Universal Studios Hollywood
The Universal Studios globe
|Slogan||The Entertainment Capital of LA|
|Location||Universal City, Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Theme||Show business and Universal films|
|Operated by||Universal Parks & Resorts|
|Opened||March 14, 1915
(as a movie studio)|
July 15, 1964 (as a theme park)
|Total||6 (plus 1 under construction)|
|Roller coasters||1 (plus 1 under construction)|
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". It was initially created to offer tours of the real Universal Studios sets and is the first of many full-fledged Universal Studios Theme Parks located across the world. Woody Woodpecker is the mascot for Universal Studios Hollywood.
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 Universal Hotel, 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.
The first studio tour
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.
Universal Studios Hollywood's back lot has been damaged by fire nine times throughout its history. The first was in 1932 when embers from a nearby brush fire were blown toward the back lot causing four movie sets to be destroyed and over $100,000 damage. Seventeen years later in 1949 another brush fire caused the complete destruction of one building and damage to two others. In 1957, the New York street film studio set was destroyed by an arson fire causing half a million dollars in damage. 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. 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. Just three years later another deliberate fire was started in the back lot. The New York Street set, the Ben Hur set and the majority of Courthouse Square was destroyed. In 1997, the seventh fire occurred at the back lot. A portion of the Courthouse Square was again destroyed, though most survived.
The most damage was done on June 1, 2008 when a three alarm fire broke out on the back lot of Universal Studios. The fire started when a worker using an acetylene torch for welding accidentally let it set fire to the surroundings. 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 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. Universal president Ron Meyer stated that nothing irreplaceable was lost, meaning everything could be rebuilt again at a price of at least $50 million. Unfortunately while this may be true of the archive of video material, the fire also destroyed a huge and irreplaceable archive of analogue audio master tapes belonging to Universal Music, including all of Decca's masters from the 1930s to the 1950s and most of the original Chess masters which included artists such as Otis Redding, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters.  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. 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.
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-through's, peeks at actual production, and later, staged events. This grew over the years into a full-blown theme park. The narrated tram tour (formerly "Glamor Trams") 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.
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 Walk through 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 re-branded to the Adventures of Curious George. In 2009, Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical replaced Fear Factor Live in the Upper Lot.
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). King Kong 360 3-D also opened. On May 24, 2012, Transformers: The Ride opened on the Lower Lot. 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.
In April 2014, the park announced Springfield: a new dining complex to be built around the Simpsons Ride. The new eating locations will feature "signature eateries from Krusty Burger to Luigi's Pizza and Phineas Q. Butterfat's 5,600 Flavors Ice Cream Parlor to iconic watering holes like Moe's Tavern and Duff's Brewery". It opened on 28 March 2015.
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 March 2015, Universal Studios Hollywood contains 7 rides, 4 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.
The Upper Lot is home to a variety of family based attractions. The theming of the Upper Lot includes a Mission Revival entrance pathway that ends at the new Universal Plaza opened in 2013. There are not as much fully themed lands as there are small environments linked together with a common Art Deco theme that reflects the glamor of Old Hollywood. The Upper Lot is home to all of the park's shows including 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. 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 Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be located on the Upper Lot across from the Production Central gift shop, behind the AMC Universal CityWalk theaters.
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 begins with an introduction by Jimmy Fallon and a trip down the hill into the Front Lot. After drifting through the sound stages of the Front Lot and transitioning into the Metropolitan Sets of the back lot. The tram then takes the guests to Courthouse Square section and then other buildings in the back lot. Afterwards, the tram enters a tunnel leading to the attraction: King Kong: 360 3-D. Then the tram travels through sets from Jurassic Park and encounter Dilophosauruses. Following that, the tram travels to the Flash Flood attraction. The tram continues through Old Mexico, Six Points Texas, a miniature model of the SS Venture from King Kong, and Little Europe before experiencing Earthquake: The Big One attraction, movie sets themed as Amity Island from Jaws, Whoville from How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Bates motel from Psycho, and the crashed plane set from War of the Worlds, before leading to the final attraction on the tour, Fast & Furious Supercharged based on the Fast & Furious film franchise.
