Published: June 1, 2008 at 1:50 PMThe smell all morning in our neighborhood has been awful. It's nothing like the smoke from the regular California wildfires - it really smells toxic. We're keeping our kids indoors just to be safe.
So although the park may be open - I wouldn't recommend heading in this direction!
Published: June 1, 2008 at 5:15 PMOh man! That was such a bad blow to USH. I guess history does repeat itself. At least none of the park guests were injured or harmed in anyway. Was the park closed because of this?
Published: June 1, 2008 at 6:24 PMPark said that the fire officials requested that USH keep the park closed today, as not to have guest and park operations interfere with firefighters' access to the fire and burn areas.
Also, speaking for myself here, I think that it made a great deal of sense to keep the park closed, to limit guest exposure to the smoke in the immediate area. This was not a brushfire, but a structure fire burning facilities with a considerable amount of plastic and other man-made chemicals. That brews a nasty smoke.
Published: June 1, 2008 at 8:40 PMI wonder if they will rebuild King Kong again like last time, or might they put in something new??
Published: June 1, 2008 at 8:45 PMFor those not familiar with Universal Studios Hollywood, the park has a unique layout. It's built on the side of a mountain, with the parking garages, CityWalk and the bulk of the theme park at the top. There is a long series of escalators that lead to a lower lot, and the back lot is located below that, mostly near or on the valley floor.
The Studio Tour leaves from a landing located just below the upper lot, and the trams drive down a service road into the backlot.
The layout puts the main section of the theme park a significant distance away from the backlot. So, from an operational perspective, the bulk of theme park won't be affected at all by the fires (once the was out, the smoke dissipated and the firefighters away from the scene).
Yes, the Studio Tour will need to be rerouted around the burn area, and it will be missing Kong. But the Studio Tour reroutes on a daily basis, based on whatever filming is happening on the backlot. So Universal's used to doing that, if not for this specific reason.
Published: June 1, 2008 at 9:12 PMWow this is bad. Thankfully no park guest or fireman got seriously hurt. I grew up with this Kong attraction. My earliest memory of Universal studios is watching King Kong eye to eye and the whole helicopter crash and of course the banana breath. Hopefully Universal can recover quickly and find a way to rebuild Kong or maybe update him to look like the 2005 film version of himself. This has got to be the worst time to be a Back to the Future fan. We are still heartbroken because of the ride removal and now the courthouse seems to have suffered damage.
Published: June 2, 2008 at 1:58 AMIt looks like the outdoor set with the stairway doorsteps is gone... as can be seen in Bruce Almighty *cues clip*. ...It's also in a current car commercial right now. I wish my USH pass didn't expire in early May. I'd like to go on the Studio Tour and see if they discuss the fire at all, maybe even drive through it.
If they rebuild another attraction in place of Kong on the Studio Tour, or re-create Kong, I hope it turns out to be a sort of 'blessing in disguise' with something great.
It's good to know that no one was seriously injured and that nothing irreplaceable was lost.
Published: June 2, 2008 at 9:50 AMMonday morning statement from Universal:
"The fire was contained to one section of the backlot. Unfortunately New York Street and the King Kong attraction were lost, but the iconic courthouse on Courthouse Square and half of the buildings facing the square were saved. Also affected was a video vault containing thousands of video and digital copies of films and TV shows. Although many of these items were lost, we believe that most, if not all, are replaceable. It is important to note as well that none of the 30 soundstages on the lot were damaged."
All in all, a bad loss, but not one that appears to be crippling to the park or the community. Thank goodness for that.
That said, I found it perversely amusing how local TV reporters had to disclaim the aerial shots of the backlot. (Saying things such as, "Um, that burnt airplane and wreckage around it are not part of the fire damage. They're supposed to be there.") I want to imagine some rookie reporter breathlessly reporting back to his producer that the fire seems to have destroyed "the back half of all the buildings on an entire block! Nothing's left but the fronts!"
The kids want to ride the Simpsons Ride, so I'll likely be taking a look first-hand within the next few days. I'll post any interesting photos on the front page.
Published: June 2, 2008 at 11:45 AMI can't believe King Kong was destroyed. thats really sad:(
Published: June 2, 2008 at 2:00 PMFor those wishing they had seen BTTF town square, you haven't been able to see it since CBS started airing "Ghost Whisperer". They changed the whole look of the town square, putting in some sort of gazebo structure in the center and removing the clock tower. SAVE THE CLOCK TOWER!
Published: June 2, 2008 at 7:14 PMI went to USH with my family last June and I was disappointed with how the tram tour operated, of course I'm from the old school when the tour and some shows were the only thing you did there and I was really little, but it made a big impression on me at that time.