Universal Studios Hollywood is abuzz with exciting construction projects. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is on track for a 2016 opening. Coming next year is the Fast and Furious Supercharged addition to the World Famous Studio Tour. Plus, the Simpson’s Springfield is being constructed on the upper lot. There are also a number of short-term projects under development as Halloween Horror Nights maze construction is now in full swing.  But it’s not all construction.  We finally see why the freestanding food location near Universal plaza was repainted,  we learn the fate of the former International Cafe space, and we find that Universal Management has mercifully decided to mix up the music on the Starway leading to the lower lot.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The enormous construction site atop the hill in Universal City will soon be home to the West Coast version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This is the largest construction project ever undertaken at the studios theme park.

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A crane presides overhead as the show building is pieced together.

At the foot of the project, steel girders support the show building above.

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As the outer shell is put onto the building, we struggle to view what might still be seen inside.

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Backstage work continues on the detailed pieces that will later be placed into the site.

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Here we see wire mesh being formed to resemble the rock at the foot of Hogwarts.
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The metal frames of the gables are being fabricated here.
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The wire mesh is formed and the pieces are receiving an initial coating. They will later become a rock mountain surrounding the Forbidden Journey show building.
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We now view the project from inside the park.
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Pinks Hot Dogs faces what will soon be the entrance to Hogsmeade.
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Only two years away folks!
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The angular spires of Hogsmeade.
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In the foreground, the doomed Flintstones Barbecue lives out its last days.
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Just beyond is the future Three Broomsticks restaurant.
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We see another side of the Three Broomsticks here.
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Can’t wait for Shepherds Pie and Butter beer.
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The Three Broomsticks to the left and the Food locations of the new Springfield to the right. We will be seeing the most progress right here as the food locations on the right will have to be ready to open a full year before Wizarding World opens to guests.

Cinnabon

We found out why the food stand near Universal Plaza was repainted. It was for Cinnabon, the insanely delicious cinnamon roll chain. They proudly brew Starbucks Coffee.

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Halloween Horror Nights

With everything happening on the upper lot we have learned that all of the mazes are going to be located on the lower and Back lots this year.  Some scare Zones will, of course, remain in the upper lot.

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Here we see that a third maze is under construction in the Backlot area behind the large city backdrop that lines the New York Streets.

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In the extended queue of Jurassic Park, the face for a yet-to-be announced maze is developing nicely.

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What is this cool looking façade?

Fast and Furious Supercharged

Along the Studio Tour route we see that construction on the Fast and Furious Supercharged attraction is progressing rapidly.  Still just a frame for the most part, this building will house what is hoped to offer a high-octane car chase finale to the Studio Tour.  It will be a sort of Kong 2.0 experience that will give visitors a reason to hang on to the 3D glasses throughout the tram ride until the end.

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French Street Bistro

Back on the upper lot, we were saddened to see the award winning International Cafe close its doors.  We are sadder still to see that it has simply become another cold food, counter serve restaurant.  It is fine for what it is, and the offerings are perfectly acceptable, albeit a tad overpriced.

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What is strange about this move is that they just recently converted the former Annual Passholder shop into a similar venue. Why have two of the exact same types of eateries so close to one another?

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The dining room is pretty much the same.

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It’s a nice space, but we lament the loss of hot entrees.

Starway Music

Bye-Bye Billy Bush!  Yes, the celebrated host of Access Hollywood, who has enjoyed a long run as the voice of the Starway escalators, has been retired.  Visitors will now enjoy music from upcoming Universal films.  Right now we get to hear music from the upcoming film Get On Up, The James Brown Story.

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Springfield

In the center of the upper lot we find that progress on the Springfield addition to Universal Studios Hollywood is still in the framing stages.  It will be wonderful to see a full sized, two-story version of some of The Simpsons most beloved locations.

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We are also told that Louie’s Italian food location will close down in the future to be re-themed as Luigi’s Pizza, to better match the Springfield theme.

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Parking Structure

We close things out by following the progress at the large addition to the Parking Structure.  This structure will also act as the primary spot for tour bus parking.

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That’s a wrap from Universal Studios Hollywood, the Entertainment Capital of Los Angeles.  Be sure to catch In The Parks next week as we bring you full coverage of the major announcements from Knott’s Berry Farm for Halloween Haunt 2014!  See you soon, In The Parks!