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Universal Studios Hollywood announces the closing of Curious George and the Gibson, to clear way for Harry Potter

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Published: April 24, 2013 at 12:06 PM

Universal Studios Hollywood yesterday got its final local government approval for its $1.6 billion "Evolution Plan" makeover of its theme park and studio property. And today, the other shoe's dropping, with swift announcements of attraction closings as Universal take the next step in building its west coast Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The Gibson Amphitheater will close in September to make way for the new Harry Potter land. And Universal also just emailed this news: "The Curious George attraction will be closing at the end of the summer to make way for ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ groundbreaking."

Curious George playground
Say your goodbye to Universal Studios Hollywood's 'sprayground' soon.

According to public documents submitted by Universal as part of its Evolution Plan, we know that a new attraction will be going into the space currently occupied by the Waterworld stunt show, too, though Universal's not yet officially confirmed that show's closing, much less given a closing date. The Special Effects Stage also will close to make way for a new attraction at some point, and the Studio Tour will be relocating to a new loading area.

The old, long-closed Wild West stunt show area is already on its way to becoming a new "Central Park" landscaped area, and work is proceeding on the transformation of the old Terminator show into Despicable Me. Universal's also adding two hotels next to the park: on the sites of the VIP parking lot and the old Chinese restaurant next to the Frankenstein parking garage.

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Readers' Opinions

From 82.15.12.22 on April 24, 2013 at 12:37 PM
Who remembers when WWoHP was actually unique? Who can say "overkill"? Universal are really flogging a dead horse here. Ever heard of Middle-Earth? Get a new franchise in, stop overkilling Harry Potter. It was great in Orlando, and I can tolerate a version in Osaka. However is there really a need to add another version in the same country? And let me guess, the new parks in Korea and Dubai will also have a version, too, eh? And I suppose Singapore would also, if it was actually big enough to expand (which it isn't).
From Manny Barron on April 24, 2013 at 12:56 PM
This is music to my ears, glad to finally hear something official about this mega project. A really good thing to hear was that WaterWorld won't close to make way for Harry Potter. Sure it's going to close later for another attraction but at least it has a few more years in it.

So in opening the Wizarding World, USH will lose only the Curious George playground (Which I think a similar-style playground will open next to Despicable Me, not sure on that one) and the Gibson Amphitheater, which for tourists like me it doesn't mean much. Thats a more than fair trade.

It's going to be exciting to see the changes coming to this park in the next coming months and years.

From Dominick D on April 24, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Hopefully with this renovation we can see more exclusive rides that won't be cloned.
From Robert Niles on April 24, 2013 at 1:07 PM
To the anonymous comment: Yeah, you're absolutely correct -- just look at how putting Pirates of the Caribbean rides in all those Magic Kingdom parks killed the Pirates franchise for Disney. /sarcasm
From Anon Mouse on April 24, 2013 at 1:18 PM
My hope is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter isn't an exact clone. It should improve upon the original version. Upon entering the Studios, the new land will be right there. They need to build excitement as you enter the land and the attraction.

Disney can counter this attraction by adding Mystic Manor, which I think is a perfect counterpunch. Hogwarts castle versus the Adventurer's Mansion.

From Bryce McGibeny on April 24, 2013 at 1:34 PM
Or how every single Magic Kingdom park has some form of Mainstreet USA, Adventureland, Fantasyland, etc.
From Manny Barron on April 24, 2013 at 10:36 PM
Or Dumbo!!! That ride has been cloned in all 5 Magic Kingdom parks and its just as popular as ever.

Only a small percentage of people visit both USH and Universal Orlando regularly and a lot of people who visit the California park have never set foot in the Sunshine state. Plus the ride/land is amazing, the more people who experience it the better.

Hmm that report does mention replacing WaterWorld with a future attraction. Could that attraction be the Gringotts Coaster that is being built in the old Jaws attraction space in Orlando?!? It would be right next to Hogwarts.

Something to ponder.

From N B on April 24, 2013 at 11:53 PM
I don't think HP should be park exclusive, nor should any of Disney's rides / lands. A Cars land in Orlando would be mega huge, just as HP in California will turn out to be, I am sure.
From 98.227.60.180 on April 25, 2013 at 4:01 AM
I see a lot of people making comments about Universal putting Harry Potter in California and they don't think it's a good idea. I just want to give you a personal anecdote. I live in Indiana and I manage to afford a trip to Florida every three or four years. I guess I could go to California instead, but for some reason my family always went to Florida and now I still do that as an adult. I have a friend who lives in Texas and she always goes to California for vacation. She never comes to Florida and I never go to California. So, that thing about the Mississippi River being a cultural and psychological dividing point is true for a lot of people. Also, if I did go to California on a very, very rare trip and I went to the Universal park there I would be really disappointed if I couldn't go on Harry Potter there. It's just so rare that I can go to a world class theme park that I want to ride my favorite rides whenever I can. I know that people who are able to visit the parks more regularly might have a different opinion, but big trips like this are something I can only do maybe twice a decade so that's just my take on it.
From Rob Pastor on April 25, 2013 at 6:56 AM
I strongly agree with NB. Not many people have the financial wherewithal to travel to theme parks worldwide. Put the attractions in the parks closest to your customers so more people can experience them. Isolating rides in only one park is kind of an elitist thought, and makes very little financial sense.
From Luke Dunsmore on April 25, 2013 at 8:08 AM
My concern with this is the space constraint. Bear in mind that Universal is hilly, plus the Gibson/Waterworld are directly adjacent to Citywalk. Take a look at USH on Google Maps, and you'll see that whilst there may be room for Forbidden Journey, I can't see where they would have much scope to add a huge amount beyond that. Could we be looking at an even more compact Hogsmeade than IoA? Curious George isn't big enough to accompany more than an entrance, and you also have the issue of the Shrek 4-D theatre right next to all this. If they plan on levelling land out, this could be a much more time consuming project than I think most of us are anticipating.
From Jay R. on April 25, 2013 at 3:16 PM
Rob & NB, I understand what you're saying.....but then it almost defeats the concept of originally.

The parks are designed to be different, & I think it isn't bad to have unique attractions at each.

Otherwise, Walt Disney World (and the subsequent parks) would have REALLY been a clone of Disneyland. Same castle, same layout, same lands, etc. even the same slogan (happiest place vs most magical place....)

And one could easily bring up the point that every resort needs the same additional parks (i.e. AK, Epcot, DHS, DCA, WDS TDS should be at every resort so everyone has the chance to visit them.

I understand the financial theory behind it & it's true, BUT that in itself comes with the territory of choosing a vacation destination.

I would love to have alot of the attractions that are in Fl here in Cali, but I understand each park is different & with that, comes the disadvantage (or advantage) of getting certain attractions.

From Brandon Mendoza on April 25, 2013 at 4:10 PM
I just hope that USH doesn't get a budget version of the Harry Potter attractions like it did with the Mummy. Or how Sea World San Diego got a budget version of Atlantis. Those are very disappointing to anyone that has experienced other versions.
From Manny Barron on April 25, 2013 at 11:56 PM
Wonder when Universal is going to announce what is going to be in the Wizarding World. Forbidden Journey seems like a given, but what restaurant/shop will also make the move?

Whatever they do with the land, this is going to be a great addition to USH.

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