We headed up to Universal Studios Hollywood this week to bring you a long overdue update from one of the biggest construction zones in any park in the U.S.. The amount of work going on in this park is amazing, and all three of the major projects are just getting started.
We also saw the first bit of Halloween Horror Nights set dressings on the Studio Tour.
We'll start our update on the upper lot and a look at the Springfield and Hogsmeade construction area. Now that the buildings are taking shape, it's a bit easier to get an idea where both Springfield and Hogsmeade will be, even though they'll be opening a year apart.
The pole is pretty much the dividing line between the two area's. Springfield will be on the left, Hogsmeade on the right.
Pointy roof = Hogsmeade. Square roof = Springfield.
Disregard the Flintstones BBQ ...
An aerial view. The buildings are HUGE when you are close to them.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Moving beyond Springsmeade (I think we'll call it that) we see the HUGE show building for Forbidden Journey.
Every time I see this I'm amazed that just 9 months ago (on September 6) the last show was held at the Universal Amphitheater.
Once the building is closed in we'll start seeing Hogsmeade construction spread to this area.
Extreme Close-Up ... wooaaaahhhh!!!
From the other side on the Tram Tour
A few more up-close shots
From the parking structure you can see the other side of the building. It's massive. And remember, Hogwarts Castle still needs to be built.
First wooden frame for Hogsmeade or something else?
Fast and Furious: Supercharged
Since it was announced, construction on Fast and Furious: Supercharged has started moving along pretty quickly as well.
The best spot to get pictures of Fast and Furious isn't in the parks.
Super Silly Fun Land
It seems like it's taken forever to finally show you all of the parts of Super Silly Fun Land, but here it is. The water-play area is now open.
Rules are good MmmKay
Even the trash cans are Super and Silly and Fun (and Land?)
The Super Awesome Despicable Me characters were all out and were very popular.
Just a couple of quick Studio Tour notes including some set-dressing for Halloween Horror Nights for the Terror Tram
The Collapsing Bridge is back open
♪ I bless the rains down in Africa ♪ ...err Mexico (talk about a reference that ages me)
On the War of the Worlds set, we noticed a couple of new set pieces that weren't really "War of the Worlds" but could be for some event this fall. =)
Car ... not War of the Worlds
Fence ... not War of the Worlds
Thunderbird Motel (Rooms by the Hour) ... DEFINITELY not War of the Worlds. Anybody know what this could be in reference to? I Googled it but nothing came up.
Also don't forget, voting for the new Halloween Horror Nights Scare Zone starts today (June 6). Click the link for all of the details. It could be the most important vote you cast this year!!!
Around The Park
Just a couple of minor notes from the rest of the park.
Krusty's tongue is getting a refurb (insert your own joke here)
Whoever said they don't like no parfait?
Probably my favorite picture of the day (along with the one of Agnes)
That's going to wrap it up for this update, hope you enjoyed it.
We didn't head down to the lower lot but I assume the construction of the Starbucks is progressing nicely. We'll make a point to head down there next time.
Thanks again for all of your support, it's very much appreciated. Please Share!!!
We headed up to Universal Studios Hollywood for a few hours on Easter morning and we have a pretty big update for you today. Things are moving so fast on the Upper Lot with all three major construction area's.
We'll also have a quick look at Super Silly FunLand since this is the first time we've been at the park since that area opened. There is only one area left to open and it's the water play area.
Since our last update and the date it was announced, Springfield construction has kicked into overdrive.
First lets take a look at all of the construction from the ground level. An entire second level has been added since our last update.
The Springfield and Hogsmeade construction is going to start blending together so until the outsides of the buildings are added we may not know which is which.
From up top you can see just how big this area is. The Flintstones looks so out of place now and will look more out of place once Springfield opens. I still say this is going to be removed or rethemed.
There's still a LOT of room between where they are currently building the area and the Shrek 4D queue. Not sure if this is going to be an open area or if they are going to somehow build another attraction here.
Considering a big open space is already just feet away I'm not sure another is needed in Springfield. Obviously we won't be getting Kang and Kodos (don't need 2 spinners 100 yards apart) but wouldn't a Springfield themed Carousel be amazing?
The construction area is huge and it should be exciting as Springfield is constructed over the next year or so.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter
An overview of Forbidden Journey/Hogwarts.
From the Tram you can get an idea of just how big the building is, but this isn't even the tallest part.
Hogsmeade or Springfield?
Still a LOT of room and a lot of work to be done over the next two years.
A look from the other side.
Fast and Furious: Supercharged
Even though I still have issues with this being called a "ride" and I'm nowhere near the biggest fan of Fast and Furious, anything that can make the tram better is a good thing.
