July 1, 2013 – The Summer of Survival is in full effect here in Hollywood as construction and the SoCal heat clash with peak tourist season. For those of you avoiding the congestion in the park this season, here’s the latest news from Universal Studios Hollywood.

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Lot: Universal Plaza’s Continued Expansion


The work in the center of the upper lot is impossible to miss now as various structures around the upcoming Universal Plaza tower above the work walls. We’ve had confirmation of an art deco inspired structure that will serve as a focal point and icon for the park, though we’re still not sure what final shape that structure will take.

As we’ve known for some time, various dining and shopping options will be featured in the Plaza. Forum member William overheard someone mentioning Pink’s getting a full structure within the Plaza, to replace the small vending cart that it currently has. (For those who aren’t familiar, Pink’s is a famous hot dog stand out here.) This would hold with what we’ve heard.

In addition, there’s one structure in Universal Plaza in particular that looks very much like a Starbucks, which has been rumored for months. (And I personally have a 5 dollar bet on the outcome of that rumor, so I hope it’s true!)

It seems like there’s something changing in Universal Plaza each passing day. If you have photos of any new progress, please feel free to share them with us!

Speaking of changes…

Krustyland Expansion Possibilities


As of yet, there is no confirmation of the Orlando Krustyland expansion making its way to Hollywood. That said, its popularity in the Orlando park makes it seem like a logical step for Universal Hollywood to take. We can imagine that Hollywood will be watching carefully to see how Orlando’s version fares before trying to take any other steps.

We’ll be keeping our eyes open for any signs of change in that area in the near future.

In the meantime, in the not-so-near future…

Mischief Almost Managed: Wizarding World Possibilities


Though we’re still a long ways away from any detailed Wizarding World of Harry Potter confirmations, we believe that at the very least, we can plan on seeing Olivander’s Wand Shop and Forbidden Journey making it to Hollywood. Whether we will see any other rides or a show remains to be seen.

While Orlando gears up for its Phase Two, we can say that there have been absolutely no confirmations for Phase Two making its way here. Remember, Universal can’t plan for Phase Two when Phase One hasn’t even been made solid! Bearing in mind the infrastructure, the training, the staffing, and the experience and coordination between many teams needed to even pull off Phase One of Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood, it doesn’t seem premature to say that Phase Two is out of the question for this moment in time. That’s not to say it can’t or won’t happen in the future – but it would be so far into the future that it would be foolhardy of us to think of it as anything near confirmed.

The Minions Are Coming – and More: Super Silly Fun Land


Universal has finally confirmed Minion Mayhem, and has now also confirmed a Super Silly Fun Land area based on the amusement park in the film. In addition to the Super Silly confirmation, there has also been mention of a wet and dry playground area.

We’ve talked before about how unwise it would be to place yet another water playground on top of that parking structure, but is Universal going for yet another re-theme? Will they be taking parts of Curious George, painting them yellow, and moving them over? Or is something else in the works? And where would the dry playground go? Would we see an expansion into the French and English streets? So many questions, zero answers!

We’ve seen work going on in the former Coke Soak area since January, but we’ve got nothing concrete other than knowing that one of the Despicable Me related projects is going there. The next few weeks as we move closer to Labor Day should be very telling. As always, if you have any photos of this progress to share and would like them to be featured in an upcoming update, please get in touch with us!

More Than Meets The Eye: Transformers the Ride Debuts in Orlando


As of June 20th, our sister park in Orlando has become the third Universal park to open Transformers the Ride 3D. So far the reviews out of Florida have been overwhelmingly positive, with many impressed by the quality of it even with The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman next door.

Both Hollywood and Orlando are now competing for the higher guest turnover this summer. With crowds in both parks all summer long, that’s going to be a tough fight! Either way, guests on both coasts can now ride along with Evac and defeat Megatron.

Summer of Survival Snafu: Universal’s Stunt Marketing


With little in the way of new attractions, Universal Studios Hollywood has dubbed this the Summer of Survival in a cross promo of Transformers and King Kong 360:3D. (Though many of us locals are calling it the Summer of Survival for far different reasons than this…) To market the Summer of Survival, they’ve taken to using the hashtag #S.O.S, a play on the old Morse Code distress signal.

But in marketing the hashtag, it seems Universal caused a bit of distress for a confused public. Many people were confused by skywriting which simply said #SOS. To see an airplane spelling out those letters startled a good deal of people, causing them to think that the pilot was in genuine need of help. Others who had no idea what the hashtag was for were simply confused. But the icing on the cake – and I’m personally not proud of Universal for this one – was the skywriting that took place almost directly on top of the Disneyland Resort during the World Premiere of their new film, The Lone Ranger. That move has been drawing criticism from both Universal and Disney fans alike.

Regardless of the criticism, it still worked out in the end – after all, people are talking about it, aren’t they?

Something Wicked This Way Comes: HHN 2013

Alice Cooper Goes to Hell 3D - Halloween Horror Nights 2012

It’s that time of year again – time for Halloween Horror Nights fans to come on out and start speculating. Universal Orlando has already released their HHN dates for the upcoming fall season, as well as the names and themes of a few of their mazes.

Over here in Hollywood, we’ll begin to see maze and date details this month, since the two events are separately run and maintained. We’ll have extensive coverage of the event in the months to come, but for now you can join the conversation about it over in our HHN forum on the site.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print for this time! If you’d like to discuss the latest news, join the conversation over on USHForums.com, Facebook and Twitter. As always, thanks for reading! We’ll see you next time.

Adriana Morgan

Adriana Morgan – also known by her internet handle Miss Betty Juice – is an editor and one of the field reporters for Inside Universal.

Adriana made her first trip to Universal in 1995 during Nickelodeon’s Big Help-A-Thon, and was hooked from day one. Since that first trip, her passion for films and for Universal Studios has grown, and she continues to enjoy the park and its history today as an annual passholder and a reporter for Inside Universal. Her areas of Universal expertise include Jurassic Park, the Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue, and the Studio Tour.

Adriana currently resides in Los Angeles. You can reach her at her blog on Tumblr at MyUniversalExperience.tumblr.com, or at missb@insideuniversal.net.