August 4, 2014 – Despite the summer season and the onrush of guests flooding the park in seemingly record droves, construction at Universal continues on with several major projects in the works throughout the property.
Within the park, construction for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Springfield continue to occupy the bulk of the Upper Lot – with guests continuing to flow through awkward detours (most notably the street between Flintstones BBQ and the Special Effects Stage) to access the Studio Tour and the Lower Lot. In similar fashion, construction for Halloween Horror Nights and Fast and Furious: Supercharged also occupies a sizable portion of Universal’s backlot – taking place within Universal’s Metropolitan Sets and Falls Lake. Finally, Universal’s parking expansions and the planned Universal City pedestrian bridge continue to force traffic through temporary routes in and around the Universal property.
This is a jam packed update, so let’s get started.
» Universal City Pedestrian Bridge
» Parking Lot Expansion
» Boxtrolls Photo Opportunity
» The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
» Fast and Furious: Supercharged
» Halloween Horror Nights Construction
» Fung Lum Restaurant
» Universal and Rain
As Inside Universal reported back in June, Universal and Metro are both planning to construct a pedestrian bridge linking the Universal City Metro station to the base of the Universal shuttle service. The open-air pedestrian bridge is expected to be completed in Spring 2016.
In the meantime, fencing continues to obstruct the exit of the Metro station and the base of the Universal City Tower as guests flow through a slightly narrowed pathway to the shuttle station. Peering over, the two construction sites appear to be unchanged since our last update – hosting nothing more than dirt.
Heading up the hill, Universal’s planned parking expansions continue to take hold with P-3 growing vertical day by day. In the meantime, Universal has relocated the parking booths for Curious George to the first level of the lot. It’s a bit awkward, but given their situation, one can’t really envision a better solution.
In an effort to promote the latest film from Laika, Universal has introduced a Boxtrolls photo opportunity within Universal Plaza. The small stand features references to previous Laika productions alongside a recreated scene from the up-coming film with an opportunity for guests to take scheduled photos with the characters.
Despite its small size, the entire stand is surprisingly well built with character costumes resembling their animated counterparts with great detail.
In a rather small change, Universal has also updated WaterWorld’s show board – adding the memorable seaplane alongside the Mariner and Helen.
Granted, the sign change is nothing major but it’s still nice to know Universal has a renewed interest in the production.
Heading further into the Upper Lot, structures for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter continue to mature, with steel and roofing developing in and around the site. Most notably, it appears as if another steel structure (the Owlery perhaps?) has arisen next to Shrek 4D in conjunction with the additional metal roofing.
Beyond that, the Forbidden Journey show building continues to mature inch by inch – with additional work being applied to the building’s Hogwarts facade facing northwest and the exposed show building towards the south and east. Don’t set your sights on a completely themed castle because Hollywood’s installation will almost certainly feature exposed show building from the guest’s perspective – unless the Studio Tour’s entrance is ultimately relocated to the Lower Lot.
Moving over to Fast and Furious: Supercharged, the entire show building continues to develop at a rapid pace – with two major show buildings already forming next to Falls Lake.
Compared to King Kong 360 3D, the entire animation looks to have multiple experiences – with two major show buildings followed by a final scene. For more information on what Fast and Furious could entail, be sure to read our predictions as to what a Fast and Furious build out could ultimately entail.
Moving further into the park, Springfield’s two story food plaza appears to be progressing along.
Signs of multiple internal stairwells within the structure point to a two-story dining experience alongside the build out of multiple facades leading to a main dining area – similar to Universal Studios Florida’s single-floor installation of Fast Food Boulevard. If the current progress is anything to go by, Hollywood’s installation looks to be more cohesive and elaborate than its Florida counterpart.
For our Horror Nights fans, construction for the event is underway – with three locations on Universal’s backlot alongside the mazes currently being built in Revenge of the Mummy and Jurassic Park’s queue. While the Lower Lot maze locations remain unchanged from the guest perspective, the backlot locations have already seen a fair share of development – with preliminary wooden facades already being built.
Can anyone guess what’s being built and where? Leave your comments below!
Heading offsite, the site of the former Fung Lum restaurant continues to remain unchanged. While Universal’s planned 500 room hotel with a small adjacent parking lot is underway, we’d be curious to see how the project eventually pans out alongside an estimate date of completion. For now, not much has changed – at least from our perception.
…and in a bit of a non-update, it uncharacteristically rained in Los Angeles last weekend – showering Universal in light bursts of rain. While rain is certainly needed given California’s severe drought, experiencing in early August was certainly something we’d never expect.
With that in mind, Universal – during the rain – is truly a unique sight to behold. While the weather resembled Florida’s hot and sticky humidity, the sky towering over Universal changed the park’s atmosphere. Perhaps an omen was cast over House of Horror’s impending closure, but whatever the cause, it certainly made for some unique photo opportunities. If you have the chance, be sure to visit Universal in the rain to get a different perspective on the park.
That does it for this month’s lenghty update. Please be sure to stay with Inside Universal for continuing coverage of Universal Studios Hollywood, and be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
Jon Fu is the editor-in-chief of Inside Universal.
Jon originally founded InsideUniversal.net in 2006 as a summer hobby aimed at providing families and fans a resource for all things “Universal Studios Hollywood.” Since then, the website has taken him throughout the United States and around the world – including to places like Universal Orlando Resort, Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Singapore.
Jon currently resides in Santa Cruz, California. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.