PHOTOS: How to Train Your Dragon Spinning Ride Comes Together, Clearance Testing Underway on Multiple Epic Universe Coasters

Shannen Ace

PHOTOS: How to Train Your Dragon Spinning Ride Comes Together, Clearance Testing Underway on Multiple Epic Universe Coasters

Shannen Ace

PHOTOS: How to Train Your Dragon Spinning Ride Comes Together, Clearance Testing Underway on Multiple Epic Universe Coasters

Aerial photographer @bioreconstruct shared more photos on X of Epic Universe, the new Universal Orlando Resort theme park currently under construction. These photos were taken on September 29, 2023.

Universal's Epic Universe Concept Art

The only land that has been confirmed for Epic Universe is Super Nintendo World, but the other lands are rumored to be Dark Universe (inspired by Universal Classic Monsters), the Isle of Berk (“How to Train Your Dragon”), a new The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and Celestial Park, the non-IP based central corridor. An in-park hotel will be at the far end of the main entrance, while two other hotels are under construction nearby.

Epic Universe Entrance & Celestial Park

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This photo shows the entrance to the park at the center. Most buildings have now been encased with wall paneling.

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In this wider overview, the top arrow points at a pole near the entrance. The second arrow points to where a pole used to be, at the center of the park.

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These overviews show that some greenery has begun to be planted at the park, mainly around the yellow and orange tracks of the dual-racing coaster.

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This photo is of one of the entrance structures.

  1. Two domed roof pieces are being painted on the ground before installation.
  2. A tower where one domed roof will likely be installed.
  3. Another tower awaiting a roof.
  4. A room potentially for VIP guests.
  5. The steel beginnings of the park’s entrance archway.
  6. Excavation for a water feature.

As concept art shows, the park will include several small lakes and water features, particularly in the central corridor.

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This is another view of the entrance area, including a colonnade gateway.

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The domed roof to the left in this photo will be the location of admission sales. The park will use “facial recognition, photo validation technology” that will allow guests to have a “frictionless experience”.

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Here’s the other side of the entrance area, featuring two domed archways. A crew member was working on the roof of this building.

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In the excavated area for a water feature are some concrete forms. To the left of this photo is an octagonal building, reportedly for a waterside restaurant.

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Guests will enter the restaurant at 1 in this photo, on a second level above the kitchen. They will then dine on the lower level at 2, overlooking the water.

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In this photo:

  1. Excavation for utilities.
  2. A tunnel to the restaurant’s kitchen.
  3. Foam pieces staged for the adjacent Super Nintendo World.
  4. The underground restaurant kitchen.
  5. Scrim wrapped around the restaurant.
  6. Concrete forms for the water feature.
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In this photo:

  1. Curved walkway between two water features.
  2. Another walkway, which 1 will likely be similar to.
  3. Excavation for the restaurant’s water feature.
  4. The waterside restaurant.
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Moving further into Celestial Park — the rumored name for the non-IP central land — this building is rumored to be a barbecue restaurant. Behind it is Dark Universe, the rumored name for a Universal Classic Monsters land.

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Bioreconstruct also shared this pavement test in a staging area for Epic Universe construction. It shows a half-circle section depicting a sunny against a blue background. There are circles that could represent planets. Such a mural could be on the floor in Celestial Park.

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In front of the park’s hotel is a concrete circle, which will eventually house a fountain. Around the stone circle, amphitheater seating is being installed for viewing water shows.

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Nearby is a half-circle concrete wall, potentially for a nearby splash pad.

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Here’s another look at the splash pad to the left and the tiered seats to the right.

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Next to the splash pad is a set of two domes made of curved poles.

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This structure is rumored to be a carousel water ride — possibly named Constellation Carousel. Universal Destinations & Experiences filed a patent for a carousel earlier this year.

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The actual ride has not been installed yet, just the structure that will house it.

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Circular architecture is another recurring element of Epic Universe.

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The arrow in this photo points at a curved piece inside the carousel’s water feature, potentially for fountains. To the right is the dual-racing coaster, next to the “How to Train Your Dragon” land.

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The carousel water feature is at the bottom left of this photo. The other visible elements:

  1. Epic Universe entrance.
  2. Portal to Super Nintendo World.
  3. Portal to “How to Train Your Dragon” land.
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The dual-racing coaster has one bright yellow-orange track and one more muted yellow track. Its rumored name, based on trademarks, is Starfall Racers.

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Shiny silver roofing has been installed over the loading area. The coaster’s highest peaks and valleys are at the back in this photo, moving over sidewalks and grass. Trees have been planted around the back, at the edge of the park.

