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Todd Regan

Archive - 2

11/10/00 - A Universal Christmas Surprise

Well, they sure have been busy at Universal Studios the past few weeks.  Halloween, a huge event at the park has completely given way to what is yet to come... Grinchmas! New at the park for the Christmas season to celebrate the movie we'll see:

  • Mt. Crumpit Snow Plummet - a 100-foot real snow slope for you to sled down.
  • Grinch's Cave Maze - a Grinch themed maze occupying the space Chicken Run had this past Summer.  
  • Whoville Whobilation Show - a musical review on a small outdoor stage.  

Yes, as we reported here months ago, Universal will leverage the new Grinch movie by turning part of Universal Studios and the neighboring City Walk into Whoville.

If you'd like to see the free to visit CityWalk Grinch movie prop exhibit, VISIT THIS PAGE.

Meanwhile, here's information on a special holiday offer Universal is making:

November 17 through January 1 - Universal presents Grinchmas. Each California resident who purchases a full price admission from November 17th thru January 1st will receive unlimited admission from January 1st through March 31st.

Nice idea, and of course as you may have guessed, it is really a marketing ploy to beef up park attendance in the traditionally low period between Christmas and Spring break.

By the way, the basic Annual Passes remain a great value at $49 just $8 more than a full day admission (Disney, are you listening?) No word yet if Universal will increase their regular pricing to match Disney's recent hike to the Disneyland one day admission price.

Meanwhile at the park, on the spot where the Warlord Tower once stood, construction for the new kids play area continues. Here are some neat "before and after" photos for you:

Just before the tower came down...

then the same view now, the building that can now be seen behind the shark is the Universal Amphitheater

All we really see behind the fence right now though is a bunch of dirt:

Consturction - Kids play zone
Construction on the new kids play area (I would have loved it just like this as a kid, no need to pave it over)

Down on the lower lot impressive work continues on Jurassic Park III on several soundstages as well as a huge outdoor set designed to look like a crater. New photos of the massive crater set are now up on THIS PAGE.

That's it for now folks, happy travels!

9/28/00 - The worlds best theme park attraction, what happened to Jaws, and much more. 

The Dusty Traveler has been spending a little time snooping around Universal Studios. Why? Because you asked, prodded, and in some cases pleaded. I've gotten enough mail to kill the postman; thank heavens for Email. With printouts of your reader mail in hand, I headed out to seek the elusive truth.

Most of you wrote to ask me about construction in the park.  

Before Construction
Before Construction.  
Jaws is next to a lagoon with the Warlord tower behind it.

During Construction
During construction.  
Lagoon is now Filled with concrete :(  
Jaws is just behind you.

I didn't write about any construction, but found what you were talking about in David Koenig's heart wrenching story about how the Warlord Tower at the Studios has been slated for demolition. Sure it isn't used for much more than a backdrop for you to have your picture taken with Hercules and Zena, but it adds so much character to the park and serves as a reminder of Universal's history. I'll keep an open mind as well as an open eye for you.

I arrived this past Friday and found the Tower still standing behind walls of progress.  

Large construction area
Large construction area.  Woody's playground is to your left and the Warlord tower is behind you.

The good news / bad news is that the park does appear to be building something that they sorely need, more attractions for kids. 

Woody's playground
Woody's playground

From what I gather, the area may be themed to the Nickelodeon properties and could incorporate Rug Rats as well as a Nickelodeon Store. I'm certain that Universal will do a fantastic job on this project, but sure do wish that they were spending the time and money on something a little more . . . 

What with Disney's new California Adventure park set to open in February 2001, one can't help but wonder what Universal will do to keep it's business from being stolen away.  Surely a children's play area isn't the extent of their plans.  Several of the Uni folks have mentioned that they have known about the potential threat of DCA for quite some time.  

The good luck for Universal seems to be the under- whelming scope of the new Disney project. I'm sure it will be fancy and filled with exciting new shops and restaurants, but where are the Disney scale attractions? You know what I mean: Pirates, Haunted Mansion, all the Mountains! If the Disney fans hold true to form (I'm thinking Light Tragic and Tommorowland '98 here) the press on DCA will be horrendous. 

