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Universal Studios Hollywood (USH) Discussion Thread


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Just got back from the park following the Friday "After Party" event.

 

Considering the $45 I paid for my ticket (a discounted night further discounted thru my employer) and the light crowds, I enjoyed the evening.

 

I entered the park a little after 7:30pm, and by 1am (park close), I had done all the mazes (including three of them twice) and scare zones, the Terror Tram, Jurassic Park, Transformers, and Minion Mayhem.

 

Crowds seemed pretty light. The waits for Insidious, The Walking Dead, and Halloween occasionally hovered around 35 / 40 minutes, but I never saw a posted wait time longer than 40 minutes. I personally never waited longer than 30 minutes, and most mazes had lines less than 15 minutes long for the majority of the evening. Simpsons had a decent line all night, but most other rides were walk-ons.

 

First, the bad: I thought This Is the End was a disaster. I had no idea what the story was given the hodgepodge of characters and props (granted, it's been a while since I've seen the film), and the entire maze looked like a cheap afterthought to me. Nothing in this maze made a positive impression on me. I like the idea of a lighter, "its more weird than scary" maze, but I felt this missed the mark.

 

I thought all the other mazes were very good. Insidious was probably my favorite due to the combination of visually interesting sets and actors that seemed eager to frighten you in ways other than popping out of a curtain. Crimson Peak featured some intricate costumes. The mirrored room in Halloween with a few actors planted among identically dressed mannequins was cool, too.

 

In my opinion, though, none of the mazes had a signature scene or truly standout moment. (Alien came closest with its final scene featuring the large creature.) In years past, I feel like most mazes offered at least one really memorable moment, something this year's mazes--while highly competent--seemed to lack, making one maze feel a bit too much like the other.

 

I enjoyed all of the scare zones. The actors were universally excellent and seemed to possess tremendous stamina. The Dark Christmas zone was my favorite and felt really unique with some thoughtfully assembled mini sets. Exterminatorz was also a lot of fun, and I felt like the sets in this zone also succeeded in telling a compelling story.

 

The Terror Tram felt a bit messy to me (there's just too much dead space on that route to compose anything compelling). I agree it may be time to rethink that attraction entirely.

 

Transformers provided a cool, surprising realistic experience. Minion Mayhem was somewhat fun, but I felt the attraction fell short of the engaging and lovable (or so I'm told) characters it had to work with.

 

Perhaps due to the ongoing construction, I thought the flow of the event seemed a little weird this year. The Upper Lot felt rather sparse. And while well organized, having to take a tram to two of the mazes was a bit of a hassle, for example.

 

Overall, I thought the event was very good but fell short of excellent. While certainly worth the $45 I spent, I'm not sure I would have felt quite so satisfied had I paid $85 on a peak night to wait in 2+ hour lines. (The amount of queues set up for these attractions was scarier than the some of attractions themselves!) I'd love to see the park increase the quantity of mazes and work to further differentiate them from one another. While I realize the park wants to build the mazes around NBCUniversal franchises (many of which I don't follow, admittedly), I think the scare zones prove the park could find success in building a few mazes around more original content.

 

Thanks for a fun evening, USH HHN!

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Oddly enough, a lot of the properties used during HHN are not actually Universal properties

 

AVP is owned by Fox. This is the End is Columbia Pictures. Walking Dead is owned by AMC. Only Halloween II & III are owned by Universal.

Edited by Jew
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  • 2 weeks later...

Universal Studios Hollywood announced three new Annual Pass options today. What's interesting about this is that NONE of them are year-round 365 days without blockout dates. And none of them seem to offer parking as an option. Interesting...

 

Universal Studios Hollywood Introduces Three All-New Annual Passes

Providing Insider Benefits, Exclusive Perks and

Access to The Entertainment Capital of L.A. over a 12 Month Span

Gold Pass and Two California Resident Passes Featured

 

Universal City, California, November 16, 2015 – In celebration of Universal Studios Hollywood’s five year epic transformation that has substantially altered its familiar footprint to essentially define it as an entirely new destination, The Entertainment Capital of L.A. is rolling out three all-new Annual Pass ticket options, inviting guests to visit the theme park as if for the very first time.

 

Effective immediately, new Annual Passes will provide guests with an array of privileges reserved for passholder membership, including access to Universal Studios Hollywood over a 12 month period to enjoy the park’s compelling thrill rides and attractions, including “Fast & Furious: Supercharged” as the grand finale to the world famous Studio Tour, “Transformers: The Ride 3D“ and “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem,” as well as the much-anticipated “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™” when it opens in Spring 2016.

 

Each new Annual Pass member will embark on an exciting journey with Universal Studios Hollywood receiving regular newsletter updates, exclusive preview event invitations, discounts on food and merchandise, eligibility for sweepstakes opportunities that include the chance to win tickets to coveted Hollywood red carpet movie premieres, and more.

 

The Gold Pass, available for $299, includes 312 select days of fun. The California Resident Plus Pass, available for $199, invites members to enjoy 244 select days of fun, and the California Resident Pass, available for $139, includes 182 select days of fun. To learn more about the Annual Passes options, please visit www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com/tickets.

