The exact location of the Simpson’s hometown of Springfield has been debated for nearly as long as the show has been running. And while there is still no definitive answer, a replica of Springfield has now opened where anyone can find it. Where? Hollywood, of course.
Unveiled today, “Springfield, U.S.A.” can be found on the lot at Universal Studios. The life-sized town has many familiar landmarks: Moe’s Tavern, the cooling towers of Springfield’s power plant, the convenience store Kwik-E-Mart, Krusty Burger, and more. The town was built around the pre-existing Simpsons Ride.
The theme park is definitely in line with everything a hardcore Simpsons fan would be interested in, with plenty of nostalgic nods filling the expanse. Krusty Burger sells actual Krusty burgers and the infamous Ribwich, and if you venture upstairs you’ll also find the signatures of animators scrawled on the walls. You can grab a Duff Beer at Moe’s Tavern, with pennants from The Isoptopes, Springfield’s minor league baseball, hanging behind the bar.
Stars Yeardley Smith (aka Lisa Simpson), Nancy Cartwright (Bart), and Joe Mantegna, who voices the mob boss Tony and various other characters, were all on hand to walk the “Yellow Carpet” at the grand opening.
“It’s very strange … I feel very much a part of Lisa Simpson and she feels like she is in me but the world feels very two-dimensional to me so this is actually all very new,” Smith said.
The opening of the park comes at an interesting time, coinciding with news today that series regular Harry Shearer, who voices Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, Smithers and a dozen more, is leaving the show after 26 years. Shearer also reportedly turned down $14 million for a two-season guarantee. It is likely that the characters whom Shearer lent his voice will be recast, but replacing those iconic pipes will be a mighty task indeed.
Could we be seeing the beginning of the end for the show that just keeps on going? If so, it won’t be for at least two years, as Fox just recently announced that The Simpsons will be coming back for a 27th and 28th season. That will bring its episode count to a whopping 625 episode.
We’ll have to wait and see whether or not the show can live on without one of its seminal voice actors. But even when the show inevitably does pull the final curtain, thanks to the latest attraction, there are still other ways to get that special Springfield feeling. Springfield U.S.A is now open for business.
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