UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
Hollywood, CA (Abbreviation: USH)
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(6/7/19) Jurassic World Update (MORE...)
(6/4/19) Universal To Put On First July 4th Fireworks Show (MORE...)
(5/30/19) New Super Nintendo World Construction Photos (MORE...)
(5/25/19) Film Stars to Reprise Roles in Jurassic World - The Ride (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 - (6/4/19) Universal Studios Hollywood has announced that they will put on their first ever July 4th fireworks celebration this season that will take place throughout several locations at once within the theme park. The “pyrotechnics extravaganza, synchronized to a score of Universal-themed music and patriotic favorites, begins at 9:30pm.”
(5/25/19) Summer School is back in session at Hogwarts for all your Dark Arts students. Universal Studios Hollywood announced that the new Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle projection show will return to the park nightly from June 22 through August 11.
(5/15/19) In an interesting move, it was reported that Universal Studios Hollywood has dropped the 3D entirely on their Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction, and is now showing off the ride in clear crisp 2D. The switch from 3D to 2D follows along with a similar switch they chose to do on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction, which opened with 3D, but after some guests complaints switched to 2D. It is worth mentioning that the attraction was originally created just for standard 2D viewing anyway when the first one was built in Orlando.
With a drop from 3D to 2D for the Minion's wacky adventure, it has left many to wonder about the future fate of other 3D attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood, especially for the two on the Backlot Tram Tour: Fast & Furious: Supercharged and King Kong 360 3-D. Guests are handed 3D glasses for the Backlot Tram Tour, but are only asked to put them on during these two attraction segments, so dropping the 3D here in the future could for a good cost saver for the park, cutting back on the cleaning of 3D glasses, as well as replacement purchase costs. It is worth noting that the Florida version of Fast & Furious: Supercharged opened without the use of 3D projection technology, opting for a more bright and clean high-resolution image.
In other news, having put their first “Running Universal” event successfully under their belt, Universal has announced their next event will have a Jurassic World theme. It will take place on Saturday, Nov., 16th, 2019 and be called The Jurassic World 5K and kids’ 1K Raptor Run, and allow the participants to run a course through the famous studio backlot, finishing at the 5 Towers location in CityWalk. For the moment, only those who ran in the first event can pre-register for the Jurassic event, but look for this to open up to everyone in the near future.
(4/15/19) The new Dark Arts at Hogwarts night show at Universal Studios Hollywood opened this weekend and our friends at Behind the Thrills have posted some incredible footage of the new show in action. If you thought the visuals from the previous two projection shows were out of this world, you haven’t seen anything yet. This one is just out of this world! Check it out below.
(4/9/19) Want to see that massive Patronus stag in the sky seen testing over Universal Studios Hollywood for the new Dark Arts show? Check it out below.
(4/6/19) Screamscape has heard some very interesting news about the new Dark Arts show in the works for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood that will open to the public on April 13th after special preview event ticket performances on April 11 and 12. I’m told that the plan is to include a huge fleet of remote controlled aerial drones that will fly in the sky and light up at the appropriate time to form certain shapes during the show. An image of one in particular was shown to me, with the drones clearing taking the shape of a huge stag in the sky… taking on the massive shape of Harry Potter’s Patronus. I believe the purpose of the Patronus is to act as a powerful defensive spell in order to shield you from dark evil things, like a Dementor, so I’d expect this to be used as part of build up to the finale of the show.
(3/30/19) Universal Studios Hollywood has launched an awesome new Churro initiative to spice things up with all new special churro flavors in the park. The new flavors being offered include Strawberry Shortcake Churro, Double Dark Chocolate Churro, Toasted Coconut Churro and a Fruity Pebbles Churro.
(3/27/19) Universal Studios Hollywood is once again offering the popular “California Neighbor Pass”, which lets nearby guests enjoy the park for 175 days throughout the year for $149 when purchased online. For details click here and look for the California Neighbor Pass option.
(3/14/19) Universal Studios Hollywood has announced that they will add a second date for their first ever Running Universal event, the 5K Minion Run. Since the first date (May 11) has completely sold out, they are adding a second event to take place on May 12. Click here for the official information about the event and to see how to register to run.
(3/1/19) Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood will offer an entirely new dimension of sorcery at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2019 with the introduction of an all new nighttime projection experience called “Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle”. The new experience will first be shown nightly on the Hollywood Castle from April 13-28, and then return May 25-27. The Orlando version will debut later in the year, with dates to be announced in the future.
The all new experience will “cast a mesmerizing display of light, music and special effects, unleashing the darkest creatures and villains, including the powerful Dark wizard Lord Voldemort.”
In general, Universal promises that this will be a much darker experience than what guests have previously experienced in “The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle” and “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” shows. “As darkness falls on Hogwarts castle, Dementors Death Eaters and other unspeakable creatures from Aragog and Mountain Trolls to Thestrals will cloak the castle with sinister images from the darker side of magic—even conjuring the visage of Lord Voldemorthimself, until the Patronus spell—one of the most famous, difficult and powerful defense of the Dark Arts charms in the wizarding world—is cast.”