 

Additional information is available at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com. Like Universal Studios Hollywood on Facebook and follow @UniStudios on Instagram and Twitter.

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Blackout dates for all pass levels, that's pretty interesting. They must be expecting a massive attendance increase when Potter opens in which case this might actually work out pretty well.

 

I have a feeling annual pass and daily ticket options at all of the year round "resort" parks (Disney, Universal, SeaWorld Parks) are going to look very different 5 years from now. I wouldn't be surprised to eventually see tired pricing, priority pricing, black out days, more hard ticketed special events, different annual pass options, it's all gonna continue to change.

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Blackout dates for all pass levels, that's pretty interesting. They must be expecting a massive attendance increase when Potter opens in which case this might actually work out pretty well.

 

I'm genuinely curious. It'll have been six, SIX, years since the exact same attraction opened in Orlando. Five years since the final Harry Potter movie released. I don't know, I get the feeling that the American audience is well past the Harry Potter craze.

 

I could be completely wrong, of course, and it could be a huge hit. I just feel like the IP isn't going to pull nearly the numbers Orlando did back in 2010. Even Diagon Alley opened to an overall "meh" reaction. It was busy for a week or so at opening but attendance didn't see a large difference* because of it.

 

 

 

*Please someone correct me if I'm wrong on this.

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Having just got back from Orlando and seeing first hand how many kids and adults showed up to UO decked out in potter costumes, TV shirts, etc...I think it is safe to say that the Potter craze is far from over. I'd even argue it's this generations Star Wars, with a whole generation having grown up loving the books and movies.

 

As far as attendance and revenue go, here is what the company had to say in its 2014 final earnings:

 

Theme Parks

 

For the fourth quarter of 2014, revenue from the Theme Parks segment increased 29.9% to $735 million compared to $566 million in the fourth quarter of 2013, reflecting higher guest attendance and per capita spending, driven by the continued success of Orlando's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ - Diagon Alley™, as well as Halloween Horror Nights at the Orlando and Hollywood parks. Fourth quarter operating cash flow increased 37.6% to $352 million compared to $257 million in the same period last year, reflecting higher revenue, partially offset by an increase in operating costs to support the new attractions.

 

For the year ended December 31, 2014, revenue from the Theme Parks segment increased 17.3% to $2.6 billion compared to $2.2 billion in 2013. Operating cash flow increased 16.4% to $1.2 billion compared to $1.0 billion in 2013, driven by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ - Diagon Alley™ and Despicable Me attractions.

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Yeah, and isn't there a new "prequel" movie of sorts coming out next year? I'm not a huge Potter fan but I have seen the movies, but I think the franchise has more staying power than people realize. I think there is also a stage play opening next summer year and maybe even another book in the works so yeah I expect Universal Hollywood to have huge gains in attendance and revenue from this just like Orlando and Japan are currently experiencing.

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Having just got back from Orlando and seeing first hand how many kids and adults showed up to UO decked out in potter costumes, TV shirts, etc...I think it is safe to say that the Potter craze is far from over. I'd even argue it's this generations Star Wars, with a whole generation having grown up loving the books and movies.

 

 

I think the "Star Wars" analogy is correct. Both Disney and Universal have major "tent-pole" franchises to pull on for attractions and merchandising--just pick your favorite.

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Personally Potter > Starwars, I've never seen a SW movie (ducks to avoid oncoming projectiles).

 

I was planning a California trip and I was considering if it was even necessary to hit up the Wizarding World West. It seems like it is exactly like Florida's minus the intense dueling inverts. I thought that over five years later USH would have thought of some other things to make this different from Orlando but it seems like it will be the same by design and that is disappointing. I feel like in general Universal has missed an opportunity with Hogwarts. I'd love to see classes at Hogwarts (even if it is an up charge show/ interactive experience).

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I'd say that the adage of "If it isn't broken, don't fix it" applies.

 

There's a ton of people who either have never been to Orlando and are thrilled to have this in CA or have been to Orlando and are excited that they no longer have to plan an expensive trip to Orlando to see it again.

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Are the shops going to be the same size as they are in Orlando? I get the whole "true to the books" deal but it's hard to enjoy yourself when you can't even move because it's so crowded.

 

True that, I remember detouring to the Studio Ghibli Museum when I was in Japan and even though they strictly limit tickets, the book area was crowded but the shop in the museum was so packed that I couldn't even see most of the things they were selling. It's always a shame for the fans especially children who end up more frightened being packed in. At least with Ghibli the merchandise is outsourced to retail stores just for their stuff elsewhere (as least in Korea, we have a shop called ani-land thats mostly Ghibli stuff) but I was surprised they didn't have the shop outside of the museum as a separate retail area since the rest of the museum was quite relaxing.

