UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
Hollywood, CA (Abbreviation: USH)
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(5/18/18) Trick 'r Treat at HHN, Nighttime Lights Return to Hogwarts Castle, Blue Comes To Raptor Encounter
(5/11/18) Universal Studios Hollywood Closing Jurassic Park To Make Jurassic World in 2019 (MORE...)
(5/4/18) Extended Jurassic Park Anniversary Event Plus A Surprise Announcement (MORE...)
(4/17/18) Opening Date for New DreamWorks Theater Attraction (MORE...)
(4/14/18) Halloween Horror Nights - What's Next To Creep From The Darkness? (MORE...)
Read the Official Review of Halloween Horror Nights 2017 - CLICK HERE
Read the Official Review of Halloween Horror Nights 2016 - CLICK HERE
Read the Official Review of Halloween Horror Nights 2015 - CLICK HERE
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem - THE GRAND OPENING
General Park News - (5/18/18) The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle will return to Universal Studios Hollywood for a limited time this summer starting Sunday, June 24th. The event will be expanded with the addition of some special new menu items at Three Broomsticks and the addition of two new spells you can cast (Incendio fire-making spell and the Alohomora unlocking spell that may reveal a hidden creature hidden behind a locked door). In addition, look for new Wizardwear options for purchase and more while you wait for the sun to go down and the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle show to begin.
In other news, Behind the Thrills reports that the Raptor Encounter at Universal Studios Hollywood got a bit of an upgrade the other night with the introduction of "Blue" from Jurassic World to the park's Raptor lineup. Check it out.
(5/4/18) Good news for Jurassic Park fans near Universal Studios Hollywood. Previously we mentioned the special Jurassic Park 25th Anniversay Celebration event that was taking place on May 11-12. Well, it seems the demand for this event was so high that Universal has opted to now add a third date for it on May 13th. The event will feature special appearances by people who worked on the films as well as “an all-new Raptor Encounter exclusive”.
One other thing… Screamscape is hearing buzz that there could be some kind of special announcement regarding the Jurassic Park attraction itself made during the event. Something very special that we’ve been waiting for. Hmmm…
Just follow the link for information on how to buy a ticket to this special event and get the rundown on everything that is included.
(4/6/18) Universal Studios Hollywood will celebrate th e 25th Anniversary of "Jurassic Park" on May 11-12. In honor of the huge event an epic party will be held inside the theme park that also includes a private screening of the film at the Universal Cinema inside Universal CityWalk. The event will include many Jurassic 'props' on display, including the Gyrosphere from Jurassic World, dinosaur maquettes, costumes and more. Guests will receive a special commemorative lanyard that gives unlimited access to "all things Jurassic", including the theme park ride. You are also invited to dress up as your favorite Jurassic character while you enjoy live entertainment, special themed food offerings and more.
This is a special ticket event however, with a limited number of tickets being made available, so follow the link to see how you can get yours.
(3/2/18) Universal Studios Hollywood has confirmed that Hello Kitty will be taking up residence at their new Animation Studio Store, which officially opened on March 1st. Hello Kitty will be making appearances just outside the store entrance and the store itself will feature an assortment of special Hello Kitty themed treats, as well as park-exclusive merchandise, some of which incorporates other classic Universal characters.
(3/1/18) Universal Studios Hollywood has announced that for a limited time, "The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle" show will return to the park on select dates:
(2/18/18) What's that old saying? "Monkey see... Monkey do..."? Of course, when you’ve got the world’s biggest primate in your employ (Hi Kong!) then “Monkey Do” just about what ever he wants to do. Ahem...
Case in point, as expected after Disney raised their ticket prices, Universal has also increased their ticket price by about $4, with a one-day ticket ranging between $109-$119 when purchased online in advance of your visit and $129 when purchased at the gate.
In other news, I'm told that February 22 is now "National Margarita Day" and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville inside CityWalk is the place to celebrate, especially with the introduction of an all new "Margarita Flight Sampler" that lets you try four fabulous Margaritaville flavors: Fins of the Left, Who's to Blame, Mango and Watermelon. On a personal side note, I recommend an order of the Volcano Nachos to go with it.
