Tag Archives: Universal Studios

California Welcomes 2018 with Major Openings and Special Milestones

California will welcome visitors with an abundance of new experiences and special events throughout 2018, with major hotel openings, new theme park attractions and milestone anniversary celebrations all on the horizon.

“California’s dream big spirit is reflected in the state’s continual growth and innovation — and 2018 will be no exception,” said Caroline Beteta, president & CEO of Visit California. “This year is the perfect time to plan an adventure in the Golden State.”

From the openings of beachfront resorts and a seaside roller coaster, to anniversaries celebrating sparkling cider, wine, baseball, art and more, the new year brings new reasons to travel to the Golden State. Read below for more details on what’s to come.

And for the most up-to-date news, plus fresh trip ideas and destination tips throughout the year, check out Visit California’s new blog, ‘California Now’ at visitcalifornia.com/now.

Major Openings

DreamWorks Theatre and Hello Kitty Debut at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2018
Universal Studios Hollywood introduces an all-new attraction in 2018, DreamWorks Theatre. The newly designed venue will play host to a variety of action-packed DreamWorks Animation themed attractions beginning with the multi-sensory adventure inspired by the global blockbuster franchise Kung Fu Panda. Hello Kitty, the beloved global pop icon created by the Japanese company Sanrio, also joins Universal Studios Hollywood in 2018.

Exciting New Adventures at SeaWorld
Slithering in just in time for summer 2018, Electric Eel, the tallest and fastest roller coaster in SeaWorld San Diego’s history, will accelerate to more than 60 mph in seconds and rocket skyward 150 feet, with an upside-down view of Mission Bay! Also new for 2018, SeaWorld will be the only place in California where guests can see a new neighborhood street party parade featuring everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends in May and June.

First Autograph Collection Hotel Comes to Los Angeles
Debuting as the first Autograph Collection hotel in Los Angeles in January 2018, the 26-acre westdrift Manhattan Beach will offer 392 luxury guest rooms, 112 of which will feature private balconies with views of the golf course. The property includes a nine-hole executive golf course, a signature indoor/outdoor restaurant featuring a 360-degree bar, a CrossFit-inspired fitness center, and more than 35,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meetings and event space.

Lido House Opening in Newport Beach
Just steps away from Lido Marina Village, Lido House will debut as an Autograph Collection hotel in Newport Beach in early 2018. The hotel will feature five custom three-story cottages, each designed by a local designer. The property will feature The Mayor’s Table, along with Topside, the only rooftop bar in Newport Beach. Other highlights include a saltwater pool with private cabanas, a luxury fitness center and Boost Spa.

Marriott Irvine Spectrum Debuts in Time for 2018
Opening December 2017, Marriott Irvine Spectrum will be the only full-service hotel in the Irvine Spectrum area. The property features 271 guest rooms including 50 Premier suites, a full-service restaurant, a 3,500-square-foot rooftop bar, and more than 13,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting and event space. Located within walking distance of Irvine Spectrum Center, the retreat will be a sophisticated urban oasis and the new centerpiece of the Irvine skyline.

Monterey Conference Center Reopens
Monterey County will be celebrating an exciting new year with the grand reopening of the newly renovated $60 million Monterey Conference Center in January 2018. The Conference Center, located in the heart of historic downtown City of Monterey, will be a modern, LEED-certified meeting facility with more than 40,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and a capacity of 3,200 people. The facility is adjacent to the newly renovated Portola Hotel & Spa and connected to the Monterey Marriott.

Pasadena to Enhance Guest Experiences in 2018 with Multi-Million Dollar Hotel Renovations
Pasadena rings in 2018 with multi-million dollar renovations, more guest rooms, larger meeting spaces and new hotels. Among the changes in store are a $20 million renovation of guest rooms, lobby and meeting spaces at Sheraton Pasadena; a $25 million renovation of guest rooms, lobby, bar and meeting spaces at Hilton Pasadena; and a recently completed $11 million guest room beautification at Westin Pasadena; construction of a rooftop pool, meeting space, fitness center and 30 new rooms at DusitD2 Hotel Constance Pasadena; and a new 186-room upscale Hyatt Place hotel in Pasadena’s most popular retail and entertainment center, The Paseo, scheduled for completion by the end of 2018.

Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito will Open in Summer 2018
Santa Barbara’s highly anticipated beachfront resort, Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito, will open in summer 2018. Spread over nearly 16 acres, the resort will offer 124 guestrooms and 37 suites, many of which will be located in single-story cottages and bungalows. Amenities will include an oceanfront bar and restaurant, two swimming pools, a Sense® spa, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and one of the most beautiful and secluded beaches in Santa Barbara

Rugby World Sevens in San Francisco
In July 2018, AT&T Park will host Rugby World Sevens. More than 40 teams from six continents will descend upon San Francisco to play in the biggest rugby event to ever on U.S. soil.

Milestone Anniversaries

Cannery Row Commemorates 60 Years
In 2018, Cannery Row in Monterey will celebrate 60 years since its revitalization. Formerly a canning district, the “Sardine Capital of the World” was all-but-abandoned when the sardines disappeared. In 1958, the City of Monterey officially changed the name to “Cannery Row” in honor of John Steinbeck’s 1945 novel of the same name and the rebirth and transformation began. Today, Cannery Row welcomes approximately four million visitors each year to experience its luxurious waterfront hotels, enticing restaurants and captivating boutiques.

Historic Truckee Monument Celebrates 100 Years
Standing 22 feet tall to represent how high the snow was in 1846-1847, the iconic Donner Pioneer Monument will celebrate 100 years in 2018. This designated California Historic Landmark honors pioneer families who crossed the Sierra Nevada in search for a better life and is within walking distance of Donner Lake and the new state-of-the-art Donner State Park Museum and Visitor Center.

Martinelli & Company Celebrates 150 Years
2018 marks S. Martinelli & Company’s 150th anniversary. Founded in 1868 and still family-owned and operated, this well-known juice producer is headquartered in agricultural-rich Watsonville in Santa Cruz County. Visitors can sample Martinelli’s juices, sparkling ciders, mulling spices and limited-edition products in a family-friendly tasting room, while learning about its history. Once producing champagne cider using apples from California’s first commercial orchards, Martinelli’s shifted production once Prohibition was enacted.

City of Watsonville 150th Anniversary
The City of Watsonville is also celebrating 150 years in 2018 and will host a Birthday Celebration on March 30, 2018. Visit www.watsonville150.org for a complete list of other events throughout the year celebrating south Santa Cruz county’s rich history and cultures.

Laguna Art Museum Celebrates 100 Years
Unlike any other museum in the state, Laguna Art Museum collects only California art. The museum traces its origins to the Laguna Beach Art Association, formed in 1918 with artist Edgar Payne as president. In 1929, headed by Laguna Beach painter Anna Hills, the LBAA opened a grand, custom-built gallery which survives within the present museum building. The museum offers art education, presenting programs in music, dance, and film as well as the visual arts. To celebrate this legacy, in 2018 the museum will host a year-long series of exhibitions, special events, programs, and celebrations.

Oakland A’s Celebrate 50 Years in 2018
The Oakland Athletics will celebrate their 50th anniversary in Oakland with a season-long celebration in 2018, including appearances by A’s alumni, special promotions, events and giveaways. On April 17, 2018 – exactly 50 years after the A’s inaugural game at the Coliseum – the anniversary celebration continues with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Chicago White Sox that is free for all fans.

Temecula Valley Wine Country Celebrates 50 years
Temecula Valley Wine Country celebrates their 50th anniversary in 2018, recognizing the people, passion and perseverance that has made this Southern California destination a globally recognized and respected wine region. There will be special promotions and events all year long. Everyone is invited to come celebrate their 50th and receive a special souvenir. #cheersto50years

ABOUT VISIT CALIFORNIA:
Visit California is a nonprofit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs – in partnership with the state’s travel industry – that keep California top-of-mind as a premier travel destination. According to Visit California, spending by travelers totaled $126.3 billion in 2016 in California, generating 1.1 million jobs in the state and $10.3 billion in state and local tax revenues. For more information about Visit California and for a free California Official State Visitor’s Guide, go to http://www.visitcalifornia.com/.


