Is Universal's Epic Universe About to Repeat One of Disneyland's Biggest Opening Day Mistakes

Epic Universe Theme Park Concept Art 2019

Universal's Epic Universe was one of the biggest pieces of theme park news of the year, and even without any official acknowledgment of rides or lands, we already know a lot about this new park thanks to analysis of the vague concept art. But it also appears this park may be about to replicate one of the biggest mistakes of opening day Disneyland.

When Disneyland opened, each of its four main lands were only accessible from the hub. That means if you wanted to go from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland you had to go through Sleeping Beauty Castle, back to the plaza currently inhabited by the Partners Statue and then head into Tomorrowland from the center of the park.

The problem Disney quickly learned, was that this caused major bottlenecks in each of the lands as there was only one way in or out of the land. Disneyland quickly corrected this by adding pathways between the individual lands, making a loop between all the lands.

Every theme park since then has really been built with this in mind. The Magic Kingdom and every castle park have been built with pathways between lands on opening day. Even Universal parks have been built with looping in mind, with Islands of Adventure and Universal Orlando both following a loop design.

But this park design layout bears a striking resemblance to opening day Disneyland. Everything only has an entrance and exit from the hub. This creates a major choke point at the entrance to each land. To imagine what this is going to be like one just needs to look at present-day Disneyland.

Tomorrowland at Disneyland is more narrow than the other lands at Disneyland, and only has two pathways in or out, one of which, the hub entrance, has a ride in the middle of it. This makes this area unnecessarily crowded, and it often requires cast members to direct traffic in the park, sometimes even making the land into a forced continuous loop.

This has the potential to be really a bad idea. It is going to create four dead ends where people have nowhere to go except back. Unfortunately, it will be more difficult to solve the problem here than in Disneyland. The lands are being built with massive expansion pads between them. This will not be as simple as extending Fantasyland to include a path to Tomorrowland as there are massive empty spaces between the lands. On top of that, these lands are being built with immersion in mind, meaning there is no empty place to put a path to another land.

We will have to wait to see if this mistake from Disneyland is replicated in Universal's newest theme park.