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The Inside Universal Podcast: New Decade, Same Non-Sense (and Super Nintendo World, too)

The return of Hatetofly! Andy, Brian, and Drew discuss the recent Mardi Gras announcement, as well as the latest information that was released regarding Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan, including the interactive Power Up Bands.


Direct Download and iTunes

You may download this episode directly here. You may also subscribe to the Inside Universal Podcast on iTunes. In addition, you can also follow us on Spotify to listen to podcast episodes on their app.

Universal Studios Japan reveals new details on Super Nintendo World

Universal Parks has released a few new bits of information on Super Nintendo World, the upcoming new land opening at Universal Studios Japan this Summer.

Ride details are still mum but we did get a sneak peek at some aspects of the new land, including the Mario Kart attraction, thanks to a new music video inspired by Super Nintendo World.

The music video debuts the song, “We are Born to Play”, and features Galantis and Charli XCX, launching the new “Year of Super Nintendo World” marketing campaign. The video also gave a sneak peek at the Mario Kart ride vehicle which – SURPRISE! – is a go-kart. Obviously, the video is more fantasy than reality; but it does give us our best look yet at the upcoming land.

The biggest reveal tonight was new wearable wrist bands, called “Power Up Bands”, which will allow guests to interact with certain elements in the land. The bands will work alongside a new smartphone app that will make guests feel like they’re part of the game, hitting real-life Question Blocks and collecting coins. Guests can also obtain collectible items, such as character stamps, by achieving various goals. The bands are not required to experience the land, but it definitely will add to the enjoyment of it. In addition, “Key Challenges” will be featured throughout the area. By collecting a certain number of digital “keys,” guests can cooperate with other guests to unlock additional gameplay opportunities, including “Boss Battles” against various enemy characters.

“The ‘Power Up Band’ will connect guests with dozens of iconic Nintendo items throughout the land in a truly seamless and innovative way”, said Thierry Coup, Senior Vice President, Chief, Universal Creative. “The app will keep track of their adventures and any coins, stamps or other iconic elements they earn along the way. There will be opportunities to advance through achievements, keep score, compete against each other and celebrate together when you win. I think the seamless integration of the gameplay is one of the most innovative experiences we have ever created at Universal Studios.”

Universal Studios Japan is calling 2020 the “Year of Super Nintendo World” and will kick off its new No Limit campaign in February, where more information on the land is expected to be revealed.

Super Nintendo World will open across all Universal Parks, including Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Orlando, and Universal Studios Singapore.

Stay tuned to Inside Universal for the latest on Super Nintendo World and Universal Parks & Resorts.

Photo Update: January 13, 2019 – Universal Studios Hollywood


Happy New Year! We’re back with January’s photo update around Universal Studios Hollywood! This month, we focus on the progress of “The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!” as well as the progress on the Lower Lot construction.

Let’s get started!

Park Update Index

» CityWalk Hollywood
» The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!
» Lower Lot
» A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

CityWalk Hollywood

The former location of Howl at the Moon remains empty without any announcement of its future replacement.

Construction progresses on NBC Sports Grill & Brew, though without any significant changes to the public eye since our most recent update.

Hard Rock Café closed its doors for the final time on January 6, 2020, to make way for Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. Most of the guitar has already been taken down along with the restaurant’s signage, and all tables and chairs have been cleared as construction begins.

As IT’SUGAR continues its significant exterior refurbishment, the store has temporarily been relocated to the building formerly housing the Element apparel store.

Abercrombie Kids has received a new sign as well as an LED display drawing guests into the new expansion of the Abercrombie & Fitch store.

The former location of Sublime Gifts & Finds remains empty and virtually untouched.

Tilly’s has received a new billboard on the exterior of the store.

The Universal Studio Store, as well as the main gate, have reverted back to their usual theme following the end of the holiday season at the theme park.

The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!

All scaffolding and scrim have come down on the facade of the attraction opening early this year. As construction crews finish their final few touches on the exterior of the building, Pets Place has once again been walled off from guest access.

Lower Lot

Construction progresses on the publicly unannounced project on the Lower Lot. New structures continue to appear across the plot as construction crews work tirelessly day and night.

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

Universal Plaza is currently walled-off from the public as it undergoes a transition from Grinchmas to the upcoming Lunar New Year celebration, beginning January 23.

