It's finally here!!! It's Potter Week!!
As you all know the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens at Universal Studios Hollywood this Thursday (April 7) and the star studded premiere is tomorrow night (April 5). We will of course be there on the red carpet so be sure you are following us for all of that fun.
So while we're celebrating all things Wizarding World this week we thought it would be a good time to stop and take a look backwards a bit, to take a look at where the park was just a few short years ago and at the "Epic Transformation" they've made. Because it truly is EPIC.
From a park that just a few years ago was giving a full year away for the price of one day to where today is commanding multiple visits for tourists and has definitely swayed the attendance habits of local fans who now have a choice between incredible theme parks to attend each weekend.
It truly is an AMAZING time time to be a theme park fan in Southern California.
(keep in mind, we don't have all the older pictures we would have liked, but at the time we weren't thinking of taking them for posterity ... oh hindsight)
We'll start off at the front of the park since that's the first thing everybody sees when they enter. Remember when this was the new thing in the park?
Of course, the iconic entry to the park hasn't changed much over the years.
The rest of the entrance area has sure changed over the years though.
Sure looks different today
All new Starbucks!!
And they aren't even done yet, coming this Summer!!
The Wild West Theater
Universal Plaza decked out for Lunar New Year earlier this year.
Let's take a left turn from Universal Plaza where we now have the amazing Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Super Silly Funland.
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Super Silly Funland
Did You Know: Despicable Me Minion Mayhem was one of the first projects we started covering as a website?
Continuing on through the upper lot of the park, who remembers when Marvel had a presence at the park? It really wasn't that long ago.
Once Marvel left it was just "Comic Heroes"
Or when this was actually a thing?
Even the Studio Tour entrance has undergone some pretty significant changes over the years:
The tour itself has had some changes, some forced and two totally different Fast and Furious attractions.
Have a tramtastic day ...
But all of the changes weren't exclusive to the upper lot, the lower lot has received it's share of love recently.
Then ... Special Effects Stages (now on the upper lot)
Transformers The Ride 3D
Even small changes to make the guest experience better.
But of course, none of that compares to the changes made to the upper lot in just the last few years. The thing that has finally made Universal Studios into a full fledged "Theme Park" and not just a "Studios" park.
Did you know: The Universal Amphitheater closed in September 2013? Not even 3 years ago.
Anybody know what is in this spot now? Certainly looks much different today.
No Epic Transformation could be done without a LOT of Epic Construction.
Now ... we'll start off with the amazing Springfield addition that was made last year.
And of course, none of that compares to what is opening in just a few days.
So now it's finally here ... just a few short days away. Wizarding World opens for the world to see.
And we all have heard the rumors, we know they aren't done yet. When the new additions will be announced is anybody's guess. Will they take the advantage of the world looking at the park this week to make another big announcement? We'll find out tomorrow night.
We hope you enjoyed this look back at the park over the past few years. We of course had a lot more pictures that we could have shared, but we figured this was more than enough. It's still amazing how much work has been done in just a few years and we can't wait to see what the future holds.
Now that the last night of Halloween Events for 2015 is over it's time to start turning our attention back on the attractions coming for 2016, and that of course means Wizarding World.
It's been almost 2 months since our last full update for Hogsmeade, Hogwarts and all things Potter, so let's get right to it today.
Written by Gregg Condon
We'll start off where we've been starting off for awhile and that's with the entry to Wizarding World, which looks a bit different than it did just a couple of months ago.
As you can see in the background, Hogwarts has had a LOT of detail added to it.
Moving back a bit you can start to see much more detail on the buildings of Hogsmeade. The clock in the middle and of course the Hogwarts Express on the far right.
Moving around near the Studio Tour
Apologies for the sun glare in some of these pictures, it was very bright
The amount of detail there is amazing
They're still working on the Greenhouse
A look at Flight of the Hippogriff which has been testing
Moving around to the other side, the trees that will be between Wizarding World and Shrek are filling in nicely
I want to go now!!!
Hippogriff. Looking forward to this since it will be different than the others.
We obviously have no idea when Wizarding World is going to open but they are working feverishly to get it done.
