Let's speculate on Universal's Epic Universe

Edited: August 4, 2019, 11:22 PM

I wasn't happy in the least with the substance of Universal's big epic press event that for me was a non-event. No maps, no identified lands, no identified IPs, no super cool rides proposed, and no projected opening date. This was a total letdown.

But could there be a reason for the lack of information?

Let's say that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts wasn't channeling his inner Nigel Tufnel and making a "these go to eleven" statement when he threw out that "a universe is a little bit bigger than a world." Maybe he had a reason for being so stingy on the details, and there's something in the works that keeps him from releasing any of the details until he gets an agreement in place.

Could a deal for a blockbuster IP like the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit or DC Comics be imminent?

Replies (19)

August 2, 2019, 1:03 PM

The IP's will be: Nintendo, Fantastic Beasts, Classic Universal Monsters, and How to Train Your Dragon....with expansion room for two more immersive lands at a future time...

The inner hub will be a free zone and you will need to scan your ticket to get into each of the different lands...

There...is that enough for you?

August 2, 2019, 1:11 PM

A friend on Instagram speculates the area that looks like it's dedicated to classic Universal monsters is actually a Hotel Transylvania land. The Mario Kart-looking right looks like it could be themed to Donkey Kong Country. Oooh... that would be a fun addition to the Nintendo world!

August 2, 2019, 2:44 PM

Nah, Jeff, I'm just having trouble accepting the fact that the CEO of Comcast and the Governor of Florida were at a massively hyped PR event and they basically said, "Hey, we're building a theme park right across the street." No detailed layout. No identified IP. No targeted opening date.

And they had nothing else to offer other than "we're going to pay our employees at least $15/hour" which in these politically polarized times is nothing more than window dressing.

It kind of makes them look stupid and with the snarky comment towards Disney at the end, it also makes them look petty. (Does the Governor of Florida really want to look like he's supporting somebody taking potshots at one of his state's largest employers?)

I'm going to be a conspiracy flake for a bit and suggest that Comcast was prepared to officially announce the new park AND a major new IP to go in it and something went sideways. (like a ride storyline in a Universal park) I think that Brian Roberts had far more to say, but wasn't able to say it due to ongoing negotiations, and the snarky comment at the end was just a display of frustration.

August 2, 2019, 9:48 PM

Star Trek and LOTR/The Hobbit are the two big gets Universal is going after and have not gotten yet. That seems pretty obvious, and maybe negotiations to secure the theme park rights to both are ongoing, thus the lack of reveals about the theme park. My question is, why would Universal announce Epic Universe now? Was this simply an attempt to steal away some thunder from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?

Edited: August 3, 2019, 8:00 AM

If it was an attempt to steal some thunder away from SW:GE, Keith, it was a total failure. The SW:GE rollout has a momentum that has been building since literally 1977 when the first movie rolled into theaters. Universal needs to step aside and let that train roll down the tracks. And realistically, Universal needs to let Disney continue to botch the use of the whole Star Wars franchise and let Star Wars die a lingering death. I mean, with the most rabid Star Wars fans out there rapidly approaching the point where they need walkers and rolling oxygen tanks when they march in their stormtrooper outfits (maybe they could disguise the O2 tanks as R2D2 robots?), Disney let that cheese age a whole lot longer than they should have.

As far as the announcement for the new park goes, it was a massive PR failure. And there's one glaring question that stands out - Where's the headline attraction/land? Not one peep in the press event. Really? My computer is assaulted continuously with ads for Harry Potter attractions at the Universal parks and the latest Disney attractions at the Disney parks, and the new, multi-billion dollar park has what?

Somebody not on the hook yet is being promised the headliner role for the new park, and my personal suspicion is that Universal thought they would have the headliner locked in by the new park announcement date and they didn't.

Nintendo is already in the fold. J.K. Rowling has probably already contracted out the rights to the Fantastic Beasts part of Harry Potter to Universal, and Universal may be leery of HP burnout anyway. Classic Universal Monsters and How To Train Your Dragon are nice franchises, but they're not headliners. So where's the marquee attraction? Is Epic Universe going to be a tapas type of park or will there be a signature dish on the menu?

August 3, 2019, 10:42 AM

Shanghai Disneyland, Universal Studios Singapore or Dubai (lol) were all announced without any attraction details and everyone was playing concept art detective to guess which attractions would go into the parks.

August 4, 2019, 6:03 PM

I think the story is less about why Universal didn't announce details and more about why do we expect details at this point. With everything being driven by IP these days, it seems we're treating theme park attractions like the big box office films they're based on, building as much anticipation for opening weekend as possible in hopes of breaking records and then letting word of mouth carry it however long it can. That's not how theme parks work, even tho the market leader Disney has adopted this approach. 99% of people either won't remember what IP was announced by 2023 or will remember it and the thrill will have worn off. Universal is far better off building anticipation with the general public 12 months out or less, when people might actually plan a vacation. Universal knows it will have massive crowds around opening either way, just like it has had with every major land or attraction opening for years. If the average consumer's first impression is of a brand new park with Super Nintendo World or Dracula's Castle seen on social media from an acquaintance visiting the actual park, that leaves a much bigger impression than a 4 year buildup of "oh, I think I heard about that Nintendo park 3 or 4 years ago, which park was it at again?"
Also, let's please stop saying Star Trek. I get that it would objectively make a great attraction, and it's different from Star Wars. But to the average consumer, it's just nerdier second rate Star Wars. That's not necessarily fair to the Star Trek franchise, but it does mean it would be terrible PR to build it a land up the road from Galaxy's Edge.

