This week Universal Studios Hollywood announced another major round of expansions that would effect the theme park, CityWalk and, most notably, the Studios. As a cherry on top, they even unveiled a streamlined new logo. We cover this news here and then go on to enjoy a breezy park update. The Walking Dead attraction is set to open on Monday, July 4th and the exterior received another crowning addition. Meanwhile Jurassic Park continues to see improvements with a key animated figure returning to play while another disappears. Finally, we round things out by taking another dip in the water at Super Silly Funland and admiring how far the park has come in 5 years. This update will focus on the Theme Park expansion, but if you want the latest in Halloween Horror Nights, including the HHN Tracker, head on over to HorrorBuzz.com. Now then, into the park!
BIG PLANS FOR UNIVERSAL HOLLYWOOD
Universal Studios Hollywood announced another round of major changes and improvements to Citywalk, the Theme Park, and even the Studios. Following a massive 5 year renovation that represented the theme park’s single largest investment ever made – in which 75 percent of The Entertainment Capital of L.A. was completely reimagined. Universal Studios Hollywood successfully transformed the decades-old park into a new theme park, launching a slate of next-generation rides and expansive lands designed to further immerse guests into the worlds of favorite movies and television shows. “Transformers: The Ride—3D” arrived in 2012, “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” and Super Silly Fun Land opened in 2014, “Springfield,” located adjacent to the popular “The Simpsons Ride” and “Fast & Furious—Supercharged” roared to life in 2015, culminating with the much-anticipated arrival of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” in 2016.
To clarify this change, Universal Studios unveiled a new logo. Yes, that is the new logo above. Only an eagle-eyed consumer would really be able to discern the changes outright. However, the look is a cleaner, more streamlined, sans-serif font that sleek and straightforward. “This is a very exciting time for Universal Studios Hollywood, and as an economic leader we are excited about the impact our revitalized theme park will continue to have on L.A.’s thriving tourism,” said Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood. “The dramatic changes that have taken place over the past five years have substantially altered the look, feel and experience of our park to redefine us as an entirely new destination and we look forward to welcoming visitors from around the globe to a new Universal Studios Hollywood. As an iconic symbol of our theme park, the introduction of a refined logo further represents our approach to our ever-evolving destination,” continued Mr. Kurzweil.
The first major additions are coming to CityWalk where two major restaurants will be added to the roster. For over 20 years, CityWalk has boosted the city’s rhythm through a foundation built on providing memorable entertainment experiences. With a series of dramatic enhancements currently underway that includes the introduction of new restaurants, shopping experiences, aesthetic design features and a state-of-the-art movie theatre renovation, the spotlight shines brightly on CityWalk.
Introduced in 1993, CityWalk was the prototypical one-stop leisure destination that redefined the mall of yesteryear as a vibrant multi-sensory outdoor complex. With grand neon signs and larger-than-life decorative sculptures complimenting the diverse offerings, this whimsical street was reflective of L.A.’s eclectic landscape and distinguishing characteristics. Hailed as a revolutionary achievement at its inception, CityWalk was constructed in collaboration with visionary architect Jon Jerde to mastermind the quintessential urban California street, set amid a theme park and a movie studio, and sandwiched between palm trees and asphalt.
The Fountains are up and running and are actually a nice addition to the kinetic CityWalk atmosphere. Removed is the block monolith that took up a corner of the space. Instead there is a full grid of fanciful fountains lit with LED lighting.
The movie theaters at CityWalk were, at one point in time, the gold standard for movie going. Now, CityWalk’s revitalization will elevate the Universal Cinemas to new heights as the 18 screen and IMAX 3D theatre updates with the most technologically advanced sight and sound achievements returning to its rightful place as a movie palace atop a movie studio. A complete refurbishment of the split level structure will include the installation of deluxe recliner seats to all 18 theaters—the equivalent of those found in Hollywood screening rooms—making every seat the best seat in the house.
An all-new dedicated and stylish second level bar-lounge, flanked by the upper level theaters, will add a new dimension to the space as it blends high-tech elegance with chic sophistication for casual pre- and post- movie-going fun. Each redesigned theatre will be fully upgraded with Christie RGB Laser projection Dolby Atmos immersive surround sound and equipped with Christie Vive speakers for optimal audio performance. The installation of new, state-of-the art screens, perforated to enable 360 degree audio will complement the overall enhancements.
“This is an exciting time as Universal CityWalk undergoes a transformation of its own,” said Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood. “For over two decades, CityWalk has been the go to place for locals and out-of-town visitors alike to enjoy a variety of entertainment, and we’re excited to bring these significant enhancements to our guests as we continue to invest in our world-class destination.”
Theme Park and Studio Expansion
Variety was given the exclusive, reporting that Universal Studios Hollywood will significantly expand both its theme park and Studio property. The plan is to add a total of 11,000 square feet of Studio space (Pending Los Angeles” bid for the 2024 Olympics), and a daycare center and a new attraction on the lower lot.
Here we see the space next to Transformers The Ride 3D. In the former space of Stage 28, this area held last year’s The Walking Dead attraction and is now about to see major construction begin on a new attraction.
We are ecstatic to see Universal Hollywood keeping the momentum with another attraction. We just really hope that it’s not yet another screen based attraction. In a park that uses this conceit in nearly every attraction aside from the Jurassic Park, Revenge of the Mummy, Super Silly Spinner, The Flight of the Hippogriff, and the upcoming The Walking Dead. Think about that. Yes, that list is a relatively long one but consider that Transformers The Ride 3D, Shrek 4D, The Simpsons Ride, The Studio Tour (King Kong 360 3D and Fast and Furious Supercharged), Despicable Me and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey all use screens. That’s a lot of screens. Time for Uni Hollywood to think a little further out of the box.
Out in the distance we can see the beginnings of what was identified in the Variety article as two new soundstages.
The major loss of Hollywood history in this instance will be the removal of Park Lake.
This area features the now passe novelty of the parting waters. While this attraction is something that can depart, it will be the loss of the lake itself, which was featured in The Creature from The Black Lagoon, Psycho, and Gilligan’s Island that saddens us. Still. you have to respect Universal’s commitment to keeping things fresh. Sentimentality has little power here over the need to move forward and continually improve this dynamic park and movie studio.
The Walking Dead
Back up in the theme park we see that finishing touches have been placed on the entrance for The Walking Dead walkthrough attraction that is slated to open July 4th, A crashed helicopter will act as a beacon for visitors as they pass under smoldering wreckage into the attraction.
We rode Jurassic Park to check up in things and are happy to see that the rolling refurbishments of the animated figures continues. While the major brachiosaur figure at the beginning of the ride is back, we find another minor dino missing.
On the Studio Tour we spotted more work happening at Falls lake. It looks like a boat. Could it be the next installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise?
We are seeing more people take advantage of the Super Silly Water Play area.
Over the last five years, this park has really transformed itself from a theme park with a studio aesthetic, to a full blown immersive world. We are very impressed by the Universal team and are eager to see what they have waiting for us next . . . as log as it isn’t more screens. 😉
That’s all we have or you this week. If you want a bigger update on the upcoming Halloween Horror Nights, you can hop over to HorrorBuzz for a full tour of the progress of all the scary mazes and such. Until next time, we will see you In The Parks.