Big Changes on the Horizon at Universal Studios Hollywood

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In April of this year, the brand new & highly-anticipated Super Nintendo World officially opened at Universal Studios Hollywood. Super Nintendo World is the 2nd-largest immersive land in the history of the Southern California theme park, & the largest since the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hogsmeade) in 2016.

Super Nintendo World is located on the lower lot at Universal Studios Hollywood, & features a brand new attraction, brand new restaurant, & multiple meet & greets and mini-games. You can read more on the specifics of the land here, but there is no doubt that this is one of the most anticipated theme park land openings in recent history, & so far it has been a smash hit among guests.

However, Super Nintendo World is just the beginning of what is sure to be a massive slate of changes for the storied theme park in the coming years.

WHAT’S COMING IN 2024?

While nothing has yet to have been confirmed officially by Universal, thanks to permit filings, concept art, & current construction around the park, we have some pretty solid ideas as to what’s on the horizon in Universal City.

Next up – likely in late 2024 – is the long-awaited Fast & Furious Roller Coaster, based on the hit, soon-to-be 10 film franchise starring Vin Diesel. This attraction has been rumored to come to Universal Hollywood for over a year now, & permits were filed for the geotechnical study of an outdoor roller coaster in October of last year. It is important to note, however, that the permits do not specifically mention “Fast & Furious,” but it is highly likely the billion-dollar film franchise would be the basis for the attraction.

DETAILS ON THIS POTENTIAL ATTRACTION

Just a few days after permits were filed for the coaster by Universal, alleged concept art for the attraction’s facade & some coaster-elements were leaked. This concept art did not come from Universal directly, but it showed a detailed overview of the future attraction, with the working title of “Fast & Furious: Hollywood Drift.” There is a likely chance that the attraction could open with an entirely different name, especially since this name wasn’t leaked by Universal directly, but it sure does have a great ring to it.

If the geotechnical study of the area is successful (as rumors state that it already was), the coaster’s queue, facade, & loading area will be located on the Upper Lot at Universal Studios Hollywood. This would replace the former Animal Actors Stage & Special Effects show-building, two long-running shows at the park that both closed permanently in January of this year, along with the gift shop Production Central. According to Universal, the closure’s were to “make way for a future attraction” while “setting the stage for the next chapter in [the parks] development.” As of May of this year, heavy construction has already begun to tear down the two stages & gift shop.

After loading into the ride vehicles (rumored to be themed to specific, wlell-known cars from the Fast & Furious franchise), guests would first be launched from the upper lot before descending all the way down to the lower lot, then being launched back up, over the Starway (Universal’s extensive set of escalators & stairs that connect the two lots) & back towards the loading station. Exact details on ride length & speed are unknown at this point, but rumors suggest that ride specifics could be similar to the recently-opened VelociCoaster at Universal Orlando Resort, which is widely-regarded as one of the best roller coasters in the world.

It is also rumored that the coaster vehicles would be built to “drift” along the track – basically, a controlled-spin to make riders feel as though they are drifting around the corners, hence the rumored name of the attraction. This would likely be very similar to the Harry Potter & the Escape from Gringotts roller coaster, also located at Universal Orlando Resort. Lending credence to this rumor is the likelihood that manufacturing company Intamin will be tasked with building the new Fast & Furious Coaster – the same company that manufactured Escape from Gringotts AND VelociCoaster for Universal. While it’s just rumors & speculation at this point, it seems highly likely that guests will be able to drift their way around Universal Studios Hollywood sometime in late 2024 or early 2025.

WHAT’S COMING IN 2025 & BEYOND?

Aside from the upcoming Fast & Furious Coaster rumors & permit filings, there has also been word of a new resort hotel making it’s way to Universal Studios Hollywood in the next few years. Currently, Universal Hollywood does not have it’s own hotel, but does have two nearby “partner” hotels in the Sheraton Universal & the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City. However, neither of these hotels were built by or are currently owned/operated by Universal, so the perks & connections to the park are limited, aside from proximity. In early May of this year, permits were filed for an 11-story hotel on-property at Universal Studios Hollywood, following months/years of rumors that a Universal Hollywood hotel was on the horizon. This hotel would likely be located in front of the park, near the world-famous Universal Globe that stands out front of both the park & Universal CityWalk, with a likely opening date of 2025 or early 2026. The area in front of the globe is currently a seldom-used parking lot.

Details on the rumored hotel are less prominent than that of the upcoming roller coaster, so it is unknown what the hotel would be called or what perks may be offered, but the permit filings are just another peak inside the grandiose plans Universal Hollywood has for its future.

With the upcoming Summer Olympics making their way to Los Angeles in 2028, there are other rumors of what Universal might add after Super Nintendo World & the upcoming Fast & Furious coaster. An expansion to Super Nintendo World in the way of a Donkey Kong mini-land/rollercoaster is highly likely at some point in the future, & many rumors point to a potential 2027 opening date for that expansion. There is also consistent buzz surrounding Springfield, Universal’s Simpsons-themed land anchoring the upper lot of the park. Just last month, Universal quietly removed the land from it’s website, & it still does not show up under “Lands” on the Universal Hollywood website. A potential Universal Classic Monsters land or an expansion to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Diagon Alley, anyone??) are the two leading rumors in the clubhouse for this area, so far. It would be shocking to see Springfield stick around too far into the future, & recently-leaked concept art for the Fast & Furious coaster shows that the land may be due for a change sooner than later.

OTHER CHANGES AROUND THE PARK

Outside of these larger projects, Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) & Studio Tour continue to be massive hits among guests, & changes to this event (HHN) & ride (Studio Tour) are sure to come frequently. Just last year, the Studio Tour debuted a new scene, Jupiter’s Claim, from Jordan Peele’s Nope, & it’s likely that other new scenes are likely to come soon. HHN continues to grow in scope each & every year, & we are bound to hear new changes for 2023’s version of the event in no time, so stay tuned to Theme Park Professor for more.

On the entertainment front, the incredibly popular “The Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle” show has returned once again to the park after a 4-year hiatus. The show was a massive hit among guests when it debuted in 2019, but that was also the last year the show has ran at the park. The night-time spectacular features projection mapping on Hogwarts Castle, a musical score by John Williams, & an epic finale highlighted by a drone patronous. The show took a total of two years to complete, & is currently set to run (weather-permitting) most nights from late May to early August.

The park also just finished construction on a brand new stage located in Production Plaza; it’s not known yet what shows or live events may be brought to this stage, but it gives Universal a flexible space to bring in more world-class entertainment to the park, especially after the loss of Animal Actors & Special Effects Show earlier this year. The stage & newly-revamped Production Plaza are set to open this summer.

Obviously, plans for the Fast & Furious rollercoaster, Super Nintendo World expansion, OR the Universal Hollywood Hotel could easily change at any time & for any reason. Feasibility studies, financial planning, & Universal Creative simply changing their minds are all factors at play here, especially when it comes to projects that aren’t officially announced to the public. Regardless, it’s clear that NBCUniversal has HIGH HOPES for it’s California theme park, & if Super Nintendo World is any indication of the quality of Universal Creative projects, Universal Studios Hollywood may very well become one of the top theme parks in North America & a must-visit destination in just a few years.

You can start planning a visit for yourself to Universal Studios Hollywood by requesting a no-obligation quote with Magic Family Getaways.

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