Universal Orlando announces next theme park, 'Epic Universe'

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla.(WPLG)-- Make more room in your vacation schedule as Universal Orlando has officially announced it will build a new theme park at the Central Florida resort.

"Epic Universe" is now currently under construction about four miles south of the current Universal parks, Theme Park Insider reports. Officials say they do not have an opening date yet for the new park.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was on hand as Universal made the announcement Thursday. The new park is expected to create 14,000 new jobs.

"Guests will venture beyond their wildest imagination, traveling into beloved stories and through vibrant lands on adventures where the journey is as astounding as the ultimate destination." according to the Universal website.

The company sent out clues on social media Wednesday, hinting of "epic announcement" from the theme park franchise.

Universal previously bought land near the Orange County Convention Center from Lockheed Martin in 1998 but sold some of it off in 2003. Universal then bought back 540 acres of that land, records show.

Dr. Duncan Dickson with UCF's Rosen College of Hospitality Management said the 540-acre lot from Destination Parkway to Sand Lake Road is large enough to build three theme parks and as many as 10 hotels.

“That’s a lot of land," said Dickson. “Anything right now is speculation, I mean we’ve been guessing ever since they repurchased the property. We’ve been questioning what they are going to put on there.”

Overhead shots capture what appeared to be roller coaster tracks. An application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from last week by Universal for the terms "Velocicoaster," "Universal's Epic Universe" and "Universal's Fantastic Worlds."

"That’s the really exciting part about being in Orlando, and you know we see what those franchises do as they spread around the world," said Dickson.

Dickson also said that after the success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal, the company realized it could compete head to head with nearby Walt Disney World. He said in effect the company started to increase its innovations and investments.

“They try things here and if it really takes off and works here, it will transfer to California," said Dickson.

As for how it might affect the local economy, Dickson said that a new theme park could be huge, but it won't just affect people working at Universal. He said entrepreneurs in Orlando can capitalize on providing goods and services.

"Entrepreneurs can catch on and do things. You know, ‘I’m the straw supplier for Universal.' I mean, or 'I'm this supplier,''" said Dickson.

Josie Marquez is visiting Universal Studios Orlando from El Paso, Texas. She said she has seen billboards similar to Universal's tweet.

"It was the one that said, the 'epic' ... it peaks your curiosity," said Marquez. "I just saw there was a lot of like greenery. It would be nice to have something like a park or some type of entertainment over there because there's nothing really nearby the convention center other than Sea World."

Natalie Howell and her daughter Charley are visiting from Europe. She said that the picture posted on Universal Orlando's Instagram on Tuesday is sparking her curiosity. The picture showed what appeared to be dinosaur eggs, with the caption "something is hatching."

"I thought Jurassic Park straight away, so maybe they are going to extend Jurassic Park," said Howell, referring to the current ride.