What’s New in Los Angeles

City Hall viewed from Grand Park
City Hall viewed from Grand Park | Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Grand Avenue Authority

ATTRACTIONS


Universal Studios Hollywood (Hollywood)— "Transformers," the electrifying blockbuster celebrated for its multi-generational appeal, inventive storyline, spectacular action sequences and special effects, has been developed as a new theme park mega-attraction in a partnership among Universal Parks & Resorts, Hasbro Inc. and DreamWorks Pictures. The attraction, which debuted at Universal Studios Hollywood in May, fuses 3D-HD media, mega-special effects and stunning robotics with a ride system that transforms perceptions of theme park experiences. The dynamic, motion-based thrill ride tells an original "Transformers" story using sophisticated special effects masterminded by Industrial Light & Magic and one of the most elaborate roaming flight simulator ride systems ever created. "Transformers™: The Ride—3D" is the park’s most ambitious ride ever created. The theme park also is home to such groundbreaking attractions as "King Kong 360 3-D," "The Simpsons Ride™"  "Revenge of the Mummy™ — The Ride," "Shrek 4-D™," "Jurassic Park® — The Ride," and the world-renowned Studio Tour, which takes guests behind the scenes of landmark TV and movie locations. www.universalstudioshollywood.com

USS Iowa (Coastal) — The Port of Los Angeles is the new home of the USS Iowa, a renowned World War II battleship. The ship docked at the San Pedro Waterfront in May, after being towed from Richmond, Calif.  The nonprofit Pacific Battleship Center is turning it into a permanent museum and memorial, which opened to the public on July 6. The Iowa is famous for transporting President Franklin D. Roosevelt across the Atlantic to confer with Allied war leaders at Tehran, Iran, in 1943. www.portoflosangeles.org

Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles (Coastal) – Local artisans will soon fill 140,000 square feet of warehouse space with handmade goods and artisanal food at a new marketplace near the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro.  Showcased goods will include handmade glass, felt hats, carved leather and more. The first phase of Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles opened June 29, with full development of the complex expected by summer 2014. www.craftedportla.com

Cirque du Soleil at Dolby Theatre (Hollywood) — Cirque du Soleil® debuted a new production, IRIS, a Journey Through the World of Cinema, on July 22, 2011, exclusively at the Dolby Theatre, home of the Academy Awards®. This large-scale production — created exclusively for its permanent home at the Dolby Theatre — offers a new take on the art of cinema as only Cirque du Soleilcould imagine it. IRIS is an inventive spectacle that combines acrobatics, dance, projections and live music. The show takes the audience on a fantastic voyage directed by acclaimed choreographer Philippe Decouflé with music by Oscar-nominated composer Danny Elfman. The word “iris” refers to the adjustable opening that controls the amount of light that passes through a camera lens. A cast of 72 performing artists from all over the world presents the show in the 3,400-seat theater. www.cirquedusoleil.com; www.dolbytheatre.com/

Natural History Museum (Downtown) — Theall-new, 14,000-square-foot Dinosaur Hall opened July 16, 2011, with two light-filled galleries, featuring more than 300 fossils, 20 full-body specimens, manual and digital interactives, and large-format video. It is designed to allow visitors to get up close to real fossils. The centerpiece of the hall is a trio of T. Rex fossils, the world’s only Tyrannosaurus Rex growth series. Two-thirds of the full-body specimens have never been displayed before. The opening of the Dinosaur Hall marks the halfway point in the seven-year, $135-million renovation at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, located in Exposition Park. The first phase involved cleaning and refurbishing the fragile, stained-glass skylight that crowns the museum’s 57-foot-high rotunda. www.nhm.org

Sundance Sunset Cinemas (Hollywood) — Sip wine and ease into a plush rocker at the new Sundance Sunset Cinemas.  Actor Robert Redford’s theater has just opened on August 31, 2012 the former Laemmle Sunset 5 space at 8000 Sunset Blvd. It has all the latest digital presentation systems; reserved stadium seating; and a rebuilt lobby that has a bistro serving classic movie treats, quick snacks and a bar serving beer and wine, which may be brought into the theater. The theater has five screens with a total of 635 seats (down from Laemmle's 1,000). And if plush seats aren’t enough, Sundance has also added an outdoor patio area, an art gallery showing work by local artists, and an upstairs lounge outfitted in cushy leather furniture. Sundance Sunset Cinemas plans to specialize in movies made by local and independent filmmakers and foreign language titles. Tickets come with three hours of validated parking in the 8000 Sunset lot. www.sundancecinemas.com/sunset

