A long-term plan for Universal Studios Hollywood envisions adding seven new theme park attractions over the next two decades while removing or relocating several studio backlot tour favorites, including the "Jaws" lake, the "War of the Worlds" disaster scene and the famed "Psycho" house and Bates Motel.
The $3 billion NBC Universal Evolution Plan lays out a proposed blueprint for the 391-acre Universal City property in the San Fernando Valley, including new movie studio production facilities, CityWalk retail space and a residential neighborhood.
Additionally, the plan calls for 146,000 square feet of new attractions at the movie and television theme park. Inside the park, the 20-year plan also calls for three current attractions to be replaced: the "Terminator 2: 3D" special effects show, the "WaterWorld" stunt show and former "Fear Factor Live" theater.
Both the "T2" and "WaterWorld" shows, based on 1990s movies, have long been candidates for replacement. The former "Fear Factor" stage, which currently houses the relocated "Special Effects Stage," has played host to a number of theatrical duds over the years, including "Spider-Man Rocks" and "Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical."
The theme park plan also calls for the eventual removal of the Flintstones carnival midway games. No replacements for any of the theme park attractions have been announced. The "King Kong 360 3-D" drive-through movie, which made its debut this summer, and the Transformers special effects dark ride, scheduled to open in 2012, are not part of the growth plan.
Under the envisioned plan, the Studio Tour could see even bigger changes over the next 20 years. The footprint of the proposed 124-acre residential neighborhood would force the demolition or relocation of the Whoville village, the "Curse of the Mummy" revolving tunnel, the "War of the Worlds" plane crash set and the Falls Lake blue screen pond. Wisteria Lane from "Desperate Housewives" and the iconic "Psycho" house would be relocated to other areas of the backlot.
Under the plan, four new backlot attractions could be added to the Studio Tour, including proposed buildings near the seaside "Jaws" village of Amity and the "Fast & the Furious" special effects car show. The other two proposed backlot attractions are envisioned for areas not currently on the tour.
Next door to the theme park in the CityWalk retail center, Universal imagines a 3,000-seat theater that could host a permanent entertainment troupe such as Blue Man Group, which currently performs at the Universal CityWalk in Orlando, Fla.
Los Angeles city planners recently released a 39,000-page draft environmental impact report identifying possible effects of the proposed development, including increased traffic, on the surrounding area.
Brady McDonald is only 4 years behind the times in reporting this. All of this information was first announced in 2006. Nothing has changed, except they got a little further along in the approval process.
He's also incorrect about the 3,000 seat theater: that would be a replacement for the Gibson Amplitheatre, which is listed in the plans as possibly being removed for theme park expansion.
It's important to note that all of this right now falls under the "throwing sh*t against the wall to see what sticks" strategy. Universal is expecting many changes to the plan by the time it is finally approved, which is why they started the process in 2006. That way it will be ready for construction when the economy improves to the point developing condos is profitable again.
Additional attractions in the form of rides would be great. USH is a great destination and what is there is of good or excellent quality. It's just that there isn't quite enough there to justify more than a single day visit. I really like the feeling of going to a park and going away after a full first day with attractions still unseen to get me to come back again. Although I've never been to USF, I get the clear impression from trip reports that it's a much more immersive and expansive experience than USH. Although I don't expect USH to ever grow to the size and scope of its FL counterpart, any move in that direction would be welcome.
P.S. Thanks again Joey! I still owe you an adult beverage the next time I see you.
I'm glad they're keeping Jaws, Wisteria Lane, and the Psycho house, but I really don't care about the rest much. I've always felt that Whoville ruined the illusion of the Psycho house and the snow effect really was never convincing. Overall it sounds great, as long as they are keeping Jaws and the Psycho house.
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