Grinchmas To Begin on Thanksgiving at Universal Studios Hollywood

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Whoville Tree lit up at USH

It’s that time of the year again where the two holidays of Halloween and Christmas collide. Christmas decorations are already being set up at both Disney and Universal and now we are starting to get more information on Grinchmas with some pretty awesome news.

This awesome news is that this year Grinchmas will start on Thanksgiving Day and will run DAILY (instead of the previous just on weekends) through December 29th. Also starting at this time will be the Christmas at the Wizarding Wold of Harry Potter celebration with Christmas themed shows and entertainment including the ever popular projection show on Hogwarts Castle.

The holiday themed food and Hot Butterbeer will also be making a return and eveyr night at Universal Plaza there will be a Whoville themed lighting celebration to light the 55 foot Grinchmas Tree. As I have stated in previous articles about the holidays Christmas is my favorite time of the year at the SoCal parks and I am so excited to celebrate again this year!

What about all of you? Are you excited for Grinchmas this year? Let me know in the comments below and give this page a follow for constant holiday updates and footage!


Guests To Enter Universal Beijing Using Facial Recognition Tech

An awesome news story came out today via the website France 24 saying that guests who enter Universal Beijing will be able to use facial recognition technology instead of showing a ticket. The story also notes that the park is partnering with popular Chinese tech company Alibaba so that guests can use Alipay to purchase meals and merchandise.

I think this is fantastic news and is yet another sign of the theme park industry advancing every year implementing new technology into their parks and enhancing the guest experience in large and small ways. Universal is probably also thinking that this is a way to take a jab at Shanghai Disneyland and all of the fancy high tech rides they have over at that park.

Usually Disney and Universal use their international parks to test out new ride tech and new tech to enhance the guest experience. If successful these new ideas usually make there way to the domestic parks (ie: Tron Power Run) I would like to see facial recognition make its way to Universal and Disney parks in the United States and hopefully both companies start to implement this advanced tech into the parks in the coming years and completely take away the need for paper tickets.

What do you think of this new technology? Would you like to see Apple or a tech company partner with Disney or Universal and implement Apple Pay and facial recognition into the parks? Let me know in the comments below!

NBC Sports Grill and Brew Coming to CityWalk at Universal Hollywood in 2020!

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NBC Grill and Brew in Orlando courtesy of Attractions Magazine

Antijitos is now open at Universal CityWalk in Hollywood and now they have announced their next major addition that will be coming to the entertainment complex.

NBC Sports Grill and Brew (which is already at CityWalk Orlando) will be making its West Coast debut next year as Universal Hollywood aggressively continues to enhance and completely revamp CityWalk. The pub will feature three giant TV screens out front as well as over 100 HD TV’s inside the restaurant. The menu will consist of general pub and bar food and alcohol and will add to the energy and excitement of CityWalk. This should look very impressive and fit in at night when the rest of the complex lights up. Its location is great as well as it will be in the center of everything in the main plaza right next to Antijitos, Tony Romas, and Johnny Rockets.

I am very excited for new changes to CityWalk and personally cannot wait for this to open up sometime in the next few months. What do you guys think about this new addition? Do you like the new changes that are coming or have been made recently to CityWalk? Comment your thoughts down below!

Universal Studios Hollywood to Test New VR Experience in CityWalk

Hello and welcome back to Theme Park Wizard if you are living in Southern California then please stay safe from the strong winds and as of this writing five fires throughout our region.

Universal Studios Hollywood will be trying to compete with Downtown Disney and get its own new VR experience in Citywalk starting October 14th and going through November 7th. This is a partnership between Universal Pictures, Ford Motor Company, and Holoride.

During this experience guests are loaded on to the back of Ford 2020 Explorer cars and will take a 5-7 min drive by a professional driver. The interesting twist of this drive is that it will be through the dark world of Frankenstein. Riders will be using Oculus Headsets to experience this attraction. The best part is that this limited time attraction is free and all you have to do is sign up for a free reservation on their website.

So what do you guys think of this new experience coming to Citywalk? Will you be signing up and giving it a try during this month trial period? Let me know in the comments below!

Velicicoaster Construction Update!

Hello and welcome back to the blog where today I have a construction update on Universal Island’s of Adventure’s new coaster coming to the Jurassic Park area of the park called the Velicicoaster. All these pictures are courtesy of fellow blog Micechat which provides excellent Disney news so be sure to go over and check out some of their stuff.

This first picture is taken from across the lagoon and really shows the massive scale of the project.

