UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
Hollywood, CA (Abbreviation: USH)
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(4/16/14) Spring Concert Series (MORE...)
(4/15/14) More Despicable Me Minion Mayhem Grand Opening Details
(4/14/14) Despicable Me Minion Mayhem - THE GRAND OPENING!
(4/11/14) Some Fast & Furious Thinking (MORE...)
(4/9/14) Universal confirms new attractions for 2015 and 2016. Plus a fun new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem video. Scroll Down to find them all!
General Park News - (4/16/14) Universal Studios Hollywood will be holding a special Spring Concert Series in CityWalk at the 5 Towers stage area on several dates in April including: 16, 18, 19, 25 and 26 that will feature many emerging and successful new artists. Click here to see the line up!
(4/7/14) The park’s famous Waterworld show reopened the other day and SoCal Attractions 360º was on hand with a video camera to shoot the new version of the show so we can see what has changed and what was kept.
(3/31/14) Behind the Thrills reports in from Universal Hollywood this week, with new peeks inside Super Silly Funland, as well as a look at the new Silly Swirly ride cars as it was testing over the weekend. Plus a look at the return of a renovated Jaws to the studio tram tour.
(3/13/14) Rumor has it that Universal Studios Hollywood may make an announcement in the near future about some new additions on the way to the park for 2015. While this is expected to be the new Simpsons themed dining area, inspired a similar project in Orlando that opened in 2013, the rumor mill also suggests that there may be a second big surprise to be announced as well. Perhaps a little something themed to Fast & Furious? We’ll just have to wait and see...
(3/10/14) A new construction update at Universal Hollywood posted to Park Journey shows off the awesome and highly detailed set for the new Despicable Me attraction and the newly rising steel going into place for the massive Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey / Hogwarts Castle structure. Seriously… if you haven’t been to Orlando before to see the original, this structure is going to blow you away when you first see it once it is finished. Meanwhile, over outside the Simpsons ride, a whole slew of new carnival style game stands have been built and look ready to open any day now.
(3/5/14) Local sources tell us that Energon, the Transformers themed beverage, is no longer being sold at Universal Studios Hollywood. According to Screamscape insiders, the bright orange drink is actually the same formula used for the Simpson’s themed Flaming Moe at Universal Studios Florida, with the addition of a dry-ice compartment in the bottom of the cup which adds the required smoke and bubbles.
With a new Simpson’s themed restaurant expansion rumored to be announced soon as the replacement for the now demolished Doc’s fried chicken site, it would make sense to make Energon vanish now, only to bring it back in Flaming Moe form in 2015. By a similar notion, note that Energon was never sold in the Florida park, as their Transformers ride and Simpson’s area both opened together in Summer 2013.
(2/20/14) The latest word from Universal Studios Hollywood is that they are hosting a free concert this Friday evening from 4:30pm to 6pm in CityWalk that will feature Icona Pop, My Crazy Girlfriend, Mystery Skulls and DL Blake Michael. Look for the action at the 5 Towers stage area.
(2/12/14) InsideUniversal explains a bit more about the show changes coming to Waterworld in the near future. If the rumors are true, we will see the Waterworld show altered to be a bit more like the Singapore version of the show, which will involve a few stunt changes as well as move of the Seaplane crash from the finale up a little earlier in the show.
(2/2/14) InsideUniversal has posted a new report on how the transition between the old and new management company in charge of the Waterworld stunt show is shaping up, as well as when we can expect to see a few changes made to the long-running Hollywood show.
In other news, a photo update at USHFans shows that the park has opened a new exclusive American Express Lounge area on the lower lot that features phone charging stations, TV, some complimentary snacks or bottled water and a private restroom. Much like the similar Orlando lounge area, I believe it is not enough to just have an AmEx card to get into the lounge, you have to have bought your park tickets or annual pass with your AmEx card to gain access.
(1/28/14) A huge construction update from Universal Studios Hollywood comes to us from Behind The Thrills this week, as they look into the fantastic outside façade built up for Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and sort through the chaos on the other side of the park as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is going up alongside a rumored new Springfield area, and it even looks like some midway games may pop up in front of the Simpsons ride queue area, as they did in Orlando before that.