Six Flags Magic Mountain (San Fernando Valley) — On June 30, the world's tallest vertical drop ride thrilled its first passengersat Six Flags Magic Mountain. Named after one of DC Comics' most dangerously intelligent super-villains and Superman's greatest enemy, "LEX LUTHOR: Drop of Doom" is attached to both sides of the iconic "SUPERMAN: Escape from Krypton" tower. Riders will sit inside a floorless gondola on one of two vertical tracks flanking each side of the "SUPERMAN: Escape from Krypton" tower. They'll be pulled to the top of the 400-foot tower, experience a brief pause, and then drop 40 stories at speeds of up to 85 mph. www.sixflags.com/magicmountain

Japanese Garden at the Huntington (San Gabriel Valley) — The Japanese Garden at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens reopened its beloved Japanese Garden on April 11, after being closed for a year to undergo $6.8 million in renovations and improvements. Among the upgrades is a complete historical restoration of the 19th-century Japanese house, a two-story, modified Tokyo-style residence from the Meiji period (1868-1912). Other work includes repairs to the central pond system and water infrastructure, improvements in accessibility, and modifications to the landscape overseen by Kyoto-based landscape architect Takuhiro Yamada. One of the highlights of the project is the installation of a ceremonial teahouse, donated to The Huntington by the Pasadena Buddhist Temple. It is placed on a picturesque ridge on the southwest side of the Japanese Garden, surrounded by an authentic tea garden designed by Los Angeles-area landscape architects Takeo Uesugi and Keiji Uesugi. www.huntington.org

Museum of Flying (Coastal) -- A new Museum of Flying recently celebrated its official opening on Feb. 25.  The structure is on Airport Avenue on the South side of Santa Monica Airport, adjacent to the historic DC-3 Monument.  The museum expanded an existing building at 3100 Airport Ave. in Santa Monica.  The new museum focuses on the Douglas Aircraft Company and the history of the Santa Monica Airport.  It also houses the California Aviation Hall of Fame, which recognizes and pays tribute to the aviation visionaries of California who have made significant contributions to the advancement and development of the aviation and aerospace fields.  The museum houses about two dozen aircraft, as well as aviation art and artifacts, in about 22,000 square feet, plus an interactive and education center for children.  The museum's centerpiece is the Douglas World Cruiser.  www.museumofflying.com 

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens (Downtown) — Brightly colored poison dart frogs, scary snakes and scaly lizards are what’s new at the Los Angeles Zoo. "LAIR, The Living Amphibians, Invertebrates and Reptiles" exhibit opened March 8, with magnificent new homes for the zoo’s outstanding reptile collection, one of the rarest among North American zoos. Species featured in the new conservation facility include Chinese giant salamanders, crocodiles, venomous snakes, scorpions, rare tortoises, blue frogs and much more.  www.lazoo.org

Martial Arts History Museum (San Fernando Valley) — The Martial Arts History Museum, formerly of Santa Clarita, reopened in June 2011 in a new home in Burbank.  Among the more than 300 artifacts is a 12th century Samurai armor replica donated from Japan.  Highlights are movie props and a time line of martial arts films back to the 1920s.  Calling itself the world's first martial arts museum, the site provides an opportunity to learn about Asian cultures, history and  hundreds of fighting styles, as well as new perspectives on how Asian history became a unique part of American history.  www.mamuseum.com 

Palace Theatre (Downtown) — The one-time vaudeville theater and former movie palace of the 1920s and ‘30s reopened in June 2011 after a $1-million restoration. The Palace Theatre on Broadway has come back to life with its polished marble, giant murals and gold-leaf accents shining again. The venerable theater is a venue for live shows and movies, including the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats series of classic movie screenings. The site can also be leased for performances, screenings and special events. The theater has 1,100 red velvet seats and a 40-foot stage. The exterior is styled after a Florentine palazzo, while the interior design is primarily French. www.lahtf.org

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes (Downtown) — LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes (LA Plaza) opened April 15, 2011. The nearly 2.22-acre facility is the nation’s premier center of Mexican-American culture and arts, with a specific focus on the unique Mexican-American experience in Los Angeles and Southern California. Adjacent to Olvera Street marketplace and El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument (where Los Angeles was founded in 1781), the cultural center is housed within the historic and newly renovated Vickrey-Brunswig Building and Plaza House. Through interactive exhibits, visitors explore the ongoing story of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles and beyond. The cornerstone of LA Plaza’s educational efforts is a living history installation titled Calle Principal, a recreation of 1920s-era Main Street. Also featured are Centro Yo Soy, a media arts center and video history studio, and Voces Vivas, an original short film series featuring a broad spectrum of Mexican-Americans sharing their personal histories. Outdoors, LA Plaza’s El Jardín offers 30,000 square feet in a newly created public garden and an outdoor stage. www.lapca.org

