Just Published: Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
This is most evident on the eastern side of the park where everything south from the studio tour up against the Shrek 4D queue has been boarded off. The Curious George play area is being demolished, and the Studio Souvenirs shop is also walled off.
The loss of the large play area is the only thing that will be missed in the process -- and certainly that will all be forgotten when Harry Potter World opens in two (or three) years time. So now, much like Disney California Adventure during its construction process, guests will have to get used to the temporary wooden walls.
Lest you think nothing is coming in the meantime, construction seems to be progressing on the new Despicable Me attraction. The ride is a clone of the one found in Orlando, though the facade will be a bit different. Having been on the Florida ride I can say that, other than well-founded capacity concerns, this ride should be a hit amongst guests.
The Gibson Amphitheater is now closed for good, as evidenced by this wall.
The newest addition/improvement to the park is not a ride or attraction at all. Rather, it’s a large centerpiece called Universal Plaza that now gives a focal point to Universal’s main drag. It looks terrific in person, particularly on the back side where there is a large fountain with tables and chairs.
Pictures do not quite do it justice, nor do they capture how much it improves the feel of the central area of the park. Before the plaza was built the areas blended together and the paths seemed to meander from one side of the park to the other. Now there is a focal point and a distinct crossing point from the main street to the rest of the park.
I have been told it looks terrific at night, but since the park closed at six I will not have a chance to see for myself until Halloween Horror Nights kicks off next week.
Speaking of which, there are plenty of decorations and props up for the Halloween event already.
I’m always surprised by how many props are left out in the park during regular operating hours. It makes sense from a logistical sense, of course, but it’s a bit shocking to see the gruesome props out in broad daylight.
If you'd like to get another view of the changes in the park over the past year, compare the Universal Studios Hollywood official park map from one year ago to the current version:
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