Springfield at Universal Studios Hollywood had some soft openings beginning last Friday with one side of the new area being open and the Duff Brewery Side coming out from behind walls just in time for Spring Break Crowds in the park.
Even though it was the first day of the area being open for guests (it had opened on Wednesday for park employees) it seemed like they had everything down to a science as far as serving, seating and keeping lines shorts is concerned.
We have no idea when Springfield "officially" opens, but I'd guess as of now it's pretty much open for good. We haven't heard anything about it closing after Spring Break or anything. But we'll let you know if it does.
Moving on, the new extended queue for Shrek 4-D is open and it looks awesome.
I love the Shrek characters, so if this attraction is going to stay around, maybe they should try and get a new Shrek movie in here at some point?
Moving on to Potter, more scaffolding has come down revealing much more of Hogsmeade.
Lastly, as of last Thursday, Universal AP prices have gone up and the "Premium" option has been replaced by the "No Black-Out Season Pass". This means that there are currently no AP options at the park that offer parking. If you have the premium pass you can still obviously use the parking until your pass expires.
We get that the expansion the park is receiving is absolutely unprecidented. It's unbelievable, and it's amazing. But you are pretty much alienating your most loyal guests here. Hopefully they'll reverse this trend that seems to be the norm at many parks of giving AP's the shaft. Having an AP doesn't (and shouldn't) give us any extra benefit, we just like to go and enjoy the park. I don't think that's too much to ask.
Also, you'll notice they are no longer "Annual" passes, but "Season" passes, and employees have been instructed to use this new term. Even year long passes purchased at Costco have an expiration date of March 18, 2016.
Now this doesn't mean that Potter is opening on March 19, 2016 or even that there will be no AP's next year. Remember when DCA tried to cut out AP's when they first opened? Granted, DCA had no Potter, but it didn't work out. We fully expect AP prices to go up next year it will just be interesting to see the true impact Potter has.
For those of you visiting the park, we suggest taking the Metro Red Line and then the shuttle up to the park. Of course, finding parking at the metro lots is another article in itself.
Alright, that's going to wrap it up for this update. Spring Break has descended on the park and it will be a very busy week at all parks, not just Universal. So bring your patience with you if you'll be heading to a park the next few weeks.
We have a HUGE week this week with a Dollywood update and the Fury 325 Media Day coming up, but we figured we owed you all another Universal Hollywood update after the Blue update from last week. (click the link if you missed it).
We had heard rumors of the walls coming down around Springfield, but that turned out to not be the case during our visit.
We also have an opening date for Fast and Furious and other park updates for you.
Pictures and Words by Gregg Condon
Today we'll start off with Springfield, which is "rumored" to have soft openings as soon as this weekend. If we hear anything we'll be sure to pass it along.
Phineas Q. Butterfat's Ice Cream Parlor has it's sign and facade up and it looks great.
This side of Springfield has definitely gotten most of the attention this week.
From up above. In this area you can get your Ice Cream, Duff Beer and Taco's from the Taco Truck. Sold!!!
A closer look at the Taco Truck
The other side of Springfield is getting minor touch up's.
An aerial view, so excited for this. Apparently all of this scaffolding is now down as of Sunday (3/22).
Wonder what kinds of baseball cards they'll have here.
Moving over to Hogsmeade, the exteriors of the theme park side look like they are close to being done. Sadly we'll just have completed buildings to look at for the next year or so as they concentrate on the other side soon.
Looking through the arch, lots of fun stuff to look at
Three Broomsticks. Still not sure about that transition from Springfield to Hogsmeade.
Moving over to Forbidden Journey, the shell for the Great Hall is starting to go up.
More stuff that will be covered in other stuff.
An overview of the area
Back on the other side, look at all that stuff in there. And you can see all the way to Hogwarts in the distance.
From outside the park, all you are going to see from this angle is the top of Hogwarts and the show building for Forbidden Journey.
Lots more themed pieces ready to go up on various places.
We finally have an opening date for Fast and Furious: Supercharged, the new attraction will open on June 25th. So still a few months away. You can read the full press release here.
There's also a cool behind the scenes video from the park that you can view below.
Jurassic Park recently returned from it's rehab so we figured we'd get some shots of the ride to see if anything is different.
The ride has received a nice freshening up and looks great.
All of the animatronics are looking great and everything seems to be working well except for the falling truck, which, lets face it, is probably never coming back.
I've gotta be honest, not sure if this mist before the final drop is an element that just hasn't been working in forever or if it's entirely new ... either way it was really cool and added to the effect of the T-Rex coming out since you couldn't see him at all until you were about to drop. Which adds to the ride immensely.
I'm gonna grab your boat with my tiny arms!!!
A couple of random park notes: Home and Family was taping as well as Mr. Robinson, whatever that is. Also a commercial on Colonial Street. Maybe they can talk about that commercial for the next 10 years instead of Desperate Housewives. =)
According to the Tommy's Facebook page the location at CityWalk will be closing. While I'm personally not a fan of chains at CityWalk this is apparently a pretty popular dining spot for employees.
Hopefully something non-chain but equally priced/useful for both employees and visitors will be taking it's place.
Citywalk is also promoting Furious 7 which opens April 3.
Lastly, a look at the new parking structure. It's coming along very well.
That's going to wrap it up for this update, we'll be sure to keep our ears perked for any news of Springfield Soft Openings so we can pass it along. Not sure if we'll be able to make it out if it does happen this week, but we will certainly try.
Have a great week everybody and be sure to check back tomorrow for Dollywood and Wednesday for Fury 325 Media Day!!
Today's update takes us to Universal Studios Hollywood and we weren't the only ones who wanted to take a look at all of the work being done at the park. As we were arriving, President Obama flew over in Marine One and probably will have a pretty amazing construction update of his own. I'm still waiting to see his pictures. =)
Apologies in advance, for some reason our pictures came out with a very Blue tint, we tried to fix them as much as possible but they might not be up to our regular standards.
Pictures and Words by Gregg Condon
Marine One flying over with a couple of Osprey.
We'll start off today with Wizarding World, which continues to get more themed elements added.
Even the arch is starting to see new things added every week.
Lamps and stuff
The Great Hall
Three Broomsticks looks great!!
Hogwarts as seen from the studip tour
Forbidden Journey show building, it's absolutely humongous.
Looks like they are starting to do more work in the area between Hogsmeade and Forbidden Journey.
A close up of the Great hall. It just looks awesome.
Queue work, from the greenhouse into the actual castle/showbuilding.
Moving over to Springfield, Duff Brewery is going up very quickly.
Building signs are almost all up.
They are doing some work in the rest of the area near The Simpsons Ride in advance of Springfield opening.
Duff ... man!!
Moving over to the rest of the park, Ted 2 is coming out in June.
Psycho House is continuing it's refurbishment.
Fast and Furious, not much change here. Most work looks to be happening on the inside at this point.
Lastly, the new parking structures are really coming along quickly with a new floor being added every month or so.
That's it for this Universal Hollywood update. Thanks for reading. We'll hopefully have some dates for Springfield and Fast and Furious, as well as the nighttime tours soon.