(2/14/18) Good news for Citywalk at Universal Studios Hollywood, construction has now started on a new VIVO Italian Kitchen restaurant, like the one that opened a couple years back at Universal Orlando. I had the pleasure to be at Universal Orlando for a special media-preview of the first VIVO, where we got to taste a large number of their incredible dishes. It is safe to say that you are in for a treat once the Hollywood location opens in 2018, replacing the former Wolfgang Puck Bistro.
(1/18/18) A quick photo update showing off the various construction projects taking place at Universal Studios Hollywood can be found over at Twin Track this week. This includes a look at some big clearing taking place on the hillside next to the Starway. Anyone know what this is for?
(1/12/18) Universal Studios Hollywood is preparing to celebrate the Lunar New Year once again from Feb. 10 through Feb. 25th. Universal Studios Hollywood brings all-new activities to its Lunar New Year event as Kung Fu Panda’s Po and Tigress, Mandarin-speaking MEGATRON and traditionally dressed Minions help usher in the “Year of the Dog". Other features include: Red Chinese lanterns and stunning plum blossom Wishing Trees, the all-new Jade Palace Performance Stage that will feature the Dragon Warrior Training Show from Kung-Fu Panda, Mr. Ping's Noodle Shop with authentic food and much more.
(12/31/17) A reader sent in a few pictures of the new Animation Studio Store finishing up construction at Universal Studios Hollywood near the entrance to the Waterworld show.
(12/21/17) Given the sheer number of hotels that have been rising on-site at Universal Orlando through a partnership with Loews Hotels, many have been wondering for some time now about when some sort of new hotel would rise near to Universal’s Hollywood property. Apparently that time is now, though this won't be a Universal or a Loews project.
The existing Hilton Los Angeles / Universal City hotel is planning a $100 million expansion that would include a new 15-story tower (365 rooms) that would be added to the existing 24-story hotel tower. While the project will likely see some opposition from the typical opponents to big projects in the area, they will also have to deal with issues from NBCUnviersal themselves, who have the right to approval any new development on the Hilton site. From the sound of things, Hilton has not previously pitched the concept to NBCUniversal yet either, so I’d expect a bumpy road for Hilton, as Universal has long been expected to eventually build a hotel of their own.
(12/6/17) According to a post at Inside Universal, the projectors inside “Dome 1” of The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood has been upgraded to a newer, brighter and clearer system, though still in the test and adjust phase. Once complete, I would expect the second half of the ride to also get the upgrade, and then hopefully the Orlando version as well.
(12/4/17) Just a minor note for Universal Studios Hollywood, but the word from InsideUniversal is that the park will rename their Front of Line passes as 'Universal Express" passes starting on December 5th, at long last falling in line with the Universal Express brand naming that has been in use for years at the Universal Orlando, Japan and Singapore theme parks.
(6/7/17) Another interesting update from Universal Hollywood, they confirmed that Hello Kitty will be arriving at the park in 2018 along with park-exclusive merchandise from Sanrio featuring Hello Kitty and friends as part of a new store arriving to replace the former Cartooniversal store. This only makes sense as a similar Hello Kitty store was added to Universal Orlando last year.
2018 - Halloween Horror Nights 2018 - (5/18/18) Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando have announced their latest Maze for Halloween Horror Nights as they will bring Trick 'r Treat to life as an all new maze. Universal Orlando guests may recall seeing iconic moments from Trick 'r Treat brought to life as part of a Scare Zone last year, but this year Sam will be going coast to coast will the full maze treatment.
(4/14/18) With Stranger Things confirmed for Halloween Horror Nights in 2018, the airing of laundry lists of what else could be added has begun. As Behind the Thrills has pointed out this week, another highly popular and requested addition to the HHN lineup will be Steven King's IT, based on the popular new adaptation of the material that hit theaters in 2017. I have to agree, if the stars allign just right, Pennywise could very well be coming to life in Orlando and Hollywood later this year to terrorize the masses.