But Wizarding World isn't the only thing going on at the park ...
New banner up in Springfield ...
The other side ...
This has been there for awhile, but again it's been awhile since our last update. =)
On the lower lot, work is being done on what was the Universal Experience. I want to say they announced that this was going to be a food location now but it's early, it's Monday and Coffee hasn't kicked in yet. =)
Back up top, considering Halloween Horror Nights ended about 7 hours prior to the park opening on Sunday there are still a lot of props up, but they did put up a few walls already.
They finally caught Michael Myers ...
The new Retail/Dining megaplex is coming along nicely. No idea when it will be finished but it will be nice when it is.
Grinchmas Stuff has started showing up in the stores ... #TooSoon =)
And Minion stuff too ...
Real quick, a couple of CityWalk notes ... they are getting ready for Santa's Arrival
Smashburger is now open
Jody Maroni's (that I think we ate at once in 20 years of going to CityWalk) is closing and will be replaced by Ludo Bird (good call). Just hope the prices are more reasonable than the Ludo Bird at Staples Center.
The new (much needed) parking structure is looking close to being done. Let's hope they have more booths open when it opens too because the lines to get in when I left at about 10:30 were crazy.
And lastly we'll leave you with a picture of a couple of the great characters at Universal Studios Hollywood. They really are the heartbeat of the park. I could listen to these two argue all day. =)
Thanks for reading, we hope you enjoyed the update.
We are fast approaching the time where there won't be much to update on as far as Wizarding World is concerned but we should be able to get another update together in the next few weeks.
We also have no idea when the parks Season Pass prices will be announced and what their grand scheme is going to be, we've only heard rumors at this point.
So stay tuned.
And as always, as soon as opening dates, pass prices or anything is announced we will be bringing it to you.
Have a great week!!!
Pictures and Words by Gregg Condon
This past weekend after a lot of "media" stuff over the last few weeks I took a well deserved break to have just a "family" day at Universal Studios Hollywood. The rest of the family had yet to see Springfield and hadn't seen Harry Potter construction in person since Halloween Horror Nights, so we were LONG overdue.
That said, I did take the Point and Shoot and got some pics, but they won't be "fancy" like the rest of our updates. =)
The biggest addition since our last update is the new Wizarding World store at the front of the park. While this isn't EVERYTHING that will be offered in Wizarding World, it features a LOT more than we thought it would.
They've done a great job converting this store from Minions to Harry Potter.
Hedwig ... =(
Platform 9 3/4
What, the poster on the shirt doesn't move? =)
Hedwig, Fang, Fawkes, Buckbeak, Frog, Rat (Scabbers?)
House Robes, scarves and more. We're waiting to get these when WWHP opens. =)
Lots of cool notebooks and journals for each house
Overall the store is great. They also have the wands, but again, we're waiting until we can go into the wand store and have our wands choose us. =)
I was sorted into Gryffindor on Pottermore (yes, I'm that much of a Harry Potter dork) but I loved all of the house hats so I may end up getting them all at some point.
Ok, let's go check out what's going on with Wizarding World construction.
At this point most of the stuff going on towards the park side is cosmetic.
Most of the major construction is going on at Forbidden Journey and the other side of Hogsmeade.
Lots of cranes over here
An overview, looking great.
A look into where Flying Hippogriff is going.
A look at the amazing detail
Just a few things going on around the rest of the park.
It's time for Universal to ban selfie sticks on their rides. While in this particular section it's not a big deal, you start using them going down drops or on Mummy or Transformers, you've got a problem.
Hopefully we won't get the metal detectors though. =)
Great thing about having a waterproof camera ... Jurassic Park splash!!! LOL
The Springfield version of The Kitchen Sink.
Framework going up for the even bigger Potter store (we've heard).
New signs for Hand Stamp requirements
Out in CityWalk they are of course promoting Jurassic World, which arrives in just a few weeks.
I'd like one please. =)
Alright, that's enough for this update.
Just as an FYI, they are currently doing some night tours on the weekends prior to their official opening around July 4th. Not all elements may be working during this soft open period however.
We'll try and get out there on a weekend night soon to get some pics and video.