Universal Studios Hollywood

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Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Uniglobe
Slogan The Entertainment Capital of LA
Location Universal City, Los Angeles, California, United States
Coordinates 34°08′11″N 118°21′22″W / 34.136518°N 118.356051°W / 34.136518; -118.356051Coordinates: 34°08′11″N 118°21′22″W / 34.136518°N 118.356051°W / 34.136518; -118.356051
Owner NBCUniversal
(Comcast Corporation)
Operated by Universal Parks & Resorts
Opened March 14, 1915 (1915-03-14) (as a movie studio)
July 15, 1964 (1964-07-15) (as a theme park)[1]
Operating season Year-round
Total 7 (+2 Under construction: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and Flight of the Hippogriff; Opens in 2016)
Water rides 1
Website Official website

Universal Studios Hollywood is a film studio and theme park in the unincorporated Universal City community of the San Fernando Valley region of the city of Los Angeles, California, United States. It is one of the oldest and most famous Hollywood film studios still in use. Its official marketing headline is "The Entertainment Capital of LA", though during the summer it is often advertised as "The Coolest Place in LA". It was initially created to offer tours of the real Universal Studios soundstages and sets. It is the first of many full-fledged Universal Studios Theme Parks located across the world. Woody Woodpecker is the mascot for Universal Studios Hollywood. The entrance to the theme park may be accessed by the Metro Red line subway line at Universal City Station and other Metro bus routes.

Outside the theme park, a new, all-digital facility near the Universal Studios backlot was built in an effort to merge all of NBCUniversal's West Coast operations into one area. As a result, the current home for KNBC, KVEA and NBC News with Telemundo Los Angeles Bureaus with new digital facility is on the Universal lot formerly occupied by Technicolor SA. Universal City includes hotels Universal Hilton & Towers, the Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, the multi-screen Globe Theatre, often used for banquets and receptions and Universal CityWalk, which offers a collection of shops and restaurants. In 2013, the park hosted 6,148,000 guests, placing it 17th in the world and 9th among North American parks.[2]


Statue of a cinematographer at the entrance of the park.

The first studio tour[edit]

From the beginning, Universal had offered tours of its studio. After Carl Laemmle opened Universal City on March 14, 1915, he would later invite the general public to see all the action for an admission fee of just $0.05, which also included a lunch box containing chicken inside. There was also a chance to buy fresh produce, since then-rural Universal City was still in part a working farm. This original tour was discontinued in around 1930, due to the advent of sound films coming to Universal.[1]

The arrival of Universal Studios Hollywood (the theme park)[edit]

Gate to Universal Studios, Hollywood

Shortly after Music Corporation of America took over Universal Pictures in 1962, accountants suggested a new tour in the studio commissary would increase profits. On July 15, 1964, the modern tour was established to include a series of dressing room walk-throughs, peeks at actual production, and later, staged events.[1] This grew over the years into a full-blown theme park. The narrated tram tour (formerly "GlamorTrams"[3]) still runs through the studio's active backlot, but the staged events, stunt demonstrations and high-tech rides overshadow the motion-picture production that once lured fans to Universal Studios Hollywood.[1][4]

Backlot fires[edit]

Universal Studios Hollywood's backlot has been damaged by fire nine times throughout its history.[5] The first was in 1932 when embers from a nearby brush fire were blown towards the backlot causing four movie sets to be destroyed and over $100,000 damage.[6] Seventeen years later in 1949 another brush fire caused the complete destruction of one building and damage to two others.[7] In 1957, the New York street film studio set was destroyed by an arson fire causing half a million dollars in damage.[8] Ten years later, in 1967, twice as much damage was done when the Little Europe area and part of Spartacus Square was destroyed. It also destroyed the European, Denver and Laramie street sets.[9] In 1987, the remaining portion of Spartacus Square was destroyed along with street sets and other buildings. As with the 1957 fire, this was suspected to be the result of an arsonist.[10] Just three years later another deliberate fire was started in the backlot. The New York Street set, the Ben Hur set and the majority of Courthouse Square was destroyed.[11] In 1997, the seventh fire occurred at the backlot.[5] A portion of the Courthouse Square was again destroyed, though most survived.[12]

Smoke during the 2008 fire. The Courthouse facade is visible to the left of the smoke plume.

