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Let's Take a Look at Universal Studios Hollywood's New Special Effects Show

January 14, 2016, 9:45 PM · The new Special Effects Show has opened at Universal Studios Hollywood, as the park continues its transformation in advance of the April 7 opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.


The new Special Effects Show plays on the same Castle Theater stage and shares the same basic structure as the previous Special Effects Stage production, which closed last fall. Think of this as a live-action DVD extra, where performers (and some audience volunteers) demonstrate some of the practical, visual, and sound effects that moviemakers use to help make their films come to life on screen.


The production includes a live demonstration of a Foley sound-effects stage, as audience volunteers use household items to create sound effects for a scene from "Identity Thief." Other demonstrations, carried over from the previous show, include an audience member getting her forearm hacked with blood-squirting prop knife and another volunteer — portraying a spacewalking astronaut — seemingly getting spun around in the air on a harness.

The notable additions to the new production are its stunt demonstrations, including a nighttime street fight...


...and, most impressively, a stuntman being set on fire, live on stage.


This 30-minute production offers a friendly, easy-to-understand introduction to filmed special effects. Sure, it doesn't spend much time on the computer-generated imagery that makes up so much of modern effects work, but that's the nature of a theater show — its best moments are ones that happen live on stage. And seeing a person burning just feet in front of you surely will stick in your memory long after your visit is done.

With even the Studio Tour replacing its traditional peek-behind-the-curtain moments with straight-faced storytelling (most notable on Fast & Furious - Supercharged), the Special Effects Show remains a callback to Universal's early days — when the park really did try to deconstruct movie magic, instead of recreate it.

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Elsewhere in the park, work is progressing on what might best be described as the new "main street" — the shops and restaurants that will line the street from the entrance to the Universal Plaza at the upper lot's hub.


The construction walls around The Wizarding World of Harry Potter have been moved back to within the Hogsmeade gate.


And detail work continues on the greenhouse queue to Hogwarts Castle, as the forest next to the castle has filled in nicely. (That's the Flight of the Hippogriff track on the right.)


Visitors can get a closer look at the Three Broomsticks now, too, which stands right next to Disco Stu's in the adjacent Springfield.

Three Broomsticks

Outside the park, much of area around the front entrance remains behind construction walls, though the new E.T. parking garage appears almost ready for visitors. Work continues on the pedestrian overpass connecting Universal with the Red Line Metro station across Lankershim, and the new entrance ramp to the southbound 101 from Universal Studios Boulevard is now open.

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