, Dateline Universal Orlando: A Tale of Bees and Dinosaurs

The building in the center is the Jurassic Park Discovery Center which is expected to remain with the coaster tracks going around the structure. You can also see the start of potential footers in the water as this coaster is expected to have a rather significant portion of its track be over the lagoon area which will certainly make this coaster very beautiful and picturesque.

That is the best vantage point you can get from this project as all other areas inside the land just have large construction walls blocking all of the view.

, Dateline Universal Orlando: A Tale of Bees and Dinosaurs
, Dateline Universal Orlando: A Tale of Bees and Dinosaurs

This coaster is expected to be an intense coaster much to the likes of Taron over at Phantasialand. That coaster goes 70 mph and twists and turns through highly themed caverns and environments. One last thing I would like to talk about is the name of this coaster. I absolutely love the name Velicicoaster but I did want to let you know this is so far just the rumored name as Universal has not even announced the project yet! They did trademark that name though, so I am very hopeful that they will use it as the official name of the coaster.

Are you excited to ride the Velicicoaster when it opens in 2021? What do you think of the construction progress currently? Stay tuned because coming up later today I will have a Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway construction update from Toontown!

Universal Studios Hollywood Construction Update!

Welcome back to Theme Park Wizard where today we will take a look at some of the construction going on at Universal Studios Hollywood. I have been super busy the last few weeks and unfortunately was not able to the parks so I credit Dylan from Theme Park Obsession for these fantastic photos of the construction in the parks. I also invite you to watch his latest video! So let’s get started with the Secret Life of Pets project.

Secret Life of Pets from Theme Park Obsession

The Pets project is still under wraps, but as you can see here the facade work has been really making progress and the tarps look to be coming off sooner rather than later which is a great thing. This ride is supposed to open in Spring 2020 and believe it or not that is just a few short months away. Baker Street is still closed so to get to Minion Mayhem you must go around and use French Street.

Next up let’s take a look at the Nintendo project being built down in the lower lot.

Nintendo Land by Theme Park Obsession

Here is an overhead look at the Super Nintendo Project and you can see that the show building for Mario Kart is having its roof being installed. The second building to the left has gone more vertical and has had more steel beams installed along the site. The space is extremely tight so some people are wondering if the buildings housing the Studio Store and Panda Express will be demolished and rebuilt to allow for more breathing room and match the new themes of the Lower Lot.

What do you think of all the changes going on at the park? Are you excited for the Pets and Mario? Comment your thoughts down below and make sure to hit the follow button for constant theme park updates!

Guest Writer: Dominique’s Horror Nights Experience!

Hello all, so I am starting a new series on this blog where once in awhile I will have guest writers on here to write about their theme park experiences! Today I am proud to introduce Dominique who has written about her time at Horror Nights.

“Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights changes little by little each year. They add elements to popular mazes like Stranger Things, and replace ones for others based from new movies like Us.

Unfortunately, I was only able to go on three mazes: Stranger Things, Holidayz in Hell, and Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

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Comparing to last year, Stranger Things was definitely better this time around, as they added more beings and it looked scarier as well. I loved the humongous being that they added in this maze called “Mindflayer”. It looked incredible and intimidating as it basically towers over you on its fours. The intense music throughout the maze with all of the demogorgans and other characters popping out flowed a lot more.

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Now I am a person that cannot stand clowns, but Killer Klowns from Outer Space maze was actually pretty interesting. It was the only maze where someone/something made me jump, and I am not surprised. Those clowns looked super creepy, and I’m pretty sure they would haunt my dreams if I went into that maze for a second time. The big smiles on their faces freaked me out already, imagine one coming out from around the corner? No thanks! That is enough challenging my heart rate for the day.

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It wasn’t over yet though, Holidayz in Hell made me rethink about all of the holidays we have over the year. I knew from the moment walking though, that I would hate looking at the Easter Bunny. The creepy Easter Bunny was the scariest one in my eyes out of all the holiday madness. I know for sure that Stranger Things was my favorite maze out of the ones we went to, even though the other ones were just as cool looking.

As for some of the tasty snacks during horror nights: yeah sure Panda Express is great, but the 6x chocolate shake was really good at Studio Scoop. They also had some limited edition Stranger Things treats that looked amazing: one was a really rich chocolate shake with black licorice and raspberry syrup, as well as soft served ice cream with mini waffles on top. Now that’s how you would get a crazy sugar high for a long day like that.