The most damage was done on June 1, 2008 when a three alarm fire broke out on the backlot of Universal Studios. The fire started when a worker using an acetylene torch for welding accidentally let it set fire to the surroundings.[13][14] The Los Angeles County Fire Department had reported that Brownstone Street, New York Street, New England Street, the King Kong attraction, some structures that make up Courthouse Square, and the Video Vault had burned down (not to be confused with the actual Film Vault, The Video Vault contains the duplicates of the films). Aerial news footage captured the Courthouse building surviving fire for the third time in its history, with only the west side of it being slightly charred. Over 516 firefighters[14] from various local fire departments, as well as two helicopters dropping water, had responded to the fire. Fourteen firefighters and three Los Angeles County sheriffs' deputies sustained minor injuries. The fire was put out after twelve hours, during which time firefighters encountered low water pressure.

Destroyed were 40,000 to 50,000 archived digital video and film copies chronicling Universal's movie and TV show history, dating back to the 1920s, including the films Knocked Up and Atonement, the NBC series Law & Order, The Office, and Miami Vice, and CBS's I Love Lucy.[15][16][17] Many audio master tapes from Universal Music have been destroyed as well.[18] Universal president Ron Meyer stated that nothing irreplaceable was lost, meaning everything could be rebuilt again at a price of at least $50 million. Days after the fire, it was reported that the King Kong attraction would not be rebuilt and would eventually be replaced by a new attraction that had yet to be announced.[19] In August 2008, Universal changed its position and announced plans to rebuild the King Kong attraction, basing the new attraction on the 2005 film adaptation.

Attraction history[edit]

Fountain at park entrance

In 1965, the War Lord Tower opened as one of the first attractions in the theme park. This was followed by the opening of the Animal Actors' School Stage in 1970. In 1974, the Rockslide staged event was added to the Studio Tour. The following year The Land of a Thousand Faces opened on the Upper Lot. In 1979, the Battle of Galactica replaced Rockslide as a staged event on the Studio Tour.

The Flintstones Show opened, replacing the Star Trek Adventure. In 1996, Jurassic Park: The Ride opened. In 1997, two shows were replaced: The Land Before Time show replaced Rocky and Bullwinkle Live; and Totally Nickelodeon replaced the Flintstones Show. Just one year after it opened, the Land Before Time show was replaced with Coke Soak. In 1999, T2 3-D: Battle Across Time and a Chicken Run Walkthrough opened on the upper lot. Additionally, Beetlejuice's Rock and Roll Graveyard Revue was closed.

In 2000, the Rugrats Magic Adventure replaced Totally Nickelodeon. In 2001, the Nickelodeon Blast Zone opened. Also in 2001, Animal Planet Live replaced the Animal Actors' School Stage. In 2002 replaced The Mummy Returns: Chamber of Doom. The following year, Fear Factor Live replaced Spider-Man Rocks. In 2007, Universal's House of Horrors opened, replacing Van Helsing: Fortress Dracula. Both Lucy: A Tribute and Back to the Future: The Ride were closed, prior to being replaced in 2008 by the Simpsons Ride and the Universal Story Museum respectively. Also in 2008, the Nickelodeon Blast Zone was rebranded to the Adventures of Curious George. In 2009, Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical replaced Fear Factor Live in the Upper Lot.

Ticket booths.

In 2010, the Special Effects Stages and Backdraft attractions were closed to make way for Transformers: The Ride which was announced in 2008 (Special Effects Stages was moved to the former Creature From The Black Lagoon building and reopened as Special Effects Stage).[20] King Kong 360 3-D also opened. On May 24, 2012, Transformers: The Ride opened on the Lower Lot.[20] On December 31, 2012, Universal Studios Hollywood closed T2 3-D: Battle Across Time for Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, the attraction at Universal Studios Florida, which opened on April 12, 2014.[21]

In April 2014, the park announced a new Simpsons Food Court area to be built around the existing Simpsons simulator ride. The new eating locations will feature "signature eateries from Krusty Burger to Luigi's Pizza and Phineas Q. Butterfat's 5600 Flavors Ice Cream Parlor to iconic watering holes like Moe's Tavern and Duff's Brewery". It will open in 2015.[22]

Universal Studios Hollywood has plans to open The Wizarding World of Harry Potter which will feature the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride sometime in 2016.[23]

Former attractions[edit]

Like all theme parks, attractions are sometimes closed due to age - or sometimes just due to sheer lack of space - and replaced with more contemporary attractions. Universal has seen this action used a great deal of times, with many attraction closures. The following is a timeline of the notable events in Universal Studios Hollywood's history.