Both the Universal Studio Store inside the park and the Animation Studio Store appear to be preparing for Lunar New Year with their new displays.

Gru’s Lab Café is currently closed for what we suspect to be an interior seasonal refurbishment.

The Jurassic World logo formally found on the main show building of Jurassic World: The Ride remains missing.

That’ll do it for this month’s photo update. From all of us at Inside Universal, we wish you the happiest of holidays and thank you as always for following our coverage of Universal Parks and Resorts.

Universal Studios Hollywood’s Lunar New Year event returns for 2020


Celebrate the “Year of the Rat” at Universal Studios Hollywood as the annual Lunar New Year event returns to the park from Thursday, January 23 through Sunday, February 9.

The celebration will take place within Universal Plaza. Under a curtain of customary red Chinese lanterns and stunning plum blossom Wishing Trees, the festivities will come to life as guests discover the 12 zodiac animal signs accompanied by their symbolic attributes.

Guests with birthday years that correspond with the “Year of the Rat” are said to be intelligent, witty and charming.

The event will feature the return of Lunar New Year favorites, such as Po and Tigress, Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop, Mandarin-speaking Megatron, as well as Hello Kitty and the Minions dressed in Lunar New Year attire.

The world-famous Studio Tour is available in Mandarin at select times throughout the day. Featuring expertly-trained Mandarin-speaking tour guides, the experience provides insight into the world of movie-making magic as guests enjoy behind-the-scenes access to one of the largest production studios in the world. In-language park maps are also available for guests.

Guests can continue their Lunar New Year celebration at Universal CityWalk’s Dongpo Kitchen restaurant which features upscale and modern Sichuan cuisine. Inspired by China’s premier restaurant Meizhou Dongpo, Dongpo Kitchen offers the comforts of a casual dining environment with both indoor and al fresco seating and caters to an eclectic palate with a variety of signature dishes.

Lunar New Year is Included in the Price of Admission to Universal Studios Hollywood.

More information is available at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com.

Be sure to stick with Inside Universal for this year’s Lunar New Year celebration and more from Universal Parks & Resorts.

Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras 2020 Concert Line-Up and Details Announced


Universal Orlando Resort has announced details – including the concert headliners – at this year’s 2020 Mardi Gras event. Celebrating its 25th year, the event features a spectacular nightly parade, authentic Cajun-style cuisine and – on select nights – live concerts by a star-studded lineup of musical artists.

Universal’s Mardi Gras 2020 will run daily from Feb. 1 through April 2. For 16 select nights during the event, guests can enjoy performances by some of the biggest names in music. This year’s line-up includes:

Mardi Gras Event Dates Headliners

(performing in the Music Plaza)

Feb. 1 The Roots
Feb. 8 Karol G
Feb. 15 Bell Biv DeVoe
Feb. 16 +Live+
Feb. 22 Kool & the Gang
Feb. 29 TLC
March 7 REO Speedwagon
March 8 Dustin Lynch
March 13 Luis Fonsi
March 14 The All-American Rejects
March 15 Diana Ross
March 20 Chris Young
March 21 Earth, Wind & Fire
March 22 Marshmello
March 28 Why Don’t We
March 29 Gavin DeGraw


This year’s parade features an all-new Treasures of the Deep theme – with the debut of six new floats inspired by mystical creatures of the deep, the sunken city of Atlantis and more. Fan-favorite floats, including the Riverboat and King Gator, will return with all-new décor celebrating 25 years of party. All 12 hand-crafted floats are engineered by Kern Studios, the same company that has created floats for the iconic New Orleans celebration since 1947.  The nightly Mardi Gras parade runs throughout the streets of Universal Studios Florida featuring intricately detailed floats, vivacious dancers and stilt performers with extraordinary costumes, and countless beads.

Guests can also enjoy authentic Cajun cuisine at The French Quarter Courtyard and performances by bands pulled straight from Bourbon Street.

Catch these authentic New Orleans bands performing daily in the French Quarter.