(4/4/18) Universal dropped the bomb a few hours ago by making their first company wide announcement for the first maze to be featured at the 2018 Halloween Horror Nights event... and there was much rejoicing across the internet. If you haven't already read in our tweet or Facebook post earlier, you will be able to venture into The Upside-Down this fall as a new awesome maze themed to the hit Netflix series, Stranger Things, will be brought to life at Universal Orlando, Hollywood and Singapore parks for HHN.
Universal bought the world to life in front of our eyes already in the form of a custom teaser trailer that shows off the entrance to the theme park, as seen from inside The Upside-Down. According to the final details, this maze will stick to the story told in Season 1, allowing you to venture into the Mirkwood and then on into the Hawkins National Laboratory... and you know things just go horribly wrong from there, because the Demogorgon is never far. Just take a look at the awesome preview poster art they made as well featuring the boys on their bikes in front of the park's iconic entrance portal... or at least The Upside-Down version. I can't wait for this one.
2018 - DreamWorks Theater - (4/17/18) Universal Studios Hollywood has announced that their new DreamWorks Theater Featuring "Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor's Quest" will officially open to guests on June 15th. Inside you'll see a dramatic retelling of an adventure story where, "on the morning of The Emperor’s Great Feast of Heroes, dragon warrior Po embarks on a wild and perilous mission to deliver the rare and precious Liquid of Limitless Power to the Palace, while enlisting guests to join him on the exciting adventure filled with raging rapids, river pirates, awesome magic and Kung Fu."
(2/9/18) Universal Studios Hollywood has released a few more details about the new DreamWorks Theater opening in Summer 2018. Inside the theater will be the park’s latest attraction called, “Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest”. The attraction is described as a “technologically-advanced immersive attraction” that will feature “the first-ever integration of interior projection mapping designed to engulf guests in 180 degrees of immersive adventure.”
“Created and produced by DreamWorks Animation and Universal Creative, “Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest” recounts a plot-filled story whereby on the morning of The Emperor’s Great Feast of Heroes, dragon warrior Po embarks on a wild and perilous mission to deliver the rare and precious Liquid of Limitless Power to the Palace, while enlisting guests to join him on the exciting adventure filled with raging rapids, river pirates, awesome magic and Kung Fu.”
Guests will pass into the attraction through the DreamWorks Theater building that will feature a ticket booth staffed by a three-dimensional Pinocchio character “asleep on the job”, then enter the pre-show area where they will meet an array of DreamWorks characters. The main theater itself will feature “ultra-plush, fully articulated seats that pivot and swivel in tandem with the 180-degree action.”
(6/6/17) Universal Studios Hollywood has confirmed that the DreamWorks Theater will arrive as a replacement for the Shrek 4D attraction in 2018. The theater is intended to be a multi-purpose theater to showcase DreamWorks Animation projects throughout the future, but as rumored, will start off with a Kung Fu Panda attraction film when it opens. This isn't just another 4D theater however, as they state that this attraction will actually use projection mapping and special in-theater LED lighting effects to help tell the story. Check out the preview video below showing off the new theater exterior and concept art.
Ahead of this, look for several new DreamWorks characters to arrive in the park in Summer 2017 in Universal Plaza including characters from Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, Shrek, How To Train Your Dragon and Trolls.
2019 - Jurassic World Upgrade - (5/11/18) Universal Studios Hollywood has announced that the Countdown to Extinction is on... and Jurassic Park: The Ride will close forever on Sept. 3, 2018 to make way for a massive transformation that will see it reopen in 2019 as a new Jurassic World ride.
"Drawing from the favorite elements of the original “Jurassic Park—The Ride,” this next-generation “Jurassic World Ride” will be a fully reimagined iteration of the ground-breaking adventure, elevating every facet of the experience. With the introduction of never-before-seen dinosaurs, enhanced storytelling, lush scenic design, an entirely new color scheme and uncompromised state-of the art technology, the ride will capture elements never experienced within a theme park."
Along with the ride, the Jurassic Cove restaurant and Jurassic Outfitters gift shop will also close as part of the transformation.
(2/15/18) According to another Screamscape source, plans and work is said to be underway not only for some new dinosaurs for the Jurassic Park/World update coming to the Universal Studios Hollywood ride in 2019, but also some new scenes and special effects are being designed to revamp or replace some existing scenes.