Park layout[edit]

Universal Studios Hollywood is split into two areas on different levels, connected by a series of escalators called the Starway. These areas are known as the Upper lot and Lower lot. As of October 2014, Universal Studios Hollywood contains 7 rides, 5 shows, 2 play areas and a retrospective museum. Each lot features a collection of rides, shows and attractions as well as food, beverage and merchandise shops.[24][25][26]

Upper lot[edit]

The Upper lot is home to a variety of family based shows. It is also home to many dining and merchandise shops as well as the park's entrance. The Upper lot is home to all of the park's 5 shows including The Blues Brothers Revue, the Universal's Animal Actors Show, the Special Effects Stage, Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular and Shrek 4-D, a 3-D film which features additional immerse features.[24] There are 4 rides located on the upper lot which include: the Studio Tour, the The Simpsons Ride, 'Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and the outdoor spinner "Silly Swirly". The Studio Tour is a 45 minute ride which uses tram vehicles to take the visitors to the theme park's back-lot. The tour is the signature ride at the theme park and the wait time varies by day and seasons. The tour includes:King Kong: 360 3-D, the world's largest 3-D experience. The tram closes earlier than other shows and rides at the park. The trams depart the station and pass directly under the "Starway". After passing the starway, the tram arrives at the lower lot and passes through the stages where film productions take place. When filming occurs, the ride operator will notify visitors. The tram then takes the guests to Courthouse Square section and then other buildings in the backlot. Afterwards, the tram enters a tunnel leading to the attraction: King Kong 360 3D. After King Kong 360 3D, the tram travels through sets from Jurassic park and encounter Dilophosauruses. Following that, the tram travels to the Flash Flood attraction (it is to be noted guests on the left side of the tram usually get wet). The tram continues to Earthquake: The Big One attraction, and Bates motel from Psycho. The Simpsons Ride is a family simulator ride located next to the entrance to the Studio Tour ride. The ride contains 24 vehicles, where each vehicles seats 8 guests. The ride lasts for 4 minutes. None of the rides at the Upper lot have single rider lines.

There are several themed retail outlets located near their respective rides in the Upper lot. For the Simpsons merchandise is offered at the Kwik-E-Mart.[26]


Attraction Picture Year Opened Description Height Requirements
Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem Despicable Me - Minion Mayhem, Universal Studios Hollywood.jpg April 12, 2014 A family friendly simulator adventure through the Minion training facility. All guests must be 40 inches or taller to ride. Children 40-48 inches must be accompanied by a supervising adult.
Silly Swirly April 12, 2014 An aerial carousel-style ride located in Super Silly Fun Land area of the Upper Lot. Supervising Companion required for children under 48" in height.
Super Silly Fun Land April 12, 2014 A wet and dry play area for children themed to Despicable Me.
Studio Tour Universal Studios - Studio Tour.JPG July 15, 1964 The signature ride of the park. A 40-60 minute ride on a tram to Universal's movie studio back-lot. Includes King Kong 360 attraction, JAWS, and Earthquake. Some effects may be too intense for young children. No minimum height requirement. Small children are highly recommended to be guided by a guardian. Small children are typically assign seats in the middle aisle of the tram for safety reasons.
Shrek 4D Shrek 4-D logo.png May 23, 2003 A family friendly 4D film that follows the adventures of Shrek No hand held infants
The Simpsons Ride USH- Simpsons Ride Enternace.JPG May 19, 2008 A family friendly simulator adventure through Springfield. All guests must be at least 40 inches or taller to ride.
Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular Universal Studios Hollywood Promo Water World.jpg 1995 A 20-minute water stunt show themed to the film of the same name.
Special Effects Stage June 26, 2010 A 20-minute show where you'll learn the secrets behind the making of your favorite blockbuster movies.
Universal's Animal Actors 2006 A 20-minute show showcasing stunts and tricks from a variety of animals.

