Universal Studios Hollywood is a park that is never afraid to re-invent its image (or layout, for that matter).  The park is embarking on a multi-year overhaul of its upper lot area that will include a new central plaza, the Despicable Me attraction, and the Harry Potter expansion.  That’s not to mention some little additions they will throw into the park while the work is taking place.  And one of those additions is the Simpson’s Springfield!

UNIVERSAL CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE

Universal Studios Hollywood is at the start of a very long makeover process that will take several years and include thousands of feet of construction walls.  Memories of Disney California Adventure’s make-over will come to mind when you visit the Studios these days.

Upon making it through the long entrance corridor from the main gate, there is a new, HUGE project in the center of the upper lot.  Gone is the old Wild West stunt show, or any remnants of its boundaries.  This will be the new location of a central area from which guests will begin their journey into the world of movie making.

Called Universal Plaza, it will be similar to the hub at Disneyland from a guest perspective. The centerpiece will be an interactive play fountain surrounded by stores, a quick service food counter, and other things that will allow visitors to begin their day at the park.

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This is the structure that faces the flow of traffic into the park.

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Here you can see the plumbing and infrastructure for the play fountain.


The project is so large that it affects the flow of traffic near the the Animal Actors show.  There is only one way in and one way out of the Streets of the World section of the park and that is past the House of Horrors, down Baker Street or past Mel’s Diner.

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The area in front of Mel’s Diner is a tight squeeze.

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Back at the starting point, near the entrance to the park, the path to the right leads past the New York photo op and into the rest of the park.
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Around the corner, to the left, in front of the Animal Actors show, is this structure.

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Trenches and temporary asphalt hide the power and water lines for the area. Guide rails keep the hungry crowds in line in front of the Flintstone’s Barbecue.

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Looking further into the park, the Special effects show to the left and the Simpsons in the distance.

 

DESPICABLE ME

The facade for the new Despicable Me attraction is developing behind construction walls.  While the major, flowing lines of the iconic architecture seem to be staying for the moment, there are other parts of the façade that are beginning to resemble Gru’s foreboding home.

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The view down Baker Street.
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To the left in front of the Globe Theatre.

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The Fast and the Furious  photo op Zone.

 

There are also rumors floating around that the exit to Despicable Me will empty out into a new play area themed after “Super Silly Fun Land,” the fictional seaside theme park that Gru and the children visit in the movie. It will likely end up being a clever re-theme of the Coke Soak Zone water play area, along with midway games.

THE SIMPSON’S SPRINGFIELD COMING TO HOLLYWOOD

The Simpson’s home town of Springfield is coming to California. Hot on the heals of the Springfield expansion at Universal Orlando, which Eric Davis of Orlando Parkhopper reported on earlier this week, it seems the decision has been made to go ahead with a re-theme of the area in front of The Simpsons: The Ride here in Hollywood as well. And as you’ll see from my photos below, it should be a very good fit.

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The area is currently a hodgepodge of themes, with the attraction façade dominating the area and a small Kwik-E-Mart off to the side.  Beginning sometime by the end of summer, the surrounding facilities will take turns closing and re-theming.

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Obviously, the Kwik-E-Mart will stay.
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It is almost a no brainer to take the old left over Doc Brown’s Chicken theme from Back to the Future and give it the Cleutus’ Chicken Shack Treatment.

 

There is already plenty of seating for outdoor dining in the center of the area.  So, it looks like a perfect fit for the food centric Springfield.

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Behind the Kwik-E-Mart is an area that is slightly awkward, as it butts up against the Studio Tour entrance and a stand alone restroom building.  Major work is happening here now.

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TRANSFORMERS MEET AND GREET

The brand new Transformers Meet and Greet area is wowing guests who wait up to 45 minutes to take a picture with the interactive characters.  Both Megatron and Optimus Prime can be seen greeting characters and interacting personally with them.  It is a fun illusion that works perfectly.

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STUDIO TOUR

Down on the Studio Tour, things are business as usual for the moment.  At the base of the escalators they have set up a Marilyn Monroe photo op.

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It’s nice to see her getting the star treatment. And adds a bit of Hollywood glamor.

 

Along the tram route, we see that the Back to the Future cars that were moved into the Universal Experience have not been replaced just yet.

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But a Fast and the Furious 6 car has been added

Hallmark Channel’s Home and Family can be seen actively shooting on the set, quite often in fact.

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The Serenity car has been randomly moved to the side of the Psycho house.
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Jimmy Fallon has FINALLY been added to the Mummy Tunnel section of the Tram tour.
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Along the back hill, just before returning to the Tram station, trenching work is taking place.
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More than likely some irrigation work or a new stairway, nothing to do with Potter.

 

UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE

One thing we did want to point out was that if you are interested in seeing some Oscar winning costume design, now is your chance.  This past year, costume designer, Jacqueline Durran, won the Oscar for Best Costume Design for the film Anna Karinina.  One of the Oscar-winning garments is on display inside the Universal Experience now, along with other brilliant pieces including the tattered dress worn by Anne Hathaway in her Oscar-winning portrayal of “Fantine” in Les Misérables alongside the rebel uniform donned by “Marius” (Eddie Redmayne) and the white gown worn by “Cosette” (Amanda Seyfried). Other spectacular additions to the new showcase include the coronation dress worn by Kristen Stewart as “Snow White” in Snow White and The Huntsman and the scepter carried by Charlize Theron in her role as the movie’s evil queen.

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Oscar winning costume from Anna Karinina.

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CITYWALK PARKING DEAL

There is plenty do do in Citywalk and Universal Studios Hollywood.  But, if the price of parking stings, you are in luck.  Universal CityWalk is inviting guests to catch the latest movies at the CityWalk Cinemas and get parking for just $2.  Essentially, you show your parkiong ticket at the movie box office, and they reimburse you the money towards the purchase of a movie ticket.  It’s a pretty good deal.

That’s a wrap from Universal Hollywood today.  Keep your fingers crossed that we will be able to soon be enjoying a Flaming Moe and Krusty Burger in the park!