2020 Mardi Gras New Orleans Bands Lineup
Mardi Gras Event Dates New Orleans Bands

(Performing in the French Quarter Courtyard)

Feb. 1 – Feb. 13 Dirty Bourbon River Show
Feb. 14 – March 5 Free Agents Brass Band
March 6 – March 21 New Breed Brass Band
March 22 – April 2 Naughty Professor Brass Band


Plus, guests can enjoy authentic Cajun cuisine at The French Quarter Courtyard and performances by bands pulled straight from Bourbon Street. New to this year’s event, guests can enjoy all-new food and beverage offerings at the Carnival Around the Universe tasting tent that will feature dishes inspired by carnivals worldwide with new menu items debuting bi-weekly throughout the event. And returning to this year’s event are fan-favorite add-on experiences, including the Bayou Boil, bringing guests an authentic New Orleans crawfish boil experience, as well as the Mardi Gras Tasting Lanyard which gives guests the chance to try a variety of classic New Orleans dishes throughout their visit – including gumbo, jambalaya, po boys and more.

For more information on Mardi Gras, visit www.universalorlando.com/mardigras.


The Inside Universal Podcast: Holidays in Hollywood

Happy New Year’s Eve! The Hollywood gang gets together for one last 2019 podcast to talk about the Holidays at Universal Studios Hollywood, EVE, Running Universal’s Trolls Run, Bravo’s Top Chef Food & Wine event in March, and Sydney talks about her Orlando trip.



Direct Download and iTunes

You may download this episode directly here. You may also subscribe to the Inside Universal Podcast on iTunes. In addition, you can also follow us on Spotify to listen to podcast episodes on their app.

Top 10 Stories in 2019 from Universal Orlando

Another decade of Universal is about to end, closing the chapter on, probably, the most important chapter of Universal Orlando’s growth. Since 2010, Universal has opened 2 Wizarding Worlds, a new water park, added thousands of rooms across 4 new hotels, renovated CityWalk, and much, much more. As we look into the future, all eyes are set on the new theme park down the road.

In the meantime, 2019 was still a pretty big year for the Resort – offering a set of memorable moments that offer a fitting end chapter to the past 10 years.

10. The Green Eggs and Ham Cafe Re-Opens

Universal introduced a lot of new food options in 2019, including revamping the Monsters Cafe menu and opening the Today Cafe; but the big one was when, out of nowhere, Universal surprised everyone and reopened the Green Eggs and Ham Cafe at Seuss Landing in December – with a new menu to boot. Originally serving sandwiches and chicken fingers, the new menu boasts a variety of different tater tot plates – including our new favorite, Buffalo Chicken Tater Tots.

Other options include Pizza Tots, Green Eggs and Ham Tots, and Who-Hash – served in its own E-Ticket serving can.

We’re still not quite sure if the Cafe plans on staying open after the busy season subsides, but were hoping so; to help satiate our Buffalo Chicken Tot fix.

9. Guy Diamond, the Glitter-Farting Troll, Debuts

The Meet & Greet that took the internet by storm! Universal introduced Guy Diamond to the Trolls Meet & Greet in February. Of course, what separates Guy Diamond from other meet & greet characters is his sparkly flatulent ability. In layman’s terms, he farts glitter.

While other characters were added this year, including the awesome She-Ra, nothing captivated fans quite like Guy. Guests came out in droves to see the troll do his glitter thing, with several videos going viral. While Guy definitely had a lot of fans, there were a few who came away less than impressed by his twinkly toots. Admittedly, fart jokes can be crude – but this is one instance where the sophomoric humor works.

8. Themed Bathroom Smells Arrive in Islands of Adventure

What better way to follow up a farting troll…

Yes, this year, Universal found a new way to mask those dastardly, foul smells in their bathrooms at Islands of Adventure by introducing themed smells.

In March, Universal added a new air freshening system in the major Islands of Adventure restrooms, featuring distinctive scents for each island. For example, the whimsy of Seuss Landing is represented by a cotton candy scent, or the adventure that is Jurassic Park features a woodsy musk. In addition, the scents will change with the seasons. You may experience Iced Piña Colada in Port of Entry over the hot Florida Summer, or a delightful Gingerbread scent for the holidays.

So far, it seems the change has only been made at Islands of Adventure. We anticipate that it is only a matter of time before it makes its way over to Studios (and, eventually, our 2020 Top 10 List).

7. Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites Opens

June saw the opening of the first half of their Endless Summer Resort when Surfside Inn and Suites welcomed its first guests. Billed as Universal’s first Value Category hotel, Surfside Inn and Suites offers affordable rates while still being an “on-site” hotel (Endless Summer was built on the former home of Wet’n’Wild water park, so it’s a bit away from the action.).  Surfside Inn and Suites offers two different types of rooms: the standard room and the two-bedroom suite. The suites include two separate rooms, a kitchenette area, a picnic table, and bathroom; and can sleep up to sleep six.

