Universal Studios has dubbed this the Summer of Survival. No truer statement could be made of the park at the moment, as they are in the throws of major construction while at the same time getting ready for the huge Halloween Horror Nights event that is coming in the fall. That is not to say the park isn’t worth a visit, It is. As an actual working movie studio, the show must go on. Here we look at the progress of Halloween Horror NIghts preparation, continuing construction in the park, and what may be coming in the future.
On our recent visit we noticed that Universal has begun allowing guests without bags a separate entrance into the park. We also noticed that there is a much easier way to enter WITH a bag.
But, just on the other side, of this entrance there is another set of bag checkers with no line at all. The hordes of humanity enter this side as it is a natural flow. But, next time, just glance over to see if the other side is open. Usually there is no line at all.
UPPER LOT CONSTRUCTION
Entering the upper lot of Universal Studios Hollywood, we see that there is a lot of construction. The new central plaza area, complete with interactive play fountain, is being constructed smack-dab in the center of the upper lot.
It looks a bit like Carthay, doesn’t it? Actually, Universal is just continuing the already existing Mission-Studio style architecture style from the entry buildings further into the park as the visual style for the first act of the park. Looking back at the existing corridor we see a similar look. Angular, flat walls, terra-cotta tiles.
And now, back to the construction site at the center of the upper lot, we see the similarities.
Looking at the construction site from the opposite side, you can see the tower in the distance, with new awnings in the foreground that will open up onto French Street.
Let’s peek over the wall shall we?
One outdoor vending stand has already opened. Finnley’s Snacks is what they are calling it and it tends to reflect the Baker Street, English influence of the nearby section of the park.
Just to show you how far reaching the construction is, the power sources stretch all the way from The Simpsons area, past the Special Effects show, to the center of the park.
Meanwhile the construction continues near the Kwik-E-Mart. Expanded Bathrooms? New Bathrooms?
DESPICABLE ME: MINION MAYHEM
Despicable Me is coming along in the former location of Terminator 2: 3D (insert moment of silence here) As we mentioned in our breaking news story weeks ago, Super Silly Fun Land will also be a part of the exterior post-show. Complete with games and a flat ride.
HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS
While only one maze and one maze location has been confirmed so far for Hollywood, we know of at least two more. No big surprises here as they were locations from last year, behind Revenge of the Mummy, and the extended queue of Jurassic Park RIver Adventure. But one thing that has confused us is that the spot behind Shrek should already be under development for a maze, but doesn’t appear to be.
We asked John Murdy (Universal Studios Hollywood Creative Director) himself on his twitter feed, @horrorNights. His reply, “
@MiceChat Nope…lost 3 locations this year, claimed 3 new ones.” So there will not be a maze here this year. Why? After looking at the Gibson Amphitheater website we noticed that no events are listed past September 4th. No maze here, no shows at the Gibson, it is reasonable to assume that we could see Harry Potter construction begin in this location before the end of Horror Nights.
EVIL DEAD – Revenge of the Mummy location
Murdy also revealed that the highly anticipated Evil Dead maze will be behind the Mummy attraction. It appears that the crowd flow will match last years front to back traffic.
JURASSIC PARK EXTENDED QUEUE
Again, not an officially announced location yet, but there is progress here.
FRENCH STREET and BAKER STREET LOCATION
This location takes advantage of the dead space between Baker and French Streets. Still, the identity of this maze is unknown.
SPECIAL EFFECTS STAGE SHOW
If you haven’t stopped in to see the Special effects show in a while, you might want to go catch it. We are fans of this show as it is entertaining and does a respectable job of explaining the variety of effects used in todays productions.
There are two updates to the show, one good, the other an unnecessary mess. The good addition comes in the form of an explanation of stop-motion animation using pieces from the film Paranorman. It’s quick, informative, and serves to give the regular day guest an appreciation of the effort put into stop-motion.
The other is the explanation of computer animation with clips from Despicable Me 2. It’s understandable that Universal would try to work this new release in. But, the majority of what was added here was simply shown from the video screens on either side of the stage. Yes, it’s computer animation, so there really isn’t anything physical that they could trot out on stage. But, the shamelessly commercial choice, mixed with the simplistic information that played out like a bonus feature on a dvd release, just falls flat. Hopefully they will remove this segment soon. It stinks.
Out on the Studio Tour no signs of Halloween have occured just yet. Maybe it’s still too early. But there is still plenty to see.
For the past few months, the horrible Fast and Furious segment of the tour has been closed. We are crossing our fingers that better things are afoot.
Out in the further edge of the backlot, near the Edith Head building, there is more construction happening. This has lead to the avoidance of the parting the waters section of the tour.
JURASSIC PARK HEAVY WATER EFFECTS
It seemed like they would never come. The extreme water effects have returned to Jurassic Park. Yes, you will get wetter, but that’s the point. Besides, you can buy a cheap poncho.
And that about wraps up our visit to Universal Studios Hollywood. Check back soon as we will have more information on Halloween Horror Nights for you along with expanded construction updates throughout the park.