UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
Hollywood, CA (Abbreviation: USH)
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(3/13/17) Voodoo Doughnut Soft Opens / Soundstage 25 Demolished Too
(3/10/17) More Soundstages Demolished For Park Expansion (MORE...)
(3/6/17) Jimmy Buffett To Perform Concert At New Margaritaville (MORE...)
(2/23/17) Universal Studios Hollywood Raises Ticket Prices (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 - (3/13/17) Hungry for a new snack at Universal CityWalk? The local news reports that the new Voodoo Doughnut location not only soft opened, but has been generating long lines to get a taste of their gooey pastry goodness. Keep an eye out for it if you are in the area, as the hours are not set and the official opening date is apparently not until sometime in April.
(3/6/17) The official grand opening of the new Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurnat in CityWalk at Universal Studios Hollywood will take place on Thursday, March 30th and kick off with an exclusive performance by Jimmy Buffett himself. Follow this link to see how you can try to win tickets to this invite-only special performance.
(2/24/17) As expected, Universal Studios Hollywood followed Disney’s lead from earlier this month and raised their own ticket prices this week, raising the typical price about $5 across the board that you will pay when buying at the gate. As usual, buying a ticket in advance from the website can save you quite a bit, with prices for slow days as low as $99.
(2/13/17) Screamscape sources tell us that the new Margaritaville restaurant has now soft-opened in CityWalk at Universal Studios Hollywood.
(1/27/17) The Chinese Lunar New year celebration is in full effect, with Universal Plaza taking on a distinctly Chinese flair for the duration of the season. Visitors are encouraged to write down their wishes for the upcoming year and pin them to the cherry blossom trees dotting the arena.
Guests are also able to get up close to Universal favorites Curious George, Woody Woodpecker, and Po and Tigress from Kung Fu Panda. The big draw, however, is Mandarin-speaking Megatron, towering above his guests and posing for photos while baiting and taunting them which you can see in the video clips below. (Editor Note: Looks like Megatron was a hit as usual, but pity that I think we need subtitles to enjoy his insults.)
It is also worth mentioning that Waterworld is still closed for off-season rehab, with access to the arena blocked off by work walls with no indication as to when the show will reopen. Anyone know more?
(1/18/17) Universal Studios Hollywood is celebrating the Lunar New Year holiday kicking off the Year of the Rooster at the park from January 21 through to February 5 with the introduction of special characters: the debut of Po and Tigress from the Kung Fu Panda animated films and the return of Mandarin-speaking MEGATRON.
(12/19/16) With Super Nintendo World now confirmed for Japan as well as being in the pipeline for the Hollywood park but not until after 2020, the rumored Secret Life of Pets dark ride said to be delayed a few years, and the park still riding high on the success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter many are wondering exactly when the other shoe is going to drop. When exactly are they going to open that long-rumored Diagon Alley expansion?
The answer is complicated... but the short version is it wont open soon. You can look for those other two projects (Pets and Nintendo) to still both open ahead of Diagon Alley actually.
Soooo.... what does Universal have planned for the next few years in Hollywood? That's another good question, because after jumping through such a rapid transformation of much of the park's upper level, both inside the park and in Citywalk, it looks like they might take a little break... maybe. There are always other little projects in development, waiting in the wings for just the right time, so we'll have to wait and see. Plus there may be a really large surprise in the works as well that could really come unexpectedly out of left-field if the stars align just right. For now, enjoy all the new stuff you have Hollywood... you'll be growing again at a rapid pace soon enough.
(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?
2020 or Later - The Secret Life of Pets Dark Ride - In Development / Delayed -
(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.
2021 to 2023 - Super Nintendo World - In Development - (12/12/16) The Orlando Business Journey has reported that several new ride patents filed by Universal offer up a hint about some future attraction concepts in the works. You can see some of the concept art from the patent forms posted in a slideshow at OBJ, though keep in mind that they are keeping the themeing and concept as generic as they can in these patent forms, and focusing on the technology aspect of what the attraction will do to make it unique enough to deserve a patent.
Breaking it down however, there are images showing off a new two-passenger car ride where the cars appear to be able to fishtail out of control and/or simulate a "drift" style turn effect. There is a driver in the front with a steering wheel while the rider in the back seat has a console of buttons in front of them instead. The obvious answer here is that this is likely a mock-up for the future Mario Kart themed ride planned as part of a future Nintendo area.
Another mock-up shows guests loaded into some kind of over-head track mounted piece of hardware that holds a number of armored flight-suits. The appearance is that it could mimic the action of a super-hero character taking flight into the sky on an adventure. Screamscape sources tell us that this concept was proposed for an attraction that isn't expected to see the light of day at this point in time, but could resurface in the future.
Two of the concepts involve waterpark technology, one that could see technology added to a mat racer style slide (either controls or a video screen to the mat itself) or the possibility of setting something up on the mat before the slide that would trigger specific effects (lights, music, etc) to personalize the experience on the way down. A second waterpark concept is also an interesting new take on the popular new 'drop pod' idea, where in this case the pod that holds the rider would begin to actually fill half-way up with water before flushing the rider and human payload down the trapdoor.
The final idea shown is something called the Boom Coaster, showing off a mine-kart themed ride car that would look as if it was attached to a track system, but in reality the car is attached to a boom arm that goes down under the cart and attaches to an entirely hidden coaster style track system below the themeing. The concept would allow for the hidden track to lean, rise and fall, affecting how the car above appears to ride on the simulated themed ride surface. For example, it would allow for a coaster to appear to 'jump' a gap in the visual track, while staying connected to the hidden track system below. According to Screamscape sources the Boom Coaster concept is also a concept Universal is eyeballing for a future Nintendo themed ride concept that would involve a wild coaster ride through the world of Donkey Kong Country which often have mine cart coaster themed levels.
Universal may have a more complex time getting a patent on the Boom Coaster concept however, as I recall what seemed to be a very similar concept floating around the internet for years called the CANTILEVERED COASTER System, and in an interview with the creator posted to Coaster101 back in 2010, the creator of the Cantilevered Coaster says they were already granted a patent for their design in 2001. While the effect would be similar, there is a difference in the track systems between the two, as the Boom Coaster only appears to have one track system, while the Cantilevered Coaster would use two separate track systems, one to hold the car while the other would control all the extra movements, not unlike how S&S/Arrow's 4th Dimension coaster system also uses two rail systems for similar reasons.
(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.
2021 to 2023 - Diagon Alley - In Development - (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.
???? - Backlot Changes - Announced - (3/13/17) Down on the Universal Studios backlot, the crews continued the soundstage demolition and have also taken down Soundstage 25, competing the removal of the set of four that would easily allow for a future theme park expansion. Super Mario Land anyone?
(3/10/17) According to a post on Twitter from Inside Universal, Soundstages 22 - 24 have been demolished. For now SS25 is still standing it seems, but with 24 gone, 25 may not stay much longer than they need to keep it. This follows the demolition of Soundstage 28 (directly to the left of the Transformers attraction building) that took place last year, and 22-23 were located next door to the former site of 28, with 24 and 25 directly south from there going towards the Jurassic Park attraction area.
The land released by the demolition of these soundstages is ideal to allow for the future expansion of the theme park on the lower lot, if it gets handed over to the park for future development, which is what we had previously heard was going to be happening as new Soundstages are built in the far eastern corner of the backlot instead, near the old Crossing of the Red Sea area.
(6/26/16) 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.