We are now less than three months away from the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the park is continuing its rush to ensure that the rest of the theme park and surrounding areas are ready to go.
So let’s dive right in and look at the construction at Universal City.
Park Update Index
» Lankershim Project
» CityWalk Hollywood
» Universal Studio Store / Park Entrance
» New Retail/Dining/Entertainment Complex
» Mel’s Diner
» The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
» Jurassic Park: The Ride Refurbishment
» Lower Lot Projects / NBCUniversal Replacement Project
» Backlot Construction
The Lankershim hill project has been one of the slower moving projects. However, despite the sluggish progression over the last few weeks, a new development has occurred with the removal of Universal’s iconic marquee. The city continues its work on the bridge that will connect the Metro station along with the property that will help alleviate pedestrians crossing the street.
The Lankershim hill itself appears to have recently received an onrush of development to meet the deadline for Wizarding World’s April 7th opening, with additional heavy-machinery now appearing alongside the hill.
CityWalk has seen a recent influx of businesses either close or head into a period of refurbishment. If you’ve been following the site, you’ll know that Hollywood Pizza location closed its doors and will transform into the popular Blaze Pizza chain. In addition, Jillian’s Hi-Life Lanes has also closed with a new restaurant promised to come soon. Over the past few months, several locations that have closed with new tenants supposedly in the works to fill these vacancies.
Finally, the popular CityWalk fountains have also appeared to have picked up steam as crews work to reopen the popular CityWalk plaza.
Universal Studio Store / Park Entrance
As we move along, the CityWalk Universal Studio Store is currently in one of its last phases of refurbishment as Universal works to add a section dedicated to the Wizarding World.
Heading to the park’s main entrance plaza, crews have have now begun to rework the right side of the main gate. Just weeks ago, construction crews removed one of the three ticket booths, which will leave them with two booths on either side of the red carpet. Indeed, in the span of just a few weeks, Universal has replanted new palm trees and repaved the entrance pavement – bringing new life to an otherwise iconic plaza.
New Retail/Dining/Entertainment Complex
Inside the park, the Universal Studio Store and the surrounding area have also undergone a dramatic makeover as Universal continues to beautify the main pathway into the Upper Lot. With the midway now receiving new flooring, guests wishing to enter or exit the Universal Studio Store through a walled corridor. Team members have also been instructed to warn guests of the uneven pavement apparent that borders the Universal Studio Store exit.
Moving further, one of the more anticipated non-Wizarding World projects is replacement of Universal’s year round maze, House of Horrors. The new structure is expected to be divided into two portions.
The front portion of the new structure will house an expanded Universal Studio Store that will be divided into three sections, with one section devoted to the Wizarding World merchandise. Dining will occupy the rest of the front half while a section dedicated to entertainment is expected to be housed in the back.
Along with main entrance plaza, Mel’s Diner has also been receiving an extensive refurbishment.
The interior of the classic Universal restaurant has been completely gutted, with a refreshed experience expected to open soon.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The capstone of the five-year epic transformation is nearly upon us.
Team members have been seen entering and exiting the new land, forecasting potential soft openings before April 7. Across from Shrek 4D and just outside Universal Plaza, return-time ticket kiosks – similar to those found at Universal Studios Japan – have been installed. These machines will dispense a timed reentry ticket, allowing guests to enter Hogsmeade at a predetermined time. Guests may reside inside the land as long as they would like.
Depending upon where you stand outside the land, you’ll also be able to hear John Williams’ memorable score. Be sure to follow Inside Universal on Twitter and Facebook and the active community over at USHForums.com to keep track on the latest update surrounding technical rehearsals.
Jurassic Park: The Ride Refurbishment
Jurassic Park – The Ride is currently undergoing its yearly refurbishment, however, this time around the work appears to be more extensive compared to years’ past. Track spotted around the ride’s splashdown has been removed, with portions of it expected to be replaced in the coming weeks. Might this prolonged refresh mean the possibility of the Dinosaurs getting some love as well? Only time will tell.
Though, we should remind you that the infamous falling Ford Explorer was spotted working just before the ride entered refurbishment. Perhaps this is a positive sign of what’s to come?
Lower Lot Projects / NBCUniversal Replacement
Heading deeper within the Lower Lot, new projects have developed in two locations: Revenge of the Mummy’s extended queue and the former site of Soundstage 28. With Revenge of the Mummy, it appears as if crews have removed the extended queue’s awning with the pavement now clear for additional development. In addition, trailers have also been spotted on the former site of Soundstage 28. This location is expected to house a new dark ride based off the up-and-coming Universal animated feature, Secret Life of Pets.
Finally, moving to the NBCUniversal Experience, tarps continue to adorn the former museum as crews work on the building’s interior.
To complete this update, we’ll take a brief look at the Universal backlot.
Crews have appeared to demolish the old warehouses that once bordered the Metropolitan sets. New soundstages are expected to be erected on the site in the coming months.
That does it for this update.
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