It was a great day for the folks at Universal Studios Hollywood the city and county have given them the authority to build Harry Potter. Construction is set to begin this summer. Actually, Uni was blessed by the powers that be to embark on a massive 25 year “Evolution Plan” which will allow them to add studio, retail and entertainment space. Much of the NBC network space in Burbank will be relocated to Universal Studios, overall production facilities will be expanded, two new hotels will be built, and City Walk and the theme park will both see major upgrades.

Universal is expected to spend over 1.6 billion dollars on the announced portions of the project. In exchange for the unanimous support of County Supervisors, Universal has agreed to pay over $100 million for improvements to mass transit and community projects. The net result of the expansion is expected to bring over 30,000 jobs to the area and grow film production in LA.

Of course, what our readers are probably most excited about is the development of the theme park and the pending Harry Potter construction. We’ll have more for you very soon on that front.

Here’s the release that Universal put out today regarding the approval of their Evolution Plan, which was over seven years in the making:

UNIVERSAL CITY, California, April 23, 2013 – NBCUniversal announced today plans to begin construction of the first projects of its 25-year Evolution Plan. The Evolution Plan represents a $1.6 billion investment in tourism and production. This long-term investment in two industries that are vital to Los Angeles will create more than 30,000 jobs and generate $2 billion of economic activity during operations for the region.

“After nearly a decade of work on the Evolution Plan, today’s vote sets the stage for our next 100 years in Los Angeles,” said Ron Meyer, president and COO of Universal Studios. “We are thankful for the support and leadership we have received from both the County and City of Los Angeles and are ready to get started investing in these important tourism and production projects in the next few months.”

Starting in late summer, NBCUniversal will begin construction of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter themed land at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, as well as new and upgraded television production facilities, office space and infrastructure on the Universal Studios lot. These projects represent a nearly $500 million investment in the Los Angeles economy and the creation of more than 2,000 construction jobs alone.

“We thank Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, the entire Board of Supervisors, and County staff for providing us the path to bring much needed jobs and investment to Los Angeles,” said Corinne Verdery, Chief Real Estate Development and Planning Officer, NBCUniversal. “The working relationship we have built with the community was invaluable in developing our future plan and we are grateful to our nearly 7,500 supporters and union partners who have been with us every step of the way. We look forward to bringing The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Hollywood, forever changing the face of tourism in Los Angeles.”

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will be a fully immersive experience for the entire family designed to bring the Harry Potter fiction and films to life with impeccable detail and authenticity. Similar to the dynamic Universal Orlando Resort themed land that opened in 2010, the Hollywood experience will be faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including Hogwarts castle that will serve as the centerpiece of the impressively themed environment. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a collaboration between Warner Bros. Entertainment and Universal Parks and Resorts.

On the Universal Studios lot, NBCUniversal will upgrade existing production facilities and add new capabilities to better respond to the needs of television production. In addition, NBCUniversal is looking to create modern offices that will house everything from post-production services to traditional office space.

Well folks, that’s a major bit of good news for Universal. Aside from Harry Potter, what would you like to see come to the Studios park?


  • Frank Fiorinelli

    This is pretty exciting stuff, is there anything known about if there will be any differences between the east and west coast wizarding world?

  • scarymouse

    Great news, I’ve been wondering what was up with Potterland. Its nice to hear of all the other improvements as well, Does this mean that they got the golf coarse and additional land they have been seeking? This sounds like a large improvement area etc. Otherwise it is pretty tight on real estate, just wondering.As for a new addition a Simpsonland like Orlando, Moe’s kwickie-mart etc.or whatever they are building. It seems interesting .

    • eicarr

      They have plenty of awkward underutilized space on the upper lot. If you look at the plans they have more than enough space near the entrance and even create lots of huge open areas (grass lawns) for future expansion. The wild west show, waterworld, amphitheater, and tons of old awkwardly positioned shops from the 70’s are toast though. They even eat a little into the parking area with new hotels etc. (but still have plenty of ground level parking to develop in the future too. No need for the golf course unless they were to do a second park (those rumors of a Lord of The Rings etc.).

  • toonaspie

    They should limit the west coast Potterland to a miniland. If people want the full Potter experience they would have to go to Orlando but give them enough of the basics to suit their appetites (FJ, wands, butterbeer).

    • eicarr

      I don’t think they should hold back at the actual Universal Studios. The lackluster odd collection of rides they’ve been putting in since the 90’s leaves them in need of a home run attraction and a more cohesive non-tram experience. On my last trip I did the tram, 3 rides and made a b-line for Cars Land to spend the afternoon/evening at. The sophisticated local audience expects Disneyland caliber quality (not DCA 1.0 / WDW filler) to justify going back on a yearly basis.

  • crawfordguard

    That sounds amazing!

  • eicarr

    Being that I can’t take the oppressive heat and humidity of Orlando it will be great to see Harry Potter in its proper place on the hill high above Warner Brothers Studios. I’m just glad the code does not allow for cheap outdoor roller coasters to mar the experience. I’m hoping that if its built in stages the London/alley section is built in the future on the upper level too and you don’t have to take a train down to the studio level. I’m not a big fan of the lackluster rides they’ve been putting in since the 90’s and will be glad there will be something there for me to experience after the tram tour (I still miss the epic shows like backdraft, Conan etc.).

