Universal Studios Hollywood is eyeing wealthier patrons’ pocketbooks as the summer swings into season. A new $299 per-person VIP ticketing option gets you into the park for a day with valet parking, continental breakfast, an unlimited front of line pass, catered gourmet lunch, and a seat on a cozy 16-person trolley. The VIP Experience, which one Uni rep likens to flying first class, also takes guests behind the scenes on the Universal backlot to sets of shows like NBC’s Parenthood and ABC’s Desperate Housewives Wisteria Lane street. Children under 5 years aren’t allowed, but Universal’s come up with a solution for families with the cash to spend: You can rent the entire trolley exclusively for a day for 16 people at $299 a pop, or just under $5K total. Disneyland, meanwhile, recently raised its prices for single-day and annual tickets.
UPDATED: A class action lawsuit was filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court against Comcast Corp, Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal Media, Universal Studios, Universal City Studios. The lead plaintiff was a dishwasher in Universal’s commissarry until 2010. The suit is alleging California Labor Code violations over a 4-year period including failure to pay overtime or provide required meal and rest periods. It also alleges unpaid and illegally calculated overtime compensation, failure to pay minimum wage, and numerous other unfair and unlawful practices. The class includes current and former non-exempt employees. You can read the lawsuit here.
It’s been rumored for some time and even today Time Warner boss Jeff Bewkes said the news was coming soon. Now Comcast’s Universal Parks & Resorts has confirmed that it will build a Harry Potter attraction inside its Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, as well as expand its uber-profitable The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at its Orlando resort. It’s there that the year-plus-old Potter-themed attraction has helped boost revenue by 33% through the first nine months of 2011, and attendance is up 50% since Wizarding’s June 2010 launch, making the move to other parks a no-brainer. (Yesterday, Comcast CFO Mike Angelakis called the attraction at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure “a reset mechanism” for the park.) “It was a game changer for us and frankly for Orlando,” Universal Studios president Ron Meyer told the Associated Press after today’s announcement. “The expansion in Orlando will make it that much more of a must-see, and we’ll have the same experience here.” The new installation is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs. Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky told the AP that he was told Universal’s concert venue Gibson Amphitheatre would be axed to make way for the Potter attraction. No plan details or time frames were discussed. Harry Potter is a Warner Bros property.
Harry Potter will materialize sometime in the future in Universal City with his own special section of the theme park much like “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Orlando Resort. NBC Universal is expected to announce plans for the Potter addition within a week, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Harry Potter site in Florida includes a Hogwarts Castle, roller coasters, and several Potter-themed restaurants. In the year after it opened, the Harry Potter attraction in Florida drew an additional 1.1 million visitors for a total of 2.8 million and revenue nearly doubled to $309 million, the Journal said. If the Hollywood Harry Potter succeeds, additional attractions could be added to Universal parks in Japan, Singapore and Spain. Universal licensed the Harry Potter theme park rights for the Orlando Resort from Warner Bros. for an undisclosed sum. A similar deal is likely for Universal Studios Hollywood. WB also receives royalties on merchandise. The Hollywood Harry Potter and any others also will require the consent of author J.K. Rowling, as did the park in Florida.