After reopening in 2021, 2022 started to resemble something normal for Universal Studios Hollywood. This year saw the park get ready for the future, with the hype surrounding the opening of Super Nintendo World in full swing. While there were notable happenings around Hollywood, it also saw the park get ready for the future elsewhere.
So let’s take a look at the Top 10 Stories from Universal Studios Hollywood during 2022.
10. Barham Gate
Universal Studios added eight new soundstage buildings to the far side of the backlot, off of the Barham Blvd. entrance. The expansion should see some major usage when the 2028 Olympic Games make their way to Los Angeles.
But why is this notable? Well, the backlot’s expansion also allows the Lower Lot to get a little more theme park wiggle room. The speculation is that Universal’s idea is to move the soundstages towards the backside of the property and leave the area around the Lower Lot ripe for Expansion.
Hollywood has an interesting future ahead.
This year saw changes to Universal’s annual Lunar New Year celebration.
While the event was still held, it wasn’t as large as years before – keeping the celebration contained within Hollywood & Dine, which was renamed the Noodle House.
The park featured limited-time menus and merchandise featuring Tigress and Po to commemorate the Year of the Tiger. Guests also had the opportunity to take photos with Hello Kitty in her festive Lunar New Year dress.
It’s possible that the event was kept smaller for 2022 as the park recovered from the pandemic, so we’ll see what Universal has in store for the Year of the Rabbit.
To the surprise of many, the Special Effects Show returned for the Summer. The show had remained closed due to the pandemic, despite the park’s reopening last April.
Originally scheduled to end on August 20, the show saw its life extended well beyond said date. Even the Jabbawockeez returned to the Castle Theater for Halloween Horror Nights 2022.
Fans started to speculate whether this was a short-term change or a long-term plan; until…
Universal Studios Hollywood announced that Animal Actors, the Special Effects Show, and the Production Central store will be permanently closing on January 8, 2023.
No details have been given other than the area is closing to make way for a “future attraction” and are “setting the stage for the next chapter in its development”.
Rumors have been going around about a possible coaster but until Universal says something, they are just rumors.
The world-famous Studio Tour got some upgrades this year as Universal Studios Hollywood officially debuted the first four electric trams in its fleet of 21 Studio Tour trams.
Full conversion of the 21 trams from diesel-hydraulic engines to electric ones will help reduce carbon emissions as well as improve the guest experience by reducing noise associated with the diesel-hydraulic engine.
The tram is much quieter, and, obviously, a lot more enviro-friendly.
The move is part of Universal’s “Green is Universal” initiative – focusing on sustainability throughout operations but focus on three main areas – energy, water, and waste.
Hollywood finally got their Dark Mark.
Fans were ecstatic when Universal announced that “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will be open during Halloween Horror Nights 2022, inviting guests to come face-to-face with Death Eaters, a group of Voldemort’s most devoted followers.
During the event, Hogsmeade was filled with an eerie, green glow; while the castle featured projections of the Dark Mark. The Death Eaters stalked through the streets finding those to show their loyalty to the Dark Lord.
Despite the Death Eaters being featured in Orlando, this was different because it was a part of Halloween Horror Nights; and it made the encounters a little more “threatening”.
4. CityWalk keeps on a-changing
Things keep changing at CityWalk Hollywood.
Skechers and Poke Bar closed.
Starbucks opened a new location, replacing the Karl Strauss Brewing Co. restaurant. Chick Chick Chicken, a casual dining experience with a variety of hand-breaded chicken dishes, opened near the Universal Studios Store.
Universal UNIVRS – a new, first-of-its-kind retail destination opened, bringing favorite brands for a “unique shopping destination”.
The big project is Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, which finally resumed construction and is set to open in 2023.
We expect 2023 to continue the trend of new openings and closures.
Let’s be real, Halloween Horror Nights 2021 was a mulligan for Hollywood. By John Murdy’s own admission, “there was a lot of uncertainty going into 2021”.
With a full year to plan ahead, Murdy stated “we’re just kind of going mad”, and he wasn’t lying.
2022’s event was firing on all cylinders, as Scarecrow: The Reaping and La Llorona were some of the scariest house experiences in the event’s history. The Terror Tram made use of the new Jupiter’s Claim sets to bring the Tethered, from the film Us, to life in an awesome experience.
Many nights were sold out, as the event was headlined by The Weeknd’s After Hours Nightmare haunted house – which could be argued is the biggest IP the event has ever had.
Hollywood brought the heat this year.
We already know what to expect for 2023 as Hollywood announced as 2022’s event concluded that they will feature a haunted house inspired by the USA & SYFY hit series, “Chucky”.
The newest attraction on the world-famous Studio Tour features an original set from Jordan Peele’s newest horror film, Nope.
Nestled next to Falls Lake and where the Log Cabin used to be located, this permanent installment will transport and enable guests to experience the world of Jupiter’s Claim.
The Jupiter’s Claim set was created by Production Designer Ruth DeJong, then carefully disassembled post-production and transported to Universal Studios Hollywood where it was meticulously reconstructed on site, complete with original props and details from the film.
As guests delve deeper, there may be strange occurrences coupled with ominous music, a series of sounds, and flashing lights emanating from various parts of the set creating a truly immersive experience.
And as stated before, Jupiter’s Claim was the best part of the Terror Tram experience.
2023 is going to be insanity for Universal Studios Hollywood as Super Nintendo World hype is in full swing.
So far, Universal has opened several Nintendo stores throughout CityWalk and the park; and earlier this month, a Super Nintendo World Snack Stand opened in front of the Character Shop on the Lower Lot – selling sipper cups and popcorn buckets.
As far as the land itself, it’s set to officially open on February 17, 2023; featuring the Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge attraction, as well as many thrilling and interactive activities.
It’s probably a safe bet that our Top 10 in 2023 will feature Super Nintendo World at the top.