Hundreds wait in vain; park to reopen today

Universal Studios was scheduled to open today at 10 a.m. after being closed all day Sunday because of an early-morning fire that destroyed a large portion of the back lot, including sets from films such as “Austin Powers” and “Bruce Almighty.”

Universal CityWalk, which features restaurants, shops and movie theaters, also will open at 10 a.m., said NBC/Universal vice president Eliot Sekuler.

After hundreds of visitors waited for the park to open Sunday, park officials announced at 2:30 p.m. that it would remain closed for the rest of the day. Sekuler said fire officials asked Universal to remain closed.

Andrew Cannon, 33, and his family had driven from Temecula for a weekend getaway. They had passes to Universal Studios but woke up Sunday morning to see a thick, black mushroom-shaped cloud from their hotel window.


“It’s pretty weird,” Cannon said, explaining that they had been on a tram at the theme park a day earlier and saw the “King Kong” attraction, which went up in smoke Sunday. “It’s pretty crazy that we saw that yesterday.”

Wendy Almazan, 34, a child-care worker from La Habra, arrived with her 14-year-old daughter Britney about 9:30 a.m. By 2 p.m., they’d had enough.

“We’re very tired, we’re hungry, we’ve got headaches, and we’re just ready to call it a day.”

On a typical Sunday, 25,000 visitors converge on the park, which features movie-themed rides and live shows.

Sherri Biggs, 52, of Tucson was outside the park’s main gates about noon. She came to California with her 14-year-old daughter, Catherine, for a swim meet and planned to spend Sunday at Universal Studios.

Biggs said that when she first heard about the fire, “I hoped there would be something left. It’s kind of a shame. We’re kind of bummed out, but what are you gonna do?”

Rob Polonsky, 23, a freelance video editor from Los Angeles, called and checked the Internet before heading to the park Sunday morning. “I’m frustrated,” he said after hearing the park would remain closed. “They should have said from the start that they weren’t going to open.”