Universal Studios greenlights a sequel for tram tour

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Okay, parts of the Universal Studios tram tour are pretty hokey. The old shark from “Jaws” is showing its age and the falling bridge hardly counts as a thrill ride by modern standards. But the tour – which first started shuttling guests around the back lot in 1964 – remains as popular as ever. Universal officials say more than 90 percent of visitors take the 45-minute tour, making it the busiest ride at the L.A. theme park.

And now the Universal Studio Tour is getting its biggest makeover in 50 years. Studio officials say changes coming this summer include new trams, with cushier seats and HiDef monitors that will show clips of Universal films. There will also be new, nighttime operations and pyrotechnic finale with explosions, smoke and 3-D effects.

harry potterLarry Kurzweil, the head of Universal Studios Hollywood, says the company is trying to put the focus back on the roots of the theme park, where the tram ride started it all.

The tour do-over comes as Universal pushes ahead with a $1.6 billion park expansion. The centerpiece of that is the scheduled opening next year of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

By the way, when tram rides kicked off in 1964, guests paid $2.50 for the behind-the-scenes peak of the Universal back lot. The tour now comes with general admission to the theme park, which is $92.