Universal Studios Hollywood Big Construction and Halloween Update

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Features, In the Parks

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Published on August 22, 2014 at 2:00 am with 23 Comments

There is so much happening all at once here at Universal Studios Hollywood that it’s tough to keep up.  But we’ll do our best to bring you the latest news and info from this fast-changing park. Prepping for the future, Universal is adding a massive new parking garage. We also see that they are using new ways to engage guests at the front gate who are interested in maximizing their day at Universal. We have the sad news that the popular House of Horrors attraction may be in peril just after the Halloween hijinks close this year. Speaking of Halloween, the entire lineup for Horror Nights has been announced. We then cover the cavalcade of construction with new pics from the Fast and Furious – Supercharged addition to the Studio Tour, more work on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and a photo update from Springfield across from The Simpsons Ride.  We even throw in a little bit of news from the Universal Experience with some new additions. Let’s ride the movies!

New Parking Garage

The work is becoming a lot more apparent here as the new parking garage structure at the far end of CityWalk begins vertical construction.  This new structure will also be the housing area for the tour busses that bring thousands of tour groups to the park.

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Cars stream in from the nearby 101 fwy and snake around the massive footprint of the addition to the parking structure.

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Front Gate Info

At the front gate, Universal is trying a new tactic in engaging visitors.  Uni is already way ahead of the game in offering easy-to-spot team members who are there to offer information.  But tThey have recently begun using additional people to stand atop pedestals and direct the crowds.

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This guy’s sole purpose is to make sure you have a ticket or that you know where to get one.

We also see that there are new VIP experience kiosks front and center to offer guests front of line access to the attractions.  It’s a lot more expensive but on busy days, but if you are in from out of town, it is more than worth it.

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House of Horrors Closing for Good

It truly pains us to have to report that the Universal’s House of Horrors attraction will be closing for good on September 2nd, the day after Labor day.  It will briefly return on September 19th to guests of Halloween Horror Nights as SyFy’s Face Off: In The Flesh maze, but will close permanently after Horror Nights. The official plans for this spot are to expand shopping and retail and to cary the grand entrance theme from front gate to the Universal Plaza.

The change makes perfect sense as it will give a nice first act to the park that has up until recently suffered from being a little too piece meal.  Still, our beloved, year-round, Halloween oasis will be gone for good.

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For now, let’s take a trip through and savor the scares.

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Halloween Horror Nights

Speaking of scares, Universal Hollywood has finally announced its entire lineup of mazes and scare zones.  Most notable is the absence of the Bill and Ted show. They are instead adding an extra maze to entertain guests.  Would you rather have Bill and Ted or a new maze? Beginning on September 19th we will be able to experience the following attractions.

Below is the full listing of mazes and scare zones.

The Walking Dead: The End of the Line

“The Walking Dead: The End of the Line,” inspired by Season 4 of AMC’s Golden Globe®-nominated and Emmy® Award-winning TV series. The bone-chilling maze will place guests at the heart of a harrowing journey to seek sanctuary at Terminus, an elusive destination that promises community for all.  Mirroring the terror that befell the residents of the West Georgia Correctional Facility, now overrun by savage walkers, the experience will send guests fleeing from the fallen prison into unknown territory as they stage a desperate battle for survival against flesh-eating walkers and ruthless humans.

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Terror Tram:  Invaded by the Walking Dead

The engrossing television series will seep into other parts of Universal’s backlot with predatory walkers prowling the secluded wooded areas of the movie studio. “Terror Tram:  Invaded by the Walking Dead” will take guests down the daunting path to Terminus, interspersed with landmarks and walkers from Season 4, including the “burned moonshine cabin,” “charred walkers” and “mud walkers.”

From Dusk Til Dawn

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From cult horror film to breakthrough television series on El Rey Network, “From Dusk Till Dawn” will add a terrifying maze to its credits when filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s acclaimed supernatural show debuts as a menacing new “Halloween Horror Nights” experience at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort, beginning Friday, September 19.

This all-new maze, inspired by the critically acclaimed television series, will thrust guests into the deviant world of “From Dusk Till Dawn,” where they will encounter sordid mythological creatures known as “Culebras,” serpent-like vampires who have tormented the earth for centuries.  Residing within the elusive and sinister nightclub, “The Twister,” located just over the Mexican border and above cursed ancient ruins, the “Culebras” prove to be a band of immoral and depraved beasts with a deadly agenda. As guests navigate the maze and venture deep within the bowels of “The Twister,” they will find themselves face to face with a cast of perverse characters, including exotic dancer, Santanico Pandemonium, a mysterious and irresistible “Culebras” femme fatale and Queen Vampire.

