UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
Hollywood, CA (Abbreviation: USH)
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(1/30/15) Potter and Simpsons Construction Update (MORE...)
(1/14/15) Wizarding World West Update (MORE...)
(1/9/15) Hogwarts On The California Skyline (MORE...)
(1/6/15) Hogwarts Castle Spires Spotted (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
House of Horrors - NOW CLOSED FOREVER
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem - THE GRAND OPENING
General Park News - (12/30/14) Today we get a final check in to the construction at Universal Studios Hollywood thanks to our good friends at Westcoaster who show off how things are progressing on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Springfield and Fast & The Furious: Supercharged. All this, plus more construction walls than you can shake a stick at… it’s safe to say that once all this is done, this park is never going to look the same again.
(12/23/14) I’m told that a new pre-show experience is being tested out at Shrek 4D this week, where the interactive Donkey character is now entertaining guests as part of the pre-show experience.
(12/22/14) MEGATRON is burning up the viral video lists this week, after a teenage girl attempted to take a Selfie with the former galactic overlord (see below). It seems Megatron is not a fan of Selfies, or ridiculous furred hoodies. I think Megatron missed his calling, as he offers some really great advice for our current “disappointing” generation who are obsessed with posting a collection of soon-to-be-forgotten photographs and status updates to social networks. Instead Megatron berates the girl and urges her to “use your mind, create new memories, interact!”
It seems Megatron’s dislike of selfies has been going on awhile, as during an appearance at the Hollywood park (see below) as the hulking metal behemoth quickly put his steel boot down and ended a man’s attempt to take a Selfie as well, stating that “There will be NO Selfies here!” He goes on to berate him wonderfully, reminding him that, “Only 14-year old girls do such nonsense!”
Really, I think Universal needs to take the ball and run with this one… as while Megatron’s plans for the galaxy might not include the best future for organic life forms, he does seem to have some great thoughts about the human condition, social commentary and everything that is wrong with “social media” today. I’d love to see a series of Megatron Knows Best videos from Universal about how we can all better ourselves. All hail Lord Megatron!
Halloween Horror Nights 2014 - Review by Steve Rowin
Alien vs. Predator - Good! We enter a crashed spaceship and it’s not long before Aliens are everywhere. One of my favorite effects was the Facehugger aliens slapping against windows as you walked by them at high velocity. It was loud when they hit the window and they looked aggressive. One of the new elements compared to previous years was the gauntlet effect, that being Alien and Predator each coming at you from both sides at the same time. Pacing was good and the effects over came crowding issues. The finale on this one was a 15 foot tall robotic Alien at the end. And what a high quality animatronic it was in it’s movements and finishes, Awesome!
Universal did a great job this year with the Horror Nights event. Each haunt was unique and had its very own “special” effect. Production quality was outstanding! The only complaint I have and I hope Universal is listening, is Bill and Ted’s show being cut. Boo. Bring it back the people chanted all night long between mazes. Anyway, this year brings some new effects and scare tactics not seen in years past that were notable. As always, if you can do the front of line pass, do it. By 10pm the waits got up to 95 minutes on the primary houses and breezing past that line will make your night a whole lot better.
Scare Zones -
This year we got two brand new themes in the upper lot alleyways. Mask-a-Raid which had a victorian theme, think tall powdered wigs, large ornate dresses, top hats and the haunting drowns of music based on the familiar harpsichord. Pre-Revolutionary France theming, Ballroom dances and gruesome characters really made this stand out as something new. I liked this theme as you don’t see it used in Halloween that often, if ever, until now. The second area on the upper lot was Dark Christmas. In this area we hear all those classic Christmas songs in a very dark, warped rendition. The creatures of Halloween devastate Christmas and I loved the idea. Maybe I’m burned out on my kids watching Nightmare Before Christmas. In addition to these very themed areas the park was crawling with other creepers, notable were the 12 foot tall creatures on the lower lot resembling pagan beasts with horns and horse like faces.
