UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
Hollywood, CA (Abbreviation: USH)
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(7/25/22) Universal May Be Willing To Drop Simpsons IP In About Five Years From Hollywood and Orlando Parks
(7/23/22) Jupiter's Claim Video and Super Nintendo World Construction
(7/7/22) Universal Studios Hollywood Announced Jupiter's Claim As New Permanent Attraction (MORE...)
(7/3/22) NOPE Addition To Studio Backlot Tour Confirmed as Jupiter’s Claim (MORE...)
(6/25/22) The Horrors of Blumhouse Brings New Chapter To Halloween Horror Nights (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 - (7/25/22) An article posted to CinemaBlend speculates that Universal may be willing to give up on their rights to use the Simpsons characters in the theme parks at the end of the current contract. IP contracts typically will be drawn up for an initial 10-year term with terms pre-set for two more 10-year extensions. The Simpsons attraction opened in 2008, so if the typical term-timelines were used, Universal would be approaching the end of the 20th year sometime between late 2027 and 2028.
At that point they would have to renew for another decade or opt to let the contract expire and release the Simpsons from the parks. It is worth mentioning that prior to this Universal Creative would be neck-deep in finishing up their new Epic Universe theme park slated to open in 2025, but this would give them enough time to come up with a new replacement idea for Simpsons at the Universal parks in Hollywood and Orlando if need be.
While the Simpsons rides still draw a crowd, I don’t think it ever drew in quite the crowd levels that the attraction building did when it was first opened as Back to the Future: The Ride. However, even if the ride itself is just a mild draw, Universal has invested heavily in offering Simpsons themed restaurant experiences and merchandise shops that probably do generate a healthy profit for the parks currently. So the final decision will likely come down to how much profit Universal is actually making compared to the money they would spend to extend the IP license for another 10 year term.
(6/22/22) “Universal Studios Hollywood celebrates 4th of July by extending its Independence Day festivities throughout the weekend from Saturday, July 2 – Monday, July 4, inclusive of dazzling nightly fireworks displays, live music performances, specially themed décor and more, all included in the price of admission to the theme park. From the moment guests walk along the iconic red carpet and enter the theme park, they will be immersed in July 4th festivities from themed décor to the sounds of a fife and drum band. Then, beginning nightly at 9:00 p.m., an elaborate fireworks display will splash across the sky, synchronized to a score of Universal-themed music and patriotic favorites from two locations inside of the theme park.“
(6/18/22) Despite rumors claiming that a new planned outdoor roller coaster will replace the Animal Actors and Special Effects Show arenas, Universal Studios Hollywood has announced the return of the Special Effects Show to the park’s daily lineup from July 1st through August 14th, and then going to a weekends only schedule after that. The Special Effects Show has actually been closed since the start of the pandemic in 2020 and remained closed until last year, despite the rest of the park reopening in April 2021.
The park has also announced the immediate return of The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle projection show in the evenings and that guests will see a sort of Minion takeover of the Universal Plaza area from June 27 through July 17 in promotion for the newest film.
(5/1/22) CinemaBlend has posted a nice article about the arrival of the updated Electric Trams to the Studio Backlot Tour attraction with some new details. Currently the park has added four electric trams into the fleet, and these are actually retrofitted versions of the park’s old trams, so unless you are carefully looking for certain signs, you won't know exactly what kind of tram you are getting ready to board.
The new all electric trams can be identified most easily by the Universal Studios logo written across the side of each car. The old diesel trams have “Universal Studios’ written in Yellow while the new electric grams have it written in green. The other more subtle way to tell the difference is if you look at the back of the lead tram car, the vertical exhaust pipes have also been removed.
The report also confirms what I expected, that the new silent running trams are an awesome addition to the tour experience. Not only will be improve the day of those working on the backlot with their silence, but it improves the guest’s ability to hear each and every thing that takes place along the journey so much more clearly, now that the constant hum of the engine is gone.
As previously mentioned, these are existing trams from the Tour that are being shipped out in waves for conversion to electric, so there no waste from having to scrap the old trams for new models. This also means it will take some time before the Tour is fully converted to an all electric fleet, which is estimated to take from now through to 2025 before the process is done.