Lower lot[edit]

The lower lot is home to 3 current rides: The Mummy's Revenge indoor roller coaster, Transformers 3D Ride (dark ride) & Jurassic Park (water ride).
The Mummy's revenge is an indoor roller coaster. The 1 minute and 30 second ride coaster operates at 45 miles per hour. The warning sign says the ride includes backward motion.

The Lower lot is the smaller of the two lots. There are three thrill rides at this section of the park. All three of the rides have certain height and ride restrictions. It is home to Jurassic Park: The Ride, The NBC Universal Experience, Revenge of the Mummy[24] (where E.T. Adventure once stood) and most recently the home to Transformers: The Ride.[20][27] Jurassic Park: The ride is a water adventure ride. Revenge of the Mummy is a high speed in-door roller coaster. It is considered by some guests as the "scariest/most intense ride" of the park. The last and newest ride at the lower lot is Transformers 3D: The Ride. Transformers 3D: The ride uses high tech technology to simulate 3D technology. It is somewhat similar to the Simpsons Ride, but with actual vehicle movement and includes more intense movements than the Simpsons Ride. This is currently the most packed ride at the theme park and the ride with the longest wait time. All 3 rides on the lower lot have a single rider line. A single rider can use the single rider as many times he/she may desire to use.

Similar to other Universal theme parks around the world, where duplicates of Jurassic Park: The Ride exist, the area surrounding the ride features a Jurassic Park merchandise shop named Jurassic Outfitters[26] and a dining facility named Jurassic Café.[25] Similarly a Revenge of the Mummy gift shop, called Tomb Treasures, greets guests as they exit that ride.[26]


Attraction Picture Year Opened Description Height Requirements
Jurassic Park: The Ride USH- Jurassic Park River Adventure Ride 1.JPG June 21, 1996 A Shoot the Chute water ride about the Jurassic Park adventure. The only water ride at the park. Each boat carries up to 25 guests. The water ride lasts for 5:30 minutes. Features several types of dinosaurs. Ride ends with an 84 foot plunge splashdown. All riders must be 42 inch or taller to ride.
Revenge of the Mummy Mummy the Ride.jpg June 25, 2004 A 2 minute indoor steel roller with speeds up to 45 miles per hour. Features forward motion and backwards motion. Most intense ride due to very aggressive drops, climbs, and turns. Guests of serious health conditions are not recommended to ride. All guests must be at least 48 inches or taller to ride.
Transformers: The Ride Transformers The Ride construction (Hollywood, May 2010).jpg May 24, 2012 A four and half minute dark ride featuring 4K-3D projection technology, flight simulation, physical and special effects about the transformers franchise. Each vehicle accommodates up to 12 guests per vehicle. Includes moderate simulation movements of acceleration, climbs and drops. All guests must be 40 inches or taller to ride. Children 40-48 inches must be accompanied by a supervising adult.
The NBCUniversal Experience 2008 Celebrate Universal Studio's Centennial in this interactive, behind-the-scenes exhibit featuring authentic props, wardrobe and artifacts from over 100 years of Universal film history!

Costumed characters[edit]

Universal Studios has a number of costumed characters roaming the park grounds, representing many different genres. Some are portrayals of Hollywood icons while others are based on Universal's vast media library. The following is a list of characters that are either currently seen in the park or have appeared in the past:[28][29]


2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Worldwide rank
4,583,000 [30] 4,308,000 [31] 5,040,000 [32] 5,141,000 [32] 5,912,000 [2] 6,148,000 [2] 17 [2]

Public transportation[edit]

Universal Studios Hollywood is served by the Metro Red line at Universal City Station.

