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An Insider's Guide to Gatherings at Universal Studios Lot

Universal Studios is responsible for bringing cinematic classics such as Jaws, E.T., Back to the Future I, II, III and Jurassic Park to the cultural lexicon, among so many others. What if the setting for some of that silver screen magic was the scene of your next soirée? Universal Studios Lot is pulling back the velvet curtains to allow gatherings and events on their beautiful and expansive backlot where many of your childhood favorites were filmed. The Venue Report team recently sat down for a beautiful picnic breakfast on Wisteria Lane, also known as Colonial Street, where Desperate Housewives held court from 2004-2012. Here is an insider’s guide to the gorgeous and historic gathering spaces within Universal Studios’ famous backlot.

Reporter: Katie Bush
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1220 Event Space

Universal City, California
The new 1220 Event Space is perfect for press events, corporate gatherings, town hall meetings, cocktail receptions or small production shoots. It includes floor-to-ceiling windows and over 5,800 sqft between the main space and lounge, also perfect for a charity auction, networking event or luncheon.
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Bates Motel + Psycho House

Universal City, California
While you may need specific permission from the Hitchcock Foundation to host an event at the world-famous Bates Motel or Psycho House, doing so at either (or both) locations would be utterly unforgettable. Featured in Alfred Hitchock's 1960 cinematic masterpiece Psycho, both the Psycho House and the Bates Motel have become cinematic symbols of eerie-ness. The sets still stand over fifty years later although modified and twice relocated. Imagine an off-the-cuff wedding welcome dinner awash in florals and unexpected color and texture to offset the period colors and pretext. It is also the perfect setting for a corporate cocktail hour, clinking glasses as the sun goes down on one of Hollywood’s creepiest and cinematically important locations.
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Colonial Street

Universal City, California
Take a stroll down Wisteria Lane, otherwise known as Colonial Street, the scene-stealing neighborhood where Desperate Housewives was filmed from 2004-2012. It has a storied history, having lived on the Universal backlot for over 60 years. It’s known for a superb suburbia feel with white picket fences, lush landscaping and picture-perfect homes. Park your pals on one of the perfectly manicured lawns with some Moroccan rugs and textured pillows for a beautiful baby shower breakfast or dim the lights and throw a birthday “block party” bash in one of Hollywood’s most famous “neighborhoods.”
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Mexican Street

Universal City, California
Take advantage of the beautiful Mexican Street facades including terra cotta Spanish Colonial-style architecture with a distinct European influence. Host a stunning wedding reception with colorful Papel Picado strung between buildings, strains of Spinach guitar, fabulous Flamenco dancers and mouth watering Mexican food washed down with spicy, mezcal cocktails.
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Courthouse Square

Universal City, California
“Great Scott!” Can you imagine a more unforgettable outdoor movie night than hosting a screening of Back to the Future at Courthouse Square where parts of the trilogy were originally filmed? Make it a themed night and insist your pals dress in their finest 80’s gear, ice down (and spike) some Capri Sun’s and bust out those Cool Ranch Doritos for a tubular, cinematic good time.
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New York Street

Universal City, California
One of Universal’s most storied sections of its backlot, New York Street contains nine different shooting locations including facades of alleys, a courthouse, rooftops, theaters, Wall Street and the West Village (just to name a few) and has been included in countless film and television productions, most recently Gone Girl and Iron Man 3. With so many choices, it’s the perfect location for an iconic birthday party, with different surprises around each corner. Setup a bustling bar on Wall Street, a brass band in front of the courthouse and a charcuterie spread in front of the theater. Finish it off with a massive feasting table down the middle of the street and celebrate one more year around the sun with everyone you know.
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Western Street

Universal City, California
Western Street is also known as Six Points Texas at the Universal backlot, so named as it consists of six Western streets all leading from one point. In the early days of Universal movie-making, visitors would gather at the Western streets to watch up to 6 films being shot simultaneously. As they were silent films, there wasn’t a problem with sound getting picked up, allowing the crowd to applaud the good guys and ‘boo’ the bad guys. Needless to say, this spot is as iconic to film as the Old West it represents. An event rental amongst the outdoor facades would make for a supremely memorable corporate retreat or Christmas party.
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European Street

Universal City, California
Inject a little jetset European glamour into your next gathering by hosting it on European Street, complete with cobblestone walkways, gilded storefronts and architecture reminiscent of any tiny French or Italian village of your dreams. Host a beautiful corporate dinner and transport your colleagues to another time and place without the plane ticket price tag. String beautiful bistro lights between buildings and serve modern mediterranean courses on weathered farm tables, accompanied by delicious sparkling kir royales or camparis in vintage, beveled glassware, poured by mustachioed bartenders in crisp whites.
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Jaws Lake

Universal City, California
Jaws Lake is a recreation of the Amity set where the iconic Spielberg movie Jaws was filmed and you can rent out the entirety of it for the ultimate in summer parties. Jaws was filmed entirely on-location in Martha’s Vineyard, so host an East Coast summer soiree complete with lobster rolls, gingham tablecloths and feasting tables filled with a scrumptious crab and shrimp broil. Complete the sweet summer gathering with ice cream vendors and some frozen boozy popsicles.
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Sound Stages

Universal City, California
Much like films shot in the 20+ Sound Stages or events hosted here, the limits are your own imagination. The cavernous, industrial spaces have been used for screening purposes, movie making, product launches, cast and holiday parties and are the true definition of multi-use blank canvas spaces. Imagine hosting a masquerade birthday ball with invitations bearing directions to one of the sound stages on the Universal backlot. Add to the mystique with burlesque dancers, acrobats suspended from the ceiling by silk and molecular gastronomy courses.
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Commissary Patio & Grill

Universal City, California
A gathering hub for executives, actors and employees since 1915, the studio restaurant has undergone many changes and renovations but remains a constant for Universal, lovingly referred to as "where the elite meet to eat." A turnkey venue with built in lighting, furniture rentals and a kitchen, events hosted here will be treated to creations from exclusive caterer, Wolfgang Puck. Host a corporate lunch or cocktail launch party at the Commissary to get that legendary VIP Hollywood treatment.

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