August 5, 2019, 11:19 AM

I don't think I can agree with you, Florean. Changing the nature of the argument to question why we want details at this point in time doesn't give Universal a pass for botching the PR event. What they did is the corporate equivalent of a kid announcing that he's got a secret and it's a bigger and better secret than you've got. The whole situation is simply obnoxious to their most fervent fans. They could have and should have done a better job with the rollout.

August 5, 2019, 12:44 PM

Wait... why was the Epic Universe announcement "a massive PR failure?". (I apologize if this reads like snark but I assure you this is a question in good faith.)

Are you saying that it's a failure because they didn't confirm anything?

Seems to me like the point was to build buzz, and I'm hearing a lot of buzz about this, GE at DHS, and HHN rumors. So goal achieved?

August 5, 2019, 1:13 PM

If this were a Twitter feed for the Universal PR, the tease would be totally appropriate. Considering that they brought in the CEO of Comcast and the Governor of the State of Florida, the tease was totally inappropriate. If the big guys can't deliver any more information than what is obvious to the general public then what's the purpose of having them there? It makes them look weak and ineffective.

The context and the results of the PR event just don't add up, and I believe that what we saw was not what Universal had in mind when they scheduled it. Something was missing.

August 5, 2019, 2:24 PM

That's a fair conclusion. Making lemonade out of lemons and all that.

Edited: August 5, 2019, 5:00 PM

The announcement sure felt like a let down. I'm not getting excited about the park until I know what's in it. It's hard to get excited about something generic. So it's going to have hotels and something like City Walk. So what. I want to know the themes of the lands.
I don't have young kids anymore so Nintendo isn't a big enough draw for my family.

August 5, 2019, 6:54 PM

I think the governor being there is not a factor. he was already in town because he attended the mls all star game the day before so it was an easy photo op for him on a project that announced 14,000 new jobs ... what governor or elected official wouldn't want to be there when it comes to a bunch of new jobs?

August 6, 2019, 10:57 AM

Two things: One- the announcement was a big so what. They said nothing. I suspect something big either fell through or hit a snag. Seemed a little foolish to me. Second- as to the point about Star Wars. I am a massive SW fan. That area is doing nothing to bring me back. I was underwhelmed by Avatar, and unless they do something about the requirement that you micromanage your vacation, I doubt I will return anytime soon no matter what Universal does. I think ultimately they are damned either way with the instant gratification culture we live in now, but we do know this- they are building something and it is big. I do think they will need something other than their animated IP and Nintendo, so that may be the delay.

August 6, 2019, 12:41 PM

The fact that Universal is building a third park was not known by the general public because they do not read theme park message boards or live in Orlando. So, in fact, that press conference was the first time most people heard of this park. The conference might not have provided info about the IP's, but the concept art that was released revealed the IP's and was quite clear on a lot of details. The Classic Monsters world looks incredible.

August 7, 2019, 12:28 AM

I don't get why some are surprised by the lack of info. When Universal announced the first Potter land back in 2007, attendance dropped each year until it opened as people were waiting for it (the recession didn't help either). Clearly, they don't want to go through the same thing again.

August 7, 2019, 10:35 AM

I’m not trying to sound like a broken record but I wish Universal Creative would really look into bringing back the classic Universal IP properties to the new park. I know it wouldn’t draw a lot of guests to Epic Universe because their old but Back to the Future and Jaws are not just movies they are movies that will stick with us for a long long time. You still hear movie references from Back to the Future from Avengers Endgame and a musical is going to happen in the UK next year. It is still relevant. But I think Universal needs to use more of it’s own IP’s. A waterworld show would do great in Orlando it is a Universal IP. I know Universal wants to focus on their main current properties but most of their properties are not under their own library of films like earthquake, backdraft, just to name those others. Terminator, twister weren’t but they were awesome attractions. I think Universal fans still feel the nostalgia from the 90’s attractions that’s just me you can disagree. You never know if the park map will change from now until 2023. You saw what happened with IOA when they first was going to bring DC comics World to IOA but the plans were shelved. Just saying anything is possible from now until 2023 yes plans could change things may not all stay in place on the concept art.

August 9, 2019, 6:19 PM

I know the concept art is a zero percent chance of not likely changing from now until 2022-2023 but the park hasn’t really even started construction on putting up buildings and stuff so could their be a slight chance of concept art changing nothing major but minor? A lot can happen from now till 2023. Could their be a plan B concept art map that we don’t know about?

August 10, 2019, 1:40 PM

Really hoping for a new Harry Potter location. And no, fantastic beasts doesn’t count. I’m not even convinced that series will finish. The first was quite good, the second was a mess.

Classic monsters would be pretty cool. Like a Transylvanian village with a Dracula’s castle.
Nintendo looks really good.
How to train your dragon isn’t really iconic enough to be interesting.

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