Based on the film of the same name, “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” is a supernatural crime saga centered around bank robber, Seth Gecko and his violent, unpredictable brother, Richard “Richie” Gecko, who are wanted by the FBI after a bank heist leaves several people dead.  While on the run to Mexico, Seth and Richie encounter former pastor Jacob Fuller and his family, whom they take hostage. Using the family RV to cross the border, chaos ensues when the group detours to a club populated by vampires and are forced to fight until dawn in order to get out alive. The series deepens the tone of the film, From Dusk Till Dawn, upon which it is based, adding new characters and backstories that expand the Mesoamerican mythology behind the creatures inside the club.

Clowns 3D Music by Slash

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Infused with the rocker’s hell-raising electric guitar riffs, the ominous new “Clowns 3D Music by SLASH” haunted attraction is no laughing matter as it unmasks the psychological disorder known as Coulrophobia, a disturbing condition affecting those with an extreme and irrational fear of clowns.

The psychedelic 3D maze will horrify guests, taunting and tempting them with terror and treats as they parade through “Sweet Licks Frozen Clown Pops Family Amusement Center,” a dilapidated roadside attraction and one-time thriving ice cream factory run by deranged siblings and their mad clown father, Sweet Licks. As this demented trio schemes to restore the family business by luring visitors with free ice cream, guests will soon find themselves on the menu as the key ingredient of a sick new high-protein ice cream concoction.

Dracula Untold:  Reign of Blood

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Dracula Untold: Reign of Blood” will introduce guests to the sadistic Transylvanian ruler Vlad Tepes, known as “Vlad the Impaler,” who infamously tortured his enemies by impaling them alive with a wooden stake and suspending their bodies. The foreboding maze will also shed an ominous light on the one-time hero, turned blood-thirsty-tyrant, who chose to embrace unholy powers in order to defeat his enemies.  “Dracula Untold: Reign of Blood” will spiral guests through Dracula’s eternal damnation, where the thirst for blood is never-ending.

AVP: Alien vs. Predator

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AVP: Alien vs. Predator is a sci-fi horror franchise that brings together the two iconic species spawned from two blockbuster films, Alien and Predator, to create a terrifying crossover of eponymous monsters in a raging battle against mankind struggling to survive amid the chaos that ensues from these two vengeful creatures.  To mark the 35th anniversary celebration of Alien, and the 10th anniversary of AVP: Alien vs. Predator, “Halloween Horror Nights” guests and fans of these celebrated films will have a chance to live the horror of these diabolical beasts as they come face to face with the terror of Aliens and Predators.

The terrifying new “AVP:  Alien vs Predator” maze at Universal Studios Hollywood will answer the proverbial question asked by mankind since the beginning of time:  Are we alone in this dark, vast universe?  “AVP:  Alien vs. Predator” will once and for all shed light on the answer when it brings to life the violent creatures cohabitating our world as it pits two rival alien species in a fight to the death with Earth as their battleground.  This menacing maze will uncover a dangerous alien spaceship carrying a race of hunter aliens known as Predators and a threatening new alien life form that uses human hosts to propagate its species.  After crash landing in a remote section of America and escaping to the countryside, the alien and predator become hunter and prey with guests caught in the crossfire.”

An American Werewolf in London

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Guests will begin their horrifying journey as they enter “The Slaughtered Lamb,” the English countryside pub movie fans will instantly recognize, and experience first-hand what the tavern patrons in the film meant when they cautioned, “Stay on the road, keep clear of the Moors and beware the moon.” After stumbling upon the overgrown wasteland known as the “Moors,” maze-goers will be forced to traverse through dense fog amidst sounds of savage growls and unknown peril ahead.

Along with “The Slaughtered Lamb” pub and the Yorkshire Moors, guests will recognize other memorable scenes and characters from the film – including the London Underground and gun-wielding demon soldiers. The famous “transformation scene” that inspired the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to create an Oscar® for achievement in makeup will also be featured in the remarkable maze experience.

Face Off: In The Flesh

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The most twisted and gruesome character creations featured on Syfy’s hit competition series “Face Off” will be live and “In the Flesh” at both Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood’s “Halloween Horror Nights” events, beginning Friday, September 19.  Nightmarish creatures will surround guests on both coasts as the macabre visions of some of the most talented up-and-coming make-up artists’ from the show are brought to life.

Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights will feature an all new street experience with ten different character creations inspired by the acclaimed Syfy series, including a look designed by season 5 “Face Off” winner and Universal Orlando make-up artist, Laura Tyler. The hair-raising, horrifying characters will inhabit five unique and immersive environments within the scare zone, from eerie scarecrows that go to great lengths to protect a spine-chilling farmland to ghoulish brutes that haunt dilapidated castle ruins.

