November 23, 2014 – Christmas is here, and Universal has slowly been preparing the park for its always-popular Grinchmas event (which – if you haven’t heard – runs from December 6 to January 3 on select days).
However, despite the onrush of holiday crowds, Universal continues to push ahead with additional construction – this time focusing on the main entrance alongside some smaller enhancements scattered about (including a new facade for Palace Theatre Cafe). Of course, Springfield and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter continue to dominate the Upper Lot with Fast and Furious: Supercharged chugging along Falls Lake at a brisk pace.
Like most of our updates lately, this one’s packed – so let’s get started.
» Parking Lot Expansion
» Park Entrance
» Holiday Decoration
» The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
» Fast and Furious: Supercharged
» Soundstage 28
» Super Silly Fun Land
» Palace Theatre Cafe
As noted in the NBCUniversal Evolution Plan, Universal’s latest parking structures – dubbed P-3 and P-4 – continue to occupy much of Universal’s Cahuenga Blvd entrance, forcing motorists to take alternative routes to reach the Curious George and (at times) Frankenstein parking structures.
While not much has changed since our previous update, Universal continues to focus attention on constructing the first floor of the new P-3 lot.
With the Christmas season fast approaching, Universal has also begun the process of decorating CityWalk Hollywood. Featuring a towering Christmas tree in the heart of Five Towers, CityWalk Hollywood has also added various photo opportunities scattered about the shopping complex – including Santa’s sleigh placed on top of the CityWalk Fountain Court and hourly snowfall from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM on select days
While not as elaborate as its theme park cousin, CityWalk will also feature free entertainment throughout the holiday season at Five Towers. Keep your eyes peeled to our Twitter account for updates on who’s playing during your next visit.
With the controversial closing of the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club in early November, Universal has already refurnished the club’s former box office into an American Express new member center. This development coincides with American Express’ increased presence within the park, including an exclusive member center featuring complementary snacks and drinks located near Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride on the Lower Lot.
Meanwhile, Five Towers’ monstrous Christmas tree has already been erected in the heart of the entertainment plaza. Featuring 200,000 LEDs, the tree will be choreographed with the rest of the Five Towers stage.
Want to take a photo with Santa? The jolly man himself will be making special appearances from November 28 to December 23 on select dates. Visit CityWalk’s official website to get the scoop on Santa’s hours.
With the closure of Universal’s House of Horrors, Hollywood Photoland and the planned demolition of the Blues Brothers stage, Universal has begun to embark on a transformation effort to bring cohesion to the front of the park that will introduce additional retail, entertainment and shopping options.
Indeed, such an effort has already walled all of Victoria Station and Universal’s House of Horrors from guest access.
The back of Victoria Station/Universal’s House of Horrors’ queue has been closed off. With the entire structure essentially occupying three stories (including Stage 13), Universal will have plenty of room to construct the park’s new streamlined entrance.
Meanwhile, heading into the park reveals a lengthy wall spanning from the end of the Universal Studio Store all the way to the end of the Blues Brothers stage.
With this year’s Grinchmas event occupying Universal Plaza for the second year in the row, the park has already finished construction on the towering Grinchmas tree. While the rear panels still need to be constructed alongside the remainder of the event (including the Grinchmas stage, lighting and audio), festive decor has already appeared in the outer perimeter of the plaza.
While crews are continuing to prepare for Grinchmas in Universal Plaza, the rest of the park appears to have nearly completed its holiday transformation.
The Universal arch, Baker Street, French Street, the StarWay and the Lower Lot have all received their Christmas decor, and as always, all of it seems very nicely done.
Weeks after Halloween Horror Nights, Universal has already transformed the arch from a ghoulish entrance for the Walking Dead to one of festive cheer. Only in Hollywood, huh?
Like in years’ past, New York Street has been decked out – Christmas style! All there is left is snow…
…meanwhile, Baker Street has been transported back in time to Christmas, 1938 – complete with glowing white icicles.
The newly refurnished French Street has also gotten into the festive mood, with Christmas wreaths and garland scattered across the window facades.
Meanwhile, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter continues to progress externally, with stone work and snow-capped roofing already starting to appear on some of Hogsmeade’s structures.
While 2016 (the date of Harry Potter’s completion) is still far into the future, it appears as if we’ll be seeing the exterior finished before crews begin concentrating on the interior of Hogsmeade and the Forbidden Journey show building.
Reference pieces have continued to appear at the base of the Curious George parking structure, allowing construction crews get a sense of what the final product will eventually look like.
The exterior of some of Hogsmeade’s structures have progressed quickly, which familiar structures popping up alongside Shrek 4D.
Meanwhile, additional walls have appeared alongside the Shrek 4D pathway leading to the Special Effects Stage/Simpsons Plaza, constraining an already congested area of the park.
The entrance to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is starting to take shape.
Hogsmeade’s iconic chimneys have already received their stone work.
Meanwhile, crews continue to prepare the Hogwarts facade that will shield the Forbidden Journey show building from sight for guests within Hogsmeade.
The Forbidden Journey show building from the rear.
With Springfield’s Spring 2015 completion date fast approaching, crews have already begun finalizing the facades of Universal’s up-and-coming themed foot court.
Work has also continued near the Kwik-E-Mart and alongside the exit of the Special Effects Stage for an area that will completely surround the Simpsons Ride.
Nestled next to the reference pieces for the Wizarding World, reference pieces for Springfield’s facade have also been spotted beneath the Curious George parking structure.
Work occurring in front of Louie’s and Special Effects Stage’s exit (presumably for Duff Gardens).
A general overview of Springfield.
As we mentioned in our last update, the bulk of the work currently occurring on Fast and Furious: Supercharged appears to be on the animation’s interior, with much of the exterior already completed. While some construction crews continue to work on the animation’s exit, much of the crew seems concentrated near the animation’s numerous doors (presumably for what’s occurring inside).
In the meantime, if you want an idea of what to expect from this next-generation tour attraction, be sure to read our Fast and Furious predictions article for an idea of what this tour animation could entail.
Since Soundstage 28’s demolition in September, not much work has occurred on the plot of land, with crews sitting mostly idle.
Is Universal waiting for additional land to make its next move? We’ll wait and see…
Months after the opening of Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, the wet playground for Super Silly Fun Land has already been placed under refurbishment in preparation for the winter season.
While it’s only been a few months since its Spring debut, the playground has already seen its fair share of wear and tear, with high foot traffic causing damage to various props, water guns and levers scattered across the structure. With the area walled off, crews have already begun repairing and repairing the popular wet playground.
Finally, Universal has revitalized the Baker Street entrance for Palace Theatre Cafe.
With a new red and yellow canopy and brighter coupled with a refreshed sign, Palace Theatre Cafe should be able to attract more guests heading to and from Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem with its brighter and flashier exterior.
That does it for this month’s look at Universal Studios Hollywood. If you enjoy our updates, please be sure to spread the word with your fellow Universal fans by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter and Instagram Thank you for reading!
Christopher Tillman is an editor for Inside Universal.
Christopher is a California native who grew up visiting all of the Golden State’s theme parks. While studying theatre in college Christopher bounced around working at a few different attractions in Orange Country and Los Angeles. Now the father of a two year old, he is experiencing theme parks in a whole new way and has become the old man saying things like; “I remember when KITT and the A-Team van used to be here.”
You may contact Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org.