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Universal Studios Hollywood unveils some detail about theme park expansion plans

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Published: July 17, 2012 at 10:42 PM

Universal Studios Hollywood has given the public its first look at the studio and theme park's latest expansion plans. Local LA-area media are focusing on Universal dropping plans to develop homes on the edge of the property, but if you take a close look at the plans, you'll find plenty of teasers about new theme park attractions at USH.

Take a look at this map of the proposed development, paying close attention to the buildings in pink. Those are to be the new theme park/entertainment buildings. They include expanded parking garages, but also new attraction developments, as well. Then compare that with a current aerial-view Google Map of the property.

Google Map of Universal Studios Hollywood

Here's what appears to be going away in the Universal Studios Hollywood plans, to be replaced by new development:

  • Terminator 2: 3D
  • The Castle Theater (currently home to Special Effects Stage)
  • Waterworld
  • The Gibson Amphitheater
  • The Studio Tour station

That doesn't necessarily mean that Universal won't rebuild some of these attractions. In fact, the plans explicitly call for a new, expanded tram tour stop down the hill, just above the current site of the Tokyo Drift segment. And the car graveyard next to that will be replaced by some sort of entertainment building. The plans are also consistent with what we've heard about the development of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood, that it will be centered around the current site of the Gibson and of Waterworld.

There's lots of space devoted toward theme park expansion in these plans, something that got a bit shortchanged in previous plans. Coupled with the aggressive new development we're seeing in Orlando, Universal's new owners (Comcast) appear to have bought in to the idea that investing money in theme parks is a great way for NBCUniversal for earn new business down the road. That's great news for theme park fans. Now, we'll just have to wait and see what Universal does with these new plans.

And to speculate about them, of course. ;^)

Readers' Opinions

From Rob P on July 18, 2012 at 1:59 AM
I hope that "Waterworld" is going to be re-built and enhanced rather than scrapped. It's one of the best of it's genre.......if not THE best.
It has always demonstrated to me that an excellent theme park attraction can be generated from a fairly average movie. The offspring, as it were, surpassing the achievements of it's parent.
It has all the elements to make it thrilling and is always very well performed.......unlike a few others I could mention.
From cynthia henisey on July 18, 2012 at 7:02 AM
Exciting. It's too small a park for the money. Expansion would make me a return visitor. But I would be sad to see Water World go. It's so fun.
From Anon Mouse on July 18, 2012 at 8:00 AM
You speculated that Transformers is going to Universal Studios Orlando. Well done. Congrats on it being true.

It appears that they won't be expanding Universal Studios Hollywood footprint, which is too bad since this park is a half day experience. The new buildings won't add too much to increase your day's experience at the park. No word yet on demolishing the Gibson Theater.

From Dominick D on July 18, 2012 at 8:44 AM
Any idea on when Waterworld will be closing?
From 69.47.212.50 on July 18, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Disney vs. Comcast... I didn't see this one coming at all. I remember when all the theme park people flipped out about Comcast buying Universal. Looks like sometimes we all need to step back and breath. I can't wait to see what happens with Universal Hollywood. The only problem for them is not only land, but also having a Disney themed resort up the road that actually likes spending lots of money inside it's parks.... unlike the southeast Walt Disney World. So good luck to
Universal. All this does is just make life of being a theme park goer much more enjoyable :D I know we have had a Disney Decade before, but what about a Universal Decade....mmmm we shall see
From 69.47.212.50 on July 18, 2012 at 11:28 AM
I also have a feeling that this is pretty much just going to be a redo/upgrade of the entire upper lot. Get it away from its old school-original Universal ways like Universal Florida was in the 90s and early 2000s
From Brandon Mendoza on July 18, 2012 at 11:38 AM
I too hope that Waterworld will be rebuilt/ upgraded. It's the best non-traveling stunt show at any North American Theme Park.
From Andrew Dougherty on July 18, 2012 at 8:31 PM
This better not start for at least 2 years I NEED to see this park and Special Effects Stage and mostly WaterWorld
From Eric G on July 20, 2012 at 10:06 PM
When I interviewed at Universal nine years ago they talked about the theme park and their desire to eventually expand it into the two remaining surface parking lots on the south side of CityWalk. Clearly, this map of the proposed expansion shows that happening. That would be an excellent area for Harry Potter and the pink kind of shows what could be a Hogsmeade Village followed by a large show building at the dead end.

What's confusing about the map is some of the overlays. Gibson is clearly still shown, and I've recently heard a rumor that it is not going anywhere, but may be used to house a theme park attraction. Could it become dual-purpose, special events and house a show?

I don't see any change to the Studio Tour loading area.

While I love Waterworld, it's gone on this map and it's probably time for a change. They got more out of the show than that movie franchise ever offered.

The 2nd 500-room hotel appears that it will be built atop the parking structure that is currently there.

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