With Surfside opening, it brings the total of Universal resort rooms to 7,000. The number will grow by 2,000 when the adjacent Dockside Inn and Suites opens next year.

Universal is touting Endless Summer Resort as one of the most affordable resorts on property, and if you’re looking to get all the goodies that staying on-site offers while not breaking the bank, Surfside Inn & Suites is definitely something you may want to consider booking.

6. The Beginning of Jurassic Park’s Transformation

Jurassic Park has gone through some pretty drastic changes since construction on a new project started in January, becoming barely recognizable. As construction continued, the infamous Visitor Center waterfront saw its once lush foliage become a vision massive mounds of dirt and construction cranes. While we still don’t know what to expect, here’s what we do know:

  1. It’s a coaster.

That’s it.

The recent addition of footers confirms this will most likely be a coaster, but other than that, we are in the dark. We’re still unsure of the scope of the project as well. Is this the beginning of the transformation into Jurassic World or are they just updating the look but not the name?

To accommodate the construction, the layout of Jurassic Park has been changed – with Raptor Encounter moving to a temporary location, and the Carnival Games moving near the Visitor Center. Even Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges closed for 3 months due to work on the new project. We’re crossing fingers that Universal announces something about the project soon!

5. Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle Premieres

One of the most awesome additions that Universal added this year was also sort of a letdown. Don’t get us wrong, we love the Dark Arts, but the missing Patronus finale that we saw debut in Hollywood was definitely a huge bummer.

BUT – it isn’t all bad when you consider we finally got Death Eaters in Hogsmeade!

For the first time ever, guests came face-to-face with Death Eaters. Throughout Hogsmeade, an ominous green light and fog filled the village as the Death Eaters made their way around. They would interact with guests throughout Hogsmeade, even entering the shops; and occasionally, would even engage in a duel!

It was the great counterbalance for the Halloween season, too; offering something unique in Islands while the monster that is Horror Nights was taking place next door at Studios.

Still, while the projection show was great – the missing Patronus drones do put a bit of a damper on the Dark Arts package, and why it comes in at #5.

4. Bigfire Opens in CityWalk

We like grilled meats, we like booze. Bigfire offers both in abundance.

The restaurant opened in June and has been received very positively by the community. The menu is a bit different than what CityWalk typically offers. While it has burgers and steaks, it does feature a lot more game meats and unique dishes – extending beyond what I would call a “traditional menu”; which helps Bigfire stand out in the CityWalk lineup.

On a personal note, I’m a big fan of bourbon – and Bigfire features some pretty great variations of Old Fashioneds, including the Smoky, Smoky Maple that offers some fancy bartending tricks and pours. Not many theme park restaurants offer Pappy Van Winkle, either. For beer lovers, they also offer their own brew – Bigfire Smoked Amber, which as the name implies, features smoky notes.

Also – Tableside S’Mores. That is all.

Replacing Emeril’s was no easy task, but we feel Bigfire more than lived up as its replacement.

3. Halloween Horror Nights 29

Many consider Halloween Horror Nights 28 to be one of the greatest years put on by the Resort, so following up with Halloween Horror Nights 29 was always going to be a challenge. On paper, the event featured some heavy hitters – boasting some of the most popular I.P.’s of the past and present; including Stranger Things, Ghostbusters, and Us. However, some things didn’t land as well as we hoped. Regardless, it was still a strong year – it was just tough to escape the shadow of 28’s overwhelming success.

Without a doubt, the star of this year’s event was Halloween Marathon of Mayhem. We seriously can’t say enough great things about the show. Not only did we feel it was one of the best shows Universal ever created, but one of the best night shows in Orlando. Other positives from 29 include Universal Monsters and Yeti: Terror of the Yukon, which was our favorite house of the year; and Rob Zombie Hellbilly Deluxe, our favorite zone.

Universal also went all-in with the 80’s theme, and created some awesome merchandise that caused a lot of fans to possibly go broke. The event even found its way outside the arches, as a Stranger Things photo-op was exclusively available for guests staying on-site.

The Academy of Villains continued to establish themselves as an important part of the Horror Nights community, while also offering up a highly-entertaining show.

