Everything We Know About Dark Universe at Universal Epic Universe

June 20, 2024
Rendering of the entrance to Darkmoor in Dark Universe

Monster kid (noun): someone who grew up loving all things scary, creepy and misunderstood — especially the classic Universal Monsters.

Used in a sentence: Dark Universe, one of the five worlds coming to Universal Epic Universe in 2025, is a monster kid’s dream. With two thrilling attractions, immersive shopping and dining experiences, and more monsters than you can shake a stake at, Dark Universe is where the stories of the Universal Monsters come together — and come to life.

Whether you identify as a monster kid or not, Dark Universe promises pulse-pounding thrills, mysteries shrouded in shadow, and an eerily immersive world to explore…if you dare. It’s time to venture into the shadows and unearth everything Dark Universe will have to offer. Grab your torch, a pitchfork and some garlic and follow me into the dark!

Welcome to Darkmoor

Rendering of the Darkmoor cemetery in Dark Universe

Guests will enter Dark Universe from Celestial Park via an (appropriately) foreboding portal. On top of the portal, a coil will crackle with electricity, representing the eternal struggle of science against death. Those who are brave enough to enter will find themselves in a decaying, foggy cemetery on the edges of the village of Darkmoor. If that tingling down your spine isn’t hint enough, the upended tombstones and twisted roots confirm what you already might suspect: things don’t stay buried for long here.

Once guests make their way through the cemetery, they will find themselves in the village proper, where misbegotten scientific experiments scar the land and unnatural creations lurk in the shadows. This is Darkmoor, home to monsters, monster makers, monster hunters and the welcoming villagers who are just trying to survive. (Survive the monsters, in case that wasn’t clear.)

“We created a village and a world beyond it where not only can these stories come together, but new stories can come in as well,” explains Pete Carsillo, senior creative director for Dark Universe. “Now you’re in the same place where all those stories come together, but it’s the current day.”

What to Ride in Dark Universe

Dark Universe is home to two attractions, alongside meet and greets with some of Darkmoor’s most (in)famous inhabitants. Since the world of Darkmoor exists in the present day, that means there’s a new Dr. Frankenstein in town — and you’re about to meet her.

Monsters Unchained: The Frankenstein Experiment

Rendering of Monsters Unchained: The Frankenstein Experiment

Looming in the distance over the village of Darkmoor is Frankenstein Manor. Deep below this decrepit estate, guests will experience Dark Universe’s thrilling dark ride: Monsters Unchained: The Frankenstein Experiment.

Dr. Victoria Frankenstein, Henry’s great-great granddaughter, resides in the manor, and she’s inviting you to witness her latest experiment. Victoria has already brought her own creature back from the dead, and now she’s seeking to rehabilitate all the monsters that are plaguing the village — and restore her family name to glory. (Don’t let Victoria hear you referring to her creation as Frankenstein’s Monster! She doesn’t see him as a monster. Not to mention it’s just impolite.)

As Victoria’s guests, you’ll witness her attempt to tame the most dangerous monster of all, Dracula, backfire spectacularly. Chaos erupts as you’re pursued deeper and deeper into the catacombs by a rogue’s gallery of Universal Monsters.

“We see a maniacal side of her even though she’s our hero,” says Greg Hall, Dark Universe’s creative director. “The monsters are released and it’s up to her, Frankenstein and Ygor to help save the day while we’re stuck in the middle of this chaos.”

Racing through the darkness, you’ll come across all the monsters who have been subjected to Victoria’s experiments, including the Brides of Dracula, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Wolf Man, the Mummy and the Phantom of the Opera. As you witness the results of Victoria’s unnatural experiments, you’ll have to confront a question: who’s really the monster here?

“What I want guests to say is, ‘That was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life — and you have to try it’,” says Greg. “It’s hard to scare people these days. We want to make sure they have fun, and they see something they’ll never forget.”

Curse of the Werewolf

Rendering of Curse of the Werewolf in Dark Universe

Deep in the woods that border the village of Darkmoor, you’ll find Dark Universe’s other attraction: Curse of the Werewolf. This family spinning coaster can be found in the colorful encampment of The Guild of Mystics. Maleva, the guild’s all-knowing seer and leader, will warn visitors that they bear the mark of the werewolf.

While Maleva does make an appearance in the 1941 film “The Wolf Man,” her Dark Universe version is updated to reflect the fictional culture of the Guild of Mystics, which is rich with beauty, violence and, of course, werewolves.

“It feels really updated, but you could literally trace this Maleva back to another Maleva back to the movie,” says Pete. “So now you experience Maleva and her Mystics, but it’s with a lot of richness and a lot of color — stuff you couldn’t get in the old black and white.”

