ORLANDO, Fla. — Universal Orlando plans to open Epic Universe in “a couple of years” and when it arrives, it will be Universal’s largest U.S. theme park, according to NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell.

What You Need To Know

  • NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell shared details about Universal's Epic Universe

  • The new theme park is expected to open in "a couple of years"

  • The park will feature attractions based on content from Nintendo, Illumination and DreamWorks Animation

  • Universal's Orlando parks have seen strong attendance numbers even without international visitors

​Shell’s comments came Monday during the virtual Credit Suisse Communications Conference.

The executive also shared some details about the attractions that will be featured in the park.

In addition to Super Nintendo World, Epic Universe will have attractions based on content from Illumination and DreamWorks Animation.

“It’ll be anchored by a lot of our strong IP, including some of the Illumination and DreamWorks content, but especially Nintendo,” Shell said.

Universal has previously confirmed a Nintendo-based land for Orlando. In fact, Super Nintendo World opened at Universal Studios Japan earlier this year and a version of the land is currently under construction at Universal Studios Hollywood in California. However, Shell's comments Monday mark the first time executives have mentioned other intellectual properties planned for Epic Universe.

Illumination is known for franchises such as "Despicable Me" and "The Secret Life of Pets," while DreamWorks is behind "Kung Fu Panda" and How to Train Your Dragon."

The new park will allow Universal to remain competitive in the Orlando market and, according to Shell, "continue to take share from other attractions in Orlando." With the addition of Epic Universe, Shell hopes visitors will be able to spend a full week at only Universal properties in Orlando.

He added that the new park’s proximity to the Orange County Convention Center would allow the company to tap into another type of business.

 “I think we have a unique opportunity to tap into the convention business,” Shell said. “For people who are going to the convention and want to have an event across the street at the park and do different things, I think that’s going to give us a unique opportunity to play with the pricing a little bit and get even more demand for people.”

Universal paused construction on Epic Universe in spring 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But in March of this year, Universal announced that construction had resumed "immediately." The project is expected to create thousands of new jobs and pump billions of dollars into the Florida economy.

Shell also talked about recovery at the company's Orlando parks, which reopened to visitors last June. Shell said attendance is rebounding and demand is strong. And that’s even without international visitors.

"(We're) very pleased with how the theme parks in Orlando are doing," Shell said. "And we really have no capacity constraints there anymore and so the summer is looking pretty strong."

Shell said he believed the strong numbers are due to two things. 

“One, there’s pent up demand, clearly for those of us who have been in the house, we want to get out and do all sorts of things and we’re seeing that,” Shell said. “I think the other thing is our attractions strategy. We kept building things during the pandemic.”

Universal Orlando last week officially opened its new Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Islands of Adventure.


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