With Horror Nights 30 now on the way, the road to the Halloween season should be exciting one…

2. Universal’s Epic Universe

They finally did it!

After years of playing it close to the chest, Universal shared its first details of their upcoming expansion and gave us the name of their new park – Universal’s Epic Universe.

The new location will feature a theme park, an entertainment center, hotels, shops, restaurants and more.

With close 570 acres of empty land, Universal’s Epic Universe expansion is roughly the same size as their current Resort property and will be Universal’s biggest investment since expanding the Studios into Universal Orlando in the late ’90s.

Since people will surely ask: Shouldn’t a new theme park announcement be #1? We feel since we knew a theme park was coming, and details are still tight-lipped, it didn’t seem right to just default it to the top spot.

Recently, Universal overcame a major hurdle with the project with the Kirkman Road Extension, which recently passed after an Orange County Board of County Commissioners vote. This is a 50/50 public-private partnership in which Universal is investing $160 million to extend Kirkman into the area where the new park will be located.

Details are still unknown, but it’s set to be an exciting time to be a theme park fan.

1. The Life & Times of Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure

To say the opening year of Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure was an eventful one would be an understatement.

From an attraction standpoint, it has easily become one of the top rides in Orlando. As we stated in our review, it has the thrills for thrillseekers but also has the ability to tell a story that traditional coasters can’t do – and that’s what so wonderful about this ride. If we strip it down to the core of just being a roller coaster, it’s a pretty thrilling experience. It’s when we add the extra layers – the themeing, the story, the animatronics; it truly makes this ride a unique attraction.

The drama comes from everything else, as the ride battled downtimes and other various issues since opening day. Day 1 of the attraction saw 10-hour waits, due to a mix of demand, reduced capacity, and downtime. A wetter-than-normal Summer also didn’t help an outdoor attraction maintain uptimes. Throughout the Summer and into the Fall, the ride was still working on the kinks – even having to close for a couple of days due to bees.

Yes, bees.

Hagrid’s was able to survive all the headaches due to overwhelming acclaim. With all the issues the ride faced, a majority of the riders came off the ride with nothing but praise.

The ride seems to be running pretty well now, with a majority of the trains running on track, increasing capacity.

Top 10 Stories of 2019 from Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood has seen tremendous change over the past six years with the support of the County of Los Angeles and the Evolution Plan. As the years fly by, many events go unnoticed or forgotten in a constantly evolving environment such as a theme park. The Inside Universal team has covered much of Universal Studios Hollywood as it has grown throughout the past decade and has continuously compiled our list of the top 10 events of the closing year:

10. Pass Member Appreciation Days

For the first time ever, Universal Studios Hollywood supported its Annual Pass community with the opportunity to visit the park and enjoy additional offerings and discounts not available to the general public. From August 15 through September 30, Pass Members could reserve a special performance of the Animal Actors Stage as well as take advantage of the Buy One, Get One offers throughout the park. Special menu items were available for those who took advantage of purchasing food and treats inside the park and Citywalk. The introduction of the My Universal Photopass was probably the best highlight in receiving a year of digital photos inside the park for 50% off. Excellent job, Universal!

9. 80’s Throwback Thursdays for Halloween Horror Nights

Halloween Horror Nights operated more nights than ever before at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2019. To attract a significant audience on a slower attendance evening of the week, Universal decided to offer a unique live band experience catering to the classic music of the 1980’s every Thursday.

With the retro action taking place throughout the park, special touches such as Beetlejuice and Chucky were added inside the park to interact and mingle with the guests who were also encouraged to wear 80’s theme attire.

8. Jurassic Café Food Revamp/Isla Nu-Bar

This year was only the beginning for many changes in the Lower Lot. With the success of Jurassic World in theaters, Universal wanted to take advantage of selling themed food and drink experiences that have been successful in many of their other properties. Turning the Jurassic Park area into a full themed “land” was no easy feat considering the plot was already very constrained next to the StarWay. Jurassic Café didn’t get a major overhaul to its venue, but the food offering became a Latin American fare with special exotic drinks to bringing the vibe of Jurassic World together. The unique Isla Nu”Bar” was a special touch of something fun and offered a fresh approach to the Jurassic attractions not yet seen from Universal.