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The coaster tracks do curve around the front of the building, too. At 1 in this photo is the steel framework of the attraction’s future entrance. 2 and 3 mark a few short rounded walls.

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In this photo:

  1. Starfall Racers entrance.
  2. Round concrete walls.
  3. Round concrete walls.
  4. Curved row of rebar.
  5. Curved row of rebar.
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Crews are working in the space between the two yellow arrows in this photo on constructing the maintenance access path. The entire track has been installed.

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To the left is the “How to Train Your Dragon” land and to the right is the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

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Dark Universe

Dark Universe is another Universal trademark. “Dark Universe” was a canceled series of Universal Classic Monsters movies. It makes sense to instead be used as a land name in Epic Universe.

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The land’s “portal” entrance will take guests through a giant tree with gnarled roots over rocks. At the bottom of this photo is a peaked roof. The yellow arrows point at models for painting the rocks. Brown tree roots are visible descending over rocks behind scaffolding on the right.

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This is the back of the portal, showing more gray rocks and brown roots. The arrow points to the top, where there is a thin column of steel, possibly more of the tree top. A crew member is pictured on scaffolding to the right, while another stands at the bottom of the structure to the left, giving a good idea of the tree’s scale.

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More crew members were on the scaffolding near the top of the tree.

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Dark Universe’s roller-coaster is rumored to be called Curse of the Werewolf (another trademarked name). The ride vehicle will reportedly spin. In the approximate center of this photo is the barn-inspired building. Scaffolding surrounds a tower of it.

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In this photo, an arrow points at what appears to be a model for how to paint the roof.

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In this photo:

  1. Roof model.
  2. Chainlink fencing.
  3. Chainlink fencing.
  4. A quick-service restaurant.
  5. Concrete walls for a hillside.
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The chainlink fencing implies ride testing may be going on. Landscaping has begun, with a few pine trees planted between the curves of the coaster. There are holes in the ground for more trees.

The barn will be a mid-launch point for the coaster.

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This photo shows the coaster’s entrance building. There are large steel frames in this photo, thought to be for themed tents.

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Here is an overview of Curse of the Werewolf.

  1. Freshly cast concrete around a bed of dirt.
  2. New trees.
  3. New trees.
  4. New trees.
  5. Scaffolding under a steel frame for a tent.
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A fence resembling uneven planks of wood is at 1 in this photo, meant to hide the entrance to the coaster’s maintenance bay. At 2 are materials being staged. At 3 are the frames for tents.

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Next to Curse of the Werewolf, a restaurant rumored to be named The Burning Blade Tavern is under construction (top center). The tall structure surrounded by scaffolding will be a windmill on top of a hill. The tavern will be within the hill.

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In this photo:

  1. Themed buttress against concrete wall.
  2. Themed column against concrete wall.
  3. Themed buttress against concrete wall.
  4. Themed column against concrete wall.
  5. Completed fake stone wall.
  6. Completed fake stone wall.
  7. Frame of the windmill visible through scaffolding.
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A closer look shows various models for theming. There are stone walls and what might be a ramshackle roof.

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Along with Curse of the Werewolf and The Burning Blade Tavern, Dark Universe will have a mansion/manor housing the land’s main attraction. This will be a robotic arm ride like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

In fact, bioreconstruct has caught some of the robotic arm mechanisms, covered in black tarps, being loaded into the show building.

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Crew members were in the courtyard for the mansion, which is next to the small quick-service building.

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Here is a straight-on look at the mansion, complete with a tower at the center and concrete walls on the ground. Stone work is visible throughout. The yellow arrow points at a completed wall that is no longer blocked by scaffolding.

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Here is a look down at the mansion’s entrance, which may be a bridge over a moat.

  1. Circular frames for columns in walls.
  2. Frames for archways under the bridge.
  3. Frames along the tops of walls.
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The rest of the land will be an old village.

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Facades are under construction behind scaffolding. There are a few peaked roofs, one topped with tin panels and a thin chimney.

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These are just beyond the entrance portal.

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Here is an overview of the entire Dark Universe land. The BBQ restaurant will be outside the land, next to the tree portal.

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In this even wider view is the in-park hotel to the right. At the top of the photo is the show building behind the mansion.

Super Nintendo World

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Super Nintendo World will be similar to its counterparts at Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Hollywood, but will open with a Donkey Kong area, too. This expansion is also planned for the land in Japan. This photo shows the Donkey Kong roller-coaster, with arrows pointing at test cars with clearance envelopes to ensure guests can’t touch or collide with anything while on the ride.

