UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
Hollywood, CA (Abbreviation: USH)
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(7/24/20) Halloween Horror Nights 2020 Canceled
(7/12/20) CityWalk Expands Outdoor Seating Options (MORE...)
(6/11/20) Universal Studios Hollywood Opens CityWalk (MORE...)
(4/22/20) Grinch Set On Backlot Tour Removed (MORE...)
(4/18/20) New Super Nintendo World Details (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 - (7/24/20) In a letter confirming that Halloween Horror Nights is being canceled at Universal Orlando this morning, they also confirmed that HHN will also not take place this year in Hollywood either.
(7/12/20) While CityWalk Hollywood remains open with many dining locations to offer, they have also announced expanded outdoor seating options have been added throughout, including new tables set up at the “5 Towers” area. CityWalk is open daily from Noon to 8pm and is still offering free self-parking during this time period.
(6/11/20) Universal Studios Hollywood has announced that they reopened their CityWalk retail and dining complex on the evening of Wednesday, June 10, 2020. Even better, self parking is currently free for the time being. According to a press release from Universal, CityWalk will be open daily from 12pm to 8pm, though not everything will be open at first.
The list of eateries now confirmed to be open includes: Voodoo Doughnut, Johnny Rockets, Blaze Pizza, Starbucks, Crepe Cafe, Pizza Hut & KFC, Taco Bell and Duca de Beppo. On the retail side, so far only Shoe Palace, Skechers and Guest Accessories are said to be open. Look for more venues to open as time goes on. Temperature checks are required to gain entry, now focused down to a single entry point into CityWalk, and face masks are required.
Much like how this worked out in Orlando, CityWalk there was reopened first ahead of any announcement regarding plans to reopen the theme park. I would like to think we will see the same kind of thing work out in Hollywood, with CityWalk reopening for the first phase and if all goes well the park could reopen a few weeks later.
(4/22/20) According to Inside Universal, a long standing element of the Backlot Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood has been demolished. They report that the former location of the standing outdoor set pieces used during the filming of How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) is now just an empty paved area, leaving just the pre-existing Bates Motel set standing next to the former Grinch set.
(4/10/20) As posted on our social media pages yesterday, Universal issued a new statement to say that they will be keeping their theme parks in Hollywood and Orlando closed until at least the end of May out of an abundance of caution for both guests and staff. You can read the letter sent to the Universal Orlando team in our post below.
While this is longer than I was thinking they might stay closed, it is nice to see Universal taking the lead role here for a change instead of following Disney’s lead. Disney has not made any new statement of their own yet, and I don’t expect them, but Six Flags and Cedar Fair theme parks were hoping to open by sometime in Mid-May for comparison’s sake. Everything is still fluid right now though, so dates can still shift and change as everyone keeps tabs on the status of the virus in each region.
(3/24/20) The Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood have both announced that they will be extending the closures of their respective properties through to April 19, 2020 in response to the current conditions. The closure includes the theme parks, CityWalk, and the Universal Orlando Resorts.
(3/18/20) Universal Hollywood has confirmed that the CityWalk area there is now closing, as far as Universal’s owned and operated venues. Some tenants will remain open as they handle their own operational schedules.
(3/13/20) Universal Studios Hollywood announced yesterday that due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic they will temporarily close the theme park from March 14th and hope to reopen by March 28th, but will continue to monitor the situation. Universal CityWalk is planned to stay open during this timeframe however.
(3/3/20) Universal Studios Hollywood is currently offering significant discounts for their annual passes right now, dropping the price as much as $60. The discount rates are said to only be good now through April 23rd, so jump on the deal now to get your fill of The Secret Life of Pets, Jurassic World, Transformers and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with a California Neighbor, Silver, Gold or Platinum Pass.
(2/12/20) The I-Rex Is Coming!
I repeat... The I-REX Is Coming!
