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A behindtheears look at Disneyland
|Universal's Coming (and Going) Attractions...|
faces are a-changing at Universal Studios- Hollywood (USH). Say "see
you later" to the Grinch. Welcome in the Mummy. And bid a long
goodbye to Halloween Horror Nights.
From the start, the Grinch was supposed to appear at USH only from mid- November until the first of the year. The Grinchmas promotion, though, was more successful than anyone anticipated. "Attendance during our Christmas peak season -- from December 26 to January 1 -- was outstanding, 24,000 to 37,000 every day," smiled a park manager. "I'm sure that all the publicity about Disneyland closing the gates early also helped us get people, but the guests ran into the same problem here -- overcrowding, long waits at attractions, parking full, and so on."
USH management, hoping to keep attendance strong and noticing that Disneyland would keep most of its Christmas decorations in place until January 8, asked the company for permission to extend the Grinch's run an extra week. Vivendi Universal said no.
The Grinch area closed, as scheduled, on January 1. Sure enough, attendance at the park paralleled attendance at theaters showing Universal's Grinch movie--both took a dive after the holidays.
Projections for most weekdays are now a paltry 5,000 visitors. Dampened by the week's heavy rains, attendance at USH sunk on Thursday January 11 to an abysmal 3,200. To make matters worse, the park almost was forced to shut down completely that afternoon. Southern California Edison came close to pulling the plug on the park's electricity as the region neared a Stage Three energy alert. Thankfully, it only reached a Stage Two critical level, allowing USH to shut down just the tram tour's Parting of the Red Sea and Collapsing Bridge effects.
Plans are to revive the Grinch maze, kiddie snowrun, prop display and small show in November 2001. In the meantime, the Blues Brothers, who had been relocated to a temporary stage in the Studio Center, are back to their old stomping grounds for the winter and spring.
Then, in the late spring, to coincide with the release of The Mummy II, the area will feature a Mummy-themed maze and possibly a prop display until the end of the summer.
Also coming in spring (covered here on MousePlanet in the past, and now officially announced in the guide / schedule given out to visitors at the gate) is a Nickelodeon "Blast Zone" play area for kids, including "The Wild Thornberry's Adventure Temple," "Nickelodeon Splash," and the "Nick Jr. Backyard," all complimenting the current Rugrats "Magic Adventure" show. In addition the Animal Actors show is being re-themed and remodeled into "Animal Planet Live!."
Less likely is the rumor that the Mummy get its own attraction. Reportedly, the Mummy is one of several themes being considered for a revamp of the Back to the Future simulator ride. Other possible new themes include Spiderman, X-Men or The Matrix. With attendance at USH expected to take a hit when Disney's California Adventure opens, Vivendi Universal is loath to invest any money in its theme park business; the company's still trying to sell it. Converting the Back to the Future ride would provide a relatively inexpensive E-ticket attraction, since the main outlays would be redressing the ride vehicles and creating a new film.
What Vivendi Universal definitely doesn't want to see this fall is Halloween Horror Nights (HHN). Despite next to no promotion for the event, the 2000 edition of HHN fared better than it did in the three years previous. Still, says one manager, "the overhead dollars were just too high. The Entertainment Department is way overstaffed with managers in the office -- at the expense of a decreasing staff in the park."
Universal Studios Florida will continue their wildly successful Halloween Horror Nights, and he suspects the event will return to the Hollywood park one day. "We are storing the HHN stuff at our Glendale warehouse in anticipation that the event will possibly return in future years," he explains. "The fact that we were not ordered to send the inventory to USF seems to mean that it might return in 2002 or 2003."