So next time you visit Universal Studios Hollywood, remember to keep an eye out for the green logo on the side of your tram to know you are getting a ride on the new electric version.
(4/23/22) Universal Studios Hollywood has put the first of a fleet of new all-electric backlot tram vehicles into service this month. The plan is to convert the entire fleet of 21 diesel fueled trams over to the new electric-powered vehicle, which will be able to recharge while in the unload and loading areas, as well as recharge a bit when traveling downhill through a built-in regenerative-braking function. No time-line has been given for the completion of the conversion, as I expect supply-chain issues will play a role here, but not only will the conversion allow the park to reduce their carbon emissions, but the silent running trams will be a blessing to studio productions taking place on the backlot at any given time who always took issue with the old noisy trams coming too close to their set locations while filming.
(4/2/22) Universal Studios Hollywood has announced that they opened a new restaurant at CityWalk this week called Chick Chick Chicken on Friday. According to the press release, “Chick Chick Chicken is a casual dining experience with a variety of hand breaded chicken dishes. The restaurant combines a colorful presentation with a nostalgic feeling that highlights exciting, yet familiar flavors. From traditional to the hottest Nashville hot, Chick Chick Chicken serves up a unique sandwich experience.”
The menu offers a variety of Chicken Sandwiches (Hashville Hot, Classic Fried, Asian Style), as well as regular and hot Chicken Tenders with Sliders as options for the kids, plus the always fun Crinkle Cut Fries. I’m told that this is a replacement for the Ludo Bird chicken eatery that closed in mid 2020, but unlike Ludo Bird, this appears to possibly be a Universal creation instead of an existing chain.
We’ve seen Universal embrace more and more of their own restaurant creations at CityWalk locations (Orlando, Hollywood and Beijing) over the past decade, and if they prove successful at one location, they often spread out to one or more of the other locations. VIVO Italian Kitchen, Antojitos Cocina Mexicana, NBC Sports Grill & Brew and of course the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium are prime examples of eateries that began in Orlando before adding locations in Hollywood or Beijing. Of course Universal has also been involved with embracing some chain locations and bringing them along for the ride as well such as The Cowfish (now in Citywalk Orlando and Beijing), Bubba Gump (Orlando, Hollywood and Beijing), Margaritaville (Orlando and Hollywood) or VooDoo Doughnut (Hollywood and Orlando).
Halloween Horror Nights 2022 - (6/25/22) Universal Studios has announced another haunted house coming to this year’s Halloween Horror Nights event in Orlando and Hollywood. “The Horrors of Blumhouse” will return, this time themed to two of their films, Freaky and The Black Phone. Check out the teaser video below!
While this haunt was predicted for Orlando on the speculation maps from Horror Night Nightmares, it is worth mentioning that it was not on their list for the Hollywood park. This year’s first announcements has also been a bit more unusual as all three houses announced thus far have been confirmed for HHN on both coasts, with no exclusives announced yet.
(6/19/22) The latest Halloween Horror Nights Speculation map has been posted by Horror Night Nightmares for the Hollywood and Orlando parks. Just like Orlando, the Universal Monsters: Legends Collide and Halloween haunts have already been confirmed. Filling up the rest of the specualtion lists are haunts themed to Candyman, The Evil Dead, La Llorona, Scarecrow, Killer Klowns From Outer Space and a muscial haunt themed to The Weeknd, in addition to the returning Terror Tram.
About the only haunt dropped from the last version of the speculation list was American Werewolf in London which was replaced by the confirmed “Halloween” themed haunt announcement.
Another interesting development has been happening in the park however that could also play out as an addition for Halloween Horror Nights. Down on the studio backlot, just before the Backlot Trams enter the Fast & Furious Supercharged attraction, construction of a small but colorful western themed town has been taking place.
The thought right now is that this new addition seems to have been built with a wide road, likely for the tram, to travel through the middle of the town, past the western buildings that have actually been constructed in full, instead of just being facades. Pictures showing off the backsides of the buildings also show visible power conduits and electrical wiring boxes attached and hidden on the backsides which would indicate that some kind of special effects systems (lighting, audio, explosive?) are being installed here as well to perform some kind of new show-stop for the tram.
