Universal Studios Hollywood Expansion Plans – 2019, 2020 and 2021

In case you haven’t noticed, construction around Universal Studios Hollywood has hit a fever pitch. There are currently three major additions being added to the park that are slated to open in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively.  As always, anything we post here that isn’t confirmed by Universal Parks officially is subject to change and considered to be unofficial until official announcements are made. Capiche? Let’s dig in!

2019 – Jurassic World: The Ride


As we predicted earlier this year, Jurassic Park: The Ride has indeed closed as of Labor Day weekend 2018. Back in May, Universal Studios Hollywood confirmed that the iconic attraction would be closing to get a makeover and be transformed into a Jurassic World attraction, which is slated to open in 2019.

When in 2019? It’s my understanding that this attraction is looking to have an opening date around Memorial Day. Keep in mind, this is a water ride and in order to get maximum value out of those hot southern California months, it really needs to be open for the summer. However, just like any construction project, delays happen and you can run across unexpected concerns as you gut entire show scenes, rip into pieces of track, and cross your fingers that vendors deliver on time.

What changes will be made? The overall footprint of the attraction will remain intact. The queue, loading area, track, and show building aren’t going anywhere. However, you can expect a few obvious upgrades. For starters, that iconic yellow and red logo and placemaking is going bye-bye to make way for new shiny blue and grey wraps for the boats. In addition, you can expect the pre-show video in the queue to change as well. If they can get him, Jimmy Fallon makes perfect sense to reprise his role as a scientist for the new Jurassic World: The Ride. Since he gave safety precautions for the gyrospheres, why wouldn’t he do the same for a boat ride?

As a matter of fact, we covered this topic pretty extensively in a previous article. We’ve got the scoop on everything from where Blue will show up, to projection mapping effects, and so much more. Click here for more info!

2020 – The Secret Life of Pets

This project has actually moved around a little bit. Originally intended for the lower lot, it has now shifted to the former Globe Theater in the upper lot. This project has been off and then back on as Universal Parks have tried to figure out if there is enough staying power for this brand combined with being able to pull the trigger and get it open under various timelines.

That last part remains probably a more crucial element of the decision-making process than just about anything these days: timetables. Making the decision to add at least one major new attraction to every Universal Park beginning in 2019 has been a tricky one. Can you use existing structures and/or ride systems (see above with Jurassic World)? Will it be a standalone attraction? Will it be a new land or perhaps a mini-land? Can it be expanded on? Can it be duplicated in multiple Universal Parks to save on R&D and are vendors available to build various pieces of attractions and meet deadlines?

This was a definite concern for The Secret Life of Pets and Nintendo land. Ultimately these projects swapped places as the scope of Nintendo changed (especially in Orlando) and thus, Nintendo needed that spot behind Jurassic World more than Pets did.

What is the ride going to be like? Considering the move, it has actually gone through several different versions to fit in various footprints as well as into various timelines. While 2020 may seem like a long way out from now, in the theme park world, it’s rather tight. When you’re creating everything from the ride system to animatronic figures from scratch, it becomes extremely time-consuming as you’ve got to reserve a hole (or create one) in the production schedule of various vendors who actually do a lot of the physical building of these rides.

What they have landed on is a family-friendly, high capacity, omnimover style ride with dozens and dozens of animatronics that will bring Gidget, Max, Duke and the gang to life. That’s right, in terms of at least some of the technology being used in The Secret Life of Pets attraction, Universal is going somewhat old-school and stepping away from mostly screen-based attractions to physical figures. The big question on a lot of people’s minds: will The Secret Life of Pets also make an appearance in Universal Orlando? That’s a more complicated question that we will cover in a future article. Again, timelines become the major factor.

2021 – Nintendo – Mario Kart/Donkey Kong

If you’ve been reading Theme Park University for a while, this will come as no surprise. As we reported in 2016, Universal Studios Hollywood is getting a Nintendo land that is comparable to what is currently under construction in Universal Studios Japan.

The anchor? Will be a Mario Kart ride where racers will be able to “compete” in a truly unique attraction featuring technology that hasn’t been used in a theme park ride before. You’ll be able to use tortoise shells and banana peels to taunt your opponents and you’ll visit several iconic Mario locations along the race course as well.

Source: Twitter

In addition, a Donkey Kong roller coaster is also on the slate of attractions that will occupy the space just behind the new Jurassic World: The Ride queue/show building. Using a new patented ride system, this family-friendly coaster will be revolutionary in its design and scope.  There are many many new coasters headed to Universal Parks in the coming years. Donkey Kong is easily my personal favorite.

Source: Twitter

More details on the land and attractions will come later, but suffice it to say Universal Studios Hollywood will be receiving these new additions in 2021 after Universal Studios Japan opens their version first in 2020. When will Universal Orlando open their version? As we have stated many times before, it won’t open until Universal opens their new park on the land they recently acquired down the road in 20… wait a minute. Did anyone catch the Easter egg I threw into my article about the fourth park construction? If you want to know the target date for the new park, you’ll have to search around for that gem hidden in this article. Literally only one of my followers publicly acknowledged they found it on Twitter. Remember, many articles at Theme Park University contain Easter eggs! Always read carefully and poke around. You’d be surprised at what you find!

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