With Andy Castro delivering your guide to the 24 hour madness at Disneyland this weekend, we switch gears and bring you an In The Parks from Universal Studios Hollywood. There is an astounding amount of construction taking place at this park both on and offstage, promising a full lineup of major additions for the next several years. Slated for a 2016 opening, The Wizarding world of Harry Potter is taking up a major portion of the upper lot, with steel framing and foundation work visible from almost any part of the park. Meanwhile, on the backlot, a new Studio Tour attraction, Fast and Furious: Supercharged is also under construction and headed for a 2015 opening. Along with the brand new attraction in 2015, The Simpsons Ride will finally be surrounded by a new Springfield themed area. We cover these sprawling projects along with a general update from the park and some great news from the Universal’s Animal Actors Show. Let’s get right to work!
Walking through Universal Citywalk we can already see the cranes for Harry Potter construction looming high above the IMAX sized screens at the Cinemas. Although, it might be a good time to take the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem banners down now.
Incidentally, If you go catch a movie here while visiting, you get your parking fee reduced from your total ticket price. Kind of a cool deal.
If we are starting a wish list, and you know we are, it would be great to see this Starbucks location finally get the Disney treatment and become a world class, coffee palace. We would love some Clover™ brewed coffee.
They have also added new signage asking that visitors NOT climb on the water features and to avoid running through the dancing fountains. You may walk, but DO NOT run. Tip-toeing is optional. 😉
Universal Studios Hollywood
Arriving at the front gates of Universal Studios Hollywood we see the classic red carpet rolled out. It’s such a genuinely “hollywood” thing to do and is a nice touch.
Entering the park, the entryway promises to be forever altered within the next two years. The ubiquitous crane, sweeping overhead, acting as a harbinger of things to come.
Looking down the entry path, we can imagine the buildings of Hogsmead drawing us into a magical new land.
House of Horrors
Taking a quick detour into one of our favorite attractions, the Universal House of Horrors, we notice some minor changes. (SPOILERS AHEAD)
We couldn’t photograph the difference in the mirror maze section without ruining the experience for others. But it appears that a few mirrors have been removed to allow for less disorientation.
There is also a new figure in the final chainsaw sequence. A little too gory to share with our normal non-Halloween coverage, it takes the place of the headless actor in the broken door.
Getting in to the center of the Upper Lot, we notice that the Universal Plaza is finding its footing and settling in nicely with visitors. This place making project has seemed to really work, with guests grabbing food and sitting in the new hub of the Upper Lot.
Getting rid of the old retail space, Universal has opened a new quick serve location. The food offerings are all very good. . . which they should be for the prices on the high side.
The location is lovely and the food offerings are varied and fresh. It’s the prices that left us feeling a little concerned. Hopefully they will soon find their groove with this location. It’s the right idea, it just needs some massaging.
In the heart of the Upper Lot area of the park, Springfield is, well, springing up. Based on the hometown of the hit show, The Simpsons, the area will now be a fully themed with a major attraction, food locations, shops and games. More place-making and theme.
Universal’s Animal Actors
A while back, when MiceChat first started to regularly cover Universal Studios Hollywood, we caught the Universal’s Animal Actors show. Less than impressed, we wrote that the show could use some help. We decided to check back in on the show yesterday and found it vastly improved. Yes the show is still at the mercy of animals and their unpredictable behavior, but that’s all part of the fun. The show has been streamlined and cleaned up, offering a more entertaining, charming bit of fun.
Gone are the larger (and more controversial to keep in a theme park), exotic animals. No more orangutan folks. Instead, they opted to fill the show with far more common animals, most of which are actual movie stars, and even better yet, rescues.
The trainers really seem to have a bond with the animals they share the stage with. Breezy and fun, this show has gotten it right. Nice work.
Fast and Furious: Supercharged
Coming in 2015 is the new Fast and Furious: Supercharged attraction. Part of the Studio tour, the tram will become part of the action and be drawn into a wild car chase featuring characters from the film franchise. We are sure this will be much better than the dancing cars on a stick version from a before.
A lot like the King Kong 360 3D addition, the tram tour will pull into a large building, featuring high definition 3D projections and special effects. The show building is being constructed along Falls Lake and seems to have a whole lower level below where the tram will pull in.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
We close with some pictures documenting the development of the highly anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter. From a distance we observe the massive scale of the site.
From inside the park, we spy the angular peaks of the town of Hogsmead.
Approaching the unload area of the Studio Tour, we get a nice look at the backside of the project.
We simply can’t wait for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to open here in 2016. This will be an attraction on a scale not seen at Universal Hollywood since the days of E.T. or Jurassic Park.
Additionally, there’s more parking in the way too. On the far end of CityWalk is the expansion of the parking structure. Let’s hope this will be enough.
With that we close what turned out to be an epic trip to Universal Studios Hollywood. Over the next couple of years we will be keeping you up-to-date on the projects happening here at this major theme park. It’s an exciting time for Uni visitors and fans.