A couple of shots from the tram
The best view of the construction is actually from outside the park
It's a good sized construction area
Super Silly FunLand
We got our first look at the completed Super Silly FunLand and it really turned out well.
The playground area
Minions roasting marshmallows for some reason
No idea what this is but it's going to give me nightmares
Minions on the wall doing minion stuff
They've done a good job on the Boardwalk theme. Once the water play area opens it should make feel even more like a boardwalk.
Silly Swirly is also open
Lots of minions all around the place
The games in the area have also opened. We'll try them out one of these days to see if we can win a Fully Unicorn!!!
The backside of Super Silly FunLand
I kept trying to make this one laugh but he takes his job very seriously.
Around The Park
The Universal Experience is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Universal Studios Theme Park
Cylons are awesome!!!
There is a lot of great stuff to look at in the Universal Experience only about two of the display cases are dedicated to the Park. For an anniversary like this I kind of wish the entire Experience was dedicated to the Theme Park. Perhaps they are going to add more and promote it a bit more later this year?
Still, for fans of the studio it's a great walk down memory lane.
The arcade on the lower lot is closed and will soon be a Starbucks.
Jurassic Park ... just because
Looks like they are doing some work on the Collapsing Bridge
One of my favorite signs in the park
Waterworld just returned from it's rehab. We'll check out the show next time we are at the park.
Our face characters for this update. We just happened to find Kevin Bacon, Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton hanging around in costumes they haven't worn since 1995. (Wow, that movie is 19 years old ... Cue feeling like an old guy).
That will wrap it up for this update. As I mentioned in yesterdays Six Flags Magic Mountain update, we are actually going to have some updates from a LOT of different parks coming up for the next 6-8 weeks as the summer park season kicks off. We'll try and get back to Universal one more time before we get too crazy busy though.
Universal Studios finally announced it's new for 2015 tram attraction "Fast and Furious: Supercharged".
In more exciting news, the Springfield expansion was also officially announced as well as new nighttime tram tours with additional enhancements.
Update: Below is the full release and some more concept art that the park has sent us.
Be sure to check out our updates from earlier this year featuring pictures from the projects mentioned below:
Full Park Enhancement
Universal Studios Hollywood Makes Unprecedented Investment in Epic Theme Park Transformation, Dramatically Altering Footprint to Reimagine Destination with Innovative Thrill Rides and Immersive Lands
Project Represents Biggest Five-Year Line-Up of New Attractions in Universal Studios Hollywood History, Solidifying Theme Park’s Long-Term Commitment to Tourism and Economic Vitality in Los Angeles
Universal City, California, April 8, 2014 – Reaffirming its position as the #1 tourist destination in Los Angeles with one of the most progressive and exciting theme park experiences anywhere, Universal Studios HollywoodSM, is making an unprecedented five-year investment in revolutionary new thrill rides and expansive themed environments that will radically alter the familiar footprint and landscape of The Entertainment Capital of L.A. SM
This monumental transformation, the most significant undertaking in the theme park’s storied 50 year history, will have substantial impacts across all facets of L.A.’s economic spectrum from job creation to tourism. Representing the single largest investment ever made, this sweeping makeover began in 2012 with the introduction of the award-winning mega-attraction, “Transformers: The Ride—3D” and will culminate in 2016 with the much-anticipated Los Angeles debut of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™.”
“This is a pivotal time in the history of Universal Studios Hollywood as we build upon our extraordinary success and expand our vision for the future of our world-class destination,” said Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood. “This broad investment in our five-year transformation will further strengthen Universal Studios Hollywood as an economic leader, significantly contributing to long-term employment opportunities and tourism throughout L.A.”
“This amazing investment by Universal Studios Hollywood represents a dramatic boost for Los Angeles tourism, creating new world class entertainment that will add new jobs, stimulate hospitality revenues and contribute to the economic prosperity of our city,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
From its humble beginnings 50 years ago, Universal Studios Hollywood has remained true to its roots of immersing guests in the awe-inspiring world of movie-making magic, providing remarkable access to movie sets on a real working studio lot. Its once celebrated “Glamour Trams” have evolved to become the now world-famous Studio Tour and a hallmark attraction, bringing millions of guests onto areas of an authentic movie and television studio typically restricted to authorized movie production personnel and into that elusive world motivated by three compelling words: lights, camera, action.
The evolution of breakthrough, next-generation thrill rides has continued to revolutionize the theme park renowned for its innovative collaborations with top Hollywood filmmakers and the greatest creative minds in entertainment – Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Michael Bay, Chris Meledandri – whose credibility contribute immensely to a ride’s authenticity.