7. Tristan Eaton – “Monster Wall”

A surprise from Universal came from the artist Tristan Eaton conception of the Universal Monsters in the backlot portion of the studio. Painted on the side of the 6217 building in the studio backlot, tour guests can get a glimpse of Dracula, Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein’s Monster, and Bride of Frankenstein. In recent years, many fans of classic Universal Monsters have been treated only to seasonal Halloween Horror Nights attractions. It’s nice to know the studio is continuing to pay tribute to its roots in a permanent art form. For a limited time, souvenirs with depictions of the artwork were made available inside the Production Central gift shop. We look forward to more classic monsters representation in the years to come.

6. Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle Premiere Event (April 11-12)

Universal Studios has shown great stride in providing premiere after-hours unique events for theme park enthusiasts. The Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle show was the main event for 2019 which lasted throughout spring and summer. With the inaugural debut, Universal offered a private event catered with a full dinner and show for guests to experience. While the weather did not fully cooperate during this two-day event, such experiences like this are rare and absolutely what many fans are looking for. With the days of soft opening attractions long gone in the social media environment, special events like this are a great alternative to get a sneak peek at a new attraction and enjoy the benefits of special treatment.

5. 4th of July Fireworks

Universal Studios Hollywood has never catered to the 4th of July guests with fireworks or special offerings. Many excuses have been noise levels for the neighboring community, and the fact that so many other local venues offer firework shows in and around Hollywood. 2019 was a first for Universal Studios Hollywood to display fireworks for its guests inside the park on Independence Day. Following a similar display of the annual “eVe” events for New Year’s Eve, Universal kept the fireworks to a low level in accordance with noise and airspace restrictions and ended the night with a bang. While this may seem like an expected attraction for any theme park but Universal has just stepped up to the plate in 2019 on the west coast.

4. Running Universal (Minion Run: May 11-12, Jurassic World Run: November 16-17)

With the recent introduction of marathon activities for Universal Studios Hollywood, crowds have flocked to the theme park to get a rare opportunity to walk (or run) the backlot studio property. This has offered the general public the availability to see some of their favorite backlot locations up close. With the success of the Minion Run, a second run came later in the year themed for Jurassic World. Special medals are presented to attendees and the opportunity to visit the theme park with a VIP breakfast and special accommodations make this event a huge success. Attendance has increased rapidly for the Running Universal events and a third event themed with the Trolls film has been scheduled for 2020 in Hollywood.

3. Jurassic World – The Ride

Jurassic Park: The River Adventure needed desperate upgrades. With a fresh new film series came a new attraction overlay taking the existing ride system and modernizing the experience. Fans all over the social media community were pondering the question of when this attraction would open given that Universal only announced its opening date as “Summer 2019”. With a generous amount of changes involved with the remodel, Jurassic World – The Ride had many delays and setbacks which pressured the timeframe for a final opening date which was never announced. Hosting the Press nearly two weeks after the attraction had publicly been announced as “open” continued to offer confusion from the general public. Many speculations still expect the ride may close for a short period of time in the near future to finish the final installations.

In short, Jurassic World – The Ride was the big summer attraction opening for Universal Studios Hollywood, but fell slightly short of the #1 spot because of its challenged shortcomings and incomplete experience. All in all, its great to see the ride flourish with modern technology and the finale T-Rex today looks as good as it did in 1996!

2. Jurassic World Triceratops Encounter with “Juliet”

Universal and Action Horizons have revitalized the interactive personal experiences for guests with an all-new and unbelievable Triceratops Encounter. “Juliet” is a fully interactive Triceratops puppet that blinks, breathes, and walks throughout the Jurassic World area. The amazing quality of puppetry makes this experience a sight to behold. Guests of all ages are stunned when they see such a lifelike animal walking amongst the crowd. Complimenting the existing Raptor Encounter, which did get a much needed and more permanent home, Juliet is allowed to roam free like a real creature.

This is the type of amazing attractions guests expect from a world-class destination. Its only inhibiting factor comes from Universal’s limited space in the Lower Lot for this Jurassic World experience. Baby Raptors were also added to the ambiance which creates a more personal touch to the daily offerings very much like Ollivander’s more private experience. We are expecting to see more personalized experiences from Universal Studios Hollywood in the years to come.

