UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
Hollywood, CA (Abbreviation: USH)
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(12/5/16) Changes To Harry Potter and More (MORE...)
(11/30/16) Universal Studios Talks About Nintendo Attractions Again (MORE...)
(11/14/16) Universal Studios Hollywood Ready to kick off Grinchmas (MORE...)
(11/4/16) Universal Studios Hollywood Brings Out The Hot Butterbeer (MORE...)
Read the Official Review of Halloween Horror Nights 2016 - CLICK HERE
Read the Official Review of Halloween Horror Nights 2015 - CLICK HERE
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem - THE GRAND OPENING
General Park News - (12/5/16) A reader reported in during a visit to USH that the Cartooniversal store near the front of the park has now been completely demolished which allowed for a pretty good view of Hogwarts Castle as you enter the park for the moment, though I'm sure something else is planned to take over the site. They also sent in a picture of the Grinchmas as the finishing touches were being put up just before they opened.
While we mentioned Hogwarts, an interesting change has been put into effect on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. Universal has confirmed that they have made the decision to remove the 3D glasses and projections from the ride, and have installed the original 2D scenes of the ride, as they were shot in the first place, when it was made for the Orlando version. This move comes after a lot of guest research over how to improve the overall ride experience, and the 3D version had been dinged by many as something they felt was making the ride a bit more of a nauseating experience to some, while others also did not care for it as the 3D projection method and glasses also causes the projected images to be darker and less vivid. So going forward the attraction is expected to remain as a 2D experience.
I had wondered if this was in the works for several months now, as way back when it was announced that the Hollywood version would be in 3D (along with Japan), they also mentioned they were planning to upgrade Orlando's version to 3D but this never happened. Now I'm curious if Japan is still in 3D or if they have also rolled back to 2D... anyone know for sure?
(11/14/16) Universal Studios Hollywood has announced that their Grinchmas holiday event will kick off at the park starting on December 3rd. Look for it to run on weekends at first (Dec 3-4, Dec 10-11) before starting a daily run from Dec. 16 through to Jan. 1st featuring the return of t he Who-lebration performance and other fun character appearances.
(11/4/16) Good news for Harry Potter fans out west... Universal Studios Hollywood has announced the arrival of Hot Butterbeer inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. As someone who has tried Hot Butterbeer in Orlando before... it is GOOD STUFF! I assume the Hollywood park will follow Orlando's lead and only offer the HOT Butterbeer as a seasonal item for the colder winter months of the year, so get it while you can and enjoy!
(10/6/16) Universal Studios Hollywood has announced a new special California resident pass offer that would give then access to the park for 200 days over a 9-month time period called the "California Neighbor Pass". The new pass will only cost $119 and includes discount offers on admission to the park for family and friends, as well as some offers for CityWalk attractions as well. Visit the official website for all the details.
(6/26/16) So what did Universal Studios Hollywood announce this past week? A group of small announcements came out over the past few days including the launch of a new logo for the Hollywood park. The new logo isn't huge news, as you would really have to see them side by side to notice all the little changes that have resulted in a cleaner, crisper, new logo for the Hollywood theme park. They also announced that the multiplex theater in Citywalk would be undergoing a series of serious upgrades to make it the premier movie theater in the area. All 18 theaters will be upgraded to feature the same plush recliner seats offered in Hollywood private screening rooms. The projection systems will be upgraded to new Christie RGB Laser projectors and new Dolby Atmos sound systems with Christie Vive speakers. In the theater itself a bar / lounge area will be constructed on the second level too so you can arrive early or hang out after the film and hang out with friends to plot how you would make the sequel if only you were in charge.
An assortment of new restaurants and eateries are on the way, some already announced previously. The list includes LudoBird, Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza, Dongpo Kitchen, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and California’s first VooDoo Doughnut.
Meanwhile in an exclusive to Variety, Universal Studios Hollywood confirmed a new five year plan that will see a collection of 13 soundstages close to the theme park removed to allow for future theme park expansion, while building new replacement soundstages elsewhere on the eastern side of the backlot where they will replace Park Lake, home to the very old parting of the Red Seas attraction on the backlot tour. Two of the new soundstages are already under construction it seems, and the other 10 will follow over the next couple of years, though some are pending the selection of Los Angeles for the 2024 Summer Olympics which would be used as an international broadcast center during the games. While fewer soundstages will be built than removed, they will be larger, so there will be an overall increase in the square-footage of production space available on the background.
Halloween Horror Nights 2016 -
(10/27/16) Fans of “The Talking Dead” may enjoy this as Universal has posted a video of host Chris Hardwick taking on the new year-round “The Walking Dead” attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood. The video is pretty funny and shows off some sections of the walk-through attraction fairly well too, so check it out below.
