Universal Confirms 2025 Opening for Epic Universe

January 27, 2022, 10:36 AM · Universal Orlando’s new Epic Universe theme park will open by summer 2025, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said today. Shell was speaking during parent company Comcast’s year-end earnings call.

"Epic is full steam ahead," Shell said in response to an analyst's question about the park. "I was down there a couple of weeks ago and the construction is going really well. And you know, I think we've said this in the past, but we expect that part to open in 2025, and certainly in time for the summer of 2025. We'll be back to you and everybody when we get more granular on the date."

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts added, "If I look back over Covid, one of the things I wish we could redo was slowing down Epic, because I agree... this is a business that if you build wonderful attractions, there is pent-up demand. We're going to make a fabulous park at Epic, and we're full steam. We're going as fast as we can now to make up for lost time."

NBCUniversal's theme parks division reported $5.051 billion in revenue for 2021, up from $2.094 billion in 2020, when all of its parks were closed for at least part of the year. For the fourth quarter of 2021, Universal's theme parks reported $1.887 billion in revenue, up from $648 million in the same period in 2020.

Universal opened its Universal Beijing Resort in September 2021, following the reopening of Universal Studios Hollywood in April and the debut of Super Nintendo World in Japan at the beginning of the year.

For the year, Universal reported an adjusted earnings of $1.267 billion, up sharply from a loss of $477 million for 2020. Fourth quarter Adjusted EBITDA was $674 million. That made it the parks' most profitable fourth quarter on record, according to company officials.

"It's impossible not just to be excited about our theme park business," Shell said. "We haven't seen any impact of Omicron in Florida, for example, and very limited impacts, which we seem to be past, in Hollywood and Japan. So everything's kind of going in the right direction."

"I think part of that, by the way, is because we continued to invest in our attractions during the pandemic, with the VelociCoaster in Orlando and Pets in Hollywood and Nintendo which is doing really well in Japan and has led that park to rebound really, really quickly. So, all signs are pointed up in our theme park business and I agree we have a lot of growth ahead.

"Our international visitation is not returned to what it was historically. In Florida, we generally are in the low 30s. Right now we're just above 20, with most of that visitation now coming from the UK and Europe. Latin America hasn't returned yet. So we have upside there as people continue to increase travel. Also I should mention very happy with Beijing. People love the park, and when travel opens up in China after the Olympics, we are really optimistic about that park, long term, so everything is going well and trending in the right direction."

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Replies (23)

January 27, 2022 at 11:09 AM

Nice to get a date but hopefully not rushed too much yet at least some progress at last. And how he admits trying to announce a lot when scores of parks closed down wasn't that smart.

January 27, 2022 at 12:32 PM

Penciling in a vacation for my family for 2025 then…Easily my most anticipated new theme park related opening…With the fantastic rides and lands Universal has been putting out in recent years this has an extremely high ceiling…

January 27, 2022 at 12:39 PM

"It's impossible not just to be excited about our theme park business," Shell said. "We haven't seen any impact of Omicron in Florida, for example, and very limited impacts, which we seem to be past, in Hollywood and Japan. So everything's kind of going in the right direction."

I am not at all surprised by that, and not even finger-wagging given the public health response, but lmfao that's harrowing to read

January 27, 2022 at 1:43 PM

I am surprised they made the announcement this far out. Anyone thinking about a 2024 trip can now just wait until 2025. Of course, multi-day tickets at Universal will now have a 50% minimum price increase when the third (or is it fourth?) gate opens.

Your move, Disney, to keep the guests coming.

January 27, 2022 at 2:26 PM

I am interested in how Disney responds. After all, 1999 had Islands of Adventure opening...and Disney countering with Rock n Roller Coaster, Test Track, Asia section of Animal Kingdom, Buzz Lightyear Ranger Spin, Winnie the Pooh ride and FastPass.

Disney regretted underestimating the Harry Potter land's impact but a full-scale park my be the thing to shake some creative doldrums.

January 27, 2022 at 3:51 PM

Not an official opening announcement. He was answering a question.

It also means Disney (Guardians, TRON, EPCOT Future World, possibly Play Pavilion) has an open field for the next three years.

January 27, 2022 at 4:21 PM

Mike W: "I am interested in how Disney responds."

Me: They respond by opening the projects that are already almost complete, and building another DVC resort to ensure a captive, fully invested timeshare audience. If Universal fails to open UEU by 2025, they will be competing with Sea World, not WDW.

January 27, 2022 at 5:24 PM

Disney responds with a much anticipated and wildly exciting small world music update and a new app called “Lazy Line” - ??