Wilmington Waterfront Park (Coastal) — On June 4, 2011, the Port of Los Angeles opened a 30-acre open space, known as the Wilmington Waterfront Park, located at Harry Bridges Boulevard between Figueroa Street and Avalon Boulevard. The approximately nine-block area nearly doubles the amount of public open space in Wilmington and includes walking and biking trails, water features, a playground, plazas, terraced spaces with views of the port, and a distinctive pedestrian bridge.www.portoflosangeles.org

World Cruise Center (Coastal) — The Port of Los Angeles has invested more than $42 million in long-term improvements to its World Cruise Center. The 2011 improvements, just south of the Vincent Thomas Bridge, includes a new, state-of-the-art gangway system, a new rooftop solar panel project, and a dockside conduit for shore-to-ship Alternative Maritime Power (“AMP,” or cold-ironing), which provides clean power for berthed ships from up to three different cruise lines simultaneously. The World Cruise Center is currently home port or a port of call for nine major cruise lines, hosting millions of tourists who will make their way through the facility in the coming years. www.portoflosangeles.org

Angels Flight (Downtown) — The LA landmark dubbed “the shortest railway in the world” reopened in July 2011, after a one-month closure for a $40,000 replacement of wheels. Located on the corner of 4th and Hill streets, Angels Flight received a $3.5-million restoration and reopened in mid-March 2010. The work included restoration of the original orange and black incline railway cars, Olivet and Sinai. Originally built in 1901 and designated a Los Angeles historic-cultural monument, the 298-foot-long funicular rail system transports Angelenos and visitors daily between the historic Downtown core along Hill Street and Bunker Hill, with the Walt Disney Concert Hall and other cultural attractions. www.angelsflight.com

Cahuenga Peak (Hollywood) — A new, 138-acre mountain parcel of parkland has been added to Griffith Park by The Trust for Public Land. Cahuenga Peak is just west of the Hollywood sign. The dedication ceremony took place March 22, 2012. Visitors can hike to the peak from the Griffith Observatory along amile-long trail. The panoramic views of Los Angeles are worth the steep, rocky climb. Griffith Park is one of the largest, wild urban parks in the U.S. www.laparks.org.

 

TRANSPORTATION


Metro Orange Line (San Fernando Valley) — The Metro Orange Line connects Warner Center in the West San Fernando Valley with the North Hollywood Metro Red Line subway station. A four-mile extension that takes the Orange Line north to the Chatsworth Metrolink Station, started June 30. The first of its kind in California, the Orange Line consists of sleek, 60-foot buses that travel along a dedicated transitway. A path for bicycling, jogging and skating runs alongside much of the transitway. The high-tech buses stop at 13 stations, connecting to destinations such as the NoHo Arts District, LA Valley College, the 80-acre Beilenson Park (formerly Balboa Park), LA Pierce College and the Westfield Topanga mall. The stations feature original art, as well as lighting, seating, security cameras, public telephones, bicycle racks and ticket-vending machines. www.metro.net

Metro Rail Expo Corridor (Citywide) — The Los Angeles Metro Transportation Authority is working on the Metro Expo Line, the long-awaited line connecting Downtown Los Angeles with Culver City. Service  started April 28, for most of the 8.6-mile stretch to Culver City. Phase I opened at the La Cienega Station, and the Expo Line joins the Metro Rail/Fixed Guideway network of 87.6 miles of route service in Los Angeles County. Metro Rail customers can also connect directly with the Metro Purple and Metro Red Lines in Downtown Los Angeles at the 7th Street/Metro Center station. Construction began in September 2011 on Phase 2 to extend the Expo Line to Santa Monica, adding another 6.6 miles of light rail in 2015.  www.metro.net

 

ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES TOURISM & CONVENTION BOARD


Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board is a private, noprofit business association whose primary mission is to market and promote Los Angeles as the premier site for leisure travel, meetings and conventions.  Though not part of City government LA Tourism is recognized as the City's official tourism marketing organization.  For more information visit the official visitor information website of Los Angeles at www.discoverLosAngeles.com, facebook.com/LosAngelesFan or go to Twitter @discoverLA.