1. Autonomous Drones in Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle

Great moments for theme park guests are created when new technology offers an unexpected surprise and brings an array of unforgettable emotions. Universal Studios Hollywood took a huge leap in creating a very spectacular experience never before seen in any Southern California theme park with the premiere of Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle. While the Hogwarts Castle nighttime shows have increased in quality each time a new show was introduced, the Patronus Charm of the male stag was an exceptional finale full of goosebumps and tearful excitement. Hearing the crowd gasp when the first lights began to illuminate, the cheerful roar explodes the moment the lights form the completed creature in the sky. Seeing the stag’s head move and its feet take a step just captivated every eye in the audience until the moment it sparkled away to John William’s dynamic score.

Universal set the bar with some of the most challenging airspace in the United States, not to mention the extreme operational costs created even more challenges which required safety nets to be installed in public access areas to prevent possible catastrophes. Universal Studios Hollywood proved they have the potential to bring new and dynamic experiences that have never been seen before and this is something we want to experience over and over again. With amazing intrigue, surprise, and awe, this unique effect deserves our #1 event for Universal Studios Hollywood in 2019.

Photo Update: December 22, 2019 – Universal Studios Hollywood


After a short break, we’re back with December’s photo update around Universal Studios Hollywood! This month, we take a look at progress on “The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!”, as well as a glance at other projects around the park.

Let’s get started!

Park Update Index

» CityWalk Hollywood
» The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!
» Lower Lot
» A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

CityWalk Hollywood

All signage has been removed from Howl at the Moon, though without any announcement of a future replacement.

Construction continues on the future location of NBC Sports Grill & Brew, though without much visible progress to the public eye.

Recently, Hard Rock Café announced that their final day of operation is scheduled for January 8, 2020, and the location will be replaced by CityWalk Orlando’s original concept restaurant, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen, slated to open in 2021.

The Universal Cinema has received a new exterior themed to the upcoming film, Dolittle.

IT’SUGAR continues significant work on its exterior, with scaffolding now stretching all the way to the top of the building.

The Abercrombie Kids expansion to the existing Abercrombie clothing store has finally opened to the public for daily operation.

The former locations of the Element Apparel store and Sublime Gifts & Finds remain untouched since our most recent update.

ANGL has officially been replaced by a Tilly’s store, which opened to the public on Friday, December 20.


The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!

Scaffolding has come down on most of the facade of the attraction opening in early 2020, themed to look like a cartoonish New York City apartment building. Many windows within the vibrant building are detailed with props ranging from boxes of board games to children’s drawings on display, giving a tangible feeling of life to it all.

Lower Lot

Construction continues on both the inside and outside of the massive show building adjacent to Transformers: The Ride 3D, though no formal announcement regarding the attraction to be located there has been made.

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

Following the reveal of the facade for The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!, one of the Baker Street displays was removed.

Some of the entrances to the VIP dining room recently received a new paint job.

A portion of the road surrounding the chicken ranch on the backlot was repaved and refreshed.

The huge Jurassic World sign on the main show building of Jurassic World: The Ride remains missing.

That’ll do it for this month’s photo update. From all of us at Inside Universal, we wish you the happiest of holidays and thank you as always for following our coverage of Universal Parks and Resorts.

Universal Studios Hollywood drops prices for Annual Passes

In a surprising move, Universal Studios Hollywood has decreased the prices on all levels of their annual passes.

The Platinum Annual Pass, which includes benefits such as no blackout dates and Universal Express, was $629 is now listed at $449, dropping $180.

The Gold Pass, which was $329, is now $249 – dropping $80. The Silver Pass only saw a slight reduction, dropping $5 from $179 to $174.

Stay tuned to Inside Universal for all the latest on Universal Parks & Resorts.


The Inside Universal Podcast: New Decade, Same Non-Sense (and Super Nintendo World, too)

The return of Hatetofly! Andy, Brian, and Drew discuss the recent Mardi Gras announcement, as well as the latest information that was released regarding...

Universal Studios Japan reveals new details on Super Nintendo World

Universal Parks has released a few new bits of information on Super Nintendo World, the upcoming new land opening at Universal Studios Japan this...

Photo Update: January 13, 2019 – Universal Studios Hollywood

Happy New Year! We’re back with January’s photo update around Universal Studios Hollywood! This month, we focus on the progress of “The Secret Life...

Universal Studios Hollywood’s Lunar New Year event returns for 2020

Celebrate the “Year of the Rat” at Universal Studios Hollywood as the annual Lunar New Year event returns to the park from Thursday, January 23...