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Countdown to Hollywood’s Biggest New Year’s Party

Universal Studios Hollywood rings in 2018 with Hollywood’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebration, EVE, on Sunday, December 31, 2017, with extended theme park hours to 1:00 a.m.

The New Year’s Eve event, the first ever for Universal Studios Hollywood, is included in the price of theme park admission and invites guests to spend the day and night enjoying its many popular rides and attractions with a special park-wide countdown party featuring multiple entertainment hubs with DJs and live music, starting at 9:00 p.m.

Universal Plaza, Simpsons Plaza located adjacent to “The Simpsons Ride” and an area near “Jurassic Park—The Ride” will transform into three uniquely-themed electrifying party hubs that will culminate simultaneously at midnight with a traditional New Year countdown and a spectacular fireworks display.


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Food and beverages, including specialty desserts, champagne, beer and wine, as well as 2018 memorabilia will be available for purchase.

With its festive environment, guests can toast the New Year with the spirit of the holidays already resonating throughout Universal Studios Hollywood. “Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry PotterTM” introduces “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts TM Castle.” Several times each night, guests can enjoy amazing images inspires by the Harry Potter films as they come to life in breathtaking digital light projection on the backdrop of Hogwarts castle. And with extended hours on December 31, guests can celebrate the final day of “Grinchmas™” with The Grinch, his faithful dog Max and a roster of Who-ville Whos.

More information is available at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com.


On the road? Why not take us with you. Our websites are mobile-friendly! Visit our growing family of exit guides:  I-4 Exit GuideI-5 Exit GuideI-10 Exit GuideI-75 Exit Guide, and I-95 Exit Guide. Detailed exit service listings… discount lodging, camping, food, gas and more for every exit along the way!

Hogwarts Has Arrived In Hollywood!

Universal Studios Hollywood marked the opening of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™” with legendary Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe, BAFTA and Grammy award-winning composer John Williams conducting the L.A. Philharmonic synchronized to a spectacularly choreographed three dimensional digital lighting projection on Hogwarts castle. A dynamic fireworks display followed to signal the much-anticipated arrival of this incredibly immersive land.

More than five years in the making, and inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters that were brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” has been masterfully recreated with impeccable detail as a real-world interpretation at Universal Studios Hollywood. The land is faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including Hogwarts castle which serves as its iconic focal point.

From its snow-capped roofs and cobblestone streets to the historic British sensibilities that characterize the whimsical look and feel of the land, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” transports guests of all ages to the very places they read about in the stories or watched on the silver screen.

Upon entering the land through the archway, Hogsmeade bustles to life with the same vitality of a quaint local village: merchants hard at work, a train conductor welcoming new arrivals and a pub packed to the gills with hungry patrons, but with the added element of enthusiastic guests intent on experiencing them all, including the land’s signature ride, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,” and the family outdoor coaster, “Flight of the Hippogriff™.”

An achievement in pioneering theme park ride technology, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” makes its U.S. debut at Universal Studios Hollywood in hyper-realistic 3D-HD designed to further immerse guests in an already engaging storyline. The multidimensional thrill ride features a groundbreaking robotics ride system, fused with elaborate filmed action sequences and immersive visceral effects. In this updated adaptation of the ride, guests sport Quidditch-inspired 3D goggles as they venture through journeys experienced by Harry and his friends, spiraling and pivoting 360-degrees along an elevated ride track on a whirlwind adventure of a lifetime.

Also within “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” the enchanting family coaster, “Flight of the Hippogriff™” opens as Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor roller coaster.