Universal Studios Hollywood’s all-new “Halloween Horror Nights” maze, “Face Off:  In the Flesh,” will recreate the morbidly disturbing inventions masterminded by visionary make-up special effects artists over the course of the show’s past six seasons.  Twenty-two original “Face Off” designs – from human-insect hybrids to horror villains, ancient mummies and zombies – will cascade throughout the dark corridors of the terrifying new maze bringing to life multiple incarnations of these select characters and adding to the cast of characters designed to scare the life out of every guest.  “Face Off:  In the Flesh” will also feature new sounds from acclaimed electro house artist “Figure,” who returns to Universal Studios Hollywood’s “Halloween Horror Nights” with a haunting mix of electronica-inspired dance music.

Scare Zones

A series of unnerving scare zones will also infiltrate “Halloween Horror Nights,” terrorizing guests as they navigate the darkness from one maze to another.

“The Purge:  Anarchy,” inspired by Universal Pictures’ disturbing blockbuster thriller will terrorize guests this year.

“The Walking Dead: Welcome to Terminus” will awaken swarms of predatory walkers in a gruesome scare zone situated adjacent to the new “The Walking Dead” maze.

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Additional scare zones will include, “Mask-a-Raid,” featuring hordes of blood thirsty cannibals masquerading as French aristocrats.

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“Dark Christmas,” a Pagan-themed area where demonic creatures hunt disobedient children and drag them to hell.

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And “Skullz,” based on the Native American legend of Wendigo, a malevolent supernatural half-beast monster with an insatiable appetite for human flesh.

French Courtyard

Now, let’s take a tour through the park to see how the Horror Nights maze construction is progressing.  Here we see that the space used by El Cucuy last year is being used once again.

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Mummy Queue

Could the Mummy queue be housing the Clowns Maze?  The paint looks like it.  But then again, that may be just leftovers from Black Sabbath from last year.

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An American Werewolf in London (Jurassic Park Queue)

We know that this location will be home to the An American Werewolf in London maze.  How different it will be from the Orlando version last year remains to be seen.

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The Walking Dead

The drop off area into the walking dead zone is being used as a staging area at the moment.

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Around the corner we see the Walking Dead maze under construction.

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Behind the large high definition backdrop is another maze site.

 

Stage 47

Inside Stage 47, the location of last years Black Sabbath maze, we see new black walls

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Terror Tram

Nothing to see just yet on the Terror Tram route. They open in less than a month. It’s crunch time for the Halloween construction crews!

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Fast and Furious – Supercharged

Moving on from Halloween to the summer of 2015, we see the construction site for Fast and Furious – Supercharged.  Another 3D tram experience, this Studio Tram Tour attraction will provide a new high thrill finale to the tour, surrounding guests in the action and thrills of the movie franchise.

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It appears that there are two show rooms in this location.

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The projection room.

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The entry façade and pre-show.

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The long entry tunnel looks like it will lead into an initial show scene.

Then into a room where projections will surround the entire tram.

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Possible projector booths facing the front and back fields of vision.

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

We next gander at the progress over at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  More artistry and craftsmanship are appearing in the staging area as the rock and earth work continue.

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Whomping Willow or sediment?

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The gigantic show suilding is nearly fully enclosed now.

Inside the park we see more of Hogsmeade pointing to the skies.

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The Three Broomsticks surrounded in scaffolds.

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Not much to see after the Hogsmead construction.

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From inside the park we observe the show building for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  Now almost completely enclosed, we will watch as more and more details are heaped upon this masterpiece of an attraction.

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Here we see what will soon be a wall of rocks and crags pointing upward to Hogwarts

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One of the many entrances into the show building.

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Peering deep into the steel beams we can hardly make out what is being built. But MAN is it cool.

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The underside of the building.

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Starway

The protracted refurbishment of the Starway escalators continues.

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The NBC Universal Experience

We popped into the NBC Universal Experience, adjacent to the Transformers attraction, and came upon a few new things.  We saw that the exhibit promised costumes from the new film, Get on Up.  But we were surprised by the new dioramas and props from the upcoming film Box Trolls.  COOL!

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Not so much costumes from Get on Up. More like costume.

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On the opposite end of the room we see the first displays for The Box Trolls.

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From the makers of Coraline and Paranorman comes stylized stop motion gem.

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BoxTroll faces in a box.

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Springfield

We close this mammoth update with a tour of the Springfield construction across from The Simpsons Ride.  We are really excited to explore the shops and restaurants . . . Flamin’ Moe and a Krustyburger . . . YES PLEASE! At the moment, however, things are still a little indiscernible.

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We’ve reached the close of this update and hope that you have enjoyed this journey through Universal Studios Hollywood. Fast and Furious – Supercharged and Springfield are on the way. Followed by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2016. We can hear the cash registers ringing already.

So, what do you say folks . . . Flamin’ Moe or Butter Beer?

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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  • mybelleprncess

    Thanks for the update, there is a lot of good news coming from Universal. Might have to get a pass soon.