(9/25/16) Read the Official Review of Halloween Horror Nights 2016 - CLICK HERE
(8/27/16) The details on this year's Terror Tram has been released as Eli Roth presents this year's Terror Tram. The story this year is about "the fabled legacy of serial killer clown “Hollywood Harry,” the story of a former jovial celebrity clown turn depraved murderer, and the minefield of carnage he left behind."
“I’m thrilled to be part of ‘Halloween Horror Nights’ again,” said Eli Roth. “We wanted to completely fabricate an original story that brings together our absolute freakiest, scariest most disturbing ideas. The ‘Halloween Horror Nights’ team is the best in the business. Their production and execution is unmatched and I know this ‘Terror Tram’ experience will blow away all expectations, and haunt guests for the rest of their lives. ‘Halloween Horror Nights is the must-see event for any horror movie fan—it’s like the Super Bowl for scary movies, and is my favorite event of the year.”
The all-new “Terror Tram” experience will tell the sordid tale of former Angeleno resident Harold Kappowitz whose alter ego “Koodles the Clown” went from cheerful circus performer, to the lovable star of his own children’s network television show…before he was overcome by his genuine “killer instincts.”
By the 1990s, hard knocks took a deadly toll on Kappowitz, and the onetime endearing clown found himself exiled by the very Hollywood entertainment community that once adored him. With an all-consuming anger and hatred, Kappowitz—a now crazed and disheveled recluse—took refuge from society by hiding out at Universal Studios, emerging as notorious serial killer clown, “Hollywood Harry.” Recurring murders began to dominate the studio, as “Hollywood Harry” drew strength from recruiting other outcast former clowns who, together, took revenge on Studio Tour guides and visitors alike, ceremoniously killing them, and leaving behind a deadly trail of terror.
I've got a couple of videos about Hollywood Harry below to share. Enjoy!
(8/18/16) Tickets to Halloween Horror Nigths at Universal Studios Hollywood are now on sale. In addition to regular tickets they have introduced a special “After 2pm Day/Night Combo ticket that will let you into the park after 2pm for some daytime fun, and then you can stay to enjoy all the horrors of the night. There is also a Frequent Fear Pass, which allows you to visit Halloween Horror Nights several times instead of just once, for those who just can’t get enough.
While the park still hasn’t released the theme of this year’s Terror Tram, the notice did confirm that the Jabbawockeez live show will from last year will return once again.
(8/17/16) Universal Studios Hollywood announced American Horror Story as the theme of the final maze to be announced this year. So all together there are seven mazes this year: The Exorcist, The Walking Dead, Freddy vs Jason, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween 2, Krampus and American Horror Story. The only things left to announce for Hollywood would be the theme of the Terror Tram and any live shows they are planning.
The American Horror Story maze will blend the scenes from three of the shows popular seasons: Murder House (Season 1), Freakshow (Season 4) and Hotel (Season 5).
(8/9/16) Universal Studios Hollywood announced over the weekend that all of the park's scare zones would be themed to The Purge: Election Year. Actually, not just the new film, but they will bring to live scenes and characters from all three films, as well as some stuff they are creating just for the scare zones as well.
(8/5/16) Krampus has been confirmed as a new Halloween Horror Nights maze for both Universal Studios Holywood and Orlando. Based on the Universal film, which was based on the European legend about the evil opposite of Santa Claus, described as a half-goat / half-demon like creature who comes for all the naughty children at Christmas-time. Like Santa has his elves and helpers, the Krampus does not come alone either, as he is aided by his own Dark Elves and evil Gingerbread Men. So you better watch out... you better not cry... you better be good... because Krampus is coming!
(7/28/16) Universal Studios Hollywood announced two Halloween Horror Nights mazes a few hour ago: “Freddy vs. Jason” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Blood Brothers”. Mix in the already announced Halloween 2 themed maze and they’ve collected the four greatest iconic horror film slashers all into one event for the first time ever.
Unlike the Halloween 2 themed maze however, since these subjects have been done up as mazes so many times before in the past, this time Universal’s horror gurus are taking the source material and inventing their own stories for each.
For example, in this version of “Freddy vs Jason”, after being sent to hell at the end of the first film, when Freddy escapes and returns for vengeance he brings a friend along with him… Jason Voorhees. Before too long Freddy realizes that Jason’s killstreak is rising as quickly as his own, so obviously Jason needs to go back to Hell and he’s going to send him. The battle between the titans will rage from Camp Crystal Lake to Elm Street with the final showdown taking place in the very boiler room where Freddy was first killed. Who will win in the end? You’ll have to visit and see for yourself.