 

When I was back in London I treated my family and my wife's to the Harry Potter tour and their gift shop, even though it was busy, was spacious enough that it wasn't too bad. They had a separate till just for the wands as well to help spread the crowds. I don't understand why if J.K. really wants to keep the atmosphere in Hogwarts, she can't just let them put another shop just outside the area.

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London store

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London store wand area

Edited by Garet
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^I did the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Leavesden back in May and was pleased with the experience. The immersiveness of the theme park experience is extremely awesome and I did enjoy the Wizarding World when I was down in Orlando. When I visited the Orlando park last, it stormed later in the day, so the Harry Potter area was essentially a ghost town and I was able to snag two back-to-back rides on The Forbidden Journey. I felt like the studio tour was really well in London, but the gift shop and other areas were so extremely packed when people exited or when they were waiting for their tour time to begin. Was more uncomfortable than dealing with the crowds in Orlando.

 

With that said, it will be interesting to see how it plays out in Hollywood seeing as the Orlando area usually is jam packed. Maybe Universal Creative and JK Rowling came to an agreement regarding size, one can hope at least. If not, I don't see it as a deal breaker, it just might be uncomfortable for a little bit.

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  • 2 weeks later...
^I don't know if the park does anything special, but generally CityWalk does... and since it's usually a free event, it gets extremely packed.

 

Citywalk did not have an event last year. I don't believe they are doing anything this year either, though some of the venues on Citywalk have parties. The park is moderately busy, but nothing crazy.

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HOGWARTS IS COMING TO HOLLYWOOD ON APRIL 7, 2016!

 

LUMOS MAXIMA!

Universal Studios Hollywood Illuminates the Iconic Hogwarts Castle

Announcing “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”

Will Officially Open on Thursday, April 7, 2016

 

Innovative Ad Campaign Heralds the Much-Anticipated Arrival

of this Exciting New Immersive Land

 

Universal City, California, December 8, 2015 – It’s official: “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™” will open at Universal Studios Hollywood on Thursday, April 7, 2016, marking the highly-anticipated arrival of the West Coast’s dynamic new immersive experience at The Entertainment Capital of L.A.

 

This eagerly-awaited news coincides with the launch of the destination’s spellbinding campaign, which is stylistically designed to sweep guests into the land’s magical world through the lens of imagination.

 

The campaign is anchored by a new television spot designed to build suspense and enthusiasm while evoking a sense of wonder and succinctly capture the magical appeal that “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” has for cross-generational consumers as it announces the April 7 opening date.

 

In making the exciting announcement, Universal Studios Hollywood illuminated the land’s Hogwarts castle to signal the arrival of today’s momentous news.

 

More than five years in the making, and inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters that were brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” is being masterfully recreated with impeccable detail as a real-world interpretation at Universal Studios Hollywood. The land will be faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including Hogwarts castle which will serve as its iconic focal point.

 

From its snow-capped roofs and cobblestone streets to the historic British sensibilities that characterize the whimsical look and feel of the land, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will transport guests of all ages to the very places they read about in the stories or watched on the silver screen.

 

Upon entering the land through the archway, Hogsmeade will bustle to life with the same vitality of a quaint local village: merchants hard at work, a train conductor welcoming new arrivals and a pub packed to the gills with hungry patrons, but with the added element of enthusiastic guests intent on experiencing them all, including the land’s signature ride, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,” and the family outdoor coaster, “Flight of the Hippogriff™.”

 

An achievement in pioneering theme park ride technology, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” will make its U.S. debut at Universal Studios Hollywood in hyper-realistic 3D-HD designed to further immerse guests in an already engaging storyline. The multidimensional thrill ride features a groundbreaking robotics ride system, fused with elaborate filmed action sequences and immersive visceral effects. In this updated adaptation of the ride, guests will sport Quidditch-inspired 3D goggles as they venture through journeys experienced by Harry and his friends, spiraling and pivoting 360-degrees along an elevated ride track on a whirlwind adventure of a lifetime.

 

Also within “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” the enchanting family coaster, “Flight of the Hippogriff™” will open as Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor roller coaster.

 

“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will resonate with immense detail, inviting guests to revel in Harry Potter’s world with the opportunity to enjoy authentic food and beverage at multiple locations, including Three Broomsticks™, and Hog's Head pub, as well as the Magic Neep and Butterbeer™ carts.

 

A foray through the shops will add to the authenticity of the land with eight retail venues and locations, including Honeydukes™, Ollivanders™, Owl Post™, Zonko’s™ Joke Shop, Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment, Dervish and Banges, Gladrags Wizardwear and Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods™.

 

Currently, Universal Studios Hollywood in-park guests can experience and purchase authentic merchandise, including wands, robes and other collectibles from "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter," available within the Features Presentation shop, located just inside the theme park’s main entry.

 

As the countdown to the April 7th opening date continues, the website invites guests to learn more by signing up for the latest news and information at http://www.universalstudioshollywood.com/harrypotter/signup.

Join the conversation online using #WizardingWorldHollywood. Like Universal Studios Hollywood on Facebook and follow @UniStudios on Instagram and Twitter.

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Edited by robbalvey
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