Meanwhile, be sure to get your last rides in as soon as possible... while we thought that it may not close until Summer is over, from the sound of the things, it very well could close down a lot sooner than we thought.
(2/14/18) We've talked about this rumor ever since Jurassic World hit theaters back in 2015 and became a smash hit. What rumor? You know... the one where Universal decides to update the old Jurassic Park ride a little bit and rename the improved version after Jurassic World.
Nothing is expected to happen this summer when Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hits theaters, after all, summer is the park's busy season, but after the summer crowds leave, I'm hearing that work to add those long rumored scenic upgrades may actually begin, which means the ride will probably re-launch in Spring/Summer 2019.
So what's going to change? Well... I may have posted another clue to this mystery back in July on the Islands of Adventure page. The rumor then was that Universal Creative had hired Creature Technology to some new large-scale animatronic creatures for them... the same people who had just created the impressive new Kong figure for Islands of Adventure's Skull Island attraction. At the time I was guessing that these could be new dinos for that park's Jurassic Park ride... but this work could very well be for the Hollywood park instead.
Stay tuned... we hope to find out more in the weeks to come.
???? - The Secret Life of Pets Dark Ride - In Development - (1/19/18) While I still don't have any kind of timeline on the project yet, the latest information dropped my way indicates that The Secret Life of Pets dark ride project is still very much alive at Universal Studios Hollywood. One interesting new factoid has come up however... and it seems any plans to put it on the park's lower lot were scrapped in favor of a site somewhere on the upper lot. Lot of a lot of room up there, but should be interesting to see where it goes. Stay tuned!
(7/10/17) According to the latest rumors the proposed Secret Life of Pets dark rides that were once planned for Universal Studios Hollywood and Orlando have now been put on an indefinite hold for the time being. If they do opt to go ahead with them, I’m hearing that it would likely be 2020 or 2021 at the earliest if they do build them, which is a long time to wait for an attraction based on an animated movie that came out in Summer 2016.
While they have not been officially canceled, I’m told that the general feeling is that unless they get approved to be built sooner than later, they will likely be canceled in favor of newer projects instead. Meanwhile the other scuttlebutt was that the previously designed attraction was put on hold so they could send it back to the drawing board to look at other possible ideas for the ride system, as well as budget review if I had to guess. Again... I’m thinking time, plus the fact that the corporate office is now focused on taking advantage of their new Dreamworks Animation IPs, is not doing the “Pets” project any favors.
(7/11/16) With The Secret Life of Pets dark ride already in development (and possibly already under construction in the Hollywood park next to Transformers) long before the movie was released in theaters, it was clear Universal was not only taking a bit of a risk here, but it was also a strong show of their confidence in not only the property itself but also in the people making it.
Now the opening weekend is complete and it does seem that NBCUniversal's confidence in The Secret Life of Pets was justified as the film toppled Disney's Finding Dory out of the top spot and settled into #1 by pulling in $103.2 million domestically. The Legend of Tarzan (from WB) hung on to their #2 spot and Finding Dory from Disney/Pixar dropped to 3rd place, taking in another $20.4 million, for a total of $422.6 million after four weeks in theaters.
(6/22/16) NBCUniversal's CEO, Steve Burke, let it slip the other day that they are indeed working on a dark ride themed to The Secret Life of Pets. He didn't go into specifics about which park, but this is the first official confirmation that the project is on the way.
(2/26/16) I’m told that this major new family dark ride has been locked into opening at the Hollywood park in 2018. While there have been some rumors about it taking over the Mummy building, last I heard this would go into a new structure built to the left of Transformers on the lower lot. Also, look for this ride to feature a good number of classic animatronics.
(1/8/16) Several sites have been talking about a possible removal rumor for the Revenge of the Mummy attraction, as they expect it to be replaced by the 2017 attraction project. However, Screamscape sources have previously told us that this is not the case at all. The new attraction is expected to be a new dark ride experience of some kind, themed to Universal’s upcoming animated film, “The Secret Life of Pets”, hitting theaters in Summer 2016 and from the brains behind the Despicable Me series.