This version of the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Blood Brothers” takes place 5 years after the events of the first film (but before the events of the second film). As the story goes… the killers were never caught, nor was the farmhouse ever found. Choptop, Leatherface’s brother who we saw in the second film has just returned from Vietnam and the family is ready to expand the family business, showing off the previously unseen events that take place between the two films.
(7/7/16) Halloween Horror Nights - Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield
Universal just confirmed that little "Halloween 2" themed rumor we heard about awhile back, where the masked Michael Myers will return to terrorize guests in a recreation of the film Halloween 2. Look for this new maze to play out to HHN guests in both Hollywood and Orlando, where the majority of the film takes place in the Haddonfield hospital.
(4/27/16) Another rumor comes true as Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando and at Universal Studios Hollywood will bring The Exorcist to life as a new intense haunted maze experience this fall. For many, The Exorcist represents one of the most frightening movies of all time, so it should be interesting to see how they opt to tell the story and make the horror personal, especially when much of the film's most intense moments all take place in the same little bedroom.
2017?? - Pitch Perfect - Rumor - (5/29/16) Screamscape sources tell us that Universal Studios Hollywood is working on a new musical show concept for the park that may open in 2017. No... this wont be another Spider-Man or Creature from the Black Lagoon... instead this one makes a lot of more sense and will tie into a successful Universal movie franchise just in time for the next film to drop in Summer 2017. Keep an eye out for a live Pitch Perfect themed show, though I'm not exactly sure where they will put it.
2017/2018 - Jurassic World Enhancement - Rumor - (2/26/16) To help promote and make ties with last year’s Jurassic World film and the upcoming Jurassic World 2 film hitting theaters in Summer 2018, I’m hearing there is a plan to “enhance” and rebrand the park’s existing Jurassic Park ride into a slightly new “Jurassic World” experience. The ride system itself will remain unchanged, just look for some enhanced scenes, effects, and new Jurassic World branding.
2018 - The Secret Life of Pets Dark Ride - Rumor - (7/11/16) With The Secret Life of Pets dark ride already in development (and possibly already under construction in the Hollywood park next to Transformers) long before the movie was released in theaters, it was clear Universal was not only taking a bit of a risk here, but it was also a strong show of their confidence in not only the property itself but also in the people making it.
Now the opening weekend is complete and it does seem that NBCUniversal's confidence in The Secret Life of Pets was justified as the film toppled Disney's Finding Dory out of the top spot and settled into #1 by pulling in $103.2 million domestically. The Legend of Tarzan (from WB) hung on to their #2 spot and Finding Dory from Disney/Pixar dropped to 3rd place, taking in another $20.4 million, for a total of $422.6 million after four weeks in theaters.
(6/22/16) NBCUniversal's CEO, Steve Burke, let it slip the other day that they are indeed working on a dark ride themed to The Secret Life of Pets. He didn't go into specifics about which park, but this is the first official confirmation that the project is on the way.
(2/26/16) I’m told that this major new family dark ride has been locked into opening at the Hollywood park in 2018. While there have been some rumors about it taking over the Mummy building, last I heard this would go into a new structure built to the left of Transformers on the lower lot. Also, look for this ride to feature a good number of classic animatronics.
(1/8/16) Several sites have been talking about a possible removal rumor for the Revenge of the Mummy attraction, as they expect it to be replaced by the 2017 attraction project. However, Screamscape sources have previously told us that this is not the case at all. The new attraction is expected to be a new dark ride experience of some kind, themed to Universal’s upcoming animated film, “The Secret Life of Pets”, hitting theaters in Summer 2016 and from the brains behind the Despicable Me series.
As for the location of this attraction… I was told to expect to see it built inside a new structure that would be built next to the Transformers building, which I’m assuming would be in the same basic area where the demolished Soundstage 28 (aka: Phantom of the Opera stage) was located. Remember, there was a lot of history and some interesting lore (some say it was haunted) surrounding the history of Soundstage 28, but it was removed in 2014 for a reason, and the proximity of the site to the “theme park” side of things is no coincidence.
As for Revenge of the Mummy... if the park was thinking of closing this indoor coaster, I really don't think it would happen until after they open a Hollywood version of the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride, along with Diagon Alley.
(12/9/15) I don’t know much about this one yet, but I’m told that Universal has plans for a new attraction in the lower lot expected to open as early as Summer 2017. If they keep that timeline, construction would likely have to begin within the next 3 months or so, so keep your eyes open for signs of something new.
