UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
Hollywood, CA (Abbreviation: USH)
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(2/6/16) Interesting Constructon On The Backlot (MORE...)
(2/3/16) Universal Studios Hollywood Launches New Demand Based Pricing (MORE...)
(2/2/16) Construction Update (MORE...)
(1/23/16) Park Construction (MORE...)
Read the Official Review of Halloween Horror Nights 2015 - CLICK HERE
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem - THE GRAND OPENING
General Park News - (2/6/16) A new construction update shot all around Universal Studios Hollywood has been posted this week by California Coaster Kings. While they cover the regular construction going on inside the theme park itself, there are also some interesting photos of construction taking place out in the backlot, with ground being cleared out by the metro street sets, possibly for a new soundstage, and an odd freshly cleared area just behind the Revenge of the Mummy building. Then we get a quick look at the new building just in front of Transformers that is nearing completion along with a report that Transformers projection woes have all been corrected and the ride experience is now crystal clear and beautiful once again.
(2/3/16) Universal Studios Hollywood will launch a new demand based pricing system this year set as a way to try to handle the expected demand and higher crowds that will come with the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this Spring. While walk-up guests will still find a basic $95 ticket price at the gate, you can find better deals by buying tickets online for dates before the Harry Potter themed section opens or on slower and off-season dates throughout the year, rather than on the busy weekend and summer dates. Based on the current pricing I see, it looks likes like the most expensive ticket is $90, which is a $5 savings over buying at the gate, with the slowest dates being priced as low as $75.
Buying tickets online ahead of time through Universal’s “EZ Rez” systemnot only helps the park better plan their staffing needs by predicting more crowded dates, but it does come with a good incentive for those wanting to visit the Wizarding World… as advanced ticket holders will be allowed into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter an hour before the rest of the park opens. Right now the system is allowing tickets to be purchased through the end of September 2016.
Fortunately the system is set up kind of the opposite way from hotels and airlines, where the demand based pricing options usually just go up as the occupancy rate gets higher.
(2/2/16) ParkJourney has posted a new construction update for the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter today, including a look back at how things have progressed from the start, plus a look at the all the Lunar New Year decorations up all around the park. This includes a brief video of Megatron speaking in Mandarin Chinese. Jurassic Park is still closed for rehab as well, though they have one of the boats sitting in the splashdown area where the new trackwork was installed, so they may be doing some pull-through testing here before they put the water back in.
(1/23/16) ParkJourney has posted a large construction update from Universal Studios Hollywood this week, checking in on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as well as construction around the entrance to the park as well as construction in the backlot as well.
(1/21/16) I'm told that Universal Studios Hollywood has finally opened their new 5,000 space "ET" parking structure, finished just in time to help accommodate all those extra guests Universal hopes to lure in when they open the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter in a few months.
(1/11/16) Unfortunately, it looks like Universal Studios Hollywood has set themselves up for some extreme complications when it comes to all the different blackout dates for the annual passes they've been selling. To help try and explain things to passholders, they've set up a page for you to look up a code on the back of your pass to determine what your 2016 Blackout dates will be. From the look of the page, there are 23 different Blackout Calendars to choose from. Wow... just... wow...
(1/8/16) CaliforniaCoasterKings has posted a new photo update from USH showing off the all the construction walls plus a look into the Jurassic Park winter rehab, which looks to involve a complete rebuild of the hardware in the splashdown pool at the bottom.
(1/7/16) Jurassic Park - The Ride is currently closed for a Winter Rehab. The reopening date is currently unknown.
(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.
Apr. 7, 2016 - Wizarding World of Harry Potter - (12/9/15) Universal Studios Hollywood confirmed the opening date of the Hollywood version of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as April 7th, 2016. Check out the videos below to see the official announcement video staring Evanna Lynch and below that is the first TV promotional ad for the new land that is going to take the Hollywood park to the next level.
(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.
(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.
(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 - (12/30/15) According to the latest rumors coming in, that new year round walk-through attraction said to be opening in Fall 2016 at Universal Studios Hollywood may be themed to The Walking Dead. This makes sense actually, as Universal has been building temporary mazes for Halloween Horror Nights themed to The Walking Dead for the last several years, so having an attraction on-site year-round for fan’s of the series to see would be appealing to many, especially those fans who don’t or can’t visit during HHN.
(12/11/15) According to one message that arrived today, the new walk-through horror attraction will be located very close to where the old one was... and will be tucked behind the new emporium building that is under construction on the old site. Access to the new attraction is believed to be from the "Baker Street" side, which is where I believe the old House of Horrors would exit.
(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?
2017 - The Secret Life of Pets - Rumor - (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.
???? - Diagon Alley - Planning - (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 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.