Two Long-Running Shows to Close at Universal Hollywood

November 9, 2022, 8:51 PM · Universal Studios Hollywood has announced the final dates for two long-running shows at the theme park.

Universal's Animal Actors and the Special Effects Show will close on January 8, 2023 "to make way for a future attraction," Universal announced this evening. The Production Central Store, located between the shows' theaters, also will close.

Special Effects Show has been running since 2016 in the old Castle Dracula theater, which has been staging performances since 1980. Special Effects Show replaced 2010's Special Effects Stage production in the theater, which itself served as a replacement for the old Special Effects Stages walk-through attraction in the Lower Lot building that now houses Transformers The Ride 3D. [Here's our review of the show: Let's Take a Look at Universal Studios Hollywood's New Special Effects Show]

Stunt fighting
Stunt fighting at the Special Effects Show

But Universal's Animal Actors reaches ever further into Universal Studios Hollywood history. The current production dates to 2007, but Universal has been staging animal shows in this theater since 1970. That makes the Animal Actors Stage the oldest existing attraction space at Universal Studios Hollywood, save for the often-changed Studio Tour itself.

The closing of some of the oldest remaining structures on Universal's upper lot will clear the way for Universal's expected new Fast and Furious roller coaster, which would load from the area cleared by the closing shows then run down the hill to Universal's Lower Lot. Universal has yet to announce that attraction officially.

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Replies (16)

November 9, 2022 at 9:11 PM

Given the animal rights from the past decade and the less use of live animals for film and television, I’m not surprised it’s closing(It’s been long overdue).

As for Special Effects Stage, they haven’t updated the show in over a decade(They’re still promoting films from a decade ago that people have forgotten about).

While I’m not going to shed a tear for these shows, it sucks that Universal will only be left with 2 live shows: Waterworld and Tri-Wizard Rally(Which the latter isn’t much of a people eater).

November 9, 2022 at 9:19 PM

Man this is huge news. I remember enjoying the old Beetlejuice show at the Castle theatre back in the 90's. I had heard about the rumored fast and furious attraction and was hoping one of these shows could occuppy the space previously used by the walking dead attraction. Thats some dead space right there (pun intended). Though not major attractions they do divert people and help in managing the crowdiness of the upper lot.

November 9, 2022 at 9:57 PM

Fun Fact: The animals that appeared in Universal's Animal Actors show in the 1970's were trained by Ray Berwick, the man who also trained the birds for Alfred Hitchcock's classic film "The Birds".

November 9, 2022 at 10:16 PM

@Manny Barron
That space is too small for a show. It’s only good for HHN houses.

November 9, 2022 at 10:16 PM

For a minute I thought it was going to be the water world show. That show been there forever and wouldn't mind going away or change it up. I don't even bother with it as I've seen it so many times. It time to retire that show.

November 9, 2022 at 10:56 PM

Given that these shows aren't even playing daily anymore (at least Special Effects isn't), I figured their time was limited. While good as a diversion, they're among the least popular attractions at the park and the obvious candidates for retirement. While I'm not sure a big outdoor roller coaster is really the best choice for USH due to it's proximity to SFMM, it should be a much larger draw for the park than the shows are and will help diversify their offerings.

November 10, 2022 at 12:17 AM

About time for this change - I've found very little "re-watch" value for both shows. In contrast, I still love seeing Waterworld.

How about the How to Train Your Dragon show from Universal Studios Beijing taking over one of those spaces? That would be a huge draw.

November 10, 2022 at 1:16 AM

I just hope the animals are given a proper retirement.

November 10, 2022 at 9:05 AM

I always liked the special effects show, but it is definitely a 1 and done experience. The other issue not highlighted here is the proximity of these 2 show spaces to each other and the poor traffic flow between the 2 theaters. I haven't been to USH since 2019, but I distinctly remember how difficult it was to navigate around these theaters before and after showtimes. It was nice from a logistical perspective to hop from one show to the other when they alternated performance times, but the physical moving into, out of, and between the theaters was a complete mess.

It's a bit of a bummer to see "Old Hollywood" being lost and these shows that allowed guests to break the 4th wall and see behind the scenes were always fascinating.

November 10, 2022 at 9:53 AM

@Rusell Meyer

That area is the worst part at USH. It’s so congested because everyone uses that walkway to get to the lower lot and the studio tour and to come back to exit.

November 10, 2022 at 9:56 AM

@Madvaz

Waterworld is still a huge draw for the park. Hell, Universal Studios Beijing literally built an entire theme land on Waterworld.

November 10, 2022 at 12:25 PM

Can't believe that the coaster is one step closer to happening. Really hope it's the elite coaster that USH has been desperately needing. However, getting rid of two high-capacity shows might really affect guest flow in the park. Even the highest-capacity coaster could not come close to the amount of those two shows combined.

The charm of those two shows was that you could see them with relatively low wait times before the show started when the park is super crowded. Taking those out and replacing them with an attraction that will most definitely be crowded will eliminate that cool aspect of the park.

(I say coaster because what other ride could go into such a limiting space)

November 10, 2022 at 1:29 PM

@Postcott - I'm not sure how those 2 shows offer any more "capacity" than a single roller coaster. I don't know the exact sizes of the theaters here, but I don't think they are more than 2-3k seats combined. Given that they typically alternated performances (i.e. both shows didn't run at the same time), that means a total "throughput" of no more than 1,500 people per hour, and that assumes they actually run alternating shows every single hour of the day (which they never did - the most I ever saw was 4 performances of each show/8 total shows over a 10 hour day). Unless they're putting in a slow-loading shuttle coaster, I would expect a major roller coaster to at least get to somewhere around 1,000-1,200 people per hour, putting a daily throughput somewhere close to what these 2 shows spaces were drawing.

While a F&F coaster is heavily rumored here, I wouldn't be surprised to see USH take these performance spaces and reconfigure them into a single theater to allow for a clone of the Bourne Stuntacular (or other similar indoor stunt show). We saw the USF show for the first time on our most recent visit in October, and were mesmerized by the show - we were lucky enough to see a performance where there was a technical issue and had the director step in and explain some of the tech and tricks while they reset the stage and fixed the problem. Importing this impressive show to USH would obviously have some overlap with Waterworld, but the 2 could probably coexist or perhaps allow for the outdoor stunt show to be retired to make room for a WWoHP expansion.

November 10, 2022 at 3:58 PM

To back up Russell's point, I actually had the capacity discussion with a friend yesterday and we came to the conclusion that the two shows together average out to an hourly capacity of around 800, which is roughly on par with the practical throughput of Mummy and lower than most of the park's rides (which range from 700-1200 in practice). By comparison, a high capacity modern roller coaster like VelociCoaster can put through around 1,800 people per hour if firing on all cylinders. So no, the shows are not high capacity compared to other attractions in the park. They do get more people off the pathways at once, but a well designed queue line can accomplish that just as well.

November 11, 2022 at 4:13 PM

Geeze, I remember (with many others) the Special Effects Show down in the (now) Transformers building. The old Robert Wagner intro video through the (3) rooms, with a chosen one to float in the astronaut suit. Good old 80s right there. Just amazing how crammed USH is & how many projectors are used in many attractions. Also how they follow Dlands' pricing when there is just no comparison? Though, the parking for both parks is just flat out ridiculous.

On top of that with all the revenue made through the years & HHN; still can't fix the collapsing bridge? EVER??? Why tease everyone driving by in the tour?!

November 12, 2022 at 9:51 AM

@frank32

The Bridge is currently occupied by the old train that used to “crash” to the tram. Plus, it’s a tight space that the tram will have a tough time turning once it exits.

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