(1/24/14) A great look at the ongoing construction taking place around Universal Studios Hollywood for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Despicable Me and much more can be found at ParkJourney this week.
(1/7/14) Park guests report that Universal Hollywood raised the cost of parking to $16 this week.
(1/6/14) I’m not sure if this will see any changes brought to the show, but InsideUniversal reports that starting in February, the company (Water Ski Shows Inc.) that manages the performers for the Waterworld show for Universal Studios Hollywood will be replaced by a new company. They had no word on what, if any, kind of changes may be coming along with this new management company.
(12/24/13) Universal Studios Hollywood will be hosting a huge New Years Eve party this year, featuring music performaces, fireworks and massive amounts of confetti. R&B star, Travis Garland will be headlining the event at the 5 Towers. Meanwhile Ricky “Rocks” Lorek will be performing inside the park at the newly built Universal Plaza. The party starts at 4pm and kicks into high gear at 9pm with a live broadcast of the ball dropping in Times Square on the video screens running non-stop through to midnight on the west coast. Visit CitywalkHollywood.com for all the official information.
(12/17/13) Lots of great things going on at Universal Studios Hollywood right now. Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem looks fantastic and I’ve heard that the ride system install went well and is already in the middle of testing ahead of installing the final programming. Meanwhile lots of progress is starting on the Wizarding World site as the concrete footings for the new land are being dug out and poured. Check out the latest progress pictures posted to Westcoaster this week.
(12/4/13) Our latest update from Universal Studios Hollywood was sent in by Westcoaster and featuring the kick-off of this year’s Grinchmas event plus a look at the ongoing construction sites for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and where we expect to see Springfield rise. Play close attention to the Despicable Me shots… the facade they have built here is simply beautiful looking.
(11/29/13) It looks like Bill & Ted will return to Halloween Horror Nights after all. According to this report all new creative licensing deals have been made with various groups ahead of a celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Bill & Ted in 2014. This will see new B&T inspired clothing, toys, posters, a comic book and more to hit the store shelves next year but the article also mentions a new 5 year deal was signed with Universal to keep the show running in the Orlando and Hollywood parks. Beyond that, Alex Winter also has confirmed that plans are moving forward to shoot a third film in the near future.
2014 - Despicable Me Minion Mayhem / Super Silly Fun Land / Silly Swirly Fun Ride -
(4/15/14) (4/15/14) More pictures and comments from the opening of Despicable Me Minion Mayhem were posted by our friends at Westcoaster this week. I’ve also added a few more pictures of Super Silly Funland as well to our own photo gallery down below.
(4/14/14) Despicable Me at Universal Hollywood opens with a bang!
Gru and the girls were joined by celebrities, dignitaries and a dozen minions for the grand opening of The Despicable Me ride at Universal Studio’s Hollywood! As the event got under way no less than a hundred reporters from all around the world fought for the a chance to photograph minions! One reporter even teased the minions with a banana at which time they danced hoping he would give it up. But of course he did not. Later the banana would be used as a microphone to interview show producer Jon Corfino who discussed the production aspects of the project. As the excitement grew, the voice actresses behind Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Agnes (Elsie Fisher) and Edith (Dana Gaier) arrived for the celebration. With plenty of celebrities on hand to witness the spectacle, a dance troop took to the stage performing to Pharrel’s hit “Happy” kicking off the big event!
Mario Lopez from the television show “Extra”, then introduced Universal executives who highlighted the hard work and dedication it took to make this dream a reality. Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood, explained how the immersive design behind Despicable Me and the introduction of the “Super Silly Fun Land”, a Hollywood exclusive, is an example of the direction Universal is going to provide world class entertainment for its visitors. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke eloquently about the economic value Universal Studios provides for the city while dazzling visitors with the “Hollywood” experience they travel for. Shortly there after the time had come to open the doors and start turning park guests into minions!
As Gru took the stage, a large box with a big red button appeared. With large balloons hovering above our heads and all eyes on Gru, he pushed the button setting off a bonanza of fireworks, streamers and so much confetti our shoes disappeared! The large 4 foot balloons over head burst dropping hundreds upon hundreds of little yellow balloons for all to pop as they danced with joy. As the excitement peaked everyone rushed inside to experience the new Minion Ride!