From Dusk Till Dawn - I’ll admit it, I’ve always wanted to go to the Titty Twister. They left that first word off the sign but standing in front of the haunt I could here Cheech rambling off the goods in my head and I’m sure others did too! So this haunt was true to Universals approach to haunted houses based on film franchises. We enter the house at the bar scene, Danny Trejo’s character is behind the bar, and there is a stage graced with the hotness of Selma Heyak’s character dancing on stage, snake and all! The build out of this scene was spectacular and the detail was something to marvel at. If you’ve seen the movie you also know the song that was playing. Some twists and turns and you probably can guess what happens! We enter the same bar scene but this time our beauty on stage has fangs! The vampires in this house were extremely aggressive and their costumes were very very good. We were fortunate that the line pacing was good, meaning as we entered each room nobody else was in there. And for that reason two mature, adult men traded off entering each room. A++++ On the technical side, a technique of amplified screams as actors jumped out with flashing lights made each jump scare more intense and reliable than relying on actors to use their own voice all night. This was my favorite haunt.
The Walking Dead - If you’re a fan of the show you’ll enjoy the details of the sets in this one. The whole maze takes place in the Prison, which I add had real iron doors inside, wow! Unfortunately the pacing on this one was not good on my visit. It was hard for the zombies to scare you with a solid trail of people not really moving through fast enough. Basically not one zombie surprised me. The zombies make up was by all accounts just like the TV show. That’s really Universal’s strength, production quality make up and sets, after all they make movies here. My favorite zombie experience of the night wasn’t in the Walking Dead Maze but rather when we entered the lower lot maze area which is located deep down on the lot in the cityscape sets used for filming. Upon arriving in the area we walk through the dark foggy city and zombies are roaming in the darkness. It was very realistic and what you would imagine a real life “Walking Dead” encounter to be like. The behavior, look and sounds of these zombies was spot on and an impressive experience. Aside from actually being bitten, walking through the tall looming city scape in the dark and fog was frightening and again only possible in this unique space.
Slash’s Clowns 3D - Oh what fun it is to run through a 3D haunted maze. Well we didn’t run but the vibrant fluorescent color and the 3D chromatic spectrum glasses offer a very fun experience. If you’ve never done a 3D maze, the 3D is better than you can imagine. This maze had some gruesome scenes. One notable effect beyond the 3D was the assault on our sense of smell. So you run into the demented clowns hacking people up. But if you’re paying attention you’d notice the smell of peppermint candy canes and the fact that shortly thereafter you see several obese 400 pound people laying in their own throw up, belly’s slashed open with clowns eating pieces of candy out of their vomit. Yuck! It’s about this time that you are overwhelmed with the smell of vomit which was hard to handle. John Murdy (creative director of Horror Nights) you’re a sick bastard and that’s why we love you for this one! Clowns 3D is a journey into a sick and twisted place where we stuff our faces with candy and evil clowns hack us up in a disorientating 3D world!
American Werewolf in London - The good and the bad. First the bad, I was a bit confused by a few of the characters in this one who looked like Hellraiser characters? Maybe they got lost! Anyway, once deeper into the woods it got bad ass! The wolves are big, much bigger than real wolves. The clever and creative use of puppetry may have gone unnoticed in method to most. As we came across these great big wolves on top of people eating them, the wolves would actually stop eating the person screaming under them, look up at us and follow us with their eyes! This was an awesome effect that we got to see many times. Another great element in this one was the huge animatronic wolves that would jump out. I mean 500 pound wolves popping straight out of the darkness at massive speed! I was truly surprised how far out these things moved out at us, if we didn’t move it would have knocked us down. One of the great scenes was seeing the man transforming into werewolf. It just looked downright real. American Werewolf in London was a real thrill and heart stopping experience!
Dracula Untold Reign of Blood - They can’t all be great. This haunted house was as close to your neighborhood haunt as it gets at Universal. It was lower budget which isn’t always bad but what disappointed me was the look of the of the vampires. They just didn’t look that great. This maze also lacked the amplified jump scare sound and lights. To put it best, it was old school and just really fell short amongst so many other incredible mazes. La Lorena had far higher production value comparatively, I won’t miss this one.
