UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
Hollywood, CA (Abbreviation: USH)
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(11/24/15) The Wishing Tree and New Haunt Experience Rumor
(11/18/16) New Annual Passes Grow Out of Control (MORE...)
(11/11/15) Wizarding World West Construction (MORE...)
(11/2/15) How Fast & Furious Supercharged Was Made (MORE...)
(10/30/15) Universal Hollywood Launches Interactive Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (MORE...)
Read the Official Review of Halloween Horror Nights 2015 - CLICK HERE
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem - THE GRAND OPENING
General Park News - (11/24/15) Universal CityWalk and NBC4 are teaming up for the first ever "The Wishing Tree" event, where the public can pay it forward by making wishes for those who are deserving. From Nov. 27 to Dec. 22, Universal CityWalk visitors can place their wishes for friends and family next to the decorative trees adorning Universal CityWalk’s “5 Towers” plaza. NBC4 viewers can also share their wishes at www.NBCLA.com/wishingtree. Wishes will then be granted live weeknights from Dec. 9 to 23 during the NBC4 News at 5pm and 6pm from Universal CityWalk and NBC4's Weathercaster Fritz Coleman.
In addition to The Wishing Tree, CityWalk will transform for the winter holidays from Nov. 28 to Jan 1, 2016 with the addition of a 40-foot tall Christmas tree, covered with 200,000 LED icicles that will flash in sync to the lights and sounds of the 5 Towers plaza. Plus Santa Claus will make nightly appearances and special photo ops, with snow falling hourly in the heart of CityWalk.
(11/18/15) Universal Studios Hollywood has announced their new 2016 annual pass programs, along with an increase in the cost, which is all part of the set-up to the launch of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The old 2015 annual pass with no blackout dates could be bought as low of $139 online before (or $159 at the gate), which has been replaced with three tiers of new passes to choose from:
A California Residents Annual Pass will cost you $139, but has a ton of blackout dates that will only allow entry to the park for 182 days out of the year.
The next pass is the California Residents Plus Annual Pass will get you in for 244 days, and will cost $199.
After that is the Gold Annual Pass (available to purchase by anyone) that is sure to cause sticker-shock when you see the $299 price tag. I'm even more shocked that at that price, it too has blackout dates, and can only be used for 312 days out of the year, effectively blocking out the Christmas to New Years holiday, almost every Summer weekend, all Saturdays in Haunt season and about half of the remaining weekends that weren't already blocked. In short... if you work a Monday-Friday job, it doesn't look like Universal has any kind of annual pass for you at all this year, which is highly disappointing.
Oh, and speaking of being disappointed... it seems NONE of the three pass options includes parking either, so even if you pony up your $299 for the Gold pass, you're still going to be hit for an extra $18 per visit at the parking garage. Talk about adding insult to injury, but it seems clear Universal Studios Hollywood is preparing itself for huge crowds to slam the park in 2016 once they open the gates to the Potterverse.
(11/2/15) A fantastic breakdown of the technical work that went into creating the Fast & Furious: Supercharged attraction action sequence at Universal Studios Hollywood can be found at FXGuide this week. Check it out.
(10/16/15) Good news for CityWalk at Universal Studios Hollywood, as a new Smashburger restaurant will open on October 21st. I just came across my first Smashburger myself over the summer in South Carolina and it was pretty darn good and worth checking out if you've never tried one before.
(10/8/15) Just a heads up, but Universal Studios Hollywood has followed Disneyland's lead and quietly raised the price of parking to $18.
(9/24/15) The official Screamscape review of Halloween Horror Nights 2015 is now live! Click here to read all the details!
(7/22/15) A fun large construction report on the progress building Wizarding World West at Universal Studios Hollywood has been posted to ParkJourney, so check it out. The update also includes a lot of pictures of Halloween Horror Nights goodies under construction as well.
2016 - Wizarding World of Harry Potter - (11/11/15) ParkJourney is back at USH once again for a peek at Hogsmeade village and the rest of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which now looks almost finished on the outside of all the buildings.
(10/30/15) Universal Studios Hollywood and Harry Potter fans across the west coast can get a taste of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter on the way to California next year with the launch of a brand new interactive website. Click here to see it and be prepared for the amazing adventures to come in early 2016.
