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SYFY WIRE Back to the Future

Universal Studios Hollywood Celebrates 60 Years With Earthquake Update, Back to the Future Time Machine

The beloved Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour is getting a movie-themed upgrade to celebrate its 60th year of operation.

By Tara Bennett

Universal Studios Hollywood theme park is celebrating a massive milestone on its famous Glamor Tram tour with a big update to the attraction fans know and love. 

Before the modern Universal Studios Hollywood theme park became a world-class destination in the heart of Los Angeles, visitors first got to experience it as the Universal Studios Tour. Open to the public on July 15, 1964, visitors were treated to a two-hour "Glamor Tram" ride around the working Universal Pictures movie lot. Stops included an exhibit of Edith Head's costumes, a makeup demo, a stop at the studio commissary and a staged Western shoot out.

Sixty years later, Universal Studios Hollywood is now a full blown theme park with whole lands to visit like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Super Nintendo World. And the venerable Studio Tour is still included with the price of admission. Celebrating its diamond anniversary, the ever-evolving Studio Tour will mark the milestone anniversary with a dedicated experiential program that will run from April 26 through August 11, 2024.

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Back are several of the red and white candy-striped Glamor Trams, along with new stops on the backlot tour, a refurbished “Earthquake—The Big One” attraction, special photos ops, and limited edition foods and merch to honor the attraction that literally birthed Universal Studios Hollywood. To help plan your trip to see this update studio tour, below is everything movie fans need to know about the 60th anniversary celebration.

What's new on Universal's Studio Tour?

People step off the Universal Studios backlot tram.

From late April to early August this summer at Universal Studios Hollywood, the Studio Tour will allow guests the rare opportunity to disembark the tram to step onto a legendary movie set where an original, fully restored 1964 vintage Glamor Tram will be parked. While there, guests can get their picture taken with the classic tram, with a giant King Kong backdrop or with the theme park’s original hanging Jaws shark.

Once back on the tour route, guests will experience the completely updated “Earthquake—The Big One” attraction which debuted at the park in 1989. Refurbished to reflect modern technology and special effects, the water and pyro heavy event stop will amaze riders with some dramatic movie magic. For old-timers of the tour experience, there will also be a temporary return of the 1976 Runaway Train stop, complete with the retro warning bells and sirens alarm.

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The Studio Tour will also wind its way through Courthouse Square, where the clock tower scene was shot in the time travel classic, Back to the Future. For the celebration, an original time machine picture car will sit prominently on display, along with an actor portraying the Doc Brown character.

And for the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World fans, the tour will add some dino fun with a Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur display used in the promotion of Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World movie placed next to a paddock of "wild dinosaurs" that can be heard screeching and clamoring to escape.

Universal Studios is getting its own Hollywood Sign

Guests ride the Universal Studios backlot tram at Jaws lake.

Another famous Hollywood landmark is also celebrating a big anniversary this year - the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles' Griffith Park. Since the sign is around the hill and can't be seen from the theme park, Universal Studios Hollywood is partnering with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the Hollywood Sign Trust to give these two cultural icons their due...together. 

The theme park is debuting the first-ever original replica of the Hollywood Sign which will be situated inside the studio backlot tour, adjacent to the place where riders can step off the tram. Per the Universal Studios press release, the large scale reproduction has been faithfully recreated according to the historic records of the iconic landmark. In this special, multi-year partnership, Studio Tour guests will get to see the 10-foot tale replica on the hillside during the tour. 

Universal Studio's 60th anniversary food, snacks and merchandise

Themed desserts for the 60th Anniversary of Universal Studios Hollywood's studio tour.

If you're a visitor who loves to be tempted by limited edition food, snack and drink options, the Studio Tour 60th Anniversary will offer an array of new dining options at several Upper and Lower lot locations. A special Dining Pass will be available for purchase for the special menu items on the day of your visit. Guests can choose from six eligible menu items: a choice of two entrees, plus a choice of four snacks, sides, desserts or beverages at participating restaurants or food carts. 

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Hollywood & Dine will offer a new lineup of BBQ items. Mel’s Diner will serve up refreshed Americana classics, including TV dinner style meatloaf and fried chicken entrees. And the City Snack Shop standalone outdoor food cart on the Upper Lot, will be transformed into a Glamor Tram to serve up a selection of treats including the Glam Tram Cookie, Film Reel Cookie Sandwich, Giant 60th Pretzel, 60th Celebration Cookies and Banana Breath Popcorn.

For Studio Tour stans, there will also be Glamor Tram collectibles including a 60th anniversary popcorn bucket and Glamor Tram themed housewares, clothing, accessories and candy. 

To book tickets or plan your Universal Studios Hollywood summer visit, more information is available at