Working in collaboration with Universal Creative, the visionary design and development division of Universal Parks & Resorts, Universal Studios Hollywood has crafted an ambitious blueprint for the future of the theme park detailing its expansive redesign and mega-attraction introductions.
“Transformers: The Ride—3D” set the stage for this epic transformation in 2012 and raised the bar for immersive, technologically advanced entertainment offered at Universal Studios Hollywood or elsewhere. Working in partnership with award-winning filmmaker Michael Bay and the technical luminaries at Industrial Light & Magic, the ride infused an adrenalized multi-level ride-track and visceral special effects with one of the most elaborate flight simulation ride systems ever created. Housed within a newly built 60,000 square foot structure, the ride utilized the highest, most sophisticated resolution of 3D-HD technology available to virtually launch guests into the dynamic, action-packed robotic world of the Transformers.
In summer 2013, the interior focal point of the theme park profoundly changed with the installation of Universal Plaza, a visually aesthetic 37,000 square foot art deco styled piazza. This impressive and versatile polygon-shaped entertainment venue sits at the heart of the theme park as a welcoming open air courtyard, architecturally reminiscent of classic Hollywood glamour. Featuring a soaring 70 foot tall tower emblazoned with the word Universal, the venue is large in scope, yet provides a warm and inviting environment to host an array of special events and entertainment.
Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem
On April 12, 2014, “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” and “Super Silly Fun Land” will open at Universal Studios Hollywood. Based on Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s Academy Award® and Golden Globe Award-nominated film franchise, and created in collaboration with Chris Meledandri, founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment, “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” will resonate with the same endearing qualities and characters that catapulted the franchise to international blockbuster fame.
The footprint for “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” and “Super Silly Fun Land,” however, will serve as a crucial turning point for the theme park, as the adventure represents its first foray into fully expansive themed environments aimed at immersing visitors from the moment they enter the space. From experiencing Gru’s neighborhood to Miss Hattie’s Home for Girls and the imaginative seaside carnival, this all-encompassing approach is a decisive departure from the park’s more commonly used vignette ride exteriors to create holistic experiences and transport guests to that imaginary place.
2015 will be a momentous year for the theme park with two spectacular attractions debuting as part of the 50th anniversary. “Springfield” an immersive land surrounding “The Simpsons Ride” will open in Spring 2015 and in Summer 2015, “Fast & Furious—Supercharged,” based on the blockbuster film series, will be introduced as the grand finale to the celebrated Studio Tour.
The former layout of the park will become unrecognizable when “Springfield” hometown of America’s favorite family, The Simpsons, breathes new life to the sprawling and vibrant space surrounding “The Simpsons Ride.” “Springfield” will capture the spirit of the town and engage visitors and fans of the show in the intensely absorbing and colorful world made famous throughout the series’ 25 seasons.
“Springfield” is being designed to make guests feel as if they are being propelled through their television sets into the accurately depicted city, complete with signature eateries from Krusty Burger to Luigi’s Pizza and Phineas Q. Butterfat’s 5600 Flavors Ice Cream Parlor to iconic watering holes like Moe’s Tavern and Duff’s Brewery.
Fast & Furious: Supercharged
“Fast & Furious—Supercharged” will be a pulse-pounding, adrenaline-fueled finale to the world-famous Studio Tour. This technologically advanced thrill ride, will catapult guests into the high-stakes underground world of fast cars where they’ll join the cast in a harrowing escapade. The ride will be situated within a newly constructed 50,000 square foot building on the legendary backlot and will reunite stars from the Fast & Furious series in a groundbreaking mega-attraction, conceived as a new installment to the dynamic film series that can only be experienced at The Entertainment Capital of L.A.
The dynamic hydraulic-motion based ride will tell an original Fast & Furious story, incorporating hyper-realistic special effects and state-of-the-art 3D-HD imagery projected onto the world’s longest and most expansive 360-degree screen spanning nearly 400 feet in length to encircle Studio Tour guests in the Fast & Furious universe.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter
2016 will be a magical year for Universal Studios Hollywood as the theme park’s epic transformation becomes fully realized with the highly-anticipated arrival of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.”
Inspired by the magical world created by J.K. Rowling and brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Studios Hollywood will be a fully immersive land designed for the entire family that brings the Harry Potter fiction and films to life with impeccable detail and authenticity. Similar to the dynamic Universal Orlando Resort themed land that opened in 2010, the Hollywood experience will be faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including Hogwarts castle that will serve as the iconic focal point of the impressively themed environment. “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” is a collaboration between J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Universal Parks and Resorts.
This evolution of Universal Studios Hollywood will also include the addition of two newly constructed parking structures that, combined, will accommodate thousands of additional vehicles. Construction on the second parking structure will be completed in late 2015.