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Universal Orlando is building a fourth complex in Florida, with a "celestial" park as its hub. But it remains to be seen if visitors believe the $1 billion Epic Universe theme park can outshine the magic of the company's larger rival, Disney.

Comcast’s Universal Studios released preview images and details about Celestial Park, one of the themed areas at Universal Epic Universe — a $1 billion theme park complex slated to open in 2025 a few miles from its flagship Universal Orlando resort.

The Epic Universe complex — with a couple dozen rides and attractions — will become Universal Studios’ fourth campus in Florida, after Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and the Volcano Bay. They together draw 20 million-plus visitors a year.

Guests at Epic Universe will move via tunnels among five themed areas.

The main hub of these five themed areas is Celestial Park. Here are key facts and renderings about this area.

The greenery of the Celestial area of Universal Epic Universe. Source: Universal Orlando.

Celestial Park will be one of five areas at Universal Epic Universe

Celestial Park aims to create an “immersive” experience where park attendees can playact as if they’re epic heroes on adventures. The theme contains astronomical and mythological elements, such as a roller coaster with a “shooting comet” conceptualization.

Expect a lot of greenery, too.

“With rolling gardens, chasing waterways, and strolling pathways, Celestial Park puts the ‘park’ back in ‘theme park,'” said a spokesperson.

A rendering of planned gardens at the new Celestial Park. Source: Universal Studios.

Here are some of the Celestial Park attractions.

  • Constellation Carousel will move guests forward, backward, and 360-degree rotations.
  • Astronomica, a water play area aimed at smaller children.
Rendering of the planned Starfall Racers comet-themed roller coaster at Celestial Park. Source: Universal Studios

Universal Orlando is revving up its rivalry with Disney Parks

The new attraction, which will employ 14,000 workers once it is fully built, is just part of Universal’s aggressive strategy to evolve its Orlando investment into a travel destination that competes with bigger rival Disney.

“Most companies in the sector would be happy to be second to Disney, but not Universal,” said Robert Niles, long-time editor of Theme Park Insider. “Universal thinks it can beat the Mouse, so it needs more gates to do it.”

Universal is coming at Disney from different points of attack, Niles said. While Disney is on the back foot in Florida because of a political spat with the state governor, Universal is making its biggest-ever single investment in a park. It’s also investing in smaller regional parks in the UK, Texas, and Las Vegas where Disney isn’t but where they can eat away at an overlapping audience.

Disney last year committed to doubling its spending on its theme parks, attractions, and resorts to $60 billion over the next decade as the rise of streaming hits its TV entertainment business.

Universal hopes to add an extra day of spending by visitors to its parks, boosting revenue by cross-selling existing guests.

universal studios epic universe Celestial Park - Attractions rendering
A rendering of a planned Universe Epic Universe theme park in Florida. Source: Universal Orlando.

New hotels are in the works

Epic Universe will also be near three new Universal hotels, co-owned and operated by Loews Hotels: Universal Stella Nova Resort, Universal Terra Luna Resort, and UniversalHelios Grand Hotel.

A rendering of the only hotel that will be inside the planned Epic Universe theme park is Universal Helios Grand Hotel, which will have 500 rooms and an entrance into Celestial Park. Source: Universal Orlando.

Four other themed areas are in the works at Epic Universe

The planned Constellation Carousel at Celestial Park at Epic Universe. Source: Universal Orlando.

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Tags: disney, disney parks, florida, orlando, parks, theme parks, universal, universal orlando, universal studios

Photo credit: A rendering of the front gate to Celestial Park, one of the themed areas of Universal Epic Universe. Source: Universal Orlando.

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