|Attraction||Attraction type||Description||Height requirements|
|Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem||3D motion simulator||Guests are transformed into minions and undergo training by navigating an obstacle course. Meanwhile, Gru's daughters try to give Gru a present to commemorate the anniversary of their adoption.||Minimum 40" (102 cm). Children 40-48″ (102-122 cm) must be accompanied by supervising companion (14 years or older)|
|Silly Swirly||Ariel carousel||Family-friendly carnival ride spins to give guests a 360-degree view of "Super Silly Fun Land".||Children under 48" (122 cm) must be accompanied by a supervising companion.|
|Studio Tour||Tram ride||The tour of the Universal Studios back lot, which features backdrops and sets used in many of their films. Includes some motion simulator rides.||–|
|Shrek 4D||4D film||The ghost of Lord Farquaad captures the audience to interrogate them as to the location of Princess Fiona.||Infants may not be seated on laps.|
|The Simpsons Ride||Motion simulator||The Simpsons visit Krustyland to try out the new roller-coaster but things go wrong as Sideshow Bob tries to sabotage the ride.||Minimum 40" (102 cm)|
|Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular||Stunt show||A woman arrives with news of a "Dryland", but rival "smokers" attack on jet skis and boats until a Mariner arrives to fight them off. Jet-skiers and boats, stunt fights, a crashing plane, pyrotechnics.||–|
|Special Effects Stage||Live show||A demonstration of some of the special effects used in film making.||–|
|Universal's Animal Actors||Live show||A 20-minute show showcasing stunts and tricks from a variety of animals.||–|
The Lower Lot is the smaller of the two lots. There are three thrill rides at this section of the park that each have height restrictions. It is home to Jurassic Park: The Ride, The NBC Universal Experience, Revenge of the Mummy (where E.T. Adventure once stood) and most recently the home to Transformers: The Ride. Jurassic Park: The Ride is a water adventure ride that takes visitors through the events of the first film. Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride is a high speed indoor roller coaster transporting guests through moments reminiscent of the 1999 Mummy franchise. The newest ride on the Lower Lot is Transformers: The Ride 3D. The ride uses high tech technology to simulate a battle between the Autobots and Decepticons with 4K-3D screens and flight simulator ride vehicles.
|Attraction||Attraction type||Description||Height requirements|
|Jurassic Park: The Ride||Shoot the Chute||Starts as a raft ride through dinosaur exhibits, then things go wrong as dinosaurs get loose in the facility, culminating into a 84-foot plunge.||Minimum 42″ (107 cm). Children 42-48" (107-122 cm) must to be accompanied by a supervising companion (14 years or older).|
|Revenge of the Mummy||Enclosed roller coaster||A 2-minute indoor steel roller coaster that accelerates to 45 miles per hour. Features forward motion and backwards motion.||Minimum 48" (122 cm)|
|Transformers: The Ride||3D dark ride||A dark ride where the rider's task is to protect the AllSpark from the clutches of Megatron and his cohorts as the car travels through the streets and skyscrapers of Chicago.||Minimum 40" (102 cm). Children 40-48″ (102-122 cm) must be accompanied by a supervising compansion.|
The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a new land under construction opening 2016. It will feature three attractions.
|Attraction||Attraction type||Description||Height requirements|
|Flight of the Hippogriff||Roller Coaster||Learn the proper way to approach a Hippogriff before you take off on a family-friendly coaster that spirals and dives around the pumpkin patch, and swoops past Hagrid's hut.||–|
|Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey||3D Dark ride||Make your way through the classrooms of Hogwarts. Then soar above the castle grounds on a ground breaking new ride that lets you join Harry Potter and his friends on an unforgettable thrilling adventure.||Minimum 48" (122 cm)|
|Ollivander’s Wand Shop||Interactive show and gift shop||Step inside this small, dusty shop and choose from an array of Ollivanders wands, or purchase replicas of the Harry Potter™ film characters' wands, Collectible wand sets and more.||–|
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:
|4,583,000 ||4,308,000 ||5,040,000 ||5,141,000 ||5,912,000 ||6,148,000 ||6,824,000 ||17 |
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.
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 and Lankershim Boulevards. 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.
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