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In this closer look at the coaster:

  1. Envelope test vehicle.
  2. An arrow indicating the direction of the coaster.
  3. Steel frame for themed element.
  4. Splash area with track underneath.
  5. Plumbing in a frame.
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Here’s a closer look at one of the envelope test cars. The arrow points at the inside wheels of the carriage on the track, which is actually sideways.

Two crew members are pictured working in front of the test car, on a section of fake track that resembles a cartoon railroad. The fake track has gaps in it that will make it seem like the ride vehicles are jumping from one track to the next.

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Here is a better look at the test car on the sideways track. The arrows point at straps securing the car in place.

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Chainlink fencing next to the roller-coaster indicates there will be more significant ride testing.

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In this photo:

  1. Envelope test car.
  2. Splash pool with the real track underneath and the fake broken tracks at either end.
  3. The sideways track between another gap in the fake tracks.
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The Donkey Kong coaster will be behind the Mario section of Super Nintendo World. In this photo:

  1. Clearance envelope test car.
  2. Clearance envelope test car.
  3. Pyramids atop the Yoshi’s Adventure ride.
  4. Mount Beanpole.
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In this view of the coaster:

  1. Scaffolding at a future waterfall.
  2. Temporary platform over the future river at the base of the waterfall.
  3. A sharp turn in the coaster.
  4. Another swift turn.
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Some construction materials are staged on top of the show building for the coaster and covered in blue tarps.

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In this photo:

  1. Color variation on the back of the Mario area’s wall.
  2. Latticework for theming to be installed. Theming has begun at the scaffolding on the left.
  3. More theming is underway behind scaffolding. Painted bricks or stones are visible.
  4. Envelope test car.
  5. Envelope test car.
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This arrow points at a platform next to the Donkey Kong track, possibly for themed elements.

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Here is a closer look at the earlier mentioned plumbing inside a kiosk framework.

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The coaster will go in and out of multiple buildings and structures.

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Here is an overview of the rest of Super Nintendo World, which may look familiar if you’ve seen the versions in Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Hollywood.

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Unlike Universal Studios Hollywood, Super Nintendo World in Epic Universe will include the Yoshi’s Adventure omnimover attraction from Universal Studios Japan.

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This shot shows some of the grassy stone walls at the edge of the land, around Yoshi’s Adventure. The tall structure on the left is Mount Beanpole.

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Unlike the other two versions of the land, guests will actually go up as the enter this Super Nintendo World. They will still enter through a green pipe, but then get on an escalator.

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Painting has begun on the wall surrounding the Mushroom Kingdom. A section of wall at the bottom of this photo is now green.

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The large show building at the back of the Mushroom Kingdom and next to the Donkey Kong coaster is the show building for Mario Kart. The façade, currently covered in yellow sheathing, will be Bowser’s Castle.

The building directly outside the land is rumored to be a Nintendo café and shop.

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The flat paths in this corner of the land are the Yoshi’s Adventure track.

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A yellow arrow points at the façade for Peach’s Castle. Steel frames show the castle’s shape. This is where guests will enter.

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Here is a closer look at what will eventually be Bowser’s Castle. On the bottom right is a circular doorway.

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How to Train Your Dragon

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Next is the Isle of Berk, a.k.a. the “How to Train Your Dragon” land. A coaster track curves around a pair of spinning rides.

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Themed elements have been added to the rides, making them look like tall wooden poles with seesaws on top.

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Guests will sit in these colorful seats on one end of the seesaw.

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Dragon figures at the other end of the seesaw will appear to be acting as the counterweight moving guests around.

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The seats are painted to resemble dragon wings. One of the dragon figures is blue, while the other is red — reminiscent of the defunct Dueling Dragons at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. A Halloween Horror Nights house this year is inspired by the old dual-racing coaster.

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Silver bands around the poles of the ride’s support structure look like large pieces of metal. One band hides the seam of a service door that is open in this photo.

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Here are two photos of the red dragon spinner, also with a service door open.

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Dueling Dragons may not be coming back, but of course there will be a dragon coaster on the Isle of Berk. In this photo of the coaster:

  1. Envelope test device for the roller-coaster.
  2. Coaster’s first launch.
  3. Stone chimney.
  4. Open space, potentially for the queue.
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Another view of the coaster includes:

  1. Dark “wood” beams that are actually painted steel over the first launch.
  2. Steel frame to hide spurs to the service building.
  3. Envelope test device.
  4. Stone chimney on show building roof.
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The entrance to the “How to Train Your Dragon” land is right next to Starfall Racers. On the right in this photo is the portal entrance. The gray coaster track is for the dragon coaster.

