The most exciting announcement from last year was undoubtedly that of Universal's Epic Universe, the massive expansion of Universal Orlando Resort that would bring not only a brand new theme park but additional hotels, shopping and dining to the resort, effectively doubling it in size.
And though we were looking forward to hearing more about this project since the land for the future theme park are was recently cleared, Universal announced earlier several months ago that it was halting progress on Universal's Epic Universe. And instead of just saying that they would restart work when the lockdown was over, they said that work would not resume until the economy recovers from the effects of the pandemic.
And with Universal Studios Hollywood President Karen Irwin saying that market research suggests that travel and tourism will not return to 2019 levels until 2023, it could be quite a long wait for Universal's Epic Universe, which was originally projected to be targeting a 2023 opening.
So what could be happening with Universal's Epic Universe? Let's take a look at a few possibilities.
1. Universal's Epic Universe is delayed
Even if work on Universal's Epic Universe resumes tomorrow, it is very unlikely that this new project would make its original 2023 target opening date. And though Universal has not released any official statements on shifting timelines, Orange County mayor Jerry Demings said back in May that he had spoken to Universal officials and was told that the project has been delayed by a year, making a 2024 theme park opening the new target.
Comcast Chief Financial Officer Mike Cavanagh played things a little bit more conservatively last month during a virtual interview at the J.P. Morgan Investor Conference saying “All things considered, it’s a big capital swing, so better to really march forward with that when we have just a bit more visibility on what’s going on with the economy post-COVID,” and declined to offer any kind of target for the project resuming, saying “I can’t tell you when that’s going to be when we revisit it.”
A delay at this point seems to be the official line for Universal Orlando Resort on the fate of Universal's Epic Universe, but if construction doesn't start again in the next few years, there are two other possibilities for the future of this project.