Halloween Horror Nights 2019 - (5/4/19) Sorry this announcement is a bit late, as I had been traveling most of the week, but Universal Studios Hollywood announced their latest addition to Halloween Horror Nights 2019 this past week as having a classic Universal Monsters theme. Unlike last year which saw all the Universal Monsters brought to life once again, this year’s edition will be called “Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man”, trapping us in the middle as the two horror icons clash in the ultimate showdown between savage animal fury and mad science’s ultimate creation.
(4/15/19) Universal Studios Hollywood announced their second maze for Halloween Horror Nights 2019 will be a custom creation they are calling “Holidayz in Hell” featuring a blood-thirsty easter bunny, mutant turkeys, a creepy cupid and more as the dark side of the holidays arrive in Hollywood.
(3/28/19) As rumored, Universal dropped the first announcement regarding Halloween Horror Nights 2019 this week, confirming the rumors that Stranger Things will return as the featured theme for the event with an all new haunted house experience coming to Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood. Even better, the new maze premiering this year will be inspired by not only the events of Season 2, but also the upcoming Season 3 of the show premiering on Netflix on July 4th.
Halloween Horror Nights will begin on Friday, Sept. 6th in Orlando and on September 13th in Hollywood this year.
(3/24/19) So if the rumors are true, we should be bracing ourselves for the first HHN 2019 maze announcement to take place sometime during the next week or two, as Universal follows the trend of starting their stream of announcements in March, with a couple more to follow it before the summer season kicks off in June. This begs the question… what can we expect to find featured in HHN this year?
I’ve seen a few other lists posted so far, as well as collecting some rumors and general thoughts on my own, and have compiled them into a small list. Two things will factor in here however… as we’ve heard that any IPs that are property of WB or Fox associated sub-studios wont be happening this year. Disney has now completed the purchase of Fox, which means no Aliens or Predator stuff, as well as a confirmed end to any American Horror Story themed haunts. Meanwhile Warner Bros. seems intent on keeping their horror franchises to themselves for now, as they have started to push their own themed horror event in Hollywood, so this means no chance of “IT” coming to HHN, as well as all those famous horror characters from New Line Cinema (Freddy, Jason, Leatherface, etc…)
So what’s left? The obvious answer is more Stranger Things can be expected in 2019. It was a huge hit last season, and that event only covered the first season of the show. With a second season aired, and season three coming to Netflix this summer, it seems a safe bet that Stranger Things and The Upside-Down will return this year.
What else? We may seen a return to focus on some of the Universal Monsters characters, especially in Orlando after the Hollywood park created a great modern taken on these characters for a maze in 2018, which was aided by a custom soundtrack created by rock legend, Slash.
Comparing notes with our friends at BehindTheThrills, they’ve posted a few fun rumors I’d like to share as well, including the possibility of a full fledged Killer Klowns from Outer Space maze, Ghostbusters, HellRaiser, a Creature from the Black Lagoon maze to celebrate the films 65th anniversary, and one of those faithful film adaptation mazes we’ve come to love in the past few years (Halloween, American Werewolf in London, Exorcist, etc…) themed one of the best films of all time, The Thing.
Oh, I’d love for that that one to be true… it’s been a favorite film of mine forever, but I’d also love to see Universal go the whole hog here if they did it, taking a note out of the playbook of Ice at the Gaylord Palms and enclosing the entire maze in a extremely cold environment… so cold that they would hand out parkas for guests to wear while passing through the arctic nightmare, and watching the horror unfold before their eyes and the fog of their frozen breath.
I like the Ghostbusters rumor myself, as they’ve never been featured in HHN haunt form before and it would be a nice change of pace to have a slightly funny haunt, though it may have to wait for 2020 when the new Ghostbusters film hits theaters. HellRaiser is another interesting choice… as I’m not sure if Clive Barker’s famous horror icon, Pinhead, has been done in maze form in Orlando ever… though he did appear in Hollywood a time or two in the early HHN years.
Keep in mind that not all of these IPs, if any are used at all, will appear in both Orlando and Hollywood HHN events… some only end up playing on one coast for whatever reason. The Orlando event, which will also offer 10 haunts in 2019, is also known to put on a good number of custom creation haunts mixed in with the IPs… sometimes just a couple, while in 2018 the event featured five custom haunts mixed with five IPs. Bottom line… anything is possible, but your wait is almost over, as the 2019 announcements will soon begin. Stay tuned!
2019 - Jurassic World - The Ride - (6/7/19) A quick video can be found below showing off the latest look at the Jurassic World ride site at Universal Studios Hollywood, as well as other improvements and changes being made to the area, which includes a new bar for the area, fittingly called the Isla Nu-Bar.
