Universal Studios Hollywood expansion plan?

Edited: September 9, 2016, 11:35 AM

Has anyone heard Universal Studios Hollywood's 5-year expansion plan?
Are there any new attractions expected to open within the next year? I assumed not, since Harry Potter is recent.

Will Hollywood eventually build a second theme park, similar to Orlando, and make it more of a resort destination?

Replies (7)

September 8, 2016, 5:55 PM

I think they're expanding the lower for Nintendo

September 8, 2016, 6:46 PM

AJ knows more about this, but I thought that they were sizing down part of the backlot or the lower lot to add in a second Harry Potter land. Or something along those lines.

September 8, 2016, 8:04 PM

The tricky thing with Universal is it seems that their plans are currently fluctuating, and while I've got a good idea of what may be happening in general it's a lot more difficult to nail down the specific details. What I do know is that most, though not all, of the work over the next 5 years is going to take the form of a major lower lot overhaul. Jurassic Park and Transformers are staying, but pretty much everything else is getting completely changed and several soundstages are being removed in order to expand the Lower Lot. From what I hear, the plan is to give the entire thing a New York theme, which would fit really nicely with most of the attractions there. I also know that USH wants to have something new every year whether it is a ride, show, event, or something else, so while not everything will be a headliner they will be constantly adding attractions.

While I do not encourage anyone to take the following as certainty, these are some of the things I've heard are under development for the resort in the next five or so years:

-There is a new show being developed to replace the Special Effects Stage. I do not know what the show is, only that it will likely be opening next summer.
-A Secret Life of Pets dark ride is currently under development. Supposedly, this will be a trackless dark ride and may be two stories. It will be placed in the Lower Lot next to Transformers. I've heard both 2017 and 2018 mentioned as opening dates for this attraction, so assume this will likely be the next ride added to the park.
-There is some Jurassic World project in the works for 2018 in order to tie in with the new movie. Whether this is a new ride or something else is unknown, though I'm more inclined to think this is likely a major overhaul of the existing attraction.
-The Studio Tour loading area is planned to be relocated to the Lower Lot at some point in the next few years. This will free up space in the Upper Lot and will make accessing the tour easier. The new boarding area will be west of the current Lower Lot.
-I'm skeptical of this one, but supposedly the Jimmy Fallon ride opening in Florida next year is being looked at as a replacement for Shrek 4-D. This is dependent on how successful the attraction is in Florida.
-While I don't know when, Revenge of the Mummy, Shrek 4-D, and Waterworld will all be closing within the next five years for future projects.

Now for the two big tickets...

Harry Potter Part 2: This one continues to be a mystery because I've heard so many different stories on it. There have been some that say it will be a copy of Diagon Alley from Florida. Others have said it will be an expansion of Hogsmeade. A third group says instead it will be a new area based on the Fantastic Beasts trilogy. There's also considerable debate about the location; Lower Lot (replacing Mummy and some soundstages north of there), Backlot (replacing War of the Worlds), the Waterworld site (and possibly Shrek 4-D's plot as well), and the current Studio Tour loading area have all been mentioned as possibilities. Personally, I would bet against any form of Diagon Alley (especially since Hogwarts Express would be very difficult on USH's terrain), and I would bet against putting it on the Backlot away from the current park. My guess is we will either see an expansion of Hogsmeade in an area directly adjacent to to the current area, or we will see something based on Fantastic Beasts in the Lower Lot (which would fit nicely with the New York theme). I may be wrong, but I wouldn't be surprised if Universal is waiting to see the performance of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them before deciding which option to commit to. The one thing I can say with confidence is that everyone is saying this area will open in 2020 to tie in with the conclusion of the Fantastic Beasts trilogy, so look for it then.

Nintendo Land: There are fewer variables here, but I've heard that the decision of whether to place this on the Lower or Upper Lot has not been made yet. Again, I could be wrong, but I'm guessing they're going to decide what's happening with Harry Potter and then put this elsewhere (Upper Lot if Harry Potter goes in the Lower Lot or vice versa). Since this will supposedly be opening in both Japan and Florida first, I'm not expecting it until 2021 (or possibly later) in California, though some are saying otherwise (I've heard dates as soon as 2019).

Outside of the park, all I know of is that there is a Universal Studios Hotel in development that will likely be opening in 2020 or 2021. As for a second park, I haven't heard any serious talk of that, so while it may come some day I'd say such a project is probably 10+ years off.

September 8, 2016, 8:53 PM

I doubt highly if it will ever be a resort or have a second gate. USH is a much different animal than USO.

USH is an actual movie studios..like really real. This is where they actually filmed Psycho, War of the Worlds, and Back to the Future. None of the fake stuff like Disney's Hollywood Studios or Universal Studios Orlando. This is the real thing!

Edited: September 9, 2016, 12:03 AM

AJ, I think your reasoning is sound regarding Fantastic Beasts going in the lower lot. If this area takes on a New York theme this would slot in beautifully (I actually love the idea of using wands in what is essentially a muggle area - the discretion needed adds a little extra to it). I think differentiating the park from USO would be a great idea, since US has a particular issue with simply making carbon copy parks (I know Disney does it too, but not as overtly IMHO).

I think waiting to see how the new movie franchise will do is sensible. I have a feeling the movie will be a relative disappointment (not a flop), but I will hopefully be proven wrong.

I would miss the mummy ride, but since I have no doubt it's replacement would be awesome, I would get over it pretty quick.

As for Secret Life of Pets, this movie was a huge disappointment for me, with nothing particularly memorable and feeling like too much of a retread of Toy Story. I know it did well at the box office (and maybe it's marketability is huge), but I think a ride is a mistake, particularly since they now have Dreamworks to develop.

September 9, 2016, 10:20 AM

The movie previews of the Fantastic Beasts look terrific and the theme will fit nicely if the Lower Lot gets the New York theme, but would this be the old New York or the modern New York? Maybe a bit of both?

I would be curious how they use the former tram loading station. The issue is there's no easy way to get to the Lower Lot. I really hate the steep escalators. They are an accident waiting to happen. They should resolve this with a people mover system or new elevators.

The Mummy, Shrek, and Waterworld are a bit tired. I would also put the Simpsons ride in that category. They all need replacement or refreshing. My pet peeve with the park is the lack of cohesive theming and the fact that their rides are way too turbulent. Not family friendly at all. They need to thrill without excessively inducing motion sickness.

September 10, 2016, 7:24 PM

Anon, I honestly have no clue what they would do, but my idea would be to have a time portal at the entrance to the Fantastic Beasts area so that guests can go from modern New York to 1920s New York. Universal could also disguise the area so that it looks modern from the outside and only changes when guests step inside.

As for Secret Life of Pets, construction has already started on the attraction, so while I'd definitely prefer a Dreamworks ride it doesn't look like they're getting that yet. Honestly, I think the theme is less significant than the fact that it will add an all audiences ride to USH, something the park is really lacking. I hear this one is going to be more physical sets and less screens, which should provide an excellent alternative to most of the park's other attractions.

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