Face Off - Located in the now closed “House of Horrors” attraction building, was way better than years past under different names such as “Monsters Remixed” where I once saw a chewbacca jump out at me! Same idea, loud dubstep music, a monster DJ, various monsters. What really stood out was the effort put into creating chilling scenes and environments. Production of props and the quality really brought this maze space up several notches. Unlike Dracula Untold, you could tell this one had a good budget. My favorite standout scene in the Face Off maze was the classic walk through the theater of sitting ghouls, some real, some not, all intimidating!
No Bill and Ted - I really missed ending my night with Bill and Ted. The edgy show just hit you so perfect after a long night a fear and fright. A little delirious, very tired, the awesome production, humor, raunchiness, pop culture just left you feeling so good and happy that we can make fun of pop stars, laugh at things that are funny even if not politically correct and sensitive to everyone’s FEELINGS. So sad it wasn’t a part of Hollywood Horror Nights 2014.
Terror tram - I missed the tram so you’ll have to take in the surprises for yourself!
In summary, Hollywood Horror Nights delivers an insane amount of terror and is a great way to celebrate the halloween season in a way that is uniquely Universal Studios.
2015 - Springfield / Simpsons Area - Confirmed - (4/9/14) The new Springfield themed area was confirmed by Universal earlier today and will breathe all new life into the area near the Simpsons ride, allowing guests to enter into the world of the Simpsons, as well as into several signature eateries including: Krusty Burger, Luigi’s Pizza, Phineas Q. Bufferfat’s 5600 Flavors Ice Cream Parlor, along with Moe’s Tarvern and the Duff Brewery. To get the best idea of what kind of cool fun is in store for you in 2015, please do read Screamscape’s review of the Springfield area that opened at Universal Studios Florida in 2013.
(1/21/14) Screamscape sources tell us that they have set a rapid pace for the new Springfield area. Already Doc Brown’s and the Cantina are down and I’m told we should see the new replacement building foundations poured very soon.
(12/13/13) As Homer would say... “D’oh!” Inside Universal reports that Doc Brown’s Chicken eatery will likely close down sometime in January. This sounds about right as this whole area is expected to be transformed into a Hollywood mini-version of Springfield food options, which has been very successful in the Orlando park.
(5/11/13) Screamscape sources tell us that after a brief review period of the new Simpsons themed food options coming soon to the Orlando park, they’ll make a final choice as to approve a similar concept in the Hollywood park as well. If approved, you can plan on having a drink a Moes or trying out a Krusty Burger sometime in 2015.
(3/14/13) I had been wondering if Universal would opt to pull the trigger on a little project I had in mind for the park. Not that I shared this idea with anyone… but it was simply my own observation and mental prediction that Universal might be planning a little something special for the Hollywood park other than the PotterVerse and Despicable Me.
The good news is that I’ve now been told that my thoughts were right and Universal Creative is busy working on plans to bring a small piece of Springfield to the food options close to the Simpsons ride, just as they are doing in Orlando right now. Well… as we assume they are doing in Orlando right now, they still have not make any kind of announcement despite the fact that they have clearly built a replica of Moe’s Tavern.
Anyway, I don’t have a timeline on this, but if I had to guess, we’ll probably see Springfield landmarks start to form open sometime in 2014 or 2015. If they follow the pattern of what’s in the works for Orlando, you’ll soon be able to eat a Krusty Burger, have a Duff Beer at Moe’s Tavern, maybe try some Kentucky Fried Panda or General Chang’s Taco Italino food. There are also expected to be other Springfield landmarks added (Lard Lad Donuts anyone?) and it is also worth mentioning that the Orlando version will also get a new flat spinning ride themed to the alien’s Kodos and Kang, so it’s a safe bet that Hollywood may also get this enhancement as well. For an idea of what’s in store, keep an eye on our Universal Studios Florida page.
