Universal recently revealed exciting new details about Universal Epic Universe, the company’s new Orlando theme park slated to open in 2025. Epic Universe is made up of five different worlds, all connected through Celestial Park. Not all the attractions have officially been unveiled yet, but looking at the newly released concept art and overhead aerial images it appears as though Epic Universe will open with twelve rides (shows and splashpads not included. Counting Starfall Racers as two separate rides since they are two unique roller coasters).
Epic Universe Rides
Out of those twelve rides, it appears only two of them are brand new, never before seen ride systems. I’m not counting the Donkey Kong coaster as a new ride system since it will be opening in Japan this year, but will still be a very unique attraction. Read more how the Donkey Kong coaster works here. The biggest, most groundbreaking ride of Epic Universe is sure to be the Harry Potter Ministry of Magic ride – more on this later. But the other ride with a brand new ride system that excites me is probably the one you’d least expect: Constellation Carousel.
A new spin on a classic
This is no ordinary merry-go-round. The official Universal blog describes it as:
“This beautiful carousel has a wonderful spin to it — quite literally. It may seem like a traditional carousel, with an array of celestial creatures to choose from, but as it goes round and round, the creatures are also turning 360 degrees, making you feel like you’re caught within the Milky Way, riding on constellations through the galaxy.
“Constellation Carousel is the most enchanting carousel ever made,” said Gabriela Lander, director of Facility Design for Universal Creative. “The design, the colors and tones, the dome that will cover it… well, all the elements used in this experience are the perfect combination to create a unique moment while enjoying Epic. The traditional carousel of our childhood is being redefined by the stars!”
How does a traditional carousel work?
Carousels (or merry-go-rounds) have been around in one form or another for over a thousand years. A traditional carousel is suspended above the ground and rotates around a center, stationary pole. The horses or other figures are connected to crank arms that also rotate and as they do the horses move up and down. Typically, all the creatures you can ride on face the same direction and they all rotate around the central pole. The passengers experience two motions: rotation around the center while going up-and-down.
For Epic Universe, Universal wanted something more epic than your standard carousel, so they invented an entirely new type of merry-go-round. Guest carriages include celestial lions, dragons, peacocks and more. Each carriage turns 360 degrees while lifting riders up to 6 feet in the air! On the official Universal Creative Instagram page, Associate Show Programmer Thomas Stoeckert said “The Constellation Carousel is incredibly exciting as it’s out most complicated ride system yet – each vehicle can move up and down, and turn left and right independently of each other…gives every guest a unique ride experience.”
How does the Constellation Carousel work?
Universal filed a patent that gives us a great look at how the new ride system works.
The biggest difference between the Constellation Carousel and your average merry-go-round is the lack of a central pole and being supported from the bottom rather than the top. This means the floor can be flush with the surrounding pavement, rather than requiring to step up onto an elevated platform.
The entire large platform will be spinning. Then you have three smaller platforms within that can spin at their own speed and direction. Finally, each individual figure can spin 360 degrees as well as move up and down up to six feet. While the traditional carousel has two motions, the Constellation Carousel has four!
It’s interesting they’re calling it a carousel because it’s more like a teacups ride with controlled spinning that goes up and down. Thanks to some aerial photography by bioreconstruct we can see that some of the components being installed look to exactly match the patent sketches:
Aerial photo of a very large crane lifting heavy items near the dome in center of Epic Universe.
📸 Jan 26. pic.twitter.com/CeEgKZAfaK
— bioreconstruct (@bioreconstruct) January 28, 2024
As if that wasn’t enough, since there is no central support system like a traditional carousel, the area above rider’s heads can be used for additional theming and show elements. Look up at the ceiling of Constellation Carousel while riding and you’ll see the Star Tracker featuring rotating celestial star patterns, with a center Mesmerizer creating a ribbon cone effect.
Best of all, there is no height requirement to ride Constellation Carousel, so guests of all ages will be able to enjoy its wonders and beauty.
I can’t wait to see the Constellation Carousel in action with all the figures dancing around each other. Are you excited to ride the Constellation Carousel? Let us know in the comments below!