Universal Studios Hollywood just got extremely closer to executing their $1.6 billion expansion plan at the theme park and adjacent studio lots.
Today, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a development agreement with Universal to fully execute their over-six-year-in-the-planning expansion, The NBCUniversial Evolution Plan, a multiphase project encompassing studio space, offices, retail, and hotel space. This would add to the not long ago approval by the Los Angeles Planning Commission.
Roughly 1.7 million square feet, which is just over 39 acres, is called to be added to the existing locations centered at Universal Studios. Disney’s California Adventure Park, when first opened, left a 55-acre footprint. It was only when Cars Land opened did the theme park increase another 12-acres, for a total of 67 acres. So Universal is looking to expand something just over half the size of Disney’s California Adventure when it first opened.
But speculations and what exactly they plan to build is still unclear. 1.45 million square feet is said to be set aside for studio facilities while only 327,000 square feet of entertainment space, which includes theme park attractions, will be set aside. It’s hard to tell what exactly this means, knowing that Universal spreads their attractions wildly through existing studio lots. By all intensive purposes, this could just be the language that both city council members and Universal folks use to smooth over operational lingo or just a long line of shortcomings (compared to Universal Studios Orlando) of lackluster amusement park attractions.
What we do know is that Universal does plan for Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This new themed expansion is expected to open by 2016. Also, Universal has agreed to allocate $100 million to improve existing freeway lanes, side streets, and signage that will all help congestion and tourism for the next two decades. Very similar to the process of Disney’s Anaheim location.
I can see the advertisement boards now:
Universal’s California NBCUniversal Evolution Plan Park Adventure Land. “Now with a little more to do and still sour taste that we took the E.T. Adventure ride away!”