PHOTO REPORT: Universal CityWalk Hollywood 8/28/20 (Vivo Reopens, Park Merch in Studio Store, New Seating Areas, and More!)
Welcome to Hollywood! We’re back at Universal CityWalk Hollywood for a look at what’s new, what’s good, and what’s happening. So let’s dive right into this photo report!
Outside the Gate
Before even entering the parking lot, Universal Studios is reaching out. This Minion themed billboard sits on Lankershim Blvd expressing thanks to everyone working through the pandemic.
A Minion looks out over LA from the top of the “Dispicable Me: Minion Mayhem” ride.
The entry process is now what we’ve come to expect as standard for a shopping area like CityWalk. Plenty of signage, hand sanitizer stations distributed around, and a forehead contactless temperature screening prior to entering the public space.
Upon entering, we saw plenty of outdoor seating for the restaurants, and more added all the time. Karl Strauss Brewing Company is still closed, but many other restaurants are open including Antojitos and Johnny Rockets.
NBC Sports Grill & Brew
The restaurant, an original venture operated by Universal, is the newest restaurant at CityWalk. It looks to be finished and was expected to open sometime this year. But it sits closed still. A sign out front says “Opening Soon” but there is no expected opening date announced.
The interior of the restaurant looks to be completed, with no work going on and everything in place.
The restaurant has ample outdoor seating both in front and along the side, with more room to expand. It could operate under the state’s current guidelines on outdoor seating, but Universal hasn’t opened it yet.
Heading West Toward the Park
The water fountain is back on, but it is roped off to guests. No running through the sprinklers to cool off this year.
Antojitos is open and expanding its outdoor seating area. These dividers allow for more tables out in the plaza area to maximize the amount of spaced tables.
Across the way, Sparky’s remains closed, but the space is not going to waste. The area in front of the door is roped off and more tables for Antojitos are all located along the storefront.
Down one more door at The Los Angeles Sock Market, the front of this still-closed store is used as a queue area for waiting to enter other stores.
Sephora is open, and a store employee stands out front to remind visitors of safe practices and dispense hand sanitizer.
Vivo Italian Kitchen
Vivo Italian Kitchen has recently reopened to guests. This crowd-pleasing pizza place opened in 2018, replacing Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant. They shut down due to the pandemic but have reopened with new operating procedures.
The menu is shown digitally on a screen at the hostess stand and a printed menu, pictured below, is handed out upon arrival. This limited menu still features mainly pizzas and pasta, with a few other offerings available.
Diners place their order with the host and grab a table in the seating area. The food is then brought out to the host, who brings it to guests. This limits the interaction with staff.
Further Down the Walk
Other stores such as Tillys, Billabong, Hot Topic, and more have reopened. We took a look inside Tillys to see how they’re doing.
The Ludo Bird sign had their letters removed and the adhesive was being scraped off. No word on whether they will be reinstalled or if new signage will be added. Ludo Bird remains closed since shutting down for the pandemic.
Popcornopolis remains closed, but the lights are still on in the sign.
The Universal staff is constantly cleaning and disinfecting every surface in high-traffic areas. They are everywhere, very visible, and this makes guests like us feel safer and more comfortable being in the space.
Universal Studio Store
The Studio Store is home to all the Universal goodies we can’t find anywhere else. Due to the high demand, there is a queue out front and one-way travel into and out of the store.
The sign in front of the store that reads “Entrance Only” right next to an erected queue led us to believe that this was the entrance. Enter through this queue.
Upon reaching the back of the queue, there was a sign that said exit. It’s a queue to nowhere.
The Entrance sign must mean that door on the left, as the door on the right is “Exit Only.”
Finally making it into the store, we noticed lots of great stuff.
Masks, of course, are still front and center. These will probably be important and available for quite a while to come.
The Love is Universal collection is out in full force and just so cute. These bears, below, are fluffy and rainbow-accented.
And the vintage collection is still prolific if you need to get your 90’s on.
Cool little exclusives like these Metal Earth models are what we come here for. Who doesn’t want a tiny metal sculpture of the globe or front gate sitting on a desk at home?
Some things, like this reproduction Grays Sports Almanac signed by Michael J Fox, are pieces of Hollywood history. And it can be yours for only $635 at the Studio Store.
