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Universal Orlando previews Monsters’ Dark Universe

Dark Universe concept art
From Universal Orlando

On June 20, Universal Orlando Resort unveiled Dark Universe, their Universal Monsters-themed experience within the upcoming Epic Universe theme park, set to open in 2025.

This captivating land promises to immerse guests in a monstrous adventure, featuring attractions, rides, shops, restaurants, character meet-and-greets and other activities with Universal's classic monsters taking center stage.

Described as family-friendly, yet occasionally PG-13, the new experience will recount the story of the Universal Monsters. It's not a reboot or reimagining but a portrayal of the actual monsters in a contemporary, or at least modern-ish, setting, considering some late 1800s-style buildings. The real challenge lies in updating the monster experience for a new audience without alienating fans of the black-and-white classics. Although the theme park is still under construction, the previews Universal Orlando recently revealed show a careful threading of the proverbial needle that has somehow been lost on the feature film division of Universal. The Cereal Creatures team culled through the press release and found the most noteworthy items that continue the story of the Universal Monsters in the new theme park experience.

  • Darkmoor - The town setting for the Dark Universe land, reminiscent of the village Frankenstein or Vasaria. Frankenstein Manor, a fresh interpretation of Frankenstein's castle, looms in the background, with lightning crackling from the capacitors atop the manor.

  • Dr. Praetorius' Lab - The former lab has transformed into a space where visitors can receive makeup to resemble a monster. We assume Praetorius, the jealous mad scientist instrumental in creating the Bride, perished in the climax of The Bride of Frankenstein—or perhaps not.

  • Dr. Victoria Frankenstein - One of the most compelling aspects of the Dark Universe narrative is Dr. Victoria Frankenstein, Henry's great-great-granddaughter. She furthers her ancestor's experiments with a plan to capture the world's most formidable monsters, including the Wolf Man, Mummy, and Creature from the Black Lagoon. However, her attempt to ensnare Dracula goes horribly wrong, plunging park visitors into a maelstrom of terror.

  • Curse of the Werewolf - The Wolf Man, both a literal wolf-man and a roller coaster, features a reenvisioned Maleva, the old gypsy woman, now a much younger mystic. The term 'gypsy' is apparently no longer appropriate these days, hence the change to 'mystic.' Riders should heed her warnings, as they bear the mark of the beast themselves! This attraction connects to the world of the original Wolf Man movie and, hopefully, includes a lurking Wolf Man among the artificial trees. An augmented reality preview of Dark Universe showed just that!

  • It's the Monsters, Stupid! - Indeed, the monsters will make appearances in the flesh—or undead flesh, depending on the creature. The Frankenstein monster, shirtless and almost as fit as our Cereal Creatures version, will join the Bride, Ygor, the Invisible Man, monster hunters, vampire familiars and more. Imagine getting Frankenstein makeup and snapping a selfie with the actual Frankenstein monster!

  • I Remember That! - The Burning Windmill from the first Frankenstein film serves as a tavern where monster hunters congregate (and where you can grab a bite). The massive windmill ignites several times an hour, fueled by two types of fuel in a spectacular show. Additionally, there's De Lacey's Cottage, a food stand presumably named after the kind man who befriends the monster (cue Ave Maria), and Pretorius' Scientific Oddities, a gift shop named after the mad scientist.

  • Missing Monsters - The artwork and mock-ups have yet to reveal major roles for fan favorites like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Invisible Man, the Metaluna Mutant, the Phantom of the Opera, or the Mummy. So far, the presentations have focused mainly on Frankenstein, with a bit more Dracula than the rest. Hopefully, these other monsters will feature prominently beyond the Frankenstein Experiment attraction.

  • HHN - With Halloween Horror Nights being a significant event for Universal, it's intriguing to consider how the monsters will integrate into this event at the main park or the Hollywood park. Ideally, the Universal Monsters will remain a staple of HHN. There are plenty of monsters to go around, after all.

This endeavor could have easily gone off the rails. Bringing the Universal Monsters into the 21st century has been challenging. Yet, with recent merchandise, new Image comics, and other appearances, fans of the classic monsters are given hope that their caretakers will preserve what made the monsters and their films so iconic. Everything displayed at Dark Universe suggests they've succeeded. It's puzzling why the shared movie universe dubbed Dark Universe didn't grasp this concept. Dark Universe merchandise is now available, and we've selected a few items to feature in another post. Stay tuned! If this theme park is any indication, Dark Universe has a very bright future.

Dark Universe rendering
From Universal Orlando


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