Yes, at long last the long delayed installation of the Indominus Rex animatronic along with the complete finale experience for Jurassic World: The Ride is ready to be installed! Universal Studios Hollywood has already confirmed that starting on February 18, 2020 the Jurassic World ride will be closed for an extended refurbishment, with no posted date to reopen. Screamscape sources have confirmed that the heavily aniticipated new Indominus Rex figure will be installed during this scheduled downtime, allowing for the ride’s finale scene to be reprogrammed as intended to feature a battle / standoff between the I-Rex and T-Rex just before your raft takes the plunge!
(2/5/20) Good news for the Wizarding World West, as Universal Studios Hollywood has announced the arrival of an East Coaster favorite! Fishy Green Ale is now available in the Three Brooksticks restaurant, which they describe as being minty with some cinnamon spice, and loaded up with blueberry ‘fish eggs’ you suck up with a fat straw. It’s one of the more interesting and unique drinks that was introduced along with Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando, and now it has come to California. Enjoy!
(1/15/20) A new video below shows off the construction progress at Universal Studios Hollywood around the Jurassic World ride area (unfortunately, no Indominus Rex yet) as well as a look at the outside of the new Secret Life of Pets dark ride opening in 2020. Plus you get a peek into Super Nintendo World as well.
(12/13/19) Universal Studios Hollywood will team up with Bravo Team to put on the First-Ever Bravo’s Top Chef Food & Wine Festival at the park on March 19-20, 2020. The timing of the event will coincide with the “Top Chef” Season 17 Premier and allow guests to sample dishes and watch cooking competitions with Series’ Alums. Click here to learn more and buy tickets in advance.
(11/22/19) Universal Studios Hollywood has announced that their next Running Universal event will take place on Sunday, April 26, 2020 and be themed to DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls. This run event will feature a 5K, 10K and a Kids 1K Race and will lead the runner through the theme park and through part of the studio backlot while being entertained by various Trolls and other DreamWorks Animation characters along the way.
(10/20/19) I have to admit being surprised a bit by this one, just because of the long history of the venue, but InsideUniversal has reported that the Hard Rock Cafe in CityWalk at Universal Studios Hollywood will close forever at the end of January 8th, 2020. Perhaps this is where the long rumored west-coaster version of the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium will go if this rumor turns out to be true. While I’m not sure about how busy this particular Hard Rock Cafe has been, I think I was mostly surprised because earlier this year Universal Orlando had just signed a 20 year extension of their deal to have Hard Rock Cafe as a major part of Universal Orlando’s CityWalk… where it is actually located right next door to the original Toothsome.
2020 - The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! - (3/7/20) Pictures showing off the inside of the new “The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!” dark ride have surfaced after select media were given a sneak preview of the attraction. You can see a good number of them posted to Insider.com who confirms that the overall ride length is 5 minutes. Photos show off a number of the animatronic attractions and fully realized sets (not screens) including a look at the carboard box themed ride vehicles that appear to be using universal’s first omni-mover style ride system to take rides through the streets of New York City and Cat Alley.
According to the article Universal Studios Hollywood will also have a live-action Snowball figure (the rabbit character voiced by Kevin Hart in the films) that will interact with the crowd in the street in front of the attraction from a second story window.
(2/24/20) Universal Studios Hollywood has confirmed that the new “The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!” attraction will open to all guests on March 27, 2020 and feature 64 animatronics in the ride inspired by the characters from the Illumination’s movie series.
(2/13/20) It has been noted that there is scheduled ride time for the new “Secret Life of Pets: off the Leash!” attraction slated to take place during the after-hours hard-ticket Peacock Live! event taking place at the park on the weekend of March 28 - 29, 2020. So either those attending “Peacock Live!” will get the first sneak-preview rides on the new attraction before everyone else, or the ride may be ready to soft-open to guests at about the same time, or shortly before.
(1/24/20) Universal Studios Hollywood has now confirmed their their new “Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!” dark ride will open this Spring. The attraction will feature special effects along with both live and animated characters from the films, which will all be voiced by the same Hollywood talents that were used in the movies, such as Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate and more.