(1/31/13) With the Wizarding World of Harry Potter not expected to open until 2016, and Despicable Me opening in 2013… one does have to wonder just what Universal Studios Hollywood may have in store for 2014 or 2015? While I’m currently a bit in the dark on that question as well, I have heard from good sources that they do plan on opening at least one more attraction in that time-frame. Anyone else know anything more?
2015 - Fast & Furious - Supercharged & New Nighttime Studio Tour - (10/28/14) Apparently there will be an interesting official launch event to kick off the premier of the trailer for the Fast and Furious 7 feature film at Universal Studios Hollywood on Saturday at noon. The cast will be present at the event as well, and while nothing has been mentioned officially about this, it also stands to reason that a little more information regarding the Fast & Furious: Supercharged attraction opening in 2015 just might also be released during the event to the eager crowd. If you can’t be there in person, there will be a live event shown on the F&F Facebook page.
(9/29/14) A great group of pictures showing off the progress made so far on the Fast & Furious Supercharged attraction building was posted to Twitter by Inside Universal. With the building all buttoned up from the outside world at this point, looks like we’ll have to wait until they are closer to opening it until the final outside theming is added.
(8/11/14) Screamscape sources tells us that the primary filming for Fast & Furious: Supercharged wrapped last week. Based on previous information we know Dwayne Johnson tweeted out a picture of himself on the set, and then there is this interesting picture found on the internet showing off F&F co-star Michelle Rodriguez (complete with what look like motion capture dots on her body and clothing) standing next to Universal Creative’s own Thierry Coup and what appears to be the backside of Universal Orlando’s Senior VP of Entertainment Jim Timon.
(7/31/14) Dwayne Johnson (aka: The Rock) confirmed to the world on Twitter and Instagram that he’s been filming some footage for the new Fast & Furious ride coming to Universal Hollywood in 2015. “Just shot in the biggest 360 degree 3D screen in the world for the soon to come FAST AND FURIOUS ride at UNIVERSAL STUDIOS.” Very cool… you got to love it when a celebrity loves his film franchise so much that they don’t shy away from being in the theme park attraction as well.
(5/29/14) With all the excitement and anticipation for the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it is good to remember that Fast and The Furious: Supercharged will open to thrill park guests first. This begs the question… just what will the experience be like?
InsiderUniversal.net has run the concept through their collective brains and come up with their own ideas about how the new attraction may work our, and for the most part I think I agree. We know we can expect another projection based attraction, similar to the basic idea behind King Kong 360 3-D, but in this case I think we’re going to have a bit more. Based on the layout of the building that is currently under construction, there seems to be two main rooms your tram will pass through in the attraction building. I’m guessing that the overall experience may work out similar to the old King Kong attraction, where the first room will set up a bit of the story and get the action started off with some practical effects right in your face before you drop the hammer and accelerate into the second room which will may likely have mostly projection effects.
At this point I’m a bit more interested in what they can achieve inside this first show room, where it looks like the “show” here will entirely take place on the right side of the tram. This could be a fun place to have some life-sized replica race cars pull up on the street next to the tram and peel out on some kind of accelerator track, or even perhaps put those old Kuka arms to use from the closed Fast & Furious tram stop. Like before, mount fake stunt cars to the end of the arms to move around the room, let a villain arrive to shoots them full of holes and explode in mid-air as you escape into the main show room. Bottom line… I’m expecting a bit of a mini stunt show here to get your blood flowing, something wtih some fire effects from an explosion or two to set up the action. Of course, as a fun throw-back to the old Battlestar Galactica tram attraction concept from the 80’s, wouldn’t it be fun to have a live actor enter the battle scene? Maybe even jump aboard the tram to “drive” you to safety? You never know what might happen.
(4/11/14) One of the interesting items about Fast & Furious - Supercharged is that the press release mentions that certain Fast & Furious characters from the film series will likely be a part of the adventure attraction in some fashion. Any bets on if Vin Diesel or The Rock will take part in this?
