Veteran’s Day. Everyone has the day off almost, so that meant for major mid-week crowds at Universal Studios Hollywood. Not summer-esque crowds, but more than I anticipated. Studio Tour seemed off, with several attractions not running or malfunctioning. Nonetheless I had a pretty good day at the park. Mainly because there’s a lot going on to report on today. From crazy Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Grinchmas preparations to a bunch of changes and construction around the park.
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Let’s start outside the park. Where there’s a huge new planter on the left side of the ticket booths and entrance of the park. On the right side of the entrance/ ticket booth area, there’s a construction wall. Not sure what’s going on behind that wall. Over at the actual entrance to the park, construction walls block off the ‘gate’ and all entrances on the right, meaning that the usual exits to the park are entrance gates in the morning. Once inside the park, the photo place near the front gates seems to have received a bunch of new signage. Sort of across from which we find the new retail and dining complex that seems to be finishing up exterior construction. It’s hard to see through the pictures, but it sure looks nice. I’m curious to see what it’ll actually look like and have for retail and dining. Not much is known about it at this point. Also near the entrance the Hollywood Grill is currently closed and blocked off as well. The restaurant will reopen as Hollywood & Dine along with the expanded Universal Store in February of 2016!
Moving on to the show guide that the park hands out. Rather than the Special Effects Stage, there is now a column for the Jurassic Park Raptor Encounter. As you may know the Special Effects Stage show quietly ended a few weeks ago. As of right now no new show has been announced. But it seems as if work has already started for a replacement. This also means that with one less show, a space opened up on the Studio Directories to place the JP Raptor Encounter on them.
Mell’s Diner, like a lot of restaurants on the Upper Lot remains closed as well. Other than that there are a lot of walls surrounding the area. Presumably to take out Horror Nights props, and add Grinchmas decorations. It’s been a mere 3-4 days since Halloween Horror Nights ended and as well as on the lower lot, back lot, and upper lot, not much remains. They’ve started to take down Halloween: Michael Meyer’s Comes Home as well. In this year’s Halloween Horror Nights ‘Corpz’ Scare Zone, a few props remain to be seen for guests, but in general it’s getting cleared out at a good rate. Down to the Lower Lot real quick, the (re)construction of the photo sales location and the NBCUniversal Experience continues. Again not much info has been released on what’s exactly happening or being replaced. But since this construction has been going on for a few months now, it’s likely a noticeable change. A construction wall can be found in front of the Studio Tour sign near the escalator. The escalator down to the Studio Tour is already decked in holiday decorations. On the Studio Tour itself Jaws has been refurbished with new paint on the sets (all of which was previously black due to the fire effects). A few notes about the Studio Tour line. Decorations already went up over there as well. I do start to notice that almost 50% of the screens are seriously starting to lack in quality. The line is filled with off-color green TV screens. It’s time for those to be upgraded. And lastly, you get a lovely view of Hogsmaede. 🙂 On the Back Lot, the Whoville sets are being prepped for Grinchmas, when a crew of actors will do a live musical-esque scene for ever Studio Tour tram that passes by. More Grinchmas… The Universal Plaza is currently blocked off and being transformed for a Whobilation Celebration. A large tree lightning spectacle and a bunch of fun Grinchmas activities. (And fake snow, never ever forget about fake snow). 🙂 Large machinery is being used inside, presumably for the tree and facades around the plaza. Several buildings on the Upper Lot have been outlined with holiday lights, such as the Plaza Grill, and most buildings near the entrance. The Shrek-4D line is especially interesting, it’s a light-fest! Of course the Grinchmas sales have also started. Even though Grinchmas itself has yet to start. 😛 (No worries, it’s typical USH, I mean the Potter Store has been open a long time already).
Then there was… WIZARDING WORLD OF WATER… Look at that magnificent castle rising above a magnificent show set… Here’s a better look at the castle from up-close. It’s seriously stunning. I’m probably the only one, but it’s slightly disturbing to me that the realistic detailed Harry Potter buildings touch the Shrek-4D not-so-realistic building haha. The detail. EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK. And it hasn’t even opened yet. Even on Veteran’s Day there was a lot of work going on inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You’ve gotta love walking up to the Studio Tour with that castle high up behind the palms… The green-house on the side of Hogwarts is still under construction, today as well there was a lot of activity going on within. The green-house will most likely house the line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. A few last looks at Hogsmeade. Note the magnificent view of Hogwarts in the back! One last sunset shot of the magical world that will soon open to us all… Wizarding World of Harry Potter is expected to open early Spring of 2016!
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2 Replies to “Universal Studios Hollywood Update – November 11th 2015”
Great update! I cannot wait for Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it looks superb!
So glad the Special Effects Stage is closing. It was less “cool movie tricks that the pros use” and more “the very basics of special effects”.