Universal Orlando's Epic Universe officially announced

Universal Orlando released the first details about the five lands of its planned new theme park, Epic Universe, scheduled to open in 2025. Link to an article by Dewayne Bevil in The Orlando Sentinel here.

The announcement gave the most information, including a full animated fly-through video, about Celestial Park, which will serve as a portal to the four other lands. Celestial Park will include the Universal Helios Grand Hotel, which will have its own entrance to the park. It will also feature the Starfall Racers roller coaster and the Constellation Carousel.

Starfall Racers will be a dual-launch coaster that peaks at 62 mph and at 133 feet up. That's almost as fast as Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at Islands of Adventure (which goes 65 mph) and almost as high as Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (at 167 feet) at Universal Studios.

The coaster will have a maneuver known as the Celestial Spin in which "the coaster vehicles perform an inverted cross-cross while speeding through the air," [Universal's] news release said.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic will blend the 1920s Paris of "Fantastic Beasts" with London's Ministry of Magic.

Not many details were released on How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk, except that it will give you the "ultimate wish fulfillment of flying with dragons." This makes me think there may be a copy of the wildly successful "Avatar: Flight of Passage" ride in Disney World's Animal Kingdom, a flying simulator in which riders fly on a "banshee" (come on, a dragon).

Super Nintendo World will be a land based on the Nintendo's video games.

Visitors will enter Super Nintendo World through the green pipe and encounter Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Donkey Kong. Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan currently operate Super Nintendo Worlds. [Mark Woodbury, CEO of Universal Parks & Destinations] said it's "the most interactive, colorful world we've ever created."

Dark Universe will feature Universal's classic monsters, like Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Wolf Man, "reimagined in an ominous and chilling experience," according to Molly Murphy, president of Universal Creative.

Universal has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging Disney World like it never has before. "This will be the exciting culmination of our amazing growth over the past 30-plus years and will transform Universal Orlando into a weeklong vacation destination filled with the most thrilling experiences imaginable," Karen Irwin, president and chief operating officer of Universal Orlando Resort, said.

It's the word "weeklong" that will send shivers down the spines of Disney executives.

Steven Spielberg appears in one of the videos, enthusing:  "Epic Universe is built on an amazing concept – the idea that you can go into a world through some sort of portal and you come out in a world you never could dream of. You can experience it." Well, a central hub from which you can cross thresholds and enter variously themed immersive lands has been the basis for almost all theme parks since Disney invented it in 1955.

Universal may be carefully doling out limited details on the theme park, but the photographer Bioreconstruct has been documenting every brick of the construction for months, with thousands of aerial photos on his social media platforms. I wrote about Bioreconstruct here.