“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” resonates with immense detail, inviting guests to revel in Harry Potter’s world with the opportunity to enjoy authentic food and beverage at multiple locations, including Three Broomsticks™, and Hog’s Head pub, as well as the Magic Neep and Butterbeer™ carts.

A foray through the shops adds to the authenticity of the land with eight retail venues and locations, including Honeydukes™, Ollivanders™, Owl Post™, Zonko’s™ Joke Shop, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Dervish and Banges, Gladrags Wizardwear and Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods™.

Find your perfect hotel near Universal Studios Hollywood!


On the road? Why not take us with you. Our websites are mobile-friendly! Visit our growing family of exit guides:  I-4 Exit GuideI-5 Exit GuideI-10 Exit GuideI-75 Exit Guide, and I-95 Exit Guide. Detailed exit service listings… discount lodging, camping, food, gas and more for every exit along the way!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Opens April 7, 2016 at Universal Studios Hollywood

It’s official: “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™” will open at Universal Studios Hollywood on Thursday, April 7, 2016, marking the highly-anticipated arrival of the West Coast’s dynamic new immersive experience at The Entertainment Capital of L.A.

This eagerly-awaited news coincides with the launch of the destination’s spellbinding campaign, which is stylistically designed to sweep guests into the land’s magical world through the lens of imagination.

The campaign is anchored by a new television spot designed to build suspense and enthusiasm while evoking a sense of wonder and succinctly capture the magical appeal that “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” has for cross-generational consumers as it announces the April 7 opening date.

In making the exciting announcement, Universal Studios Hollywood illuminated the land’s Hogwarts castle to signal the arrival of today’s momentous news.

More than five years in the making, and inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters that were brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” is being masterfully recreated with impeccable detail as a real-world interpretation at Universal Studios Hollywood. The land will be faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including Hogwarts castle which will serve as its iconic focal point.

From its snow-capped roofs and cobblestone streets to the historic British sensibilities that characterize the whimsical look and feel of the land, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will transport guests of all ages to the very places they read about in the stories or watched on the silver screen.

Upon entering the land through the archway, Hogsmeade will bustle to life with the same vitality of a quaint local village: merchants hard at work, a train conductor welcoming new arrivals and a pub packed to the gills with hungry patrons, but with the added element of enthusiastic guests intent on experiencing them all, including the land’s signature ride, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,” and the family outdoor coaster, “Flight of the Hippogriff™.”

An achievement in pioneering theme park ride technology, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” will make its U.S. debut at Universal Studios Hollywood in hyper-realistic 3D-HD designed to further immerse guests in an already engaging storyline. The multidimensional thrill ride features a groundbreaking robotics ride system, fused with elaborate filmed action sequences and immersive visceral effects. In this updated adaptation of the ride, guests will sport Quidditch-inspired 3D goggles as they venture through journeys experienced by Harry and his friends, spiraling and pivoting 360-degrees along an elevated ride track on a whirlwind adventure of a lifetime.

Also within “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” the enchanting family coaster, “Flight of the Hippogriff™” will open as Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor roller coaster.

“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will resonate with immense detail, inviting guests to revel in Harry Potter’s world with the opportunity to enjoy authentic food and beverage at multiple locations, including Three Broomsticks™, and Hog’s Head pub, as well as the Magic Neep and Butterbeer™ carts.

A foray through the shops will add to the authenticity of the land with eight retail venues and locations, including Honeydukes™, Ollivanders™, Owl Post™, Zonko’s™ Joke Shop, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Dervish and Banges, Gladrags Wizardwear and Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods™.

Currently, Universal Studios Hollywood in-park guests can experience and purchase authentic merchandise, including wands, robes and other collectibles from “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” available within the Features Presentation shop, located just inside the theme park’s main entry.


On the road for the holidays? Why not take us with you. Visit our growing family of exit guides:  I-4 Exit GuideI-5 Exit GuideI-10 Exit GuideI-75 Exit Guide, and I-95 Exit Guide. Detailed exit service listings… discount lodging, camping, food, gas and more for every exit along the way!