As for the location of this attraction… I was told to expect to see it built inside a new structure that would be built next to the Transformers building, which I’m assuming would be in the same basic area where the demolished Soundstage 28 (aka: Phantom of the Opera stage) was located. Remember, there was a lot of history and some interesting lore (some say it was haunted) surrounding the history of Soundstage 28, but it was removed in 2014 for a reason, and the proximity of the site to the “theme park” side of things is no coincidence.
As for Revenge of the Mummy... if the park was thinking of closing this indoor coaster, I really don't think it would happen until after they open a Hollywood version of the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride, along with Diagon Alley.
2021 to 2023 - Super Nintendo World - In Development - (6/21/17) I don’t know how much of the artwork is legit, and I don’t think all of it is, but a nice collection of some new and old Super Nintendo World attraction art has been posted to Disney & More this week. The one that sticks out fo rme isn’t the Mario Kart art, but the one showing off the Donkey Kong themed jungle area. While the lower area seems to contain a jungle themed play area, if you look in the top of the trees you’ll see a coaster track for that rumored Donkey Kong mine train coaster. In fact, look very carefully on the top left and you’ll see a mine cart jumping a gap in the coaster track, as described as being possible for the Boom Coaster ride patent. Look closer still and you can see the hidden arm coming off that mine cart and going down, where it looks to be attached to the true track for the ride, hidden from view below the riders, which is twisted into an arch, to allow the mine cart to appear to jump the gap in the faux tracks.
(6/17/17) About a week or so ago someone posted a layout map of what Super Nintendo World might look like when built at Universal Studios Florida... and the collective internet lost their mind. I can't say for certain the exact origin of this map, as it does look like it was professionally done, but from what I've been told from a few sources, this was simply an old simple proof of concept proposal and never intended to be built exactly as shown. This may have simply been a graphic used for the initial presentation to get Nintendo on board in the first place.
The layout shown was one that was quite cluttered and really doesn't look anything at all like what we've been seeing in the official graphics from Universal thus far. Plus it looked like a good bit of the land was dedicated to smaller attractions, and even playground style structures, so bottom line... don't believe it. The map did have one thing right however, the location, where we can expect Super Nintendo Land to take over the entire KidZone area.
So time to recap what we do know about Super Nintendo World:
Multi-Level - According to comments made at the ground breaking, the lands will feature multi-level buildings and pathways, which does match up with what is being shown in the concept artwork.
Super Mario Kart - They have also confirmed that what is expected to be the primary major attraction will be one themed to Super Mario Kart. Not only is this a good choice for the action element that can be translated well into a ride, but the nature of the game also allows for the inclusion of a large number of Nintendo characters to be grouped all together.
So what about the other attractions? Well, there are only rumors so far, but the long standing rumor has been that Super Nintendo World will feature 3 attractions, or at least it will in the North American installations. There is always the chance that the one going into Japan may cutback to just two attractions due to space issues, or to allow for the inclusion of more themed shopping, dining and character interaction spaces, as the Japanese market really appreciates those kind of extras.
That said... it has been pretty clear thus far that the second attraction would have to feature the giant ape in the room... Donkey Kong. As a character, Donkey Kong is easily just as well known as Mario and the popular rumor has been about that Boom Coaster ride patent Universal filed for, with a mine kart theme that has the ability for the kart to appear to jump gaps in the track and lean to the side on two wheels, while really running on a hidden track system. As rumored before, this is expected to be something themed to the Donkey Kong Country game series.
The third ride concept? Well... not a lot has been said, and I really don't know if even the rumor going around was locked in as the final concept or not, so take this one with a grain of salt, but if the rumor holds true, the idea I kept hearing about was for a Yoshi themed interactive dark ride concept. Even better, for capacity sake, the one rumor suggested it would even be an Omnimover style ride system, something Universal really hasn't tried yet. Given that the unique feature of the Yoshi character in games is typically his ability to lash out with a long tongue and gobble up things and even spit some of them back out at targets, so you can see how this could make for a fun interactive style dark ride. Fair warning... this is just a rumor... but it sounds like a good choice to me.