Running, jumping, bouncing along in our “training” as minions was non-stop fun! If you’ve ever played the “Minion Run” mobile game you’ll recognize the action but from a minion’s point of view, it’s an exhilarating experience. Just as we think the action is over Gru has a surprise for the girls; a birthday party to celebrate him adopting them! Vibrant colors and music surround us as the party begins and we go for a coaster ride. Plain and simple, being a minion is tons of fun!
The Minion ride replaces the Terminator 2 experience, an impressive addition to the park in its day. Unique to the Hollywood Minion ride is the addition of a second theater to keep the lines moving. In combination with Ultra-HD 4K resolution projectors running at 60 frames per second, the 3D “Minion Goggles” provide a spectacular and transparent viewing experience on 36’ high by 52’ wide projection screens. But it’s not about the 3D technology, it’s about becoming a minion. The wind, water and a host of other special effects make being a minion super silly. The technology is the star of the show without being in the forefront as the star of the show.
Kids of all ages love minions! Even those under the 48” height requirement to ride Despicable Me. For them, Universal Hollywood has re-created “Super Silly Fun Land” from the film featuring a mini water playground and the “Silly Swirly Fun Ride” that soars and spins kids of all ages. Additionally, the area is complemented with “Gru’s Lab Cafe” and some midway style toss games. There’s no doubt that this will be a huge hit!
- Reporting for Screamscape.com, Steve Rowin - Themepark Technology Enthusiast
(4/9/14) While the media event and Yellow Carpet walk for Despicable Me Minion Mayhem will take place this Friday (April 11) the official public grand opening will not take place until Saturday, April 12th.
A fun promotional video featuring James Franco meeting the Minions taking his place at the front of the line at Universal Studios Hollywood is embedded below.
(3/21/14) Screamscape Steve was sent out to a Top Secret meeting on Thursday morning to get a sneak preview visit of Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, ahead of the grand opening event to be held on April 10th. He sent back some pictures from the experience, traveling through Gru’s house, into the lab and into the ride theaters where guests will be turned into Minions for the experience.
Inside the theaters, you will experience not only a fun and wild ride, but visually you are going to get the ultimate 3D experience as well. The theaters are each outfitted with a pair of Christie 4K Projectors that will shoot 4K resolution images onto the 52x36 foot screen at 60 frames per second. And when I say “Theaters”, I mean both of them. if you missed my previous announcement, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem will feature two identical sets of pre-show rooms and theaters, giving the Hollywood twice the capacity and half the line length of the Florida version.
While they didn’t venture too far out into Super Silly Funland, they did confirm that the over-the-top look of the outdoor play area will feature the Super Silly Space Killer game where you can pay for your chance to win your own stuffy Fluffy Unicorn. It will also feature a large water play area with 80 different features, a dry zone for climbing and sliding fun, and the Minion themed “Silly Swirly Fun Ride”. Other features will be the Super Silly Stuff gift shop that will also have roaming Minion characters (Yellow and Purple) to take pictures with.
Back out in the neighborhood you can visit Gru’s Lab Café, which will offer some special mouthwatering Minion themed meals such as: Gru’s Backyard BBQ Rotisserie Chicken, Gru’s Grilled Chese with BBQ Pulled Pork, El Macho’s Nachos, Dr. Nefario’s Lab Salad or the Minion’s Kid’s Meal. Nearby Delicious Desserts will also feature an arsenal of colorful tasty sweets, colorful cupcakes, Caramel Fudge Brownies with Minion Marshmallow Topper, Waffles with Bananas & Whipped Cream (Banana?!), Banana Fritters, and Fresh Banana Fruit Cups! (BANANA!!!!)
If you haven’t seen the films yet… shame on you. But I’ll give you a hint… Minion’s LOVE bananas. One more Hint… Try ringing the doorbells of the other nearby homes around Gru’s neighborhood and see what happens.
(3/17/14) I’m told that the new flat ride going into the Super Silly Fun Land area will be called the Silly Swirly. You can see the ride’s sign peeking up over the construction wall in this photo.