(5/25/19) Universal Studios Hollywood confirms that stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and BD Wong will reprise their roles (Owen, Claire and Dr. Wu) from the Jurassic World film series in all new content produced for the new Jurassic World - The Ride attraction opening this summer. They also confirm that the attraction will feature encounters with the Indominus Rex and Mosasaurus.
Speaking of the Mosasaurus, more details about this particular encounter were mentioned, as guests enter the new Aquarium Observatory section of the ride and encounter the creature that will appear to be over 60 feet in length, with a weight of 30k pounds… yet this massive creature will move within inches of the guests as they pass through a virtual 3.5 million gallon glass-walled Mosasaurus enclosure.
Another interesting factoid about this particular new effects scene is that it will change throughout the day depending on the real-world environment outside. “The team also employed a series of lighting enhancements allowing the aquarium to intuitively shift from day to night, as well as visual changes to the environment during inclement weather, thus creating a variety of visual scenarios guests can experience based on when they experience the ride.”
(3/23/19) Universal Studios Hollywood revealed the new logo teaser for the Jurassic World - The Ride attraction opening this Summer, along with a few new details.
“Leaping from the silver screen to the theme park, “Jurassic World—The Ride” will immerse guests into newly themed environments and breathe new life into dimensional animatronic dinosaurs, including some all-new fan favorites featured in the Jurassic World films from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment.”
The revised attraction will feature “an original storyline” that will take place within the fictional theme park world seen in the Jurassic World film, featuring new dinosaurs from the film, “lush scenic design, and ground-breaking technology that has yet to be experienced within a theme park.”
“Once aboard specially designed rafts, guests will navigate the lush environs of dense vegetation, traversing new areas besieged with towering dinosaurs meandering just an arm’s length away from visitors. Encounters with such docile creatures as the Stegosaurus and Parasaurolophus will quickly turn awry as predatory Velociraptors and Dilophosaurus begin to wreak havoc, turning guests from spectators to prey. When the Tyrannosaurus rex begins to battle one of the attraction’s new behemoth dinosaurs, the rafts will spill down a treacherous 84-foot waterfall as the sole means of escape.”
Next to the attraction the park will also feature a new elaborately themed “Raptor Encounter” experience, as well as a new interactive “Dino Play” area for children of all ages.
(1/31/19) While this isn’t the best picture, an anonymous source sent this image into Screamscape showing off some early on-site placement testing of the proposed animatronic dinosaur brawl intended to serve as the new finale to the Jurassic World attraction, which appears to leave the T-Rex in the same place as before behind the waterfall. Given the picture quality, I suppose it could also be some kind of photoshop... but other aspects of the image have me convinced this is the real deal.
(1/30/19) The latest update to Disney & More goes more into detail about the new rumored finale expected to thrill guests when the Jurassic World ride opens later this year. The rumor, which matches up to previous rumors I had heard months ago, claims that instead of just an encounter with the T-Rex just before the finale plunge, you will find yourself in the middle between two dinosaur animatronics battling it out over your head… the T-Rex versus the Indominus Rex.
Again, this is all still just rumor until we get something more concrete, but damn if it doesn’t sound like the perfect ending to the ride by having the T-Rex appear at the last second to save you from the attacking Indominus Rex.
(1/22/19) We’ve got a ton of new pictures showing off all kinds of progress taking place on the Jurassic World conversion project. Lots of scaffolding up everywhere, including all around the building that encloses the final drop, which indicates that it will have a new look when the rides reopens. Lots of work in the water ways, and of course a look at the large new roof going over the first few scenes of the ride that will fully enclose them.
(11/21/18) Fun photos from Universal Studios Hollywood shows off some interesting progress being made on the transformation of Jurassic Park into Jurassic World. Framework for a new enclosure is now run that runs from the top of the first lift hill, around the corner to where the giant wooden gates used to be, and the open lagoon area that followed now also looks to have framework in place to fully enclose this section of the ride experience as well. This makes me wonder how much more of the old ride experience may also be enclosed before they are done.
(9/9/18) So Jurassic Park: The Ride is closed and its time to start talking about what changes may be coming to the ride when it reopens as Jurassic World. In general it is expected that the layout of the ride will remain unchanged, but the cast of dinosaurs within and various effects is expected to be changed out quite a bit. Once you enter the building for the finale portion of the ride, we have heard we can expect to see large screens put to use in various areas along with special effects to show off various new dinosaur threats that were previously done with animatronics. The one thing that may not change however is the final T-Rex figure behind the waterfall is rumored to still play a pivotal role in the new finale scene just before the big plunge. I don't want to spoil it all, but if it works out the way I'm hearing, it will be a satisfying scene that will play true to the movies.
(8/24/18) A local couple decided to break the record for riding Jurassic Park the most times in one day before it shut down for good and managed to take a record breaking 61 rides in. The tale ended with a twist when it all turned into a surprise marriage proposal at the end. Check out the video below.
(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.
2020 - The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! - (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.
2021 to 2023 - Super Nintendo World - (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.
???? - Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen - Rumor -
(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.