The popular rumor is that this small western themed town may serve as a tie-in to the upcoming spooky UFO film from Jordan Peele, simply called “NOPE!” Obviously if they are going to try to tackle the concept of NOPE! for the Studio Tour, then we can also assume this will serve some kind of similar purpose for the Terror Tram during Halloween Horror Nights.
(6/12/22) While I was away Universal announced their next Haunt returning to this year’s Halloween Horror Nights is “Halloween”. Yes, once again Michael Myers will return to scare HHN guests with another haunt themed to the 1978 original classic film.
At this point, I’ve lost track of how many times HHN has created haunts themed to “Halloween” over the years, especially in Orlando where over the past decade we’ve seen “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers” in 2018, “Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield” in 2016, and “Halloween” (2014).
With the ability to borrow good horror IP’s from other studios becoming increasingly difficult for Universal however, it may become more common to see certain IP’s brought back on repeat going forward, and used at more than one park. As in this case, the new “Halloween” haunt will be appearing in both Orlando and Hollywood parks.
(5/19/22) The first haunt for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights has been announced and it will have a classic Universal Monster’s theme. The new haunt will be called “Universal Monsters: Legends Collide” and it will take place at both Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood this fall.
The haunt will put Wolf Man, Dracula and The Mummy together for the first time in a search for The Amulet of Ra. The Wolf Man believes it could break his curse, while Dracula and The Mummy want to use the power of the Amulet to enslave humanity. And you will find yourself trapped in the middle of this epic power struggle where only one will survive.
If that wasn’t enough, Grammy Award-winning musician, SLASH, will be working with Universal to create an original composition for this epic battle of the titans.
(4/17/22) While we haven’t heard much of a peep about the upcoming Halloween Horror Nights 2022 haunt this fall, we have seen pictures showing off that some early haunt construction has begun in select areas. Horror Night Nightmares on Twitter has also posted a great list of up to eight rumored haunts coming to the park this year, on top of the Terror Tram experience.
Their list includes haunts themed to:
Universal Monsters - Mummy vs Wolfman
Killer Klowns from Outer Space -
The Evil Dead - (Not sure which film or version)
American Werewolf in London -
Scarecrow - ?
La Llorona - (Yes...again...)
and finally… “The Weeknd” is rumored to be the theme for a musical haunt experience on both coasts.
Keep in mind these are just the rumors right now, and these kind of Haunt rumor lists change frequently. Sometimes negotiation to use an IP fall apart, or are just never finalized and other concepts rise to take their place, for better or for worse. I’d expect the official roll out of marketing for Halloween Horror Nights will begin in the next month or so with the first press releases, so stay tuned.
2022 - Jupiter’s Claim / NOPE - (7/23/22) Theme Park Shark has posted a video showing off the new NOPE themed Jupiter’s Claim attraction as seen on the Backlot Studios Tour last night. Many has wondered if there was room to drive the tram through the small western town yet and indeed there is room for the tram, as they take a drive through town after dark, complete with creepy lighting and sound effects and introduce you to find out what a ‘Bad Miracle’ really is. Based on the look of it all, nighttime is the best way to see the new Jupiter’s Claim set.
(7/7/22) Universal Studios Hollywood has announced Jupiter’s Claim as a new “Permanent Attraction on the World-Famous Studio Tour”. The new Jupiter’s Claim set is said to be the actual set used for the fake-theme park in Jordan Peele’s new film, “Nope”. The set was created by Production Designer Ruth DeJong and then carefully disassembled post-production and transported to the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot for re-assembly along with original props and other details from the film.
The Jupiter’s Claim experience will open on the Studio Tour on Friday, July 22, the same day that the film, “Nope” will be released into theaters.
The Jupiter’s Claim set – which can only be seen on the Studio Tour – marks the first time that a Studio Tour attraction has opened day and date with a movie release. It will be staged within Universal Studios’ backlot alongside a host of other iconic movie sets that include Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, the infamous Psycho house from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Courthouse Square from Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future.
“I remember visiting Universal Studios when I was 12 years old and being mesmerized. That experience reinforced my passion and drive to someday join in on the meta-magic of ‘backlot life.’ Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to direct three movies for Universal,” said Jordan Peele. “It is a privilege to honor these collaborations with my studio partners, crew members and cast, and to be able to share Jupiter’s Claim with fans.”
