It’s time to dive into movie magic today as we explore Universal Studios Hollywood. There is an insane amount of information to cover this week, not the least of which is the construction of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Christmas is on its way as Grinchmas decorations are popping up throughout the park, leading to a December 6th kickoff date. We’ll look at Springfield construction, which is to open in 2015. We also hop on to the world famous Studio Tour and check out the progress on the upcoming Fast and Furious Supercharged enhancement that is being added to the end of the tour in time for summer 2015. All of this, plus loose ends like the demolition of Stage 13, the mystery of the Phantom of the Opera set from the now flattened Stage 28 on the lower lot, and the progress of the new parking structure outside the park. But first, let’s take a look at what’s happening in CityWalk.
Just outside the park in CityWalk, Christmas will be starting a little bit earlier than normal. On Monday, November 24th, Carson Daly and the top 10 finalists from The Voice will make an appearance at the Tree Lighting Ceremony for CityWalk.
With as relatively old as CityWalk is compared to Anaheim’s Downtown Disney, it’s amazing how vibrant and relevant they can keep it.
Here we are at the gates of Universal Studios Hollywood, the entertainment capital of Los Angeles. The glitzy, glittery, Hollywood version of the holiday gives new meaning to the term Tinsel Town. While not quite finished, the park is well on its way to being filled with yule-tide fun.
At the Universal Plaza we see that Grinchmas is in the process of being set up. With its 80 foot twisty Christmas Tree, Grinchmas is certainly a lot of fun. A wonderful way to enjoy the holidays.
Down Baker Street, towards Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, we see that England has been frosted over with white snow. (It was Dark Christmas Scare Zone just a few short weeks ago).
Next to Mel’s Diner, the courtyard is all decorated too.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Now, let’s look at the latest from the construction of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Backstage, near the parking structures, we can see that more surface tests are being conducted. The exterior for the big attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, will feature Hogwarts and craggy rock work.
Meanwhile, more snow-covered shingles are still being crafted here.
The gigantic show building is now fully enclosed. We can’t wait to ride this thing.
From inside the park, a tangle of walls meanders around the multiple construction projects. Now that Halloween is over and the crowds have died down, the crews can really push out into the walkways and get to work.
Sadly the House of Horrors is no more. The area near the front of the park will now, logically, be given over to shopping and retail space.
Taking a building down is one thing. But for film fans and historians alike, the real mystery was in finding out what happened to the historic Opera House set that was first used in 1925’s The Phantom of the Opera starring Lon Chaney. According to Universal, a “multi-million dollar preservation effort” was put into place to preserve the set. Using “21st century tools like, 3D imaging” a team of preservationists were able to look over the aging set that had been used for various production since its construction almost 90 years ago.
In studio terms, a set that old is ancient as the normal practice is to reuse and repurpose once a production is in the can. Universal was able to determine that approximately less than 50% of set was from the original construction. The set was dismantled in sections and is now in storage under the purview of the Studio’s Archives and Collections. Universal is beginning discussions with preeminent museums and institutions to determine the set’s future home.
The Simpsons Ride is getting a full city in front of it as Springfield is being constructed just outside the popular attraction. The façades facing the courtyard are taking a recognizable shape.
Following the vinyl lettered signs on the construction walls we find our way to the World Famous Studio Tour. We see that more Grinchmas preparations are being made along the usual portion of the tram route.
Fast and Furious Supercharged
The Fast and Furious Supercharged addition to the Tram Tour is fully enclosed now and we now play the waiting game. Apparently this is the next generation of 4D attractions that will add a much-needed finale to the tour. The Fast and Furious Supercharged is set to open in the summer of 2015.
The brand new parking structure outside of CityWalk is well on its way. This will house the large busses and help absorb the influx of visitors to the park when The Wizarding World opens.
That’s a wrap from Universal Studios Hollywood. We will see you again soon, In The Parks.