Universal Studios Hollywood’s Imminent Future

Universal Studios Hollywood is about to culminate its “Epic Five Year Transformation”  in 2016 that started back when Transformers: The Ride 3D opened back in 2012. Over the past four years, many fans have wondered how the park will be able to accommodate the large number of crowds coming next Spring.

We have already seen changes set in place for 2016, from the introduction of season passes to the addition of 6 new additions to the park. The park took a bold move and has restructured its pass program to become from an annual to a season pass program.

Let’s talk about the new season pass program. When the park had the annual pass program, passes were valid for 365 days. The season pass is valid until February 11, 2016, which is less than 200 days. Many fans, including myself aren’t happy with this sudden change. Those “grandfathered” in the AP program for many years now have to use the current program. Paying $119 for 157 days with no free parking is definitely corporate style, just paying without much benefits. Honestly, as a valued AP member for the past decade, I find this to be such a bad move on them. I hope one day when things settle after Potter opening, the AP program can be reintroduced, with of course a much higher price, and with new benefits.

Universal Studios Hollywood doesn’t seem to appreciate its pass holders in my opinion. I see other parks offering a private event showing its appreciation for them. Sure they offer cool perks, but I feel that I am not getting my money’s worth for coming back over and over.

Mainly an issue the park has been experiencing is crowd control. With its current season pass program, the amount of blackout dates has increased significantly, but it is a necessary evil to accommodate more day guests than pass holders, that way that the park can have a better overall guest satisfaction.

Clearly, the park has been trying to do everything they can to get more guests in without having crazy crowd controlling. With the introduction of priority boarding passes for the studio tour and early park admission, the park is able to accommodate more guests.

At Universal Orlando Resort, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter utilizes ticket return times similar to Disney’s fastpasses, which the ticket holder gets a return time to go on an attraction with little or no wait. Definitely I see Universal Studios Hollywood using this system for Hogsmeade when it opens next Spring as another means of keeping it manageable.

As we’ve discussed here, my main concern here is crowd control. Obviously there is no way for any theme park to perfect it, but concerning the park’s future, there is a lot of work still needed to do to make the park easy to walk and access. The addition of Universal Plaza and Springfield were created to make more room on the walking paths so guests have more space. The current buildup of infrastructure in the park definitely has improved, looking back to the past, I still vividly remember the many paths that used to be in the park that was convoluted and messy.

Talking about seating, in the past, in front of The Simpsons Plaza, there used to be a huge number of umbrella tables for people to sit and dine. Now that Springfield takes that place now, the park managed to put those guests inside of the main Springfield building with ample seating on its second level. I cannot recall the capacity of the building, but I’m sure it’s bigger than what was there before. Currently, in front of Hollywood Grill is a similar setting which there are a big number of umbrella tables. That area can be a cluster sometimes, so what I want the park to do is pull off a similar thing with moving seating indoors for bigger space for walking, so it would be inside the new building.

To end this, sure there are challenges the park has to fix by the time The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens next Spring, but I see that NBCUniversal/Comcast is really reinvesting in Universal Studios Hollywood to once again become a must-see destination in California. My sincere hope is that in the future, USH continues be top tier destination that will leave great lasting memories for everyone.


– Eric Oh