(8/31/15) The latest construction update from Universal Studios Hollywood from our friends at In The Loop has been posted. They check in on the new parking structure and connecting it to the existing structures, the huge building going up near the front of the park that replaced the old walk-through haunt, Halloween Horror Nights construction as well as the progress on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
(8/6/15) ParkJourney has posted a new Wizarding World West construction update this week, just as the official Hogsmeade sign has been put into place in the archway entrance.
(6/18/15) A new construction update from Universal Studios Hollywood has been posted by a friends at In The Loop. Near the end they got a look at the new Flight of the Hippogriff coaster track now installed as well.
(6/9/15) ParkJourney takes a look at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Hollywood this week as some of the scaffolding covering the various structures is starting to come down and give us our first real look at the actual buildings and walls underneath. Of course Hogwarts castle itself is covered head to tie still, but when they do finally reveal it... it's going to blow you away.
(6/3/15) Universal Studios Hollywood released a special video statement (see below) regarding the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. When it opens in Spring 2016, the signature ride located in Hogwarts Castle, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, will be the official US debut of the new 3D version of this attraction. The 3D glasses will be themed as Quidditch inspired goggles. So just as speculated, the ride will open in 3D, and while they don't mention Orlando, the wording of the announcement seems to confirm that a 3D conversion for Orlando will follow the opening of the Hollywood version.
The announcement confirms that the latest Wizarding World will feature Honeydukes sweet shop, Zonko's (gags), Three Broomsticks (restaurant), The Hog's Head pub, Ollivanders wand shop as well as a Flight of the Hippogriff family coaster. Yes... Universal Studios Hollywood will be rasing their coaster count by 1. You can catch up on all the official details at the new official website.
(5/22/15) With the unexpected 3D transformation of the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride at Universal Studios Japan (follow the link for the story) I'd say it was a good bet that when the Hollywood version of the ride opens next year, it will offer up a 3D experience as well right from the start.
(5/19/15) You can get your latest look at "Wizarding World West" construction this week by making the jump to ParkJourney.
(4/28/15) The latest construction update showing off Wizarding World West can be found on ParkJourney this week.
(4/16/15) New pictures from Wizarding World West have been posted to Westcoaster this week. Check them out!
(2/11/15) A new photo report from Universal Hollywood has been posted to Westcoaster this week, showing off the Wizarding World of Harry Potter progress as well as Springfield, Fast and Furious Supercharged, a new parking structure and more.
(1/6/15) According to a couple of our readers, a high spire structure has been added to the top of Hogwarts Castle, which apparently can even be seen poking out over the park's skyline while driving down the 101 freeway. Just wait until the entire castle goes into place.
(12/24/14) While we have had no shortness of boots on the ground at Universal Studios Hollywood taking pictures of the massive construction going on over there to create both Springfield and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so much of it gets lost in translation when viewing it from the ground. Sometimes you need to take to the air through the magic of GoogleEarth, and thanks to a reader who sent these images in a few weeks ago, we can now see a BEFORE and a 2014 look at the construction site for both to really see get a solid grasp on what all has changed over the past year.
Quite a lot actually, as you can now really see how the massive Hogwarts Castle structure has replaced the old Gibson Amphitheater. What shocked me the most was just how much bigger the Springfield area was, as it is far bigger than I had imagined, and it is going to be interesting to see how they transition from Springfield to Hogsmeade as they are so close together. This also explains why there has been so much work on and around the Shrek 4D theater, as it is shoehorned right into the armpit of Hogsmeade as well. Of course this is Universal Studios Hollywood we are talking about, and they are experts at finding ways to compact and fit big projects into tight spaces while taking advantage of their unique terrain.
Though if they ever want to add the Hogwarts Express train to the Hollywood park sometime in the future, things are going to get very interesting in the backlot to say the least…
(10/29/14) A great set of construction photos showing off the work taking place alla round Universal Studios Hollywood can be found at ParkJourney, where the progress on the new Wizarding World area is growing bigger and more identifiable every day.
(7/17/14) Westcoaster has posted a new update from Universal Hollywood this week showing off the latest changes to Springfield and the Wizarding World construction site.
(4/30/14) New great close up pictures of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter structure rising have been posted to ParkJourney. Seriously, this structure is going up very quickly now that they are on a roll.
(4/22/14) A reader sent in a few new close up looks at the construction of the Hollywood version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this week. Check them out.