While Universal doesn’t quite go into details about what we can expect to experience from the new addition, they did provide us with this description about the theme of Jupiter’s Claim:
“Jupiter’s Claim, set in Southern California’s Santa Clarita Valley, is a family-fun theme park and predicated on the white-washed history and aesthetics of the California Gold Rush. Owned and operated with evangelical pride by former child star Ricky “Jupe” Park, Jupiter’s Claim becomes a pivotal location as the characters seek to investigate mysterious, unexplained phenomena, leading them toward increasing danger and terrifying consequences.”
(7/3/22) It’s official… that new slightly cartoon colored Wild West themed set under construction on the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot is indeed tied to the new suspense / thriller film from Jordan Peele, “Nope”. But how do we know?
The film’s creator just tweeted out a link to a fictional wild-west theme park website called Jupiter’s Claim, which features pictures of the very same buildings just built at the Universal backlot. The site is interactive, encouraging you to click on links and earn online “Jangle” currency for prices, but stay on long enough and things will take a turn for the dark and eerie with the text of many of the pages changing during these dark moments on the website. It looks like you can trigger the change between light and dark by clicking on the weather icon in the upper right corner as well.
So while we now know that the Jupiter’s Claim area under construction at Universal is tied to the film “Nope”, we still don’t know exactly how this is intended to be used as an experience for theme park guests. As we get closer to the theatrical release of “Nope” on July 22, I suspect we will see more content added here, so stay tuned.
You can find some shots of the construction down in our Halloween Horror Nights coverage, as I also suspect that this addition could serve two purposes, adding something to the daytime Studio tour as well as something extra to the Halloween “Terror Tram” tour.
2022 - Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen - Delayed from 2021 - (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.
Early 2023 - Super Nintendo World - (7/23/22) Some great construction footage of the upcoming Super Nintendo World area at Universal Studios Hollywood can be seen in the video below from Universal Parks News Today.
(6/3/22) A new construction video from Attractions Magazine gives us a current look at the progress of things at Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood. In addition to the various landscape elements, we also get a good look at Bowser’s Castle.
On a related note, Universal also confirmed a few hours ago that Super Nintendo World will be ready to open in “early 2023”. They also released a teaser video for the new Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge attraction.
(5/29/22) I came across some great photos taken a couple weeks ago on Twitter showing off how things are progressing down at Super Nintendo World - Hollywood. At long last the area is starting to add in all those brightly colored bits of scenery and architecture that will give the land that classic ‘Nintendo’ look.
(4/10/22) Universal Studios Hollywood sent out a picture of their Feature Presentation store just inside the gates of the park, now decked out with all the new Super Nintendo World merchandise ahead of the 2023 attraction opening.
(3/11/22) Good news for fans of Universal Studios Hollywood, the park has confirmed that their version of Super Nintendo World will be officially opening in 2023. Appropriately, this announcement was made yesterday, March 10th, also known as MARIO DAY (MAR10). While Universal is not ready to narrow down the timeline to a Season yet, they did mention exclusive merchandise would soon be available at the Feature Presentation store which will reopen soon with a complete Super Nintendo World makeover.
(1/16/22) It’s been awhile since we’ve had a good look at the progress on Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood. You can see a collection of more recent photos posted to WDWNT this week where the building structures are starting to take shape, along with a lot of scaffolding and big green fake landscape panels. Keep in mind that the Hollywood version of Super Nintendo World will really only feature the Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge attraction and a very minimal version of the themed landscape with a gift shop and the Toadstool Cafe restaurant. This will not be a copy of the complete land that premiered in Japan as there simply is not enough room in the Hollywood park for that. A similar limited installation is also expected to go into the Singapore park in the near future, while the full land will be installed in Orlando as part of Universal’s third full theme park project, Universal’s Epic Universe.