Guests will experience “Adoption Day” during the ride as you take on the identity of a new stray puppy in search of your “forever home”. The ride vehicle itself will look like a giant cardboard box, but will also use some facial recognition and gesture tracking technology to allow for some interaction along the way. Look for the new ride to open on the park’s former “Baker Street”, which will now be renamed as Pets Place, across from Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.
(4/14/19) Universal Studios Hollywood has announced their latest dark ride, “The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!” will open at the park in 2020. It’s adoption day as the guests assume the role of “stray puppies” in the quest to find a forever home and go on a wild adventure where you’ll meet up with Max, Snowball, Gidget, Chloe and Duke along the way.
“The innovative adventure will blend live, dimensional and animated characters with hyper-realistic media as guests zip along a track aboard ride vehicles through bustling New York City streets toward the pet adoption event and the ultimate happy ending: forever homes. Along the way, guests will face an array of challenges and meet up with fellow animal pals eager to help guide them toward their destination.”
(1/22/19) We’ve got a new look at the upper lot construction project going in to the right of The Walking Dead attraction. The long-standing rumor is that the new building going in would be home to a new Secret Life of Pets dark ride attraction. It is still too early to tell for sure, but we hope to keep an eye on the large black steel framework as it continues to grow.
(7/19/18) According to the latest reports new demolition and site clearing has started taking place at Universal Studios Hollywood in the upper lot on Baker Street, just to the right of The Walking Dead attraction. They appear to be removing The Globe Theater structure which is expected to be replaced by a "Secret Life of Pets" themed dark ride attraction. With the new Jurassic World revamp set to open for Summer 2019, I’m guessing the Secret Life of Pets ride will be shooting to open in early 2020.
It is also worth mentioning that The Secret Life of Pets 2 film is set for a June 2019 release date, so I’m guessing the announcement and hype machine for the new ride will start at about the same time.
(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.
2020 - Dark Universe - Rumor - (2/20/20) Universal Studios Hollywood has confirmed the rumors that The Walking Dead attraction will close for good on March 4th after just opening in July 2016. According to the official statement from a Universal spokesperson howver, they just let the cat out of the bag about one of this year’s new HHN haunts. According to the closing comment of the statement for the closure, it went on to say that “We look forward to the return of ‘The Walking Dead’ as a focal point in our slate of Halloween Horror Nights mazes this fall.”
So there you have it… and maybe we’ll get our first HHN 2020 announcement in the next week or so to go along with this.
(2/13/20) Screamscape sources tell us that the plan for The Walking Dead walk-through attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood will be to remodel it into an all new Universal Monster themed walk-through attraction, but this time with a focus on the Dark Universe brand. Of course the only Dark Universe film to be released so far was the reboot of The Mummy featuring Tom Cruise back in 2017. The second Dark Universe film, Universal’s reboot of “The Invisible Man” is slated to hit theaters on Feb. 28th, 2020 and other films are still in development including a Bride of Frankenstein, a Frankenstein reboot, Invisible Woman and something called Dark Army that is expected to relaunch many of the original classic monsters.
If the timing is right, maybe Universal will release a little more info about their Dark Universe attraction plans if the new Invisible Man film gets a good box office response.
(2/9/20) According to a rumor posted by Inside Universal, Universal Studios Hollywood may be preparing to close down the walk-through “The Walking Dead” attraction on March 3rd, 2020. This is just a rumor at this point, as the speculation is that the location of The Walking Dead being virtually next door to the new Secret Life of Pets family friendly dark ride set to open this Spring may present a bit of a conflict.
Universal has not confirmed anything at this point, and even if they do close The Walking Dead this spring, my gut tells me they may still keep it and tweak it a bit to reopen it in the fall for Halloween Horror Nights.
Anyone know anything more?
2020 - NBC Sports Grill & Brew - (10/17/19) Universal Studios Hollywood has announced that they will be adding NBC Sports Grill & Brew to Citywalk near Antojitos. The new sports bar and grille is based off the same-named one they opened in Orlando a couple of years ago and will feature over 100 HDTVs broadcasting all your favorite sports events when it opens in 2020.