(4/9/14) No new details were given, but the park has finally confirmed that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be ready to open by 2016.
(3/26/14) Westcoaster reports in from Universal Studios Hollywood with a look at the latest progress being made to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, as well as more pictures of the beautiful Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction area, now in Technical Rehearsal (aka: Soft Open).
(3/18/14) New pictures showing off the steel quickly rising that will form the massive Hogwarts Castle structure can be found at InsideUniversal. They also take a good look at the Despicable Me themed fašade and the now open Simpsons themed midway games.
In other news, they also tell us that the back few rows of Shrek 4D have been removed to accommodate the addition of a new hallway to lead guests into the Torture Chamber / Pre-Show Room, as the construction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter blocked off access to the old entrance area.
(3/14/14) Westcoaster reports in from Universal Hollywood this week with picture of the Wizarding World construction going vertical and of the now open Simpsons themed midway games area.
(1/21/14) New construction pictures from around the park have been posted to Westcoaster this week as new things are popping up in the Super Silly Funland area next to Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. Meanwhile a tower crane has gone up to start putting up the steel for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Speaking of which… while it doesn’t mean a ton this far out from the opening, I’ve heard that the entire project is a month and a half ahead of schedule mostly due to the favorable dry weather conditions they’ve had thus far.
(1/17/14) A reader sent in a couple of new pictures from Universal Hollywood taken this week, showing off the huge Wizarding World construction site, where the Mummy tunnel used to be, as well as the site clearing for the new parking structure on the way. I’m told that the construction crews seem to be working long hours as well, starting as early as 7am and working on until the early evening with their lights.
(1/2/14) Great news, the latest pictures from Universal Studios Hollywood posted to Westcoaster show a number of large steel framework pieces are on site and ready to be set into place as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter moves towards vertical construction.
(12/23/13) The latest picture sent in from Universal Studios Hollywood shows off a similar view of the Mummy spinning tunnel hillside as last week, but the entire structure that contained the effects tunnel now appears to be full demolished.
(12/14/13) Screamscape sources have obtained two new interesting pictures showing off the demolition of the hillside and former Mummy revolving tunnel effect structure, as well as a long distance view of the entire site cleared for the Hollywood park’s Wizarding World construction site. While there is some distance between the two, the size of the site cleared for the Wizarding World does look quite substantial viewed from afar. Just wait until the towering spires of Hogwarts castle are added to the skyline.
(10/8/13) More demolition and construction progress photos have been posted to Westcoaster this week. I’ve also been told that we can expect the Gibson to be wiped off the face of the Earth by Halloween.
(10/7/13) The latest picture of the Gibson shows that the roof has started to come down this week.
(10/3/13) We take a look at the start of construction for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this week over at Westcoaster as the demolition of the Gibson continues, as well as a fun peek at the Halloween Horror Nights decor in the daytime.
(6/17/13) Behind the Thrills has an interesting story this week about what the Hollywood version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter may be like. So far we know Dragons Challenge will not make it to Hollywood, but a version of the Flight of the Hippogriff kiddie coaster will, along with the iconic Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. Of course a smaller version of Hogsmeade will arrive, complete with same shops, Butterbeer and an Ollivander’s Wand Shop. Their latest rumors suggest that the Hogwarts Castle structure will be even bigger than the one in Orlando and Japan, because there will be even more inside of it… in this case a possible new indoor dining experience themed to the Great Hall as well as an interactive show themed as a Defense Against the Dark Arts class session.
Oh… and for the record, don’t think that they are done with the Wizarding World once this phase opens in 2016. While obviously nothing will be decided and made official for years to come, there is a loose plan to possible create an expansion. Since land space is a major issue at the Hollywood park, they may take a nod from what is being built at Orlando right now, and look into building a Hogwarts Express ride that guests can ride out into a section of the backlot where another Diagon Alley would be built, complete with a copy of the Gringott’s Bank coaster ride. Don’t look for Phase 2 to happen until at least 2020 however… and only if the Harry Potter money machine is still alive and well for them by then.
(4/29/13) It is official… the Gibson Amphitheater will close down for good in September. Events schedules to take place after this will be moved to new locations, though a few new acts will be added to the schedule as for the final weeks as a farewell celebration for the popular venue.