    • Susan Hughes

      Take advantage of the annual “Buy One Day, Get The Year Free” promotion. When all this good stuff is finished, that’s not going to happen anymore.

  • bamato

    This is by far the project to look forward to in southern Cali. I’m more excited for this than I was for the new DCA (blasphemer!). There is so much going on over in Uni that it really begs the question; Where’s Disney? This isn’t a friendly competition that encourages growth, this is Universal smashing it’s way back into the SoCal spotlight. TDA has got to be sweating over this one.

    • Anonymouse

      @bamato. I’d be careful about challenging Disney because they’ve learned this year that if they scotch tape together some old garbage from the back lot, print out a few cardboard cutouts and label it “Frozen” then they’ve once again put themselves back in the spotlight.

      • CaptainAction

        Maybe Disneyland will get some themed restrooms like WDW!
        That would be exciting!

    • martinjbell1986

      They should have put something new over here, not smaller copies of what’s in Orlando.

      • CaptainAction

        You mean like Star Tours, Peter Pan, Small World, Tough to Be a Bug, Autopia, Winnie The Pooh, Toy Story Mania, Muppet Movie, Dumbo, Carousels, Treehouse, etc?
        Not smaller copies like these?

      • blondiemouse72

        Look on the bright side you’re getting a copy of the old ride that only breaks down 5 hours a day not the new one that breaks down 9 hours a day

      • cruise

        I generally agree, but the Fast and Furious attraction intrigues me.

        blondiemouse72 sounds a little jelly.

      • Marko50

        Um, Cap, I understand your enthusiasm. But most of the things you list started in Anaheim, not Orlando. And for God’s sake people, this is not a Disney vs Uni column.

    • Susan Hughes

      I say “Go For It Universal!” Steal the crowds from Disneyland. That will make the resort in Anaheim more pleasant to visit.

  • kate-e

    Feeling a little disappointment on the mazes this year for HHN. Insidious was brilliant last year and I eagerly awaited the Conjuring to be the next in the series but alas no love for the possessed. As an avid fan of The Walking Dead franchise, mainly the comic book, telltale game, and the tv show, for good measure, I understand the tie in but feel like it’s being played to the last degree. Plain and simple, zombies are really scary unless they are actually consuming you. I do look forward to Alien vs Predator in hopes that they use the same type of scares from The Thing maze a couple years back, puppets are given a whole new meaning in these types of mazes.

    • kate-e

      *aren’t really scary

  • Soulquarian

    I really hope Fast and Furious turns out to be amazing. I love Universal, but the over reliance on 3D screens for attractions is getting old. Practical effects are still the way to go IMO. Forbidden Journey does a FANTASTIC job of mixing both. More of that please!

    • eynsteinp

      I agree whole heartily with you on this. I find that Universal relies way too heavily on 3D for me. I get sick on 3d rides after a very short time. I also seems that the use of 3d technology is faster/easier to build. Many people like to point out that Universal builds their rides so much faster than Disney and this is definitely true but I wonder if it is simply faster to build rides of this type. I actually enjoy Universal but almost every major attraction being 3d is a draw back for me as I get motion sickness.

      • solarnole

        Soarin took a long time to build and it had less theming and moving parts then most Universal rides

      • Ravjay12

        Disney does the same thing. Their most popular rides are 3d. They’re just playing catch up now because that’s what people want to ride. If they had done Mermaid in 3d, it would be popular too.

  • imaginashton

    Murdy confirmed the maze locations shortly after announcing them

    Dracula Untold-Parisian Square
    FDTD-backlot behind set
    AVP-SS 747
    Clowns 3D-Mummy Queue

    Just FYI

  • GDub80

    Without Bill and Ted, I will not be purchasing tickets for the first time in nearly 10 years to Horror Nights. So sad to see that show not be brought back.

    • CaptainAction

      Not having Bill and Ted is a deal breaker for you? Really?

      Are you usually Bill or are you usually Ted each HHN?

    • Eddie Davidson

      Haha. Really? Bill and Ted wasn’t that great. Besides it was getting dated. Kind of lame. Move-on dot.com.

  • CaptainAction

    We are really going to miss the year round haunted house. We really enjoyed the movie props displayed in the line and the background videos about the classic films.
    Universal needs to build a first class dark ride with animatronics delivered creatively with cutting edge technology honoring the classic monsters.
    There’s a huge “miss” here not honoring such a cool part of their early history and success.
    Lots of awesome possibilities to develop around the classic monsters.

  • Now We Lustre

    I say Go For It Susan Hughes!! The less chances we have of ever crossing paths with you and your judgemental and sorry views on the regular, fun-loving families that enjoy the true meaning of fun times, the oh-so better. The only true Passhole ever on here is you!!