January 27, 2022 at 5:50 PM

@Tiptop22 - No. I think they will open Guardians (which will be a gate crasher) and TRON (which will keep MKP at the top of the TEA/AECOM list) and the new Future World at EPCOT. Disney will also market the 40th anniversary of EPCOT, followed by the 100th anniversary of the Disney Company.

Meanwhile, UO will have another little Minion ride which could be a smaller version of that Jimmy Fallon juggernaut.

January 27, 2022 at 6:26 PM

Technically, Disney's response was to immediately put out a press release with the Festival of Fantasy parade reopening date - because neither Disney nor Universal can allow one to announce any news without responding with news of its own.

I love that pettiness, because it makes my day as a theme park news reporter so much easier.

January 27, 2022 at 10:31 PM

Fun Facts:
Comcast 2021 Total Earnings: $116,385,000,000
Comcast 2021 Theme Park Earnings: $5,000,000,000

(Theme parks accounted for 4% of total income.)

January 28, 2022 at 12:32 AM

Epic Universe could turn out to be Universal's greatest park. And to think it was originally slated to open NEXT YEAR!

However, I'm still disappointed that the new park won't include a Jurassic World section. C'mon, that was a no-brainer. They could've cloned the amazing new JW ride at Universal Beijing as the centerpiece of that land.

January 28, 2022 at 5:16 AM

Still a Fan: "Epic Universe could turn out to be Universal's greatest park. And to think it was originally slated to open NEXT YEAR!"

Me: There was no official announcement by Comcast/Universal saying UEU would be open in 2023.

January 28, 2022 at 5:19 AM

Awesome. I'm most looking forward to the classic monsters land, being a classic monsters fan myself. But I think the land that will (pleasantly) surprise people the most is How To Train Your Dragon. Having watched the movies with my kids, I think UO will have a vibrant, colorful, and energetic world to work with. They'll knock it out of the park.

I hope Disney responds by going back to building awesome attractions and lands, and stop worrying so much about princess meet-and-greets and keeping people glued to their phones. With Guardians, Tron, EPCOT future world overhaul, etc. it looks like they're doing that. I don't want a "winner" in this theme park war. I want them to keep pushing each other to deliver better experiences and attractions.

January 28, 2022 at 7:53 AM

Another win for Universal can't wait to see this park.
Can Disney respond with something worthwhile? Its seems Universal will be the only parks worth visiting soon.

January 28, 2022 at 8:09 AM

@NCPete -- very well said. I agree with you on all points... especially the part about the classic monsters section :-)

January 28, 2022 at 9:56 AM

"Soon" = 3+ years from today.

January 28, 2022 at 2:55 PM

I am so excited for Epic Universe. I'm going all out in 2025 as I won't be able to visit Orlando sooner (my home needs a new roof).
Very exciting to see this huge park grow trough the magic of internet lol.
I guess in the mean time WDW can slowly open their rides they announced in 2019 to keep the fans happy. Maybe they even go a step further and kickstart the makeover of space ship earth, Marry Poppins carousel and that observation platform they scrapped, hell maybe throw in a show on the lake of AK that isn't a dumpster-fire and start working on the de-racial project Princess and the Splash.

January 28, 2022 at 5:51 PM

i dunno, until one of these resorts commits to an all-snoopy theme, I just can't see one of them getting any of my money ??

January 29, 2022 at 11:31 AM

Well, then on those dates i AM going to Disney world!!! With all the excitment over at universal hopefully Disney Will have a few quiet days so we can enjoy the parks without so Many people. I Will enjoy the reviews for the epic park and visit on a latter date when the dust settles. Still a long way until 2025....

February 1, 2022 at 12:18 PM

I hate to deliver the bad news, Pablo, but when Potter opened at Universal, that brought more people to Orlando, and -- you guessed it -- crowds at Disney.

February 3, 2022 at 12:30 AM

Still a fan. You do have a point, but this would be a whole new park to explore, and i AM very sure universal Will prepare packages to draw people to their resort ( now spanning 3 parks, a water park, a dinning, entretainment and shopping Center, also múltiple hotels ) and convince them to spend múltiple days away from Disney. Of course in the summer or holydays everything Will be packed, and i don't like to travel around those dates.

February 3, 2022 at 12:30 AM

Still a fan. You do have a point, but this would be a whole new park to explore, and i AM very sure universal Will prepare packages to draw people to their resort ( now spanning 3 parks, a water park, a dinning, entretainment and shopping Center, also múltiple hotels ) and convince them to spend múltiple days away from Disney. Of course in the summer or holydays everything Will be packed, and i don't like to travel around those dates.

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