After wrapping up some Holiday-related trips it was time to head back to Universal Studios Hollywood for a few hours! And I only stayed for a few hours indeed, as upon arrival it became terrifyingly clear I was here on the wrong day. It took about an hour to enter the park, and by the time I left a few hours later, the park had sold out for the day! Let’s take a look at construction around the park, and some crowd-pics!
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Since Grinchmas ended a day ago, the park is still very much decorated after it! With the insane crowds they may as well have kept the entertainment offerings for a few more days. The entrance looks lovely, like every year during the event.
Look for insane crowds in the background…
The entrance is very pretty during Grinchmas, but I’m ready for it to look classic again!
The Universal Plaza was still set up for Grinchmas as well, of course. But all attractions/vending places were closed. Yet the plaza was crowded, some good money could’ve been made extending the event a few days.
The new buildings added this year all look very nicely decorated as well.
Speaking of new buildings, the new Universal Studios Store features a new generation Studio Directory with a screen, unlike the rest of the ‘Live’ directories around the park.
The park also placed a fresh new photo-op next to Shrek 4D, for the newest Illuminations movie; “SING”.
Star Way and Lower Lot Construction!
The Star Way is all boarded up. The wooden walls along all four sections of escalators are on the sound-stage side, and do not hinder the use of the three current rows of escalators.
This may indicate that the Star Way will be widened adding a fourth escalator, which would make sense with large amounts of future theme-park development possibly coming to the Lower Lot. It may also be related to maintenance, of course.
Down at the Lower Lot the removal/transformation of the Revenge of the Mummy locker center and food stand continues. Currently the ride lockers are located inside a temporary structure in the switchbacks of the outdoor queue for the ride.
Here’s what the old ‘Mummy Treats’ and locker building looks like now. Oh and look, crowds!
The only ride that had a shorter line, was Jurassic Park: The Ride. So I hopped on that as well today.
Upper Lot Construction!
But enough Lower Lot, let’s move back to the Upper Lot.
One of the oldest structures at the park was Cartooniversal. This gift shop has now finally been taken down in continuous efforts to modernize and upgrade the park.
Guests now have an almost uninterrupted view of Hogwarts and the Flight of the Hippogriff upon entering the park. Not sure for how long this view will present itself, as clearly something will be constructed here soon.
Here’s what the patio next to WaterWorld currently looks like with the construction site in between the Water World stadium and the rest of the park.
The park also brought back ‘From Coraline to Kubo, A Magical Laika Experience’. Which is a cool tour and behind-the-scenes look at stop-motion filming. The exhibit is open to guests thru January 15.
And now… feast your eyes on… crowds! The park sold-out and stopped all ticket sales early in the afternoon, with over 43,000 guests roaming around the rather small park… you guessed it: LINES! The line for The Walking Dead Attraction extended all the way up to the Laika Experience and then all the way back.
And there was a confused mob of people trying to figure out what section of the midway was part of the Walking Dead Attraction line, and what was the path to get to the Minion Mayhem line, that was also 2 hours.
Food lines were also outrageous. All across the park. Unlike Six Flags properties though, these lines were at least moving.
The Studio Tour line was 2 hours long as well. Which didn’t sound too absurd to me, but the amount of guests waiting in line was insane. All queue space down at the boarding area was in use, so the used the bridge and some improvised switchbacks at the entrance to house even more guests. They did extend the attraction’s operating hours to near-closing time, 9:30PM.
A very clever thing I saw in multiple areas of the park, was the crowd direction. The Springfield midway for example was divided up with gates, one-way traffic on each side. Worked amazingly well.
When I decided to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (NOW IN 2D! Which is not as good as 3D, in my opinion.) The line was just over 3 hours at 190 minutes, which was not that long after park opening. I rode using the Single Rider line which was about an hour long when I rode.
Later, before my departure though, the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey line was a shocking 235 minutes long, which is about 4 hours.
I mean look at this. There was no wiggle (or muggle) room in Hogsmeade at all…
So here it is… the dreaded line through the Dark Forest…
Harry Potter and the Four Hour Line! Now in 2D!
Crowds were insane and as an annual pass holder I was not going to spend all day dealing with them, so I went home and wrote this report instead! Let’s finish off with a quick shot of my favorite theme-park castle around. 🙂
Thank you for checking out this Universal Studios Hollywood Update! Read our 2016: Final Thoughts here. We’ll be back with more SoCal and NorCal updates later this week!