(2/24/14) Layout plans that show off the attraction layout for the new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction in Universal Studios Hollywood were posted to ThemeParkInsite over the weekend. Here it has been revealed that the Hollywood version of the attraction will offer DOUBLE the capacity of the Orlando original by building two pre-show hallways and two simulator theaters inside the former Terminator 2: 3-D attraction building. The two side-by-side attraction layouts will then merge once again inside the Minion Dance Party room before exiting out together into the new Super Silly Funland area.
Speaking of Super Silly Funland, the blueprints are also clearly show off a large circular flat ride footprint right in the middle. I’m guessing we’ll see a ride very similar in nature to the Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘N’ Hurl flat ride built in Orlando, but with cars themed to Minion vehicles or Fuzzy Unicorns or some other crazy Super Silly Funland themed creature.
(2/10/14) Who’s up for a tour of the inside of the new Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios Hollywood? Apparently MiceChat was invited in for a private tour of the attraction as they are putting on the final touches. It looks fantastic and if you’ve been on the Orlando version there will be no surprises here… except for the improved look of the actual simulator room where the brand new installation of motion platforms did a great job of hiding all the hardware and keeping them flush with the floor while keeping the safety barrier hardware to a minimum.
(2/6/14) Just a quick note… Despicable Me Minion Mayhem is still the name of the Hollywood attraction. You may see online advertising starting to work around the net this week calling it “Despicable Me The Ride” for some reason… and I have no idea why Universal’s outsourced advertising company is going this route, but from what I’m being told the attraction’s name is not being changed. Someone just got an idea in their head that they needed to call it a “ride” in the online ads for some reason.
To be honest, I’m sick to death of seeing “The Ride” added to the end of any attraction name at any theme park. Batman: The Ride did it enough… and over and over as the ride was cloned across the nation at the Six Flags parks. So I’m done with it… and if nothing else, it sort of cheapens the attraction for me just a little bit just to see “The Ride” tacked on at the end of an attraction’s name… like they couldn’t come up with something better. Universal… you’re better than this. We don’t want to see “Harry Potter The Ride” ad graphics in 2016, okay?
(2/3/14) While it is still a bit too far out to call this an exact date, I’ve been told that Universal Studios Hollywood is opening to have the grand opening of Despicable Me Minion Mayhem on or near April 10th, which is the Thursday before the start of Spring Break.
(6/13/13) According to this news article the new Super Silly Fun Land expansion opening in 2014 will feature a colorful themed water play area, a dry play zone, a new themed ride where guests will “soar and spin” aboard “a fleet of imaginative ride vehicles”. While nothing was mentioned about midway games, I think they are a lock in as well.
(6/12/13) Universal Studios Hollywood confirmed that Super Silly Fun Land was indeed coming to the park in 2014 as part of the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction expansion. The official word came down from the park’s official Facebook page. The message was short and to the point, but gave up no details other than the name and year. “Minions love Hollywood! Despicable Me Minion Mayhem & Super Silly Fun Land - coming Spring 2014!”
(5/11/13) “Light Bulb!”
ThrillGeek has discovered a new trademark posting from Universal this week for a little something called “Super Silly Fun Land”. They think it may be something new for Universal Orlando, but I’m fairly sure this will be a new 2014 addition to Universal Studios Hollywood instead. The name may sound familiar to fans of Despicable Me as it was the name of the amusement park were Gru and his daughters spend a fun afternoon in the middle of the film.
When the new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem opens at the Hollywood park in early Spring 2014 (rumored to be as early as March) I’ve been told that we can expect to see a new fun play area for the kiddies built right next to the exit as well that might also feature a midway games area. Themeing it as Super Silly Fun Land would cover both bases quite well I think. It is also worth noting that the park will need a new kids play area anyway as the existing Curious George area will be closed to make room for the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter this September. Besides, you’ve got to have a “Space Killer” game so you can win a super fluffy unicorn prize! “He’s so fluffy, I’m going to die!”
(3/12/13) Good news! Universal Studios Hollywood has finally made the big announcement all about Despicable Me Minion Mayhem a few hours ago. The bad news… the new ride will not open until 2014, leaving the park with no new attraction for 2013.
