Hello everyone. We’re back with another photo update, this time detailing the ramp-up to this year’s Halloween Horror Nights event, the ongoing backlot modernization plan, CityWalk’s continued transformation and more!
It’s a jam-packed update, so let’s get started.
Park Update Index
Work on the tunnel connecting 10 Universal City Plaza to the studio continues, with construction crews erecting a wall that appears to border a new internal pedestrian walkway that will allow NBCUniversal employees to have unfettered access underneath the Lankershim entrance. However, despite the welcome development, the project shows no signs of impending completion with crews continuing to use heavy machinery to complete the project.
Moving on to some more cheerful news, the reworked planter in front of the NBCUniversal tower has been completed, with new landscaping surrounding the Metro pedestrian bridge.
Finally, the former site of Fung Lum restaurant continues to sit dormant, with the site apparently being used as a storage plot for construction crews. Permanent signage for the Sheraton Universal Hotel has also not yet arrived, with the hotel continuing to use the temporary print that was introduced during the initial expansion of the Lankershim hill.
Like Universal’s Lankershim entrance, construction at CityWalk Hollywood continues, with several projects in the pipeline to refocus the entertainment district back to its unique roots and away from the emphasis on chains and commoditized restaurants.
However, like the Lankershim projects, progress has been somewhat slow. Margaritaville, with an opening slated in the first half of 2017, has seen little external progress, while work on Voodoo Doughnuts appears to have been limited to the venue’s interior.
Construction on Universal Cinema also continues, with the theater’s curved glass awning now completely removed in favor of a modernized boxy structure. The theater continues to remain open in the midst of construction, with guests being directed to the theater’s far right-hand side entrance.
Finally, the Universal Studios Store has received a new logo that’s now better aligned with the theme park’s new look. Oh, and if you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out CityWalk’s newest addition – Dongpo Kitchen which officially opens today! You can read our take on the Chinese restaurant (with photos and a video) at this link.
As we outlined in our previous update, Universal has added a new singing street character on Baker Street.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a set schedule for performances, nor does it appear that Universal has worked out all the technical logistics surrounding the new show. With that being said, when the show does appear, the singer will sing with Sebastian the piano player and interact with the crowds with a backing soundtrack. It’s a refreshing addition when one considers Universal’s recent rollback of live singers in the park.
You just need to hang around Baker Street to catch the show.
Despite The Walking Dead Attraction’s official debut on July 4, Universal continues to add and modify the year-round walk through experience.
In Universal fashion, queue monitors have now been installed in The Walking Dead Attraction’s exterior queue. The new SunBrite monitors are housed in an environmentally sealed enclosure, playing a loop of clips from the television show alongside frequent warnings regarding the attraction’s adult-oriented content.
We’ve also noticed that a few scenes (namely scare actor locations) have been slightly modified around existing sets, keeping the attraction fresh for local guests.
With several maze announcements now in the bag (including The Exorcist, Freddy vs. Jason, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween and Krampus), construction for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights continues at a feverish pace.
Starting with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Blood Brothers inside the WaterWorld queue, construction for the maze continues to impact operations for the live-action stunt show. With guests now entering through the arena’s back entrance, guest flow into the theater has been bottlenecked between the second and third seating sections.
Meanwhile, construction for The Exorcist continues inside the Revenge of the Mummy extended queue. Guests will be transported inside the MacNeil residence, as Father Damien Karras attempts to rescue Regan through a series of graphic and intense exorcisms.
Moving to the Jurassic Park queue, work on the Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield maze has produced a very recognizable facade. The same can be said about Krampus, which is currently being built on the Universal Metropolitan sets. If you’re interested in going behind-the-scenes of this year’s lineup, be sure to watch the Halloween Horror Nights panel at both Midsummer Scream and Scare Los Angeles, where John Murdy and Chris Williams detail two mazes from this year’s lineup at each panel.
As for scare zones, the park will be transformed into a large scare zone based off The Purge: Election Year. The Dark Christmas scare zone – a fan favorite – will not be taking place due to the logistics surrounding The Walking Dead Attraction.
Moving on, work for Universal’s up-and-coming Secret Life of Pets attraction continues on the former site of Soundstage 28. Mounds of dirt and heavy machinery continue to roam on the plot of land, and it may not be surprising to see the attraction open up in unison with the sequel of The Secret Life of Pets in 2018.
Finally, Universal’s 5-year plan continues to chug along, with construction walls surrounding the now-demolished Back Lot Cafe. With crews continuing to move at a feverish pace, we’ll keep you posted on any notable changes to this section of the Universal backlot.
That concludes this photo update.
Thank you again for reading, and if you haven’t done so already, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and be sure to participate in the discussions over at USHForums.com. Sound off below if you have a comment, and we’ll see you in the next update.