As for the rest? Well, for wanting Metroid, Kirby, Zelda or even Pokemon themed stuff in the land, I just wouldn't expect it yet. Maybe for a Phase 2... or something that could even be used as a second Nintendo themed land in another park, as all those characters really live within their own pocket-universe, while I think we will see Super Nintendo World focus on the core characters that cohabitate within the primary Nintendoverse.
(12/12/16) The Orlando Business Journey has reported that several new ride patents filed by Universal offer up a hint about some future attraction concepts in the works. You can see some of the concept art from the patent forms posted in a slideshow at OBJ, though keep in mind that they are keeping the themeing and concept as generic as they can in these patent forms, and focusing on the technology aspect of what the attraction will do to make it unique enough to deserve a patent.
Breaking it down however, there are images showing off a new two-passenger car ride where the cars appear to be able to fishtail out of control and/or simulate a "drift" style turn effect. There is a driver in the front with a steering wheel while the rider in the back seat has a console of buttons in front of them instead. The obvious answer here is that this is likely a mock-up for the future Mario Kart themed ride planned as part of a future Nintendo area.
Another mock-up shows guests loaded into some kind of over-head track mounted piece of hardware that holds a number of armored flight-suits. The appearance is that it could mimic the action of a super-hero character taking flight into the sky on an adventure. Screamscape sources tell us that this concept was proposed for an attraction that isn't expected to see the light of day at this point in time, but could resurface in the future.
Two of the concepts involve waterpark technology, one that could see technology added to a mat racer style slide (either controls or a video screen to the mat itself) or the possibility of setting something up on the mat before the slide that would trigger specific effects (lights, music, etc) to personalize the experience on the way down. A second waterpark concept is also an interesting new take on the popular new 'drop pod' idea, where in this case the pod that holds the rider would begin to actually fill half-way up with water before flushing the rider and human payload down the trapdoor.
The final idea shown is something called the Boom Coaster, showing off a mine-kart themed ride car that would look as if it was attached to a track system, but in reality the car is attached to a boom arm that goes down under the cart and attaches to an entirely hidden coaster style track system below the themeing. The concept would allow for the hidden track to lean, rise and fall, affecting how the car above appears to ride on the simulated themed ride surface. For example, it would allow for a coaster to appear to 'jump' a gap in the visual track, while staying connected to the hidden track system below. According to Screamscape sources the Boom Coaster concept is also a concept Universal is eyeballing for a future Nintendo themed ride concept that would involve a wild coaster ride through the world of Donkey Kong Country which often have mine cart coaster themed levels.
Universal may have a more complex time getting a patent on the Boom Coaster concept however, as I recall what seemed to be a very similar concept floating around the internet for years called the CANTILEVERED COASTER System, and in an interview with the creator posted to Coaster101 back in 2010, the creator of the Cantilevered Coaster says they were already granted a patent for their design in 2001. While the effect would be similar, there is a difference in the track systems between the two, as the Boom Coaster only appears to have one track system, while the Cantilevered Coaster would use two separate track systems, one to hold the car while the other would control all the extra movements, not unlike how S&S/Arrow's 4th Dimension coaster system also uses two rail systems for similar reasons.
(11/30/16) Universal has announced an update regarding their deal to build Nintendo themed attractions in the future. According to the press release "the fun of Nintendo" will be brought to life via "expansive, highly themed environments" at Universal Studios Japan, Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood theme parks.
"Imagine the fun of stepping into a larger-than-life Nintendo adventure. Gigantic Piranha Plants spring to life. Question blocks, power-ups and more surround you. And Mario and all his friends are there to pull you into a brand-new world.
You will enter an entire realm filled with iconic Nintendo excitement, gameplay, heroes and villains. And it is coming to three Universal theme parks around the globe.
The creative visionaries behind Nintendo’s legendary worlds and characters are working together with the creative teams behind Universal’s blockbuster theme park attractions. Their goal: to bring the characters, action and adventure of Nintendo video games to life within Universal theme parks. And to do so in new and innovative ways that capture what makes them so special. All of the adventure, fun and whimsy you experience through a screen will now be all around you – in breathtakingly authentic ways."