Using an overhead satellite image of the construction site, I’ve labeled the main features of the attraction layout for you. As in Japan, guests will enter into the Super Nintendo World land via a green “warp pipe” tunnel located just to the left of the Transformers attraction entrance. Unlike in Japan however, the land will be located almost entirely on the ground level. Guests will cross to the opposite side of the land and approach the large structure of Bowser’s Castle which serves as the entrance to the Mario Kart attraction. Immediately to the right of the castle will be the entrance to the Toadstool Cafe restaurant which appears to take up much of the ground level, but guests in the queue for Mario Kart will make their way up to the second level of the structure and move outside to an open second level deck queue that sits on the roof of the Toadstool Cafe. They will queue back and forth up here, making their way towards the entrance of the main attraction building to experience the ride, and exit once again on the lower level through a large gift shop structure that will hide the main attraction building from view while within the land.
The rest of the land appears to be an open plaza with themed decor to enjoy, but I’m not sure if they will have enough space to install enough interactive features to make it worth selling the Nintendo themed interactive wristbands that they use in Japan. Keep in mind that while things are under construction, they are always subject to change, but my description is based on how things were planned to be at one point in time.
(8/8/21) Nintendo fans who can’t wait to get their hands on Super Nintendo World merchandise may be in luck. According to a tweet from Nintendo, Universal Studios Hollywood is now selling select Super Nintendo World merchandise for a limited time at the Universal Studio Store inside the theme park.
(6/3/21) Rob send in some great new photos of the Super Nintendo World construction site. Lots of themed elements are being placed across the top of the structures, but meanwhile the work crews haven’t fully installed all the walls on the building yet to seal it off from view. This likely wont last much longer, so get a peek at the structure’s framework while you still can.
(3/15/21) Inside Universal has tweeted out some new photos of the Super Nintendo World construction site at Universal Studios Hollywood.
(2/4/21) Outdoor dining is once again being offered at many restaurants at CityWalk just outside the gates of Universal Studios Hollywood. You can see a photo update of what’s going on a Citywalk as well as a look at some Super Nintendo World construction progress in an update posted to Inside Universal this week.
(1/19/21) A quick set of pictures from the Super Nintendo World construction site at Universal Studios Hollywood were posted on Twitter by Inside Universal this weekend as some colorful sections of the landscape facade were put into place. One important thing to keep in mind is that Super Nintendo World in California is going to be very different than what we’ve been seeing preview pictures of in Japan.
Despite the name being the same, the reality is that what they are building in Hollywood is really just the MarioKart: Bowser’s Challenge dark ride, and not an entire land. There will of course be a gift shop and probably some food options connected to it but the majority of what you are seeing built will be to contain the MarioKart attraction.
(11/3/20) Screamscape asked our West coast guy Rob to take a peek at Universal Studios Hollywood the other day so we can see what’s taking place with Super Nintendo World. As you can see in the new pictures, still lots of steel going up all over as various structures and shapes are being formed for the more compact version of the Nintendo land.
(9/18/20) Special thanks to our local guy on the spot who had the chance to spend the night at the Universal Hilton and sent in some great shots of Universal Studios Hollywood. This includes some fantastic shots of the new Super Nintendo World under construction along with a few other park projects like Jurassic World still undergoing modifications that should see the I-Rex now in place when the park reopen, or the new Hogsmeade Golf Course out behind the village.
Ok, I made that last one up… but the views of the theme park and studio mixed with other nearby landmarks sometimes produces some fascinating results when viewed from the right angle.
(8/30/20) While we’ve see the massive construction site for Hollywood’s version of Super Nintendo World going up next to the Transformers ride for about the past 18 months or so, some Nintendo themed facade wall pieces were spotted being put together in the Falls Lake area of the backlot. Below that check out a video clip of the main construction site, which still has a long ways to go.
According to what I’ve been hearing, we shouldn’t expect to see Super Nintendo World ready to open in Hollywood until early 2023 at this point. I believe they may have been shooting for 2022, but COVID related construction delays will make it difficult to meet that date.
(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.
(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.
2024/2025 - Fast & Furious Hollywood Drift - Concept Development - (5/17/22) There has been some early talk about building a new Fast & Furious ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. Screamscape dug a bit deeper into these rumors and apparently it is true that something Fast & Furious themed is indeed planned. The interesting thing is that the new ride planned will be a roller coaster unlike anything we’ve really seen before. And no, this won’t be the drifting dark ride/coaster system developed from Dynamic Attractions.
Now before I get too far into the details on this thing, know that this is simply an attraction concept. No construction has started, so the concept can be changed, the concept can be canceled entirely and replaced with something entirely different. I make no promises that this will be built… but dang if it doesn’t look interesting.