With Maleva’s warning in mind, you’ll embark on your adventure under the light of full moon. As you speed through the forest, you’ll be pursued at every turn by the werewolves who lurk in the shadows. Eventually, you’ll come face to face with the beasts, spinning as you dodge gnashing teeth and razor-sharp claws in the old Darkmoor armory. When you make it back to the camp, you’ll be forever changed — and you’ll have to beware the full moon from now on.

Meet and Greets

If you’re like me and you’re more likely to run screaming (happily) toward a monster than run screaming (terrified) away from one, you’re in luck. There are plenty of close encounters to be had in Dark Universe! Some of the iconic Universal Monsters characters you can meet in Darkmoor include Frankenstein’s Monster, the Bride of Frankenstein, Ygor and the Invisible Man.

In addition, you might encounter one of The Hounds: monster hunters who have set up shop in The Burning Blade Tavern and (attempt to) defend the village of Darkmoor. A roaming musician will also wander the village, serenading guests with eerie tunes of old.

“There’s so much for guests to do and see and discover,” says Chris Frisella, executive producer of Dark Universe. “I really hope that the strokes that we’ve taken here feed the monster kids that are out there — the people who really love the legacy. And I hope that it starts a fire of passion for these characters in new audiences!”

Where to Eat in Dark Universe

By now, you’ve surely clocked the incredible attention to detail that the creative team has put into Dark Universe. The dining locations found in Darkmoor are no exception!

Das Stakehaus

Rendering of Das Stakehaus in Dark Universe

Deep under Darkmoor, swarms of vampires make their homes in the ancient catacombs. Located atop these catacombs is Das Stakehaus, a fast-casual restaurant lorded over by the servants of said vampires. Classical artwork and relics hint at the dark opulence of vampiric culture.

At Das Stakehaus, you can enjoy kebabs, burgers, sandwiches and ribs, along with other offerings. And as for what the vampires are dining on? Well, you may want to wear a turtleneck to this meal.

The Burning Blade Tavern

Rendering of the Burning Blade Tavern in Dark Universe

Many years ago, an angry mob of villagers torched the old mill during the infamous “Frankenstein incident.” Now, the mill has become the favorite hangout of Darkmoor’s monster hunters. In addition to grabbing some tavern fare, guests can peruse the hunters’ trophies and hear tales from some of the village’s most esteemed and darkly quirky residents.

But why is it called The Burning Blade Tavern? I’m so glad you asked. The mill that stands atop this restaurant erupts into flames every 20 minutes. So, if you prefer your bratwurst extra crispy, it won’t be an issue.

Where to Shop in Dark Universe

Rendering of the Darkmoor Monster Makeup Experience

There’s no shortage of story in Dark Universe, and visitors to Darkmoor can continue to unravel that dark tapestry as they peruse the world’s merchandise.

Darkmoor Monster Makeup Experience

If you’re a fan of Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show in Universal Studios Florida, Darkmoor Monster Makeup Experience should be your first stop when you get to Dark Universe. Here, monster makers have converted Dr. Septimus Pretorius’ old lab into a parlor where visitors can let their inner monster shine.

“If you want to be a monster, you can actually be made up like a monster,” says Pete. “Or if you want to be a little more meta, you can come in and get your whole family covered up in temporary tattoos. In Dark Universe, you can walk around with [temporary] tattoos on when you’re five!”

What to Expect at Opening

Rendering of a bat's-eye view of Dark Universe

When Universal Epic Universe opens in 2025, the classic monsters from your favorite movies will finally have a home in one incredibly immersive world, Dark Universe. The legacy of the Universal Monsters is hard to overstate, and it’s safe to say the creative team behind the world has taken on this project with great reverence.

“It’s really about the care that has been taken, as we’ve crafted these stories and this land, to really respect the history of these films,” says Chris. “But we’re not being charged with creating a museum. We are being charged with creating a living, breathing world and experience.”

Far from being a museum, Dark Universe is world where all of the classic Universal Monsters stories really happened — and soon, guests will be able to venture into the shadows and experience what that world looks like today.

If it wasn’t glaringly obvious as you read this article, I’ll always be a monster kid at heart. I’ll be counting down the days until I can enter Dark Universe and explore the world of Darkmoor. Until then, at least there are plenty of Universal Monsters movies to binge in the meantime!

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  • Reply Watkins June 22, 2024 at 12:20 pm

    Super hyped for this but what’s going on with universals horror theme park in Vegas? Haven’t heard a single thing about it since it was announced.

    • Reply Digital Guest Communications June 22, 2024 at 12:55 pm

      Hey there! We recommend keeping an eye on our social media channels for any updates.

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