2019/2020 - Nintendo Land - Rumor - (11/30/16) Universal has announced an update regarding their deal to build Nintendo themed attractions in the future. According to the press release "the fun of Nintendo" will be brought to life via "expansive, highly themed environments" at Universal Studios Japan, Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood theme parks.
"Imagine the fun of stepping into a larger-than-life Nintendo adventure. Gigantic Piranha Plants spring to life. Question blocks, power-ups and more surround you. And Mario and all his friends are there to pull you into a brand-new world.
You will enter an entire realm filled with iconic Nintendo excitement, gameplay, heroes and villains. And it is coming to three Universal theme parks around the globe.
The creative visionaries behind Nintendo’s legendary worlds and characters are working together with the creative teams behind Universal’s blockbuster theme park attractions. Their goal: to bring the characters, action and adventure of Nintendo video games to life within Universal theme parks. And to do so in new and innovative ways that capture what makes them so special. All of the adventure, fun and whimsy you experience through a screen will now be all around you – in breathtakingly authentic ways."
The new Nintendo lands will feature "multiple attractions" as well as themed shops and restaurants. Planning is already well under way and while they are not yet ready to announce any dates, they did mention that each will "open separately over the next several years." An updated announcement video featuring Mark Woodbury (Universal Creative) and Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo) can be seen below.
As for the attractions... while things are still being planned, the early rumors indicate as many as three different attractions may be in development, one of the themes is said to be locked in for a Mario Kart themed attraction. It is worth mentioning that they only listed Universal Orlando as the site, an not one specific theme park. They also say that the first more detailed announcement to come from a specific park will happen "soon".
UPDATE: Possibly Delayed to allow Japan to open the first one.
(2/26/16) A Nintendo themed area is expected to open in the lower lot by 2019. Due to size limitations, expect this area to be compact, but it should feature at least one major attraction that can feature a number of the famous Nintendo characters all at the same time, which is likely to be themed to the Mario Kart game. Placement may be tricky, but last I heard is that it would likely go where a few a couple of small soundstages are behind the Transformers building.
2020 - Diagon Alley - Planning - (2/26/16) The plans to expand the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with a Diagon Alley are said to be locked in for a 2020 opening, which should see it open and go head to head with Disneyland’s Star Wars Land. Diagon Alley will take over the current site of the Waterworld stunt show, but there will be one major difference between it and the counterpart in Orlando… there will not be a Hogwarts Express attraction, just the “Escape From Gringotts” attraction.
Being build right next to the current Hogsmeade / Hogwarts area, there is no need to have a Hogwarts Express train to run between the two, plus even in Orlando they have to separate Diagon Alley from a recreation of England and the Kings Cross train station where the train departs from, and there simply isn’t room for that, while in Orlando it was a necessary addition to link the two theme parks and Potter themed attraction areas together.
(1/16/16) Even though the Wizarding World of Harry Potter isn’t even open yet, that has done little to stop the flood of rumors regarding the eventual addition of Diagon Alley. Now from what I’ve been hearing the west coast version of Diagon Alley will include an Escape From Gringotts ride for sure, but I haven't been able to lock down if it will include a Hogwarts Express or not. It seems this has become something of a major design issue that they are going back and forth on, but I did get one very interesting bit of information about it.
If the expansion does choose to include a Hogwarts Express experience… the interior experience will be a similar to what we’ve seen in Florida, but enhanced to be even better somehow. But Outside? Well… lets just say that the train itself won't actually move anywhere this time around.
This makes sense as there really is no room to add a functional train style ride experience like they did in Florida, but the idea of a simulated Hogwarts Express ride does intrigue me, especially when it comes to the idea of how they will allow guests to depart from one station and appear to arrive at another.
Now the only question is, will they build it or not?
(12/9/15) According to the latest rumors, the clock may be ticking for the Waterworld show at Universal Studios Hollywood. While I haven’t heard about exactly WHEN the end will come for Waterworld, I have heard that the reason it will depart is to connect it to the Wizarding World of Happy Potter to become a west coast version of Diagon Alley along with a copy of Escape From Gringots attraction.
With Diagon Alley being located so close to the Hogsmeade Village / Hogwarts area, will there still be a need to have a Hogwarts Express train? Apparently, that is the question still being discussed. Now don’t look for Diagon to open right away mind you… as I'm told that there is another attraction in the works elsewhere in the park that could open as early as 2017. With that in mind however, I have heard from one little bird that Comcast may be willing to fast-track Diagon Alley to open as early as 2018... simply because they would love to get it open before Disneyland can finish their new Star Wars land.
(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 soon, 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.