Universal Studios Hollywood continues to handle record crowds with clever crowd control and creative hours. Today, we stroll through the studios and observe some of the preparations already happening to get ready for the Halloween Horror Nights event, which opens in just under two months.  We then hop aboard the world famous Studio Tour to see the changes happening out in the backlot.  It gets pretty wild . . .

The wait times at the park during the week are reasonable, but get even longer on the weekends

The band atop the double decker bus continues to play to crowds.  They are actually very good and quite fun.  Check them out.

We finally got a chance to play around with the fun characters from Universal’s upcoming release, Paranorman, which opens this Friday, August 3rd.  The Judge (the tall one) is particularly mischievous and funny.

Well here we go.  Halloween Horror Nights opens on September 21st and the park is well into preparing for this cash cow of an event.  Creative Director, John Murdy, has been tweeting furiously from his @Horrornights account, trickling little bits of tantalizing information about the event.

So far, they have announced three of the mazes: Silent Hill, AMC’s The Walking Dead, and a 3D maze, Alice Cooper Goes to Hell.  We still await the announcements of two more mazes and what will become of the Terror Tram.  You can get up to the minute information from the official Halloween Horror Nights thread on MiceChat, here.

MiceChat will be holding our very own HHN meet-up event on Saturday October 6th and we have a lot of fun little surprises lined up.  Save the date.  Tickets will go on sale soon!

WILD WEST ARENA – The Walking Dead
Here, in the center of the upper lot, we have the location of the first maze.  Thanks to a little bit of wind, we get a good look at the facade.

We can see more reused flats from  Rob Zombie’s maze from last year.

The facade for the entrance they are constructing is at least 12′ tall so far.

TERMINATOR QUEUE – Alice Cooper Goes to Hell 3D
We next review the progress made in the queue of Terminator.  What is interesting about this space is how they are using it.  Strange angles, shapes and rooms are a hallmark of this layout. Are there enough clues here for any of you to make guesses on what’s coming to this spot?

Metal room?  cool.

Nothing is even remotely visible, but we can now see that the overflow queue for Shrek 4D is closed off to accommodate maze construction. This was the space for La Llorona last year.

The last location to begin construction is the extended queue of the Jurassic Park river adventure.  So far, it’s only the tent and carpeting.  But this should move fast.

According to John Murdy, the Silent Hill maze will be located in the lower lot behind the Mummy.  Little is visible due to the mesh screen above the construction area.  But, you can clearly see flats being staged just outside, ready to be installed.

Along the Terror Tram route, nothing Halloween related is really visible yet.  There is still speculation as to whether or not the Tram will even cover this area again.  One indication is the presence of trash bins and clean up of the path through the hills.

If you haven’t had a chance, go drop in on Jurassic Park.  They have the water effects turned on for the Summer and MAN do you get wet.  If it’s a hot day, this is a great way to cool off.

There are a few things happening along the Studio Tour route that we should note.

The historic Stage 28 (home of the original Phantom of the Opera set) is seeing a bit of refurbishment work happening.

As many of you know, guests are required to have 3D glasses in order to experience the impressive King Kong 360 3D.  But if you aren’t careful, you might end up with a pre-nibbled pair.

On a recent trip through Earthquake, a few of the effects were not functioning well.  The liquid gas truck effect remained stationary during the disaster and the flame effects along with it. The spark effects on the power pole were also non-functional.

It’s always a treat to be reminded of the nature surrounding the studios.  Occasionally, the dear from the nearby hills wander out into the open.  So cool.

Jimmy Falon
Jimmy Falon is not everyone’s cup of tea.  But as a celebrity host on the Tram Tour, he is pretty good.  His awkward, goofy humor seems to appeal to guests.

But we’re getting tired of that Tramtastic song.

The Tramtastic ending on the tour has become a grating ending to an otherwise entertaining tour.  In fact, on more than one occasion, the tour guides have made jokes regarding the repetitive song.  “You may not have heard this song, but we do, all day.” and the like are comments heard often.  Frankly, we don’t blame them.  How about ending the tour with something a little more “Hollywood”?  Just a thought.

There you have it.  An update from Universal Studios Hollywood, the Entertainment capital of Los Angeles. We hope you’ll make plans to join us for Halloween Horror Nights on October 6th.