Last updated: 06:00 PM ET, Fri October 21 2016

Universal Studios Hollywood Names New Park President: What’s Next?

Destination & Tourism | Erik Yates | October 21, 2016

Universal Studios Hollywood Names New Park President: What’s Next?

Photo via Flickr/Prayitno

Universal Studios Hollywood has been on a huge roll lately. The park just opened the massive Wizarding World of Harry Potter earlier this year to massive crowds. The groundbreaking show, “The Walking Dead” has gotten an all new year-round attraction, and the park also has a brand new President and COO with the appointment of Karen Irwin.

Irwin is a 20-year veteran of Universal Orlando, and previously served as executive vice president, global merchandise and partnership development. What does all that mean? It means the person who helped Universal Orlando bring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to life, and stock it with tons of great merchandise (including wands) will be in charge of Universal Studios Hollywood. This is a huge move, as the park is in the middle of a massive $1.6-billion expansion. Of course, with new management comes new ideas and naturally, new innovations.

What exactly could we see in the next few years under the management of Karen Irwin? We’ll take a look at the massive plan and walk you through it.

Universal Hollywood embarked on a huge plan, called NBC Universal Evolution, to expand its operation and become a much larger vacation destination in Southern California in 2013. Under the new plan, it would see a massive new expansion of theme park operations, as well as an expansion of the movie studios operations. After all, Universal Studios Hollywood isn’t just a massive theme park destination, it’s one of the largest movie production facilities in the world.

The new plan sees updates to existing locations as well. Currently the plan has provided The Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion, as well as the opening of The Walking Dead as a year round haunted attraction. In CityWalk, several new restaurants have opened, such as Ludo Bird, Blaze Pizza and Dongpo Kitchen.

More importantly, the future holds tons of new plans, both announced and unannounced. Here’s a rundown of some of the things that could be coming to Universal Studios Hollywood soon.

Margaritaville (confirmed 2017) The legendary restaurant of Jimmy Buffet will mark its Los Angeles debut at CityWalk Hollywood in early 2017. The new venue will feature signature burgers, seafood and of course, margaritas.

Universal Cinema (confirmed 2017) The Universal Cinemas will once again be the standard in movie-going experiences as they expand to state of the art sound and screens in all of its theaters, as well as high-backed recliners. There will also be a new lounge area inside the theater for those wanting to grab a drink

New Hotels (rumored) One of the biggest things that keeps Universal Hollywood from being a multi-day destination is the lack of onsite hotels. That is allegedly changing, as Universal Hollywood is rumored to be partnering with longtime Orlando partner, Loews Hotels. The company provides the standard for all onsite hotels at Universal Orlando.

Secret Life of Pets (rumored) One thing Universal has a lot of is screen-based attractions. The summer blockbuster, “The Secret Life of Pets” is rumored to be coming to the Universal Studios Hollywood lower lot. The new ride will be a dark ride, with animatronics instead of screens. It is rumored to open in early 2018.

Studio Tour Expansion (rumored) We’ve already seen one huge addition to the Studio Tour with the addition of the Night Tour. That tour takes guests through scenes and shows riders how movies are made at night. A new expansion will have guests traveling through several new movie sets, and could see a new attraction based on Nintendo’s “Super Mario Brothers.” The rumored attraction will see guests playing against each other in the new finale of the tour.

Nintendo Land (semi-confirmed) Universal and Nintendo have signed a multi-year deal to bring new attractions to life. We know the first area will be in Universal Japan in 2020, just in time for the Olympics. The next expansion is rumored to happen in Hollywood, with Orlando being the last park.

Wizarding World Expansion (rumored) The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been huge for Universal Studios Hollywood, so naturally there are already talks of bringing Diagon Alley to life in the parks. The new expansion will have guests visit the fictional shopping district, ride the Hogwarts Express and even open an account at Gringotts.

Karen Irwin is certainly the person to help bring all of those expansions to life. We wish her the best of luck and can’t wait to see what the next few years holds for Universal Studios Hollywood.

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