(4/9/14) Universal Studios Hollywood made some big announcements a few hours ago about two new attractions on the way to the park in 2015 for the park’s 50th Anniversary. As rumored on Screamscape, the park will indeed open a new Springfield themed immersive land based on The Simpsons (click here) as well as a new finale attraction for the Studio Tour called Fast & Furious – Supercharged.
Fast & Furious – Supercharged will add a turbo-charges new thrilling finale to the end of the park’s famous backlot Studio Tour. The new attraction will be built inside a new 50,000 sqft building structure on the backlot and feature many stars from the film series in this new dynamic motion-based attraction concept that can only be experienced at Universal Studios Hollywood. It will tell an original Fast & Furious story through the use of state-of-the-art 3D-HD projection technology along with the world’s longest and more expansive 360-degree screen that will span nearly 400 feet in length to surround guests by the Fast & Furious universe, using 18 4K projectors and a never-before-used front-projection system.
Another interesting option will also come to the studio this same year, the addition of a new Nighttime Studio Tour option, featuring 21 different locations along the way that will be engineered with practical lighting to display how they can create different environments and look with lighting effects. The nighttime tour will also include a visit to the creepy Psycho House as well as the Court of Miracles that may be haunted by the spirit of Dracula, Frankenstein or the Hunchback. For those wanting something lighter, the Who-ville set from The Grinch will also shine brightly after hours with twinkling holiday lights.
(3/20/14) InsideUniversal reports on a new find this week… Universal filing for a trademark for a new attraction that will go by the name “Fast & Furious: Supercharged”. This does seem to fall in line with the rumors we’ve had about a new F&F themed attraction ear-marked to open in the park the year before the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will open. According to the filing, this seems to be a new attraction to be added to the Backlot Tram tour.
(1/21/14) I’m told that Universal is still moving forward with a new Fast and Furious themed attraction concept that will be placed on or near the former Mummy spinning tunnel area after all. The tunnel structure is gone and the site has already been cleared and is nearly finished being graded.
As rumored, look for the new attraction to open around 2015, and to be marketed as a new addition to the Studio Tram Tour.
(8/29/13) I’ve got a quick update regarding a possible future Fast & Furious attraction. For starters, it is true that the Mummy tunnel may indeed close down for good. It is almost as old as the backlot tour itself, and I remember going through it myself when I was a very small child… back when it was Avalanche themed and the tour guides would tell the story about how Lee Majors kept falling down while trying to run through it for an episode of the Six Million Dollar Man. Yep… it’s old school alright. These days the tunnel overheats something fierce and is unable to run on most hot summer days any longer, so it may be time to say goodbye.
As for the Fast & Furious attraction, while our second source could not confirm this project yet, they did say that it would likely have to go elsewhere. The current location of the Mummy tunnel will come into play as needed space for a possible Phase 2 expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. While this Phase 2 wouldn’t likely open until about 2020, Universal isn’t going to waste money putting anything new down where it may have to be removed a few years later for a Hogwarts Express railway.
So if a new F&F attraction comes to Hollywood, it will have to be built elsewhere.
(8/28/13) According to the latest rumors the Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb tunnel effect will soon close down for good to be replaced by something new over the next couple of years. This was foretold in the latest versions of the NBC/Universal Evolution plans presented to the city, which had that site also earmarked for a new attraction. We now have a good idea as to what it could possibly be.
According to a story I was told by long time reader Allen W., the producers of the latest Fast & Furious film took the backlot studio tour a few months back, and were essentially horrified upon going through the F&F Tokyo Drift animation scene, with the cars dancing on on Kuka robot arms. Watch the video if you haven’t seen it before… and wonder how you might feel about this if you were a big Hollywood film producer and this was the visual representation of your work in the park.
Anyway… according to the rumor, they were less than pleased, wanted it shut down immediately, and requested that Universal come up with something better as a modern representation of the Fast & Furious film series. With the Mummy tunnel leaving, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some kind of Fast & Furious attraction come in as a possible replacement. This is just speculation, but a projection tunnel effect, similar to the new King Kong 360 3-D might be the way to go if they want to put the guests on the tram in the middle of all the Fast & Furious high-speed action.