(4/25/13) With the Evolution Plan approved, everything is moving full steam ahead now to get the Wizarding World of Harry Potter under way. I’ve been told that we can expect to see the Gibson Amphitheater as well as the Curious George play area closed to begin demolition in early September. Never mind the concerts still slated for the remainder of 2013… they’ll likely work to relocate to new venues soon.
(3/11/13) Has the timeline for the Hollywood version of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter slipped another six months? In a curious move the LA Times reports that a new slew of concerts have now been announced for the Gibson Amphitheater that will take the existing run through to the end of 2013. Previously there were only a small handful of concerts slated for the second half of 2013, and sources had told us that those few events would end up being “moved” to alternate venues in order to begin full scale demolution on the Gibson by this summer. With new concerts now listed for the Gibson through to the end of 2013, does this mean the construction on the Wizarding World will also be pushed back? Stay tuned while we dig a little deeper.
(1/11/13) I’m hearing that we could see the first phases of the Gibson Amphitheater being gutted starting as early as May 2013. It will be a long process that will take up most of the rest of the year to demolish it and clear the site to make way for the construction of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Speaking of which... I’m hearing that PotterVerse West will now not open until Spring 2016.
(12/3/12) Westcoaster has posted a new construction report from Universal Studios Hollywood this week where they take a look at the Holiday decorations. However in the later pages, they uncover some major ground work is taking place backstage to the underground utilities, which apparently is seen as the first actual steps of construction for the future Wizarding World of Harry Potter project.
(10/16/12) We’ve heard the rumor before, but the latest whisper from the backlot is that Live Nation’s lease to use the Gibson Amphitheater will come to an end sometime in 2013. At this point the Gibson Amphitheater will be demolished to make way for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There are rumored talks about possibly building a new modern venue elsewhere on a section of Universal’s backlot property. (I’m guessing perhaps sometwhere out in the field beyond the far back parking structure and flat lot.)
While we’re talking about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we know we can expect to see the “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ride, Butterbeer carts, some kind of themed restaurant and the Olivander’s Wand Shop, but I’ve been hearing rumors about a second attraction to be included as well. It sounds like we may see a copy of the Flight of the Hippogriff family coaster also added as well, complete with Hagrid’s Hut and Buckbeak.
(4/16/12) While no one seems sure of the exact timetable here, if you visit the park this year to see Transformers (and you should!) also make sure to get your butt planted for a viewing of Waterworld before you leave. It seems a fairly sure thing now that Waterworld will be removed sooner than later to make way for the start of construction Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
(12/12/11) Screamscape sources confirmed that we shouldn’t expect to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter open in Hollywood until 2015. The first phases of construction work for the project (or demolition to make room) are expected to begin before the end of Summer 2012 however.
(12/7/11) Universal Studios Hollywood held a press conference a few hours ago to confirm that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will indeed be coming to the California park. Unfortunately, they were a little light on details… only mentioning that the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey thrill ride would be built, themed to look like the iconic Hogwarts Castle, but no timeline was given for the attraction to open. I contacted Universal for clarification on this, or to see if they could provide the year when it will open, but they responded that the exact timeline was not yet set at this point in time.
The press release had a few more minor details that confirmed that they were indeed building a themed land and not just the one ride structure. “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will be as impressive as what has been created in Orlando – and is expected to transform tourism in Los Angeles for decades to come. It will be a fully immersive environment for the entire family that brings the stories of Harry Potter to life and is faithful to the visual landscape of the films, including a majestic Hogwarts castle to serve as the centerpiece of the themed environment. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will be created with the same commitment to authenticity and the same level of talent and resources as its Orlando counterpart.”
In another report I read elsewhere (sorry, can’t find the link) the reporter asked Ron Meyer about where they would build it because the park was land locked, to which he responded that “We’re not land locked! We’ve got 400 acres on this lot and 200 of them are still not developed.” So that got me to thinking… could Universal possibly be rethinking some of that once proposed Vision Plan (later revised in 2009 as the Evolution Plan)? Could they now be realizing the value of all that property they hold, and what else they could do with it is they choose to expand the theme park side of the business instead of selling off the land for new housing developments? We can dream…
In the meantime, a LA County Supervision did comment in this other report, confirming the rumors we had been hearing, that the Gibson Amphitheater would be scrapped to make way for the Wizarding World, possibly opening as early as late 2014.