The highly-themed Harry Potter section with all the Wizarding World merch is always a treat.
This “Exit Only” sign stands in front of a closed door, and guests are directed back to the front doors to exit.
Great decorations for Halloween or anytime you’re feeling like a witch. These aren’t for sale, but they provide perfect ambiance next to the merch that is available.
Leaving CityWalk, we head over to see the still-closed gates of the park.
It’s still so weird to see this all empty. Not to complain about these perfect shots we got, but it would be nice to go in again.
The misters are on in the entrance area because it is a hot, sunny, Summer day.
See? Told you. Sunny.
Looking into the park with a telephoto lens, we see some Star Wagons and golf carts working on the main avenue in front of the Illumination Store. No word on what work is being done but it’s nice to see some activity as they prepare to reopen when safe to do so.
Over past the neon Universal Studios Hollywood sign sits the Illumination Entertainment section of the park. This is home to the “Despicable Me” ride, Super Silly Fun Land, and the new “Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash” attraction set to open, hopefully, with the park reopening. A cherry picker can be seen across the street from the new attraction, probably being used for painting and maintenance.
Look at all the beautiful new paint on the colorful building facades pictured on the right. The three brownstone-looking apartment buildings at the right corner were installed for the new attraction.
The tops of the buildings are so colorful and vibrant. We can’t wait for this new attraction to open.
Back to CityWalk
We still have a ways to go down to the other end of CityWalk. The newest store in the shopping center is Production Central. You can read all about it here.
Inside, merchandise can be found from some favorite Universal movies, and some of the other collections available in the Studio Store as well.
The view across the road to the additional seating area.
Just below King Kong is IT’SUGAR, the biggest candy store in CityWalk and maybe even LA.
An employee greets guests and distributes bags for candy.
The store offers more than just candy, including these quarantine-themed candles. The “Social Distancing” candle smells like Citrus Summit and the “Work from Home” candle is Green Tea and Bergamot scented. They are both available for $9.99 each.
Sour Patch Kids are having a moment right now, and you can get into the moment with 1.5 lbs of Pink Sour Patch Kids, a Pink Sour Patch Kid Pop! Vinyl figure or a Purple Sour Patch Kid Pop! Vinyl figure.
If you’re missing that Wizarding World of Harry Potter Butterbeer, IT’SUGAR has a quick-fix for you. Bottled Butterscotch Beer isn’t quite the same as what is sold in the park, but it works in pinch.
The centerpiece of the whole store is the Wizard of Oz-themed candy sculptures with a lollipop garden. These lollipops are available in a myriad of flavors from Tutti Frutti, to cotton candy, cherry, strawberry, and more.
There are so…
Down at the far East end of CityWalk, no progress is being made on Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. The windows are blacked out, but no work seems to be happening, no sounds were heard and it looks from all sides to be empty.
Voodoo Doughnut, however, is open and delicious.
Down at the end of the run, Buca di Beppo is open to diners. Their outdoor seating is primarily upstairs on the upper walkway, as pictured below.
Coming around the bend, we see some stores open but nearly lifeless. This end of CityWalk doesn’t get as much traffic as the West end.
Samba is still closed, despite all this outdoor seating area it could be using.
And iFly, being an indoor skydiving attraction, is still closed. But the spires of Hogwarts are peeking out from behind the buildings off to the left. A nice little hello.
The upstairs terrace is home to CityFood, a collection of quick-service restaurants. Let’s head up.
Subway is closed and seems to be remaining empty for the time being.
A security guard stands to keep guests from bypassing the temperature screening area.
Panda Express is open. The Habit Burger Grill construction seems to be paused as well.
Pokébar remains closed.
Taco Bell, Pink’s and KFC/Pizza Hut are open to guests.
It seems at least some work is being done at CityWalk, as we found this stairway closed with a “Pardon Our Stardust” sign indicating work.
The East entrance is all but empty, with the E.T. structure closed off and guests being directed to Jurassic Parking for temperature screening.
And the last goodbye from those Hogwarts spires, now in closeup. Thanks for joining us on this photo report from Universal CityWalk Hollywood. Want to see something we missed? Let us know in the comments below.