Universal Studios Hollywood can easily be accessed by public transportation. The Metro Red line subway train runs between Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles, Westlake, Koreatown, Los Angeles, East Hollywood, and Hollywood. The subway line runs daily between the hours of 4:55 a.m. and 12:35 a.m. The last Metro Red Line train to Downtown Los Angeles departs the Universal City station at 12:58 a.m. on Mondays-Thursdays and Sunday/Holidays. On Fridays and Saturdays, the last Metro Red Line train to Downtown Los Angeles departs the station at 2:00 a.m. Passengers can also arrive at the entrance of the theme park entrance by several Metro bus routes. Metro Local lines: 150, 155, 224,240, and Metro Rapid line: 750 stop at Lankershim Blvd & Universal Center Drive (front entrance). Metro local line: 165 and Metro Shuttle Line: 656 Owl stop farther away from the entrance at Ventura Blvd. & Lankershim blvd. Passengers will need to walk north on Lankershim blvd and turn right on Universal Center drive. There is an additional stop further south at Cahuenga / Universal Studios Blvd served both by these lines. This stop is leads directly towards citywalk and the entrance to the theme park. At the front entrance (Universal Center Dr. & Lankershim Blvd), there is a free shuttle tram which directly takes the passengers directly towards the theme park entrance. The shuttle time varies between days but it typically runs between: 7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. and later on Fridays and Saturdays.


  1. ^ a b c d The Studio Tour. "Chronology & History of Universal Studios Hollywood". The Studio Tour. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d "TEA/AECOM 2013 Global Attractions Report". Themed Entertainment Association. 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ "GlamourTrams". The Studio Tour. Retrieved July 25, 2010. 
  4. ^ "The Studio Tour". The Studio Tour. Retrieved July 25, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b "Backlot Fires". The Studio Tour. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Actors Flee Blazing Movie Set". The Studio Tour. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  7. ^ Long Beach Independent (June 22, 1949). "Southland Fires Halted". The Studio Tour. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  8. ^ "1957 Backlot Fire". The Studio Tour. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  9. ^ "1967 Backlot Fire". The Studio Tour. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  10. ^ "1987 Backlot Fire". The Studio Tour. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  11. ^ "1990 Backlot Fire". The Studio Tour. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  12. ^ "1997 Backlot Fire". The Studio Tour. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  13. ^ "USH 2008 Fire". The Studio Tour. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b "Universal Studios blaze burns sets, video vault". CNN. June 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  15. ^ Cieply, Michael (June 1, 2008). "Large Fire Strikes Universal Studio Lot". The New York Times. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  16. ^ Risling, Greg. "Fire at Universal Studios destroys sets, videos". Web Archive. Archived from the original on June 4, 2008. 
  17. ^ Nakashima, Ryan. "Universal studios fire may cost tens of millions". Web Archive. Archived from the original on June 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  18. ^ "Both Sides Now Stereo Chat Board". Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  19. ^ "Universal Studios Hollywood to replace 'King Kong' with new attraction". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  20. ^ a b c MacDonald, Brady (October 21, 2008). "Universal Studios Hollywood plans Transformers ride for 2011". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 7, 2010. 
  21. ^ ""Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem" Is Coming to Universal Hollywood!". Press release. Universal Studios Hollywood. 
  22. ^ Mirgoli, Nicholous. "Universal Studios Hollywood announces Springfield Food Court and Fast & Furious Turbocharged opening in 2015". www.ThemeParkOverload.net. Retrieved 13 April 2014. 
  23. ^ "Hogwarts Coming to Hollywood". Press Release. Universal Studios Hollywood. December 6, 2011. Retrieved December 6, 2011. 
  24. ^ a b c Universal Studios Hollywood. "Park Map". Universal Studios Hollywood. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  25. ^ a b Universal Studios Hollywood. "Dining". Universal Studios Hollywood. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  26. ^ a b c d Universal Studios Hollywood. "Shopping". Universal Studios Hollywood. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  27. ^ Angona, Dan (June 12, 2010). "Universal Studios Hollywood". Photo Update. Westcoaster. Retrieved July 10, 2010. 
  28. ^ "Character Photo Ops". Universal Studios Hollywood. Retrieved August 28, 2010. 
  29. ^ "Streetmosphere". The Studio Tour. Retrieved August 28, 2010. 
  30. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2008 Global Attractions Report". Themed Entertainment Association. 2008. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  31. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2009 Global Attractions Report". Themed Entertainment Association. 2009. Archived from the original on June 2, 2010. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  32. ^ a b "TEA/AECOM 2011 Global Attractions Report". Themed Entertainment Association. 2011. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 

External links[edit]