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Universal Studios Hollywood Evolution Plan Approved: Curious George Out, Harry Potter In

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Earlier this week, the final puzzle piece in Universal Studios Hollywood’s ambitious “Evolution Plan” clicked into place, as the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors gave final approval to the expansion of the famous movie studio and theme park.

Over the next few years, the Evolution Plan calls for radical changes at Universal Studios Hollywood, including the addition of parking garages, new CityWalk dining and retail venues, and two on-site hotels. Inside the theme park, the Special Effects Stage, WaterWorld stunt show, and Gibson Amphitheater will all be shuttered in the coming months for new attractions, and three additional points of interest will eventually be added along the Studio Tram Tour.

The most visible element of the expansion will be the addition of a west coast version of Orlando’s über-popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter. While details on what portions of the Islands of Adventure area will migrate to California are unknown, a copy of Hogwarts Castle complete with the Forbidden Journey dark ride is expected, along with shopping and eating opportunities.

In order to begin construction on Hollywood’s Harry Potter land, Universal has announced that its Adventures of Curious George playground will close at the end of the summer season. A similar kids attraction at Universal Studios Florida continues to operate. So if your kids love getting sprayed with reclaimed water and wading through plastic balls, get out to USH before September to bid farewell to Curious George.

Here is the complete official press release direct from Universal:

UNIVERSAL CITY, California, April 23, 2013 – NBCUniversal announced today plans to begin construction of the first projects of its 25-year Evolution Plan. The Evolution Plan represents a $1.6 billion investment in tourism and production. This long-term investment in two industries that are vital to Los Angeles will create more than 30,000 jobs and generate $2 billion of economic activity during operations for the region.

“After nearly a decade of work on the Evolution Plan, today’s vote sets the stage for our next 100 years in Los Angeles,” said Ron Meyer, president and COO of Universal Studios. “We are thankful for the support and leadership we have received from both the County and City of Los Angeles and are ready to get started investing in these important tourism and production projects in the next few months.”

Starting in late summer, NBCUniversal will begin construction of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter themed land at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, as well as new and upgraded television production facilities, office space and infrastructure on the Universal Studios lot. These projects represent a nearly $500 million investment in the Los Angeles economy and the creation of more than 2,000 construction jobs alone.

“We thank Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, the entire Board of Supervisors, and County staff for providing us the path to bring much needed jobs and investment to Los Angeles,” said Corinne Verdery, Chief Real Estate Development and Planning Officer, NBCUniversal. “The working relationship we have built with the community was invaluable in developing our future plan and we are grateful to our nearly 7,500 supporters and union partners who have been with us every step of the way. We look forward to bringing The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Hollywood, forever changing the face of tourism in Los Angeles.”

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will be a fully immersive experience for the entire family designed to bring the Harry Potter fiction and films to life with impeccable detail and authenticity. Similar to the dynamic Universal Orlando Resort themed land that opened in 2010, the Hollywood experience will be faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including Hogwarts castle that will serve as the centerpiece of the impressively themed environment. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a collaboration between Warner Bros. Entertainment and Universal Parks and Resorts.

On the Universal Studios lot, NBCUniversal will upgrade existing production facilities and add new capabilities to better respond to the needs of television production. In addition, NBCUniversal is looking to create modern offices that will house everything from post-production services to traditional office space.


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Seth Kubersky

Author of The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. Co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and Beyond Disney. Contributor to Unofficial Guides to WDW and Las Vegas. Live Active Cultures columnist for the Orlando Weekly. Travel and arts journalist. Theatrical director and producer.

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