Mine Cart Madness roller coaster track in the Epic Universe Preview Center model. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Seeing the scale model bring to life many of the things I’ve read Alicia Stella write about over the years at Orlando Park Stop is just amazing. Watching Alicia do a rapid fire look at the buildings at the front of the park is wonderful.

The Permit Princess herself, Alicia Stella,  in front of the EPIC Universe model.

Another feature of the Preview Center is that you can interact with the model via augmented reality using the Universal Orlando Resort app. This will bring up some animated features such as dragons flying around Isle of Berk, the burning flames of Burning Blade Tavern, and the Stardust Racers trains, well, racing. You can also use the app to get more information on the various venues inside each land.

Augmented Reality in the Epic Universe Preview Center. (photos by ThemeParkChasers)
Augmented Reality showing Mead Hall in Isle of Berk. (screenshot by @bioreconstruct)

# 1 – Epic Universe Merchandise

While the scale model of Epic Universe is the centerpiece of the Preview Center, the area is also filled with Epic Universe merchandise.

Epic Universe Merchandise. (photo by Hedgehogs Corner)

I’m a huge fan of this Celestial Park hat.

Epic Universe hat. (photo by Hedgehogs Corner)
WWoHP- Ministry of Magic items. (photo by Hedgehogs Corner)
Super Nintendo World shirt. (photo by @ThemeParkShark)
Super Nintendo World hoodie. (photo by @ThemeParkShark)
Merchandise. Yoshi headband. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Merchandise. Shrek glasses. (photo by @jaycob)

So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX Checks Out Universal’s EPIC UNIVERSE PREVIEW CENTER! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out the THEME PARK ENJOYMENT INDEX, giving a monthly recap of all the theme park news you need to know (and a lot more you don’t need to know, but we’re gonna tell you anyway). You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).

If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following: 

SATURDAY SIX: Tribute to Josh easyWDW

SATURDAY SIX: Tribute to Ian Barritt

Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, Digital Maestro Scott Walker, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, artist @SonderQuest, the mighty maven of merchandise Hedgehog’s Corner, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and “the Dadalorian” Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, charter member of the Universal Four @Nitro230, the permit princess Alicia Stella, master cartographer Tommy Hawkins, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Absolutely no help was added by SeaWorld Influencer @SuperWeenieHtJr. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will  enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.



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