If your not quite sure just what to expect from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, then be sure to read through Screamscape’s official two part coverage of the grand opening of the Orlando park’s version.
Late 2016 - New Year-Round Walk-Through Maze Experience - (11/24/15) According to the Screamscape rumor network, Universal Studios Hollywood may have a special surprise in store that will launch for Halloween Horror Nights 2016, but stick around all year round afterwards. Much like the removed Universal's House of Horrors walk-through, it seems the park is planning on building a replacement walk-through creepy maze attraction that will stay active year-round, but be launched initially as a major new haunt for HHN 2016.
I've heard some rumors on what it will be themed to which I'm trying to narrow down, but perhaps the one thing I'm not sure of yet is the location of where they will put it, or even if it will be in the upper or lower lot. Anyone know more?
2020? - Hogwarts Express / Diagon Alley - RUMOR - (6/8/15) Would you believe Diagon Alley could be added to Universal Studios Hollywood and kept on the upper lot? According to the very end of this article by the LA Times, a set of plans were drawn up that would place Diagon Alley on the site of the current Waterworld stunt show. I can see this being a more budget friendly concept compared to the idea of building it on the lower lot, with access only from a Hogwarts Express train ride.
I've yet to confirm if either version has truely been given the green light to go ahead, which I doubt would happen until they open Wizarding World itself next year anyway. So at this point I think Universal may simply be weighing their options in terms of both budget, and how best to manage the available property that they can use.
(6/6/15) I mentioned this all two years ago (see below) as being the rumored long-term plan for the Harry Potter franchise in Hollywood, but according to the latest post at Disney & More's Facebook page the advanced planning has begun full force to make way for an eventual Diagon Alley / Hogwarts Express expansion to the Wizarding World in California. The early prediction is that it could be ready as early as 2020.
How will they do it? Well the basic plan I've heard all along was to use a Hogwarts Express style transportation attraction to move guests from Hogwarts on the Upper Lot to a Diagon Alley attraction area to be built somewhere on the Lower Lot. While I don't know exactly where it might go, based on the layout and landscape of the park, I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up not too far away from the new Fast & Furious - Supercharged attraction area at the end run of the Backlot Tour.
(6/17/13) For the record, don’t think that they are done with the Wizarding World once the first phase opens in 2016. While obviously nothing will be decided and made official for years to come, there is a loose plan to possible create an expansion. Since land space is a major issue at the Hollywood park, they may take a nod from what is being built at Orlando right now, and look into building a Hogwarts Express ride that guests can ride out into a section of the backlot where another Diagon Alley would be built, complete with a copy of the Gringott’s Bank coaster ride. Don’t look for Phase 2 to happen until at least 2020 however… and only if the Harry Potter money machine is still alive and well for them by then.
???? - Resort Hotel - Rumor - (3/27/14) Inside Universal takes a look at the pending demolition for the old Fung Lum Chinese restaurant just down the hill from the Universal parking structure with the new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem built on top. According to the NBCUniversal Evolution Plan, the site is earmarked to become home to a 500-room hotel, so it looks like they may be ready to move forward on this project later this year, as the Fung Lum Restaurant has sat closed and abandoned since the late 90s.
(1/2/14) According to one Screamscape source, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke has made a number of announcements, internal broadcasts and town hall meetings to Universal staff on both coasts and has been apparently referring to the ongoing construction of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando has the largest current hotel construction project in the US during each of these. That said, it seems entirely possible that the use of this phrasing for the Hollywood property may have been a mistake.
Despite this, I have been told elsewhere that a hotel / resort project for the Hollywood is still on the way, though the timeline is unknown.
(12/31/13) According to Screamscape sources, Steve Burke (NBCUniversal CEO) made a curious comment in a holiday message to the staff of Universal Studios Hollywood the other day. Possibly overlooked by many, but mixed in with comments regarding a great number of things, Steve also mentioned that “the largest hotel project in the U.S. is coming to Universal Studios Hollywood!”
Errrr… Excuse me? We know Universal’s newly approved Evolution plan for the property does give them clearance to build three on-site resort hotels at the Hollywood property. So clearly they are planning to start this off with a bang by building something very large. If I had to guess, they are going to want to have at least the first phase of this unknown new hotel ready to take advantage of the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Keep your ears open and eyes peeled.