That said, this particular concept is being called Fast & Furious Hollywood Drift, and on the land side of things we are looking at the removal of both the Animal Actors show and the Special Effects Show on the upper deck to make way for this new coaster concept from Intamin. I believe the overall track layout to still be somewhat fluid at this point, but the idea would be to use a dual-sided loading station, not unlike Gringotts at Universal Orlando, with the roller coaster trains made to look like a set of four Fast & Furious style cars.
The Gringotts comparison is apt, because just like we saw built for Gringotts, these cars will utilize a controlled spinning system. From what I understand the trains will pull out of the station and onto a multi-launch track area where they will spin to launch up into a rather bizarre looking half-loop shaped spike track. The best I can describe it is that the trains will enter the element as if going up into a loop but by the time they reach the vertical moment, the track will have rotated 90º sidewards for the remainder of the element which will look more like a giant letter “C”. During this rise, stall and eventually fall back down the individual cars will spin and rotate to be facing the opposite direction by the time they enter the launch track and are boosted out at a higher speed to soar up and over the pathway leading to the Starway to the lower level, and then drop down into an unknown roller coaster section that I’m assuming will go around to the hillside behind the Simpsons ride building before turning around and heading back for a return run towards the station again.
Again, this is just a concept, but one that should prove to be nearly as fun to watch from the ground as it would be to ride if Universal were to go ahead with it. I’ve no idea what this means for the longevity of the current Fast & Furious - Supercharged attraction on the Backlot Tour. They could keep it as is for those not into roller coasters who still enjoy the “Fast” films, or perhaps they could turn it into something new further down the line as well.
???? - Backlot Changes - Announced - (11/4/21) The LA Times confirms that Universal Studios Hollywood is preparing to add eight new soundstage buildings to the far side of the backlot, off of the Barham Blvd. entrance. The plan is to have them in place and operational by Summer 2022 and the grading of the hillside on the site is now complete.
(7/6/21) Looks like you’ll begin to see new construction taking place on the east side of the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot area, around the Barham Gate. Universal Studios Hollywood sent out a note to their neighboring communities as a warning that they may begin to notice construction noise from the area, as well as grading work on the hillside closest to the Barham Gate over the next several months to prepare the site for future production growth.
This all falls into the long-term master plan for the Studio released back in 2016, when they announced that a collection of 13 older soundstages closer to the theme park side of the property would be removed to allow for future theme park growth, and the eastern end of the studio would see the construction of up to 10 new bigger soundstage and production buildings over the years to come. This will eventually cause the removal of the “Park Lake” on the backlot, and so far we’ve already seen the old Parting of the Red Seas end of the lake already removed for new construction. At the time in 2016 they also mentioned that just how much new production space would be built on the Barham Gate side would also depend on if the city of Los Angeles’ bid was selected to host a future Olympic Games, as some of the production space was intended to be used for various international coverage of the games. With the 2028 games now locked in to take place in Los Angeles, it looks like they are moving ahead with the expansion project. This will likely be followed by the slow demolition of certain older soundstages as the new replacements are finished. Some were already removed to allow for the current construction of the new Super Nintendo World area, while the others predicted to be removed later would be the assortment behind the Revenge of the Mummy building and next to Transformers.
(11/18/20) If you notice some land clearing going on at Universal Studios Hollywood just off Universal Hollywood Dr. across from the Sheraton Universal, this is not for a new attraction. According to concept art and a description posted here, this is part of a new ‘dynamic campus’ experience they’ve planned for awhile. The site is to contain a new Employee Commons building with dining options as well as theater and screening rooms and an event space. There will also be a new Creative Office building, new green spaces and indoor and outdoor gathering spaces for “meetings and dining”. Our local guy Rob actually managed to get a picture of the clearing taking place a couple of weeks ago, but we didn’t know what it was at the time.
(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 or 2028 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.
2025 - Hilton Universal City Expansion - (10/6/20) While not owned by Universal Studios at all, it is worth mentioning that the nearby Hilton Universal City hotel now has a timeline to begin construction on a new expansion tower in 2023 that will add an additional 395 rooms and a parking structure to the property by the time they finish in 2025.