  • SpectroMan

    I’m not really thrilled with a clone of an Orlando attraction here, but it’ll certainly do well. They’re going to have to slim down on the discounting, especially the buy a day, get a year free or the attraction will be mobbed. Also, with such easy access from the subway station a lot of undesirables are now visiting City Walk so they need to keep a close eye on security.

  • Ryan120420

    Awesome news!

    Expect to see show cancellations at the Gibson soon.

  • TRONAlex

    Where is the Harry Potter Land going to be at Universal???
    What attraction will get the axe???

    • Ryan120420


      Curious George Play Area and The Gibson Amphitheater will get the axe.

  • Susan Hughes

    I’m all for the Harry Potter Land. Anything to slim down the overcrowding at Disneyland and California Adventure.
    When it does finally open, a sign of how well this new land is doing would be if Universal stops offering the “Buy One Ticket, Get The Rest Of The Year Free” campaign they do every year.

  • G24T

    Disney and Universal are off and running!! The real winners here will be the Cities of Los Angeles and Anaheim and the state as a whole!

  • Zeathos51

    Now I don’t have to go to Orlando to see one of the most popular rides around.
    Universal should buy the Star Trek name. The new movies would give visitors a good incentive to ride a Star Trek ride and my God, Star Trek the Experiance and the Tour were astounding but not enough people went to see them. I’d rather ride an attraction than wait three hours to pay for Patrick Steward’s autograph.
    Star Trek related attractions have always been top of the line(except for that old Star Trek Adenture at Universal Orlan………DON’T LOOK IT UP). The one in Vegas was as good if not greater than the best Disney attractions and the Tour filled the entire Queen Mary Dome With show props and full sized sets. Unfortunately, the ride is closed and the national Tour began in Long Beach, then sadly ended in Long Beach.
    Despite my rant, this is great news, I look forward to visiting the evolved Universal and hopefully someday to work in the studio for years to comes. Thanks again for the great updates.

    P.S. Please give me a sign if anyone agrees about a Star Trek attraction.

    • LoveStallion

      It could maybe happen, but Star Trek is a Paramount property. Paramount could potentially license it to Universal, considering Paramount bowed out of theme parks altogether a few years back.

      Universal would definitely be a better fit than Disney, and Cedar Fair doesn’t bother much with licensed stuff in that realm.

  • LoveStallion

    Just a technical note:

    The “city” and county didn’t authorize anything. Universal City is just a census designated place on unincorporated Los Angeles County land. So while LA County had to approve stuff, there was no city-level municipal body to work through for permits. This was, as I’m sure you can imagine, by intent on Universal’s part. They’ve fought off annexation by LA or Burbank for years.

  • JiminyCricketFan

    This is great news for Los Angeles and also for Universal. Harry Potter is really a game changer when it comes to the park. I really believe that it was a smart idea in cloning the franchise to California.

  • jcruise86

    My family is excited about the WWoHP coming to Universal Hollywood! I do hope they make it a bit different than the one in Florida, and not just having three Ollivander’s performing/”selling” at once.

    To answer Dusty’s “What else would you like?” question, I’d like Universal to realize that this hilltop property should offer guests more opportunities to enjoy the potentially extraordinary views of the San Fernando Valley.

    There should be terraced bars, restaurants and lounges that offer families these extraordinary views. The Simspons currently takes up space that could offer spectacular views. They should try to build around it. It wouldn’t be as great as the world famous view of city lights from the Griffith Park Observatory, but it could come close. Views! Views! Views!

    Have a viewing area from the top of Hogwarts too. The Quidditch Club serving overpriced butterbeer and adult beverages for parents and faculty members.

    Universal should build all HP developments to last 100 years. The creative, often funny books might still be enjoyed by smart kids in 50 years, and I expect that in 2, 3, or 4 decades another round of Harry Potter films will take the world by tempest.

  • mondo

    When is Harry Potter Land planned to open?

  • Zorro825

    One word: SPRINGFIELD!!!!!
    They should turn the whole plaza area in front of The Simpsons Ride into Springfield

  • Big D

    Universal has a 25 YEAR plan!!! Disney doesn’t even plan more than 3 years out because all of the managers and presidents will be different by then anyway. Is it possible that one day Universal Studios Theme Parks will actually be better than Disney’s?

  • tooncity

    This sounds great. Maybe this will get Disney to actually spend some money on building NEW attractions, instead of just repairing 40 y.o. old rides. Perhaps they’ll stop updating Innoventions, and actually use the people mover track as a real e-ticket. Do something with Starcade. Don’t forget Rocket to Mars attraction that is still stuck behind the Pizza Port, etc. Disneyland needs the completion, to up their game.

  • WDWFun

    This discussion is very amusing. The same people totally against a Cars Land clone in Florida are the same bunch advocating for Harry Potter taking up residence at Universal Hollywood. Bottom line is that, with the exception of the Disney superfans, Americans are still attending the Disney Parks closest to where they live. Cars Land will make its way to Florida and HP will come to Hollywood. Because of visitation patterns, it makes perfect sense.

  • netenyahoo

    I just may visit Universal when Harry Potter is open after maybe a year. I haven’t been to Universal is like 20 years.

  • bhb007

    Great news… in the real estate hysteria of the early 2000’s a lot of parks just quit or gave up space to sell at an absurdly high price to condo builders. There was some talk about Universal and Magic Mountain doing that (Astro World in Houston just closed shop entirely)… one unintended positive side effect of the crash in real estate prices is that theme parks now see that they can make more money by developing rather than selling.