Universal Orlando just made an 'Epic' announcement

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Universal Orlando just announced Universal’s Epic Universe, its latest theme park in the Orlando area and the first major theme park project built in 20 years.

Thursday morning's announcement at the Orange County Convention Center ends years of speculation and digging by bloggers and fans alike. Most significantly, Universal's announcement included a lot of dollar figures.

The project is expected to create 14,000 new jobs with a base rate of $15/hour, "an epic investment" in the Orlando economy. Universal currently employs approximately 25,000 people. Universal Orlando currently has two theme parks, a water park, six hotels and a shopping district.

Our own Ken Storey predicted the name would be either "Fantastic Worlds" or "Epic Universe," with the new park serving up a "greatest hits" presentation of NBC Universal’s intellectual properties. Sources say Warner Bros., owner of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts properties, may have objected and forced Universal to switch names.

The park “represents the single-largest investment Comcast NBC Universal has made in its theme park business and in Florida overall,” said Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast.

Not a lot of details were released at today’s press conference, like when it will open or how much it will cost, but Universal’s Epic Universe, which is already under construction, will sit a few miles away from the other resorts on a 750-acre site south of Sand Lake Road and east of Universal Boulevard.

So far, Nintendo seems to be the most likely intellectual property that will be represented at the new park, along with How to Train Your Dragon, Kung-Fu Panda, Madagascar and Shrek.

Disney's Animal Kingdom opened in 1998. Universal's last major development was Islands of Adventure in 1999.

We will have more information throughout the day.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was also present at today’s press conference. “We look forward to Universal’s continued contribution to our state’s economic growth and development,” said DeSantis said in a statement. “And we are especially grateful for Universal’s partnership in improving Shingle Creek, which plays a critical role in serving the Everglades.”

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