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Ice Cream Shakes from Studio Scoop
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Stranger Things Ice Cream Waffles

Overall, Horror Nights was pretty fun. Of course the lines were very intense, especially as hours went by after opening. We avoided the majority of the lines due to them being pretty much two hours just to go in some of the mazes. It was also a bummer that the tram wasn’t happening this year, but the time spent at the event was exciting. Was the ticket expensive to get in? Yes. Will I want to go next year? Most likely yes. As long as you got some friends to hangout with it could make the trip worth it.”

Thank you Dominique for your review of Horror Nights. What do you guys think of the treats and mazes? Comment your thoughts below! Donations are always appreciated and welcome to help keep this blog going!



My Favorite Mazes at HHN Hollywood 2019

So I had the pleasure of going to Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) at Universal Studios Hollywood last weekend and I wanted to share my two favorite mazes that I went through. That night my group and I ended up going through 3 scare zones and 7 mazes. We went through Us, Pandora’s Box, Ghostbusters, Killer Klowns, Frankenstein Meets Wolfman, Walking Dead, and Creepshow.

The Curse of Pandora’s Box

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This was by far the best maze in my opinion in terms of scares and set design. This maze was incredible from the facade to the interior design in each room. Each room had a specific pattern and there were scare actors that were dressed as the patterns jumping out at you. It was visually extremely impressive and it was worth the 110 minute wait.

The scares were great too since they camouflaged with the patterns you did not notice most of the scare actors and they instantly leaped out at you (and made my friend cry). I definitely say that Pandora’s Box is a MUST DO maze if you decide to go to Horror Nights in Hollywood.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space

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This maze turned out to be a surprise hit for me. I thought it was just going to be silly like Ghostbusters was intended to be, yet this one had some amazing set design and scares as well. The Klowns were also very interactive with guests by squirting water all over their faces. From above this maze looked like it was going to be mostly black walls, but that was not the case at all thankfully.

So that is my short review of Universal Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights 2019. Did you attend this years event either here or Orlando? Let me know what you thought of either one in the comments below! Donations are always welcome and appreciated to keep this blog going strong thank you!



Universal Studios Hollywood Construction Update

Hello all and welcome back for a quick Universal Studios Hollywood construction update. Today I will show you updates on the Secret Life of Pets, Super Nintendo World, and the Holidayz in Hell maze.

Secret Life Of Pets

First, let’s take a look at the Secret Life of Pets (SLOP) attraction being built next to the minions. Nothing really new has changed here since my last update as the building is still behind green scaffolding.

Secret Life Of Pets
You can see some detail and arched windows through the scrim
Grand Entrance

Super Nintendo World

Next up, I will show you some pictures of the under construction Super Nintendo World in the Lower Lot. You can see the Mario Kart foundations and track are really starting to come into focus and the layout should be completed in a couple of months. Some steel is going up near where the rumored Donkey Kong coaster is supposed to go (Side nearest to Jurassic World) so it will be very interesting to see how that area turns out.

The dirt curves represent the Mario Kart track
Mario Kart track up top, rumored Donkey Kong on the dirt lot to the lower left
Overview of Super Nintendo World

Holidaze in Hell Maze

I was with family and in a bit of a rush during this update so the only maze I was able to capture progress of was Holidaze in Hell. The only major progress I could see was they updated the facade to a really cool looking postcard like night time sky.

Holidaze in Hell Facade

Get Away Today

If you want to go visit these new attractions or go to Horror Nights yourself then click this link for special discounts and use the code TPW for $10 off packages!

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My First Time at Midsummer Scream

So this past weekend I went to the Midsummer Scream Halloween Convention in Long Beach. It was my first time going and I had an absolute blast and will be attending every single year from now on. Midsummer Scream is a relatively new (3 or 4 years old) Halloween Convention and is where Universal and Knott’s have panels announcing their Halloween mazes.

My original intent was to go to the Knott’s Scary Farm panel, but I ended up missing it because I didn’t realize how much else there was to do there. The convention is separated into a few different parts. There is the Grand Ballroom, where all the biggest panels happen, and there are several smaller ballrooms where different events are happening at all times of the day. Then there is the main exhibition area will hundreds of vendors offering everything from masks to VR. Lastly, there is the biggest and in my opinion the best room in the convention called Hall of Screams. This room is entirely dark and eerie and resembles what you would see at Halloween Horror Nights and even has six mini mazes for guests to go through.

All in all, I must say I had a wonderful time and cannot wait to go back next year. Have you been to Midsummer Scream? Let me know your thoughts below about your experience and be sure to click the follow button and share this article!