Essentially the new attraction will be a copy of the one that opened at Universal Studios Florida in 2012, featuring a Ultra-HD animated movie in 3D, viewed by riding in simulator style motion platforms. That said… Universal has promised that there will be a few new additions and surprises added to the Hollywood version of the ride not seen in Orlando. While they don’t go into detail on just what these new surprises are, there may be a hint or two in the press release.
Based on the consumer feedback at our sister park, we expect the ‘Despicable Me’ ride experience to be a popular, family-friendly attraction for Universal Studios Hollywood. The ride continues the story line of the main characters from the blockbuster film through all-new 3D Ultra-HD animation, together with an interactive ride vehicle system,” said Larry Kurzweil, President and Chief Operating Officer, Universal Studios Hollywood. “In ‘Despicable Me Minion Mayhem,’ our guests will experience the hilarious and heartwarming characters of the beloved film in a whole new way.”
The fully immersive experience will debut in 2014 with the loveable cast of leading characters that have captured the laughter of audiences worldwide: super-villain Gru, his adorable girls (Margo, Edith and Agnes) and the unpredictably hilarious Minions.
“The ‘Despicable Me Minion Mayhem’ attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood will continue to push the creative envelope with its exceptional show content, sight gags, special effects and 3D digital animation. The exterior treatment will feature even more thematic and colorful creative touches that will literally place park guests inside Gru’s world,” said Mark Woodbury, President, Universal Creative.
Guests will experience whimsically themed queues, preshow videos and comedic dialogue that set up the fundamental plot: Gru schemes to create more mischievous Minions from human recruits.
Guests will be transported into Gru’s house as they meander through his living room and encounter visual elements as seen in the film – including the moon-shrinking SR-6 shrink ray – while they zig zag through a zany adventure featuring Gru’s super-villain laboratory. The exciting journey continues as they swerve, bounce and plunge to get through the frantically humorous Minion training mission while donning specially designed 3D Minion goggles. Fun and frolic continue in a post-show dance party where Minion walkaround characters invite guests to strut their stuff in an impromptu Minion-inspired dance party.
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 - Confirmed - (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 - (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.
(3/18/14) 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 façade and the now open Simpsons themed midway games.
(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).
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.
The NBC Universal Evolution Plan (Formerly the Vision Plan) -
Update - (4/24/13) Good news for Universal Studios Hollywood… the city has given final approval to the $1.6 billion renovation plan known as the Evolution Plan.
(2/7/13) Universal Studios Hollywood received unanimous approval for their new Evolution Plan from the Los Angeles City Council this week.
(2/4/13) A great breakdown of all the proposed changes that Universal has included in the latest version of the NBCUniversal Evolution Plan, dated Jan. 7, 2013 can be found over at InsideUniversal. They break down each building and possible change coming, site by site, according to the new masterplan. The one odd thing is that it looks like the future of the old Wild West stunt show venue is simply to become a quiet “Central Park” green area for now.
(10/1/12) After a few more concessions by Universal, the Los Angeles Planning Commission has given their approval for Universal Studio’s Evolution Plan which will add new hotels, studio support buildings and attractions to the park.
(7/18/12) It appears that sanity has prevailed at Universal Studios Hollywood, as the new owners have decided to take an axe to the entire residential portion of the Evolution Plan in the latest revision. The new map layout released also reveals plans for a new 500-room on-site hotel, new parking structures or possibly even CityWalk expansion buildings going into all of the remaining ground level parking lots. New studio production buildings will be added to the backlot in various locations. It looks like the old lagoon and Parting of the Red Sea effects area will be removed to make way for a new small neighborhood street scene, not unlike the famous neighborhood set further up the hillside. The Europe/Rome street area looks to also be replaced with a new street scene of some kind, and the western area looks like it will be removed and replaced by a pair of production buildings instead. Something new may also take over the War of the Worlds & Psycho House area, but the big lake and Jaws area will remain. However it does appear as if the Mummy / Avalanche tunnel effect tunnel will be removed and replaced by a new drive-through attraction of some kind. The collapsing bridge also looks to survive, and while the Gibson Amphitheater is still seen, there is a new attraction building set up behind it. WaterWorld also looks destined to be replaced by another new attraction building as well. I’m guessing one of these later two areas will become part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.