The new Nintendo lands will feature "multiple attractions" as well as themed shops and restaurants. Planning is already well under way and while they are not yet ready to announce any dates, they did mention that each will "open separately over the next several years." An updated announcement video featuring Mark Woodbury (Universal Creative) and Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo) can be seen below.
As for the attractions... while things are still being planned, the early rumors indicate as many as three different attractions may be in development, one of the themes is said to be locked in for a Mario Kart themed attraction. It is worth mentioning that they only listed Universal Orlando as the site, an not one specific theme park. They also say that the first more detailed announcement to come from a specific park will happen "soon".
UPDATE: Possibly Delayed to allow Japan to open the first one.
(2/26/16) A Nintendo themed area is expected to open in the lower lot by 2019. Due to size limitations, expect this area to be compact, but it should feature at least one major attraction that can feature a number of the famous Nintendo characters all at the same time, which is likely to be themed to the Mario Kart game. Placement may be tricky, but last I heard is that it would likely go where a few a couple of small soundstages are behind the Transformers building.
???? - Diagon Alley - On Hold - The status of this is now said to be on indefinite hold, or possibly even off the table at this time... while other project take priority.
(2/26/16) The plans to expand the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with a Diagon Alley are said to be locked in for a 2020 opening, which should see it open and go head to head with Disneyland’s Star Wars Land. Diagon Alley will take over the current site of the Waterworld stunt show, but there will be one major difference between it and the counterpart in Orlando… there will not be a Hogwarts Express attraction, just the “Escape From Gringotts” attraction.
Being build right next to the current Hogsmeade / Hogwarts area, there is no need to have a Hogwarts Express train to run between the two, plus even in Orlando they have to separate Diagon Alley from a recreation of England and the Kings Cross train station where the train departs from, and there simply isn’t room for that, while in Orlando it was a necessary addition to link the two theme parks and Potter themed attraction areas together.
(1/16/16) Even though the Wizarding World of Harry Potter isn’t even open yet, that has done little to stop the flood of rumors regarding the eventual addition of Diagon Alley. Now from what I’ve been hearing the west coast version of Diagon Alley will include an Escape From Gringotts ride for sure, but I haven't been able to lock down if it will include a Hogwarts Express or not. It seems this has become something of a major design issue that they are going back and forth on, but I did get one very interesting bit of information about it.
If the expansion does choose to include a Hogwarts Express experience… the interior experience will be a similar to what we’ve seen in Florida, but enhanced to be even better somehow. But Outside? Well… lets just say that the train itself won't actually move anywhere this time around.
This makes sense as there really is no room to add a functional train style ride experience like they did in Florida, but the idea of a simulated Hogwarts Express ride does intrigue me, especially when it comes to the idea of how they will allow guests to depart from one station and appear to arrive at another.
Now the only question is, will they build it or not?
(12/9/15) According to the latest rumors, the clock may be ticking for the Waterworld show at Universal Studios Hollywood. While I haven’t heard about exactly WHEN the end will come for Waterworld, I have heard that the reason it will depart is to connect it to the Wizarding World of Happy Potter to become a west coast version of Diagon Alley along with a copy of Escape From Gringots attraction.
With Diagon Alley being located so close to the Hogsmeade Village / Hogwarts area, will there still be a need to have a Hogwarts Express train? Apparently, that is the question still being discussed. Now don’t look for Diagon to open right away mind you… as I'm told that there is another attraction in the works elsewhere in the park that could open as early as 2017. With that in mind however, I have heard from one little bird that Comcast may be willing to fast-track Diagon Alley to open as early as 2018... simply because they would love to get it open before Disneyland can finish their new Star Wars land.
(6/8/15) Would you believe Diagon Alley could be added to Universal Studios Hollywood and kept on the upper lot? According to the very end of this article by the LA Times, a set of plans were drawn up that would place Diagon Alley on the site of the current Waterworld stunt show. I can see this being a more budget friendly concept compared to the idea of building it on the lower lot, with access only from a Hogwarts Express train ride.
