Universal Studios Hollywood reopens more of its Studio Tour backlot

June 18, 2009, 12:13 PM · Universal Studios Hollywood marked progress today in its recovery from last summer's backlot fire as the theme park and movie studio reopened its Courthouse Square set to the public.

Theme Park Insider readers Chris, Doug and John joined me on the first Studio Tour tram to drive through the new Courthouse Square.

On our way to the set, we passed some of the ongoing construction on Universal's backlot, all part of the "Project Phoenix" reconstruction. Here, John takes a picture of the new Brownstone Street.

Our tram guide said that Universal's taken this opportunity to reconceive some of the backlot sets, and now some of the locations will be built with interiors, instead of as mere hollow shells, to save film crews time shuttling between the back lot and the front lot soundstages.

We rounded the corner into Courthouse Square, to find that Universal piled on the cheese for the reopening. Doc Brown and other Universal characters led a marching band into the balloon-festooned square to kick off the short made-for-the-cameras event.

TV crews camped out in the middle of the square, but we in the tram were the guests of honor.

Construction continues on the far side of the square, used as Hill Valley in the "Back to the Future" films and now used in the CBS TV show "The Ghost Whisperer."

A quick smack of a champagne bottle against the front of the tram to "Christen" the route, and we then pulled away for the rest of the backlot tour.

Universal's next step for the backlot is to build a new version of the Kong attraction, which is slated to open next summer.

Update: Doug e-mailed a great hillside shot he took of Courthouse Square, with the "clock tower" building in the middle and the construction surrounding.

Replies (2)

June 18, 2009 at 4:43 PM · Fun to be a part of the "Celebration" (sorry, wrong park), "Festivities" of the Courtyard Square re-opening. Thanks again for the invite and the opportunity to be there. It was a surprise to end up having the 1st tram be a part of the show for the media.
Great pics, too.
I stayed and walked right onto Mummy, getting the middle of the first row, with a car all to myself! It helps to be there in the morning.


June 18, 2009 at 5:20 PM · You got to ride with THE Robert Niles? O ... M .... G

Cool pics. Wish I could be there.

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