What an opportunity for Universal to do something really spectacular and prove that they can out magic the happiest place in Anaheim and boost their own attendance at the same time. I know I'd plan a special trip around one universal attraction in particular . . . The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man! For those of you living out of the loop, Spider-man (located in Universal's Islands of Adventure park in Orlando) is widely considered to be the top theme park attraction in the world. Plunk that baby in the park and, for my money, you have something that is better than all of DCA put together. This is just me babbling folks, I haven't heard anything about Spidey coming here.  But I'm waiting anyway. 

Now on to the rest of your questions.  

Hordes of you wanted to know which hotel to stay in near the park. I will be honest with you. I've never stayed in any of these hotels (contrary to popular belief). However, to satisfy your every whim, I did a little lurking around for you.  Both the Sheraton and the Hilton have large hotels on the property. In addition, Universal does quite a few packages with the Beverly Garland hotel as well. All these hotels have their strong suit and none should be avoided.  

The Universal Hilton
The Universal Hilton

The Hilton is closest to the park and City Walk.  

Sheraton's pool area

The Sheraton has the best pool and lobby (I haven't seen the rooms). The Beverly Garland Hotel is owned by the actress of the same name. This hotel is said to have a lot of character and you never know when you might run into it's resident star. You could also save a few bucks by staying in one of the nearby budget motels such as the Travelodge.  

A new friend from Canada Writes:

We are going to see the Mouse Nov.4th (our 40th) been married that long we feel like kids again. We will have to take the bus back to the Airport, but would like to go to Universal how do we do this? will the bus from Anaheim take us there and then how do we get back to the airport to get a plane at 7.30 PM???? could you help us out. Thanking you in advance,

PS nice site

First off, congratulations on 40 years of marriage! Perhaps a little of your magic will rub off on Hollywood. A close friend of mine who uses LA's transit system (currently on Strike) extensively, says that in less you want to risk your sanity and possibly your 40 year marriage, you really shouldn't proceed with this plan.  However, if you are willing to rent a car, you could visit Universal so long as you allow plenty of time to make it to LAX (keeping the maddening traffic in mind).  You can make it from Universal to Disneyland in under an hour during optimal driving conditions (the snickering you hear is over a million Mouse Planet readers who have never seen optimal LA traffic). Anyone out there with an assault plan for this trip?    

A Jaws fan writes:

As a regular reader of Mouse Planet I was quite thrilled to see the addition of Universal Studios to the site. I have a question that you may be in a position to clear up for me. Where the heck is the original Bruce the shark from JAWS that was on display at The Entertainment Center from 1976 to approximately 1990 something. The original shark was (from what I have been able to piece together), either a refurbished sea-sled (that was a completed shark that was towed), or another positive struck from the mold. I keep hearing (and reading rumors), that a mystery movie collector has the shark in his possession but as of yet no one has claimed to have the prize. The current Entertainment Center shark (a duplicate is also on display in Florida), has never appeared an any JAWS movies and looks atrocious!

Here's a link to the page on my site that has a photo of the original Bruce on display in 1978. Thank you and I hope that you can clear up this mystery.
Sincerely, W- 

Wow! What a great story. Your Email and web page were quite fascinating. 

The current Jaws 

Unfortunately, after calling and sending numerous messages about Bruce the shark, I have turned up no confirmed sightings. I hope that your exposure here will turn up some leads. Please keep us up to date on your search for Jaws. Do I see move scripts in everything I read? 

Finally, Thanks to all of you who wrote for more information regarding Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. I saw preparation for Halloween all over the park on Friday.  

Construction work on the lower lot
Construction work on the lower lot

At least two of the sound stages on the lower lot were being transformed, as well as several sites on the upper lot.  

Portal to another realm?
Portal to another realm?

A friend of mine who looks a bit like Dr. Frankenstein's monster told me that Halloween Horror Night was a blast last year. I'll try to go early and fill you in.  Until then, please take a look at the Halloween Theme Park Guide that a certain Fabulous one put together for your enfrightment.  

Happy travels!

You can e-mail me at dustytraveler@mouseplanet.com

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