I've yet to confirm if either version has truely been given the green light to go ahead, which I doubt would happen until they open Wizarding World itself next year anyway. So at this point I think Universal may simply be weighing their options in terms of both budget, and how best to manage the available property that they can use.
(6/6/15) I mentioned this all two years ago (see below) as being the rumored long-term plan for the Harry Potter franchise in Hollywood, but according to the latest post at Disney & More's Facebook page the advanced planning has begun full force to make way for an eventual Diagon Alley / Hogwarts Express expansion to the Wizarding World in California. The early prediction is that it could be ready as early as 2020.
How will they do it? Well the basic plan I've heard all along was to use a Hogwarts Express style transportation attraction to move guests from Hogwarts on the Upper Lot to a Diagon Alley attraction area to be built somewhere on the Lower Lot. While I don't know exactly where it might go, based on the layout and landscape of the park, I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up not too far away from the new Fast & Furious - Supercharged attraction area at the end run of the Backlot Tour.
(6/17/13) For the record, don’t think that they are done with the Wizarding World once the first phase opens in 2016. While obviously nothing will be decided and made official for years to come, there is a loose plan to possible create an expansion. Since land space is a major issue at the Hollywood park, they may take a nod from what is being built at Orlando right now, and look into building a Hogwarts Express ride that guests can ride out into a section of the backlot where another Diagon Alley would be built, complete with a copy of the Gringott’s Bank coaster ride. Don’t look for Phase 2 to happen until at least 2020 however… and only if the Harry Potter money machine is still alive and well for them by then.
???? - Backlot Changes - Announced - (4/1/17)
Screamscape obtained a few new photos from Universal Studios Hollywood this week, showing off the now cleared site where four of the soundstages (22 - 25) were demolished to apparently make way for future theme park expansion projects, such as the proposed Secret Life of Pets dark ride or Super Nintendo Land.
Meanwhile on the far North-Eastern edge of the park you can see as crews are busy removing what was left of the old swamp / red-sea crossing section of the backlot that was located East of the Clock Tower Square and North of the Earthquake attraction building. It looks like the bigger pond area (Park Lake) closest to Earthquake may be kept for the time being, but a dark construction barrier wall has been placed around it as well.
According to the 5-year plan the park submitted last year the goal was to remove a total of 13 soundstages close to the park (5 so far, 22-25 and 28) to allow it to grow while replacing them with up to 10 new soundstages to be built on the Eastern edge of the park, including the site where Park Lake is now. The new soundstages are said to be bigger than the ones they remove (some possibly with two floors) that will allow for an overall increase in production space.
(3/13/17) Down on the Universal Studios backlot, the crews continued the soundstage demolition and have also taken down Soundstage 25, competing the removal of the set of four that would easily allow for a future theme park expansion. Super Mario Land anyone?
(3/10/17) According to a post on Twitter from Inside Universal, Soundstages 22 - 24 have been demolished. For now SS25 is still standing it seems, but with 24 gone, 25 may not stay much longer than they need to keep it. This follows the demolition of Soundstage 28 (directly to the left of the Transformers attraction building) that took place last year, and 22-23 were located next door to the former site of 28, with 24 and 25 directly south from there going towards the Jurassic Park attraction area.
The land released by the demolition of these soundstages is ideal to allow for the future expansion of the theme park on the lower lot, if it gets handed over to the park for future development, which is what we had previously heard was going to be happening as new Soundstages are built in the far eastern corner of the backlot instead, near the old Crossing of the Red Sea area.
(6/26/16) In an exclusive to Variety, Universal Studios Hollywood confirmed a new five year plan that will see a collection of 13 soundstages close to the theme park removed to allow for future theme park expansion, while building new replacement soundstages elsewhere on the eastern side of the backlot where they will replace Park Lake, home to the very old parting of the Red Seas attraction on the backlot tour. Two of the new soundstages are already under construction it seems, and the other 10 will follow over the next couple of years, though some are pending the selection of Los Angeles for the 2024 Summer Olympics which would be used as an international broadcast center during the games. While fewer soundstages will be built than removed, they will be larger, so there will be an overall increase in the square-footage of production space available on the background.