All of Universal’s Orlando theme parks to get facial recognition upgrade
Facial recognition is about to get totally epic – or, rather, Epic is about to get facial recognition. Epic Universe, the new Universal theme park scheduled to open in Orlando, Florida in mid-2025, will use a patented biometric facial recognition tool at its entry gates, according to reports from Orlando ParkStop and the Hollywood Reporter.
Nor will face biometrics be exclusive to the new park, as was previously reported. What Universal executives are calling a “facial recognition/photo validation” process for frictionless entry will be deployed in Universal’s existing theme parks, including its flagship, Universal Studios.
According to ParkStop, Universal has patented a system for capturing a guest’s photo on entry, then using face scanners across the park to moderate or customize their experience based on paired biometric ID credentials. Data is erased when the guest leaves the park. Diagrams included in the patent show potential activations and operational flow charts for attaching face images that are registered in databases to specific areas in the park.
It is this system that observers believe will be deployed at Epic Universe as “Photo Validation” – in part to distance it from stigmas attached to “facial recognition.”
Biometrics could unlock open hub concept
Mark Woodbury, CEO of Universal Epic Destinations & Experiences, says the new park is the company’s most technologically advanced across the entire guest experience. Centred around a landscaped hub, Epic Universe’s four themed lands will deploy advanced robotics and drone tech to showcase what Woodbury calls “powerful, trip-driving intellectual property.”
There are rumours that the central hub area may be free, and that only the themed lands will require ticketed entry. To illustrate how this system might make use of facial recognition, ParkStop references the only themed world that has been made public so far, in suggesting that long lines to access Super Nintendo World could be alleviated by installing facial recognition scanners at the warp pipe themed entry.
Diagrams in a recent permit filing also suggest the placement of overhead sensors in the park, which could also be used for access control.