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Two statues welcome guests into the land, just like in the “How to Train Your Dragon” films. They have been painted and scaffolding has been removed from them, revealing a matching blue and gold set of a viking and dragon.

This photo also shows a tower atop the entrance portal with some stone work near the top.

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The statues will sit in a bay of water, along with some viking ships. The water in the bay in these photos is from rain.

The black half dome at the top center of this photo is a themed gift shop.

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Here is a look at the back of the portal. Crew members were constructing a steel frame for a rock wall to separate the entrance and exit of the land.

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Another tower, with a possible dragon perch on top, is on a restaurant building to the left.

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A wooden deck will curve around the bay, between the entrance portal and water.

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The roller-coaster will go under a bridge of this deck, as seen behind the viking statue in this photo.

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This is a directly overhead view of the entrance portal.

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Log posts run along the edge of the water next to the deck.

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The arrow in this photo shows the coaster track going under the bridge “through” the water. The track then circles rocks, which may have mounts for more dragons.

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The coaster track curves of the water before diving under the bridge.

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Behind the viking ships is a wall of rock, including a gap in the center. The building on the other side of the wall has supports for it.

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The large circular building is the Great Hall, rumored to be a restaurant. There are steel supports all over it for future stones. To the right is a dock for a boat ride.

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The Great Hall opens into a rectangular building. One of the flat walls already has a rocky steel frame over it. Another small building with a peaked roof is to the left.

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In this photo:

  1. Archway entrance to a theater.
  2. A perch on a tower for a dragon.
  3. The dock for a boat ride.
  4. The Great Hall.
  5. A service building.
  6. The roller-coaster service building.
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One of Universal’s “How to Train Your Dragon”-related trademarks is “The Untrainable Dragon.” Universal Studios Beijing already has a “How to Train Your Dragon” stage show called “Untrainable,” so this could be the show coming to the Berk theater.

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Other trademarked names for possible “How to Train Your Dragon” attractions include Hiccup’s Wing Gliders, Fyre Drill, and Dragon Racer’s Rally.

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Here’s another look at the water ride dock, next to the dome-shaped gift shop. This ride may be Fyre Drill.

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A bridge crosses over the river, from the Great Hall area towards the theater.

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This series of structures is for the roller-coaster and a second smaller attraction. The large light gray rocks are at the coaster’s second launch. The service building to the right contains electrical equipment for the launch.

The darker rockwork frames in the foreground are for a small attraction.

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Here is an overall look at the land, with the portal near the bottom of the photo.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The third Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be inspired by Place Cachée, a Diagon Alley-esque area of Paris, France seen in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.”

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Guests will enter through a portal and then be met by a replica of Porte Saint-Denis, a real archway in Paris.

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A stone tower is atop the portal entrance. A small arrow points at wiring inside the portal, possibly for admissions podiums.

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Freshly planted trees are outside the portal.

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Being inspired by the streets of Paris, this land will have tall façades around thin streets. Bioreconstruct notes almost every façade is covered in scaffolding, including the narrow street at the front and center of this photo.

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Here is a courtyard area which only be accessible through alleyways.

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The arrow in this photo points at a domed frame. To the right is the narrow street. The tower rising in the background will be inspired by the Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre, suggesting the street will be Montmartre.

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The ground in this area is muddy due to rain.

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Though the land is set in Paris, the main attraction is rumored to take guests to the British Ministry of Magic.

Hotel Construction

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The in-park hotel is between The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Dark Universe.

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Two cranes tower over the hotel, which is now about eight stories tall at its highest point. An arrow points at columns being cast at ground level.

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This arrow points at the blue-green cornice at the edge of a new wall. Behind the hotel is a parking garage.

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The hotel’s curve faces towards the park.

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Here is the entrance on the opposite side.

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Two other Universal Orlando Resort hotels are under construction just a short bus ride’s away from Epic Universe. Colorful tiles are now being installed on the exteriors of these hotels.

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The hotels have rounded windows. Crews are installing the tiles that create a glittering mosaic on the exterior walls.

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Here is a test piece for the colorful tiles on the ground.

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This section is mostly blue, although other sections are red and orange.

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The stone oval in this photo is the base of a pool.

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In this photo:

  1. Staged pane of glass.
  2. Lattice for reflective tiles curves around a bare section of wall.
  3. Staged lattice.
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This arrow points at a curve in the installed tiles over the bottom two floors of this building. A round porte-cochere extends out from the hotel’s entrance.

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Tiles have been installed on the righthand building.

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A section of a floor remains to be constructed on the other building.

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A steel frame extends from the lobby. This possible porte-cochere is more triangular than the other one.

What are you most excited to see at Epic Universe? Let us know in the comments.

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