2021 to 2023 - Super Nintendo World - (4/18/20) Screamscape has some quick news about the Super Nintendo World project under construction at Universal Studios Hollywood in the lower lot. Screamscape sources tell us that the Hollywood version of the land will not be the same as the one nearing completion in Japan. You can expect the Hollywood version to be a more compact experience, offering a smaller version of the themed land and interactive experiences coming to Japan. The land will also only feature one attraction, the massive MarioKart themed ride, and will not include a copy of the slow-moving Yoshi themed onmi-mover style ride going into Universal Studios Japan. Look for a themed restaurant experience and gift shops to round out the remainder of the new land.
(5/30/19) A reader sent in some fantastic photos of what we assume is the new Nintendo area under construction, as viewed from the parking structure in the backlot.
(4/4/19) An interesting new development took place on the suspected site of the future Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood. While the site has been cleared for some time and workers have been busy preparing the site for the past several months, the first bit of vertical construction has now been put in place in the form of a large staircase and steel structure that looks likely to hold an elevator shaft. Additional steel for the staircase is also scattered around the site, which you can see in the video below.
(3/3/19) A new look around Universal Studios Hollywood, including peeks at the two construction project sites, was posted to ParkJourney a few days ago. You can see that a lot of ground work and a crane are now onsite at what we think may become the future Super Nintendo World site, including some below surface excavation work taking place. With a vertical crane on site, it means big changes will start taking place here very soon to install a new large structure of some kind.
Meanwhile on the upper lot we get a look at ongoing installation of the skeletal metal framework of what is rumored to be a Secret Life of Pets dark ride experience.
(1/22/19) While we don’t know for sure that the new construction site next to Transformers is for Super Nintendo World or not, it looks like this project will be kicking into high gear very soon as a tower crane has now been assembled on site which seems to indicate that the new structure going in here will be quite large.
(9/21/18) While I’m not entirely sure what the new activity is for, it was noted on Twitter that the former site of Stages 22-25 on the lower lot is home to some new construction activity. For those wondering, this is the big open empty area that was cleared out to the left of the Transformers attraction. At the time when this was done, we had heard the site was expected to be used for a Secret Life of Pets dark ride, but that is now under construction on the upper lot between Despicable Me and The Walking Dead walk-through attraction.
Since SLOP just started construction not long ago, and work is now under-way for the Jurassic World revamp on the lower lot, it does make me hesitate to claim that that this could be for the Super Nintendo World. On the other hand… I’m not sure what else it could be for either, but if it is Nintendo, they’re certainly getting an early start on it. Stay tuned!
(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.
2021 - Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen - (12/5/19) It looks like my speculation was right on the money, because Universal Studios Hollywood has confirmed that a west coast version of The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen will open in CityWalk Hollywood in 2021, taking over the current location of the departing Hard Rock Cafe. Like the original location in Orlando, Toothsome is home to a full service restaurant as well as a walk-up dessert area where you can order a mouthwatering array of jaw-dropping shakes and sweet concoctions.
(10/31/19) Tucked away in this article about all the new restaurants that have been introduced to CityWalk at Universal Studios Hollywood, there is also a mention that another new concept will be coming in 2020 in addition to the NBC Sports Grill & Brew. Hmmm… maybe those rumors about a west-coaster version of Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen were true after all. Stay tuned peeps… you may be in for an extra special treat!
(6/21/18) I've heard this has been a longtime coming... but according to Screamscape sources Citywalk at Universal Studios Hollywood will be getting their very own version of The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen. I don't have a timeline for this, but I'm told that a copy of the Orlando sensation is expected to replace the old Saddle Ranch Chop House that closed down back in January. The location is great though, large and outside the more narrow canyon-like interior of Citywalk, a giant Toothsome location would be the first things guests will see as they exit the theme park.
If you haven't been to Universal Orlando, or follow the news there, Toothsome opened up a couple of years ago as a combination sit-down restaurant that also features a sweets shop as well as a very indulgent ice cream shop that makes some of the most crazy looking shakes you have ever seen.
???? - 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.