2016 - Wizarding World of Harry Potter - (1/30/15) The latest construction progress on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and the Simpsons / Springfield area can be seen below in the latest video from our friends at In The Loop.
(1/14/15) The latest construction pictures from Westcoaster shownig off the construction of Hogwarts Castle have been posted this week, including a peek inside an opening in the structure that reveals the Whomping Willow itself. Plus the themeing is going onto the Hogsmeade buildings (fake snow and all) as well as a look at some of the Springfield area going up nearby too.
A reader took a moment to snap and sent a picture of the Universal skyline, as seen from the 101 during a traffic jam, where you can clearly see the tall spire of Hogwarts Castle poking up into the sky on the left side of the image.
(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 Google Earth, 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.
(12/5/11) The past several days have been all about Universal it seems. The opening of the amazing Transformers ride in Singapore, the closing of Jaws in Florida and the rumored coming of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Hollywood. From what I’ve been hearing over the past few days, the Potter deal is not only approved, but we could see a press release to make it official as early as this Tuesday, so stay tuned!
(12/1/11) The LA Times reports that a deal between Universal and Warner Bros. to build a west coast version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood is being finalized and expected to be green lit within the next couple of weeks.
(12/17/10) While there is a huge push right now to bring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Universal Hollywood, I’ve also heard from some insiders that not all members of management are hot to jump on the bandwagon. It’s not that they aren’t impressed with the Wizarding World, but more to do with the timeline the Hollywood park would face if they were to approve the project.
Even if a deal is signed, the land designed and budgets approved, your still facing the fact that a West coast version wouldn’t be ready to open until at least 2014 at the earliest. With the final film in the series set to launch a little over 6 months, it would be 3 more years until guests could walk the corridors of Hogwarts. So to these more concerned management members, they have to address the elephant in the room and ask, does Harry Potter have the staying power to stay a hot property for 3 solid years beyond the release of the final film?
In most cases, the answer would be no… something new is always ready to come along, but there is a chance that Harry Potter could become a timeless and endearing entertainment series for the ages, much like Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Back To The Future. Still, the ever enticing profit margin reports from Universal Orlando are proof enough for most Execs that they need to pursue this. After all, you’ve got to take risks in business from time to time…
That all said… one does also have to ask, is Harry Potter’s story all over and done? Are there other tales that JK Rowling may have left in her pen that may take place in the Wizarding World, outside of the goings of Mr. Potter? Even JK Rowling isn’t sure it seems, as she apparently told Oprah not long ago that she could definitely write an eighth or a ninth book but, “I think I am done, but you never know.”
(12/13/10) The buzz about the possibility of a second Wizarding World of Harry Potter coming to Universal Hollywood has got some of the big Hollywood gossip hounds talking now. The news we revealed even made the headlines over at Perez Hilton, though for some reason they chose to link to our news indirectly through a posting at MuggleNet instead of coming right to the source, but what can you do, right?
Of course from what I’ve been told, Universal is 100% at this point, and like the Universal Orlando project, the fate of it all lies once again in the hand of JK Rowling. Of course this may not be the end-all either as there may be another mystery project in development between Universal Creative and JK Rowling as well… hmmm. More on this later.
(12/3/10) While there has been a lot of talk lately about possible future attractions under development at Universal, there is one big fish in particular out there that the Hollywood park is just dying to get their hands on. The runaway success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida has many Hollywood execs convinced that getting their own version of the Potter-verse in Hollywood would be akin to finding the Holy Grail. Normally the big question for Universal Hollywood is trying to determine just where they could put it, given their extreme lack of space. However, with the huge profit margins on record for the Florida version, the question isn’t so much where to put it, but rather what to demolish to make room for it. With those kinds of numbers, I’m told that Universal is ready to put nearly anything and everything under the wrecking ball to make it happen in California.
2016?? - 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.