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Could Universal Studios Hollywood get a gondola, too?

May 7, 2017, 2:05 PM · The Walt Disney World Resort is getting a new gondola transportation system. But could Universal Studios Hollywood follow with a gondola of its own?

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti floated (uh, sorry?) the idea this weekend in an interview with a local TV station. While the officially-unannounced Walt Disney World system, which is now under development, would stay within WDW property to connect Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios with several Disney World hotels, the at-this-point-hypothetical Universal Studios Hollywood gondola would hook up with a destination outside Universal City — the iconic "Hollywood" sign in Los Angeles' Griffith Park.

The idea is to allow visitors who want to visit the famous sign an easier way to get to it that doesn't require driving through and parking on narrow, twisty, and often-crowded residential streets that lead to the various trailheads up Mount Lee. With its spacious new E.T. parking structure, Universal Studios Hollywood is built to handle tens of thousands of visitors daily, making it the most convenient place in the immediate area for people who want to visit the nearby sign to park.

All that's needed is a way for people to get from Universal City's parking garages over Barham Boulevard and up Mount Lee to the sign — a distance a little under two miles. That's where the gondola comes in.

Now, there was nothing in the Evolution site development plan for the redevelopment of the Universal Studios Hollywood property that referenced a gondola station, heading to the Hollywood sign or anywhere else. And the city would need to obtain right of way over many private properties between Universal and the sign. Would the gondola go over Forest Lawn to the north? Or would it track closer to the 101 to the south? It's not much of a stretch to imagine that finding a path for the gondola would cost far more than actually building the thing.

And who would pay for the project? The city? Universal? Private developers hoping to profit from ticket sales? A naming sponsor? Most likely, some combination of all of the above.

Maybe it's just a silly, impossible idea. But I love it. A gondola from Universal to the Hollywood sign quickly would become a "must do" attraction for visitors to Los Angeles, further boosting attendance at Universal and exposing more visitors to the city's wonderful Griffith Park. Remember, theme park fans, that it was on a Griffith Park bench near the park's carousel that one Walt Disney got the idea for building Disneyland. Here's hoping that someday, somehow, we get to take a ride on the Universal GondoLA.

Replies (19)

May 7, 2017 at 2:21 PM · Send it down Forest Lawn Drive, and put a stop at WB Gate 8. Now you've got TWO studios involved, fighting for tourist competition.
May 7, 2017 at 3:33 PM · But why would you want to visit the sign? Silly people, it looks better when you're away from it looking towards it. When you're there you can't see it.
May 7, 2017 at 4:30 PM · If Universal wants to get in the gondola business, they should start considering it as an option for connecting the Universal Resort in Florida to the 475 acres of property they bought south of the resort. That's around four or five miles away.
May 7, 2017 at 5:40 PM · The other option is a gondola station at Griffith Observatory (obviously to see the stars) or the LA Zoo or Greek Theater so the gondola track stays within government owned land.
May 7, 2017 at 8:18 PM · Anton,

Those sites don't have anywhere near the parking, or the freeway access, that Universal has. Garcetti's idea is to get traffic of the residential streets around Griffith Park. Universal, with its dedicated freeway ramps now, if the only area facility that meets that need.

May 7, 2017 at 8:20 PM · FWIW, if you want the great mountain-top view of the city that you'd get from the sign, while also still being able to see the sign, hike up Mt. Hollywood within Griffith Park. (There's a trail from the observatory.)
May 7, 2017 at 9:45 PM · I don't think the demand will be nearly as much that requires Universal's parking structures. The parking lot at Griffith Park/LA Zoo or Griffith Observatory (next to Greek Theatre that already has hundreds of parking spaces) should definitely be expanded by a few hundred. Fast turnover will ensure everyone can see it.

I also suspect Universal won't want to sacrifice it's own parking capacity to help the city. This makes no sense/cents for them. It takes customers to the Hollywood sign where the money is made unless Universal is granted the concessions too and street access is barricaded.

BTW, The offramp is right off the 5 freeway.

May 7, 2017 at 11:42 PM · This sounds very much like a concept that probably will never become a reality. I doubt there'd ever be enough tourist traffic to the sign itself in order to justify the cost of a gondola, especially when passengers would likely have to pay $20+ for the ride (plus USH's $20 parking fee if it starts there). Additionally, the sign is fairly remote relative to other popular tourist destinations within the park. It is an interesting concept to think about, but one that would be very impractical to ever build.
May 8, 2017 at 6:45 AM · I certainly hope not. What an eyesore this would be!
May 8, 2017 at 6:54 AM · Really!?!? This is another boneheaded idea. What self respecting home owner would allow a gondola to pass through their property?
May 8, 2017 at 8:58 AM · Since Robert mentioned the hiking trail that leads to the Hollywood Sign, perhaps they should consider a gondola transportation system that does much more. The Greek Theater and Griffith Park Observatory complex can only be reached by traveling through residential streets. It's already a traffic nightmare. When the Greek Theater has evening shows, the traffic is backed up for hours. Wouldn't it be better to offset the limited parking at that location?

The most direct route via gondolas is from the LA Zoo and Griffith Park parking lot that's right off the 5 freeway. They should have their main parking lot there. Travel to the Greek Theater with an extra stop at the Observatory, then continue to the Hollywood Sign scenic point. During show days, have a limited run to the Greek Theater. Currently, there is free parking at the Zoo. This will obviously have to change.

The extra selling point from the zoo is conservation. Imagine seeing the zoo from the gondolas. Another major city that has a gondola system is Taipei Taiwan that has a station at the Taipei Zoo.

May 8, 2017 at 9:19 AM · Personally I think the gondola is a bad idea. If the neighborhood wants less foot/car traffic then the city should create a better parking area and trailhead for hiker access. People don't necessarily want to ride a gondola to the sign and it won't do anything to deter the hikers. A gondola would only increase traffic at the summit. And wouldn't they want to diminish the number of visitors to the summit?
May 8, 2017 at 5:59 PM · Are you kidding? EVERYBODY that tours in LA wants to see the hollywood sign and it is very hard to find a good viewing spot especially without a car. This is a great idea. GondaLA...wow it's a no brainer!
May 9, 2017 at 2:29 AM · Daniel wins with GondoLA.
May 9, 2017 at 4:42 AM · >>>Are you kidding? EVERYBODY that tours in LA wants to see the hollywood sign and it is very hard to find a good viewing spot especially without a car. This is a great idea. GondaLA...wow it's a no brainer!

You can hardly see it where its taking you to. You can't see it at the base.

May 9, 2017 at 7:28 AM · I agree with statements made. I think that gondolas will be rather ugly and what about the people mover, that was the dream!!!!!
May 9, 2017 at 7:59 AM · The closer you get to the sign, the harder it is to view it. Getting access to the best viewing spots currently requires a hike and going through a narrow canyon residential area.
May 9, 2017 at 10:51 AM · I think it is a fantastic idea. The best place I've found to see and be photographed with the sign is from the parking lot at The Griffith Observatory. You are close enough to it that it's not hard to get both you and the sign in frame and in focus.
The attraction of going to the sign would not to see the sign, but to see the sights visible from the sign.
It would also be nice if this all happens if at last the sign could be lit at night. You may be surprised to find out that The Hollywood sign is not lit at night.
May 11, 2017 at 12:24 PM · Maybe the gondola could take tourist toward the sign and then veer off and dump them 20 miles outside of town. Getting them the heck away from the locals who don't understand what encouraging tourist is all about.

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