July 2, 2014 – With the summer season in full swing, Universal Studios Hollywood is undergoing a swarm of construction projects.
Indeed, this update includes coverage of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the construction of Springfield in Simpsons Plaza, Halloween Horror Nights maze construction in both Jurassic Park and Mummy’s queue, WaterWorld’s seating expansion, a brief look at Cinnabon, International Cafe and Starbucks, Fast and Furious: Supercharged on the Studio Tour, the refurnished New York Street and more.
With all these bases to cover, let’s get started. Of course, for more in-depth information concerning these changes, be sure to visit the linked articles below.
» Universal City Pedestrian Bridge
» New York Street
» The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
» Halloween Horror Nights Construction
» Restaurant Refurbishments
» WaterWorld Seating Expansion
» Transformers Photo Opportunity
» Fast and Furious: Supercharged
» Parking Lot Expansion
» CityWalk Transformers Photo Opportunity
In an effort to alleviate pedestrian injuries across the busy Lankershim Boulevard intersection, Universal and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority have agreed to erect a pedestrian bridge – eliminating the current street-level crossing lanes. Construction has already begun and portions of 10 Universal City Plaza and the Universal City Metro station have been walled off, with construction crews digging a dirt foundation.
As Inside Universal noted in late June, the proposed pedestrian bridge will follow the current pedestrian path, connecting the Universal City Metro station to the base of 10 Universal City Plaza. The project is expected to take 14 months with a completion date of 2015.
In a somewhat surprising move, Universal has completely refurnished the New York City facade located at the intersection of the Blues Brothers and Universal Plaza.
Gone are the Dodgers signage and in its place theming from the 1964 New York City World’s Fair. Newspaper clippings from the era occupy the newsstands as romanticized touches from the Big Apple permeate the set in a bright and colorful fashion. It’s a fantastic redress, and it’s great to see Universal refurbishing its themed areas. Indeed, as long time readers probably know, Universal recently refurnished Moulin Rouge to coincide with the opening of Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem earlier last Spring.
Heading further into the park, progress for the Wizarding World continues at a brisk pace – with priority being placed on Three Broomsticks in time for Springfield’s debut in 2015.
Roofing for Three Broomsticks has already appeared near the entrance of the Studio Tour as construction crews work to enclose the Forbidden Journey show building. Hogsmeade also appears to be taking shape as steel beams continue to represent the distinctive sharp roofs reminiscent of Florida’s existing installation. Of course, the elephant in the room continues to be Flintstones BBQ, which stands directly in front of the path of Wizarding World. When will the structure be removed? Only time will tell, but be assured, the clock is ticking.
With Three Broomsticks and Springfield sharing kitchen facilities, Springfield continues to take the form of a two story food plaza similar to that of Fast Food Boulevard at Universal Studios Florida.
While not much has changed since our last update, one can already begin to discern the basic shape and outline of the Springfield plaza – with multiple storefronts forming one large facade. For more information on what Springfield will entail, be sure to read Universal’s official press release.
Meanwhile, maze construction for Halloween Horror Nights has already begun – with construction already taking place in Jurassic Park and Revenge of the Mummy.
While John Murdy has yet to officially announce maze locations, fans have noted a striking similarity between the progressing facade in Jurassic Park and Orlando’s American Werewolf in London maze.
With Cinnabon, International Cafe (French Street Bistro) and Starbucks likely debuting later this week, Universal has begun completing some of the finishing touches on each of these venues.
While Starbucks and Cinnabon look to be mostly completed, International Cafe (or French Street Bistro) appears to be undergoing additional work – with a new paint scheme added during the week. Stay tuned with Inside Universal as we go in-depth on Universal’s recent dining rearrangements.
As Inside Universal first reported back in May, construction for WaterWorld’s seating expansion continues – albeit at a rather cyclical pace with crews opening and closing the expanded seating areas on an ad-hoc basis.
For now, it appears as if they’ve completely separated Gate A/VIP Experience passholders from the rest of the theater in section two. In similar fashion, two parallel stairways that lead to either the old seating area or the new expanded benches have also been constructed. Whether or not the dual stairway design is permanent remains to be seen, but for now, it definitely looks to be a rather unusual solution.
It may also be noted that Universal has apparently also built a lift in section two for guests in wheelchairs. This would provide disabled guests an alternative to sitting directly in the front of each section.
Moving back to the Lower Lot, it also appears as if Universal has completely dismantled the old Transformers meet-and-greet.
If we had to wager a guess, we’d imagine Universal is attempting to build a more permanent solution, but for now, the Transformers meet-and-greets are being held in front of Transformers: The Ride – 3D.
Fast and Furious: Supercharged, on the other hand, appears to grow exponentially larger every month.
With a completion date of Summer 2015, construction crews have been chugging along constructing a large building that lines the pathway to Falls Lake. Indeed, looking inside, it appears as if the third room hosts a large “U” shaped structure that may support a continuous screen (unlike the two separate screens that King Kong 360 – 3D currently uses). Whatever the eventual setup becomes, it’s sure to be a considerable improvement from the Studio Tour’s existing 3D animation. Whatever it is, the entire show building is considerably larger than anything the Studio Tour has seen before.
For a more in-depth understanding of what a Fast and Furious tour animation could entail, be sure to read our predictions article which details four rooms and the usage of practical effects.
With the Evolution Plan in full force, Universal’s planned parking expansions continue to develop at a feverish pace, diverting traffic in and around the area.
Replacing the E.T. flat lot, P-3 aims to be a multi-story lot in similar fashion to Curious George. Eventually, Universal will also begin constructing a parking structure adjacent to the existing Curious George lot.
…and finally, to coincide with the release of Transformers: Age of Extinction, CityWalk Hollywood has placed a statute of Bumblebee and Optimus Prime in front of Universal CityWalk Cinemas Stadium. If you have a chance, be sure to stop by to snap a few photos.
That does it for this month’s update. I hope you managed to get through it, and please be sure to stay with Inside Universal for continuing coverage of Universal Studios Hollywood. Thanks for reading, and be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
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.