December 22, 2014 – Welcome to another park update, this time detailing progress on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Shrek 4D, Springfield and Soundstage 28.
Normally this time of year would be focused on Grinchmas, but there’s a lot of other distractions happening, too!
Let’s dive in!
With the complete closure and demolition of Victoria Station in late November, we didn’t anticipate how fast they’d be razing the building.
As can be seen, the entire venue has been completely demolished with art deco construction walls lining up the area.
Get used to these walls. This is going to be up for a bit.
Without the Blues Brothers stage and House of Horrors, you can see straight through to Despicable Me.
Surprisingly, the junction where the wall meets Baker Street is slightly themed to the Christmas area.
With Christmas in a few days, Grinchmas is in full swing with the park decorated from head to toe (in fact, Grinchmas has even been extended to January 4, 2015!). This year’s event offers a truncated tree lighting ceremony, activities in Universal Plaza (including Trim up the Tree Lot, Who-bilicious Cookie Dec-Who-rating, and the Who-ville Post Office) and small shows scattered across the day, including Story Time with Cindy Lou Who, Martha May Who-vier and the Who Dolls and the Wholiday Singers. Be sure to read our comprehensive overview of this year’s event if you’re interested in attending.
Lots of photo opportunities are all around, so let’s take a look.
They even rolled out the trademark Suess-carpet for this.
Christmas trees are up everywhere. A nice touch.
Flocked roof tops. Wreaths on the top floors.
This is probably an accurate look at New York right now.
And we can’t leave out Paris. They’re in the spirit, too.
The minions are just positively brimming with holiday joy. Everything in the park has Santa hats on.
Or, just Happy Christmas, for you folks across the pond.
This area has been re-decorated for Christmas after taking a month off.
The flocked snow on everything is loose, but I wouldn’t recommend playing with it.
No area is left un-jolly.
Shrek’s refurbishment was the big surprise this weekend.
While down for just over two weeks, not much was expected to have changed. How wrong we were. The queue was reworked and moved as close to Hogsmeade as literally possible. Some employees encouraged guests to visit Shrek 4D solely for a close look at Harry Potter, while those running Shrek 4D were asking people to not stop and take photos while walking through the queue, as it was causing flow issues. And Donkey now is a part of the pre-show, talking with people and employees before the torture chamber comes to life.
First off, all the queue elements have been removed. In its place is a single path inside. The wait time board is a fake painted digital time.
The Farquaad shields have been taken down. The castle almost seems to blend in with the gray walls surrounding it.
A skeleton of an awning is in the back of the extended queue. This is clearly a work in progress.
More room is made for poles, but they weren’t being used, yet.
The original entrance is back in use, but barely themed. Employees were doing their best to keep guests entertained as they waited, riffing on the dated soundtrack.
Donkey now has an interactive element before the preshow, interacting with guests and repeating the safety spiel.
It’s really hard to fathom this is a 2016 opening. Everything seems to be coming together far quicker than expected.
Some roofs are completely done and had the scaffolding removed.
Eighteen months until you can go inside.
Can you manage to wait that long?
Another surprise on this visit was the new Production Central store. Since having work done to the planters near the entrance earlier this year, it recently received a new marquee.
It’s really impressive in person and a far cry from the old one that hung there.
Plus the groundwork right outside is impressive. And the entrance to Hogsmeade waits. Enticing folks of excitement to come.
Let’s now look at something opening far sooner. This is Hollywood’s take on Orlando’s Simpsons-themed food court, and it’s appearing to come together quite rapidly and also do a remarkable job of hiding most of Harry Potter from view while in Springfield. Just a bit of a peak of Hogwarts appears when coming off of the StarWay.
Sadly, the historic Stage 28 is now just a part of memories. While we wait for the history inside to resurface elsewhere, hopefully well-preserved, we can see Universal has completely cleared the land and paved the lot.
Whenever more construction begins happening here, you can be sure that Inside Universal will cover it.
We hope you appreciated this look at all the work going in the park. It should be quite apparent by now that the park has never had more work going on all at once. For now, please continue to follow Inside Universal’s coverage of all things Universal Studios Hollywood and be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram. Thank you for reading!
Chris Glass is an editor for Inside Universal.
Chris is a Los Angeles native who grew up visiting the best theme parks in the world, but that wasn’t enough. Whenever he has the chance, he flees the comfort of Southern California to see what the rest of the world has to offer, and is always happy to return home.
You may contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.