Where the damage is at Universal studios

Jessie Lilley of Mondo Cult magazine explains the fire-damage to those of us unfamiliar with the Universal back-lot...

I came across this description of the geography of Universal studios at a Yahoo Group late last night, from Jessie Lilley at Mondo Cult magazine. Jessie worked at Universal for ten years, and can dispel some of the rumours about what has been damaged and what not – such as the original ‘Psycho’ house.Jessie would like to point out that she does not work at Universal any longer and was not on site. The following is a straight copy of her post to the Yahoo group, and is reprinted with permission..– Martin Anderson

I’ve been answering a lot of questions online today regarding the location of the fire currently burning on the back lot at Universal. I figured I’d just go ahead and post this here now, in case any of you are interested.

The last time fire that destroyed sets on the Lot was in 1990. It was far worse than this one. BTW, reports that the film vault is burned are not correct, to the best of my knowledge. The video vault went, but that’s a whole other thing. So…..

Let me explain something for those of you who’ve never been on the Lot…

New York Street, New England Street (BACK TO THE FUTURE town square/clock tower) and the King Kong gag are all located on the back lot. But the back lot has several sections. This part of the lot is butt-up against the lower lot where the office buildings and bungalows are. Brownstone Street is between NY Street and the garage where they work on the trucks, golf carts, etc, and down the lane towards the front of the lot is where my old building (4250 Bud Westmore) is -just opposite Hitchcock’s old bungalow. So hopefully you get an idea that you’re on the flat lands, about 1/4 to 1/2 a mile from the front gate.

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For those of you who HAVE been on the lot, if you go in Gate 2, you enter the lot and on the right is Stage 1 and on the left is the Motion Picture building – that long low white building with three lobby entrances. The lane goes straight up into the lot from the gate and there’s a center island with trees all the way up past the stages on the right. At the end of the Motion Picture building is a stop sign and intersection where you can turn right and have Stage 28 on your left, or you can bear left and have Stage 28 on your right. From there you pass (on the right) the Back Lot Cafe (where you come to another stop sign) and if you continue on you pass more stages (on the right) and at the next stop sign, you come to 4250 on the right and on the left after you pass through the stop sign is the Hitchcock Bungalow. Then you pass (on the right) a long, low office building and up at the NEXT stop sign at the end of the office building on the right, you have a left hand turn to the garage. You then pass through a large intersection where there are approximately 5 (6?) roads that meet. Across that intersection on the left is where the fire is burning.

That’s easily 1/4 mile form the front gate.

The Psycho House is MUCH further back. Back past the rest of the lower lot area of the back lot, up behind Western Street and the 747Stage, up the hill to the right of where the Court of Miracles is located, is where the Bates Motel set stands; up the hill behind THAT is where the Psycho House is. The remake Psycho house is also in that area. Beyond that is Whoville and also where the Waterworld set was and the Jurassic Park control station from II was. It IS on the very edge of the Universal property. It’s also where I watched Tom Cruise shoot some stuff for WAR OF THE WORLDS. Beyond that is residential area and Barham Boulevard and beyond THAT is the backside of the hill where the Hollywood sign is located. The Psycho House is easily another 1/4 mile from where the fire is burning.

I’ve confirmed that the house has NOT been moved since I left Universal in October. It’s all where it was when I split North. So I don’t understand why newscasters are all saying that the Psycho House has burned, unless, as I state above, there’s a new fire burning.

Make no mistake, when newscasters refer to the “amusement park” they are incorrect. The Kong gag is part of the tram tour on the movie lot itself. The amusement park is up on top of the hill, and they are two separate locations. The tram pulls out of the park, goes down the hill past Station 51, down around a curve past Jurassic Park on the right and Stage 12 on the left, then trundles through a couple of sound stage locations and meets up with the main drag at Stage 28 as described above. Once you pull away from the tram station and start down the hill where the movie posters line the road, you’re out of the amusement park and onto the movie lot itself.

Anyway, there’s your virtual tour. Hope some of you find it of interest and also help to establish the location. Bottom line is the fire is dead center of the lot and what I’m hearing is that the probable source of the fire is not the King Kong gag. Not confirmed by any means, but that’s the buzz.


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