Warner Bros. makes bid for the Hollywood gondola plan

July 10, 2018, 12:14 PM · We told you last year about an idea to run a gondola between Universal Studios Hollywood to Los Angeles' famous "Hollywood" sign, which is located on the edge of Griffith Park and across Barham Boulevard to the east from Universal's property.

Now, rival Warner Bros. is making a bid to have the gondola run instead to its studio lot, which is located north of the sign, across Forest Lawn Drive.

Running the gondola from the Warner Bros. property offers the advantage of avoiding the residential neighborhood that stands on the east side of Barham, between Universal's property and the sign. There's no development between Warner's property on the south side of Forest Lawn and the sign, which is on the southern face of Mount Lee, about a mile away from Warner's Gate 8 parking garage.

While Universal is one of the world's most popular theme parks, ranking ninth in the United States and 15th in the world with more than nine million annual visitors, according to the latest TEA/AECOM Theme Index attendance report, Warner Bros.' Burbank studio also runs its own studio tour, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Adding a gondola to the Hollywood sign certainly would help boost Warner Bros.' appeal as a tourist destination in the Los Angeles area.

Los Angeles is looking for a transportation alternative for getting fans to the Hollywood sign, which it would like to develop as a tourist attraction. Right now, the sign is sorta accessible by hiking trails, though motion sensors surround the sign to protect it from vandalism. Visitors who want to hike to the sign anyway are crowding narrow residential streets to the south of Mount Lee, where they park to access trailheads.

For most people who want a somewhat close view of the sign, the best bet now is to visit Griffith Park and hike up to neighboring Mount Hollywood from the Observatory. But the from there isn't all that close and parking at the Observatory has been a mess forever.

LA officials want to build a visitors center next to the sign and find a way to get people up there without crowding nearby residential areas. Universal and Warner Bros. already have large parking garages and an ability to manage visitors, so the two studios provide logical options for partners in this effort.

"We understand there are a number of possible solutions being considered, but we are confident the city's feasibility study will show our proposal to be the best option — an option that can be built and operated at no cost to the taxpayer and that will provide public benefit to the city of Los Angeles and its residents," a Warner Bros. spokesperson said in a press statement.

Warner Bros. is proposing to pay the estimated $100 million cost of building the tramway, though the proposal must first clear a variety of environmental and planning studies before it could be approved.

Replies (9)

July 10, 2018 at 3:52 PM

Marvelous idea especially if you can get the tourists out of the residential areas. Is Warner Bros a rival studio? They licensed Harry Potter to Universal and now look what happens.

Looking at Google Maps, NBCUniversal is right next to Warner Bros. The Walt Disney Studios is one more street over. They can all competitively bid for the project.

July 10, 2018 at 4:18 PM

Hollywood is a town of frienemies.

July 10, 2018 at 6:34 PM

FRIENEMIES. . . nice Robert. . . so true. . .

July 10, 2018 at 7:22 PM

Ooooh look at the big wooden letters. I seriously don't get the fascination with the hollywood sign.

July 10, 2018 at 7:54 PM

This gondola to the sign will be a disappointment. The best view for "selfies" is from the south with the sign behind you. Having filmed at the sign, being up close isn't a good tourist spot.

I understand the neighborhoods' concern over traffic, but unless the visitor center is built below the sign and off to the side, tourist will be taking pictures of the backside of giant letters.

July 10, 2018 at 8:07 PM

I have only been up there once, but it was kind of cool to see the letters from the backside.

July 10, 2018 at 11:05 PM

I doubt the gondola is going to stop at bad photo spot. It will go over the hill from the north and go down an extra segment to the south at the new visitor location that offers an optimal location for photos and to sell souvenirs. There will still be environmental issues since this is California.

July 11, 2018 at 12:05 AM

Either one would really help with the traffic through the neighborhood. While the signs may not be that thrilling up-close, it's kind of interesting and the real thrill would be riding the gondola and the view. I don't think there will be much environmental issues involved. People always claim that it's draconian and sure some areas (like the coast) are pretty restrictive, but many other areas not so much. Besides I can't think of any state where the impact of something on the environment wouldn't be considered. Usually in urban areas it's used as tool of wealthy NIMBYs. In this case I would imagine the Warner Bros. proposal would have the least resistance given that it doesn't fly over houses. So I'll place my bet on that one being approved.

July 12, 2018 at 6:08 PM

Here is the view of the gondola route from Warner Bros. to the top of Mount Lee, as seen from USH:

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