Falls Lake

Essentially a large outdoor water tank with a blue sky backing, this facility is used for a wide variety of large scale set construction, and for large scale water effects. It was formerly located closer to the current Psycho House location than it is now (see plan below). Falls Lake was first constructed in 1926 for the early Universal classic Uncle Tom’s Cabin and was named after a massive waterfall flowing down fake “cliffs”. The cliffs were made from a plaster-like material called “Hydrocal”, and could be adjusted in height.

Tram On-Board Video about Falls Lake – Whoopi Goldberg (2007)

Photos – Old Falls Lake (1926 – 1986)

The area the waterfall occupied is currently taken up with the set for Site ‘B’ from Jurassic Park 2, adjacent to the War of the Worlds set. The waterfall used to be pumped over the steep hill to the rear of the crashed jet plane set. Between the 1920s and 1980, the cliffs were much taller than they are now. In 1980/81 the ground levels of a large area of the backlot / theme park were changed with a massive construction project. The ground level in this part of the backlot were raised considerably.

The main features of “new” Falls Lake are the log cabin (built for 1988’s The Great Outdoors with John Candy and Dan Ackroyd and used in ABC’s Coach) and the massive (200 feet wide, 50 feet high) blue sky backing which provides a backing to the water tank.
The sky backing was built in 1986 for Jaws: The Revenge. The 2.7 million gallon lake / tank features regularly in movies where close control over a large body of water is required.

Photos – Falls Lake Backdrop Under Construction in 1986

The Falls Lake backdrop was built in 1986 for Jaws The Revenge. These photos are courtesy of Graham Hill.

Shooting at Falls Lake

Old Falls Lake On Screen

  • Leave It To Beaver [Friends Lake – Wally as lifeguard]
  • Psycho (1960) [Swamp]
  • More coming soon!

New Falls Lake On Screen

Because it’s a large open area, with a large water tank and backdrop which can be replaced digitally with anything, Falls Lake is regularly used for large productions.

The effects team for Godzilla (1998) recreated the Hudson River here for the sequence which featured in the trailer.

Falls Lake was recently used for a massive tomb set for National Treasure: Book of Secrets with Nicolas Cage. It’s also recently been used for Evan Almighty (Ark sequence) and Pirates of the Caribbean: World’s End.

Seen on Screen: Universal Studios Hollywood [Falls_Lake]

Davidoff: Cool Water [Commercial]
Falls Lake
All That Heaven Allows [Feature Film]1955Douglas SirkIMDB Database page about All That Heaven Allows
The set for Rock Hudson's character Ron Kirby's home was built on the backlot next to old Falls Lake, and was known as Ron's Barn when it was moved to Colonial Street. It's now known as the Hardy Boys house. The Cleaver house was also featured.
Emergency! [TV Series]1972-1979Harold Jack Bloom, Robert A. CinaderIMDB Database page about Emergency!
Apartments, Colonial Street (including Cleaver House), Laramie Street, Stage 23, Stage 30, Stage 33, Stage 41, Falls Lake (Season 2 Ep3)
Jaws: The Revenge [Feature Film]1987Joseph SargentIMDB Database page about Jaws: The Revenge
This was the first movie to use the new Falls Lake location on the backlot.
Tales from the Crypt [TV Series]1989-1996IMDB Database page about Tales from the Crypt
The Log Cabin at Falls Lake was featured in Season 2 Episode 5
Coach [TV Series]1989-1997Barry KempIMDB Database page about Coach
Stage 43, Log Cabin at Falls Lake
True Lies [Feature Film]1994James CameronIMDB Database page about True Lies
Falls Lake
Apollo 13 [Feature Film]1995Ron HowardIMDB Database page about Apollo 13
Falls Lake - The splashdown at the end of the movie was shot on Falls Lake with the blue sky backdrop.
Stage 27 - Mission Control
Stage 36 - Stage kept at a low 38 degrees Fahrenheit (3.5 degrees Celsius) so that actors' breath was visible on camera.
TLC: Waterfalls [Music Video]1995F. Gary Gray
Falls Lake
Dante's Peak [Feature Film]1997Roger DonaldsonIMDB Database page about Dante
Falls Lake, Stage 01, Underwater Tank
Deep Impact [Feature Film]1998Mimi LederIMDB Database page about Deep Impact
Colonial Street (Hardy House) featured as the residential street where Leo lives. Falls Lake also featured.
Godzilla [Feature Film]1998Roland EmmerichIMDB Database page about Godzilla
Falls Lake (Hudson River sequence used in the trailer)
Message in a Bottle [Feature Film]1999Luis MandokiIMDB Database page about Message in a Bottle
Falls Lake
Charlie's Angels [Feature Film]2000McGIMDB Database page about Charlie
Falls Lake, Court of Miracles (Damn You Salazar scene)
O Brother, Where Art Thou [Feature Film]2000Joel Coen, Ethan CoenIMDB Database page about O Brother, Where Art Thou
Falls Lake (flood sequence featuring CGI cow on cowshed roof)
The Perfect Storm [Feature Film]2000Wolfgang PetersenIMDB Database page about The Perfect Storm
Falls Lake
Jurassic Park III [Feature Film]2001Joe JohnstonIMDB Database page about Jurassic Park III
Falls Lake, Stage 01, Stage 12 [jungle rain forest set - plane crashes into tree, Tyrannosaurus vs Spinosaurus battle], Stage 18 [plane in flight - interior, dinosaur kennel set], Stage 27 [A pteranodon grabs Eric. The groups watches helplessly as Eric is carried away. Everyone scrambles to get Eric. Grant and Amanda are separated from Paul by a Pteranodon], Stage 28 [Pteranodon drops Eric into the Nest area. Eric hits hatchlings with his knapsack. Paul, in pursuit, slips and slides, lands down to nest. Paul grabs Eric, they fight their way out of the nest.], Stage 29 [rock wall observatory], Stage 44 [rock wall canyon, flooded], Stage 25, Stage 747
The Majestic [Feature Film]2001Frank DarabontIMDB Database page about The Majestic
Falls Lake on the backlot for the bridge / car crash sequence
Crossing Jordan [TV Series]2001-2007Tim KringIMDB Database page about Crossing Jordan
Elm Street, Square of Warriors, Falls Lake (Season 6 Finale), Stage 27, Stage 33, Stage 36, Stage 37, Stage 41, Stage 42, Stage 43, Stage 44
Bruce Almighty [Feature Film]2003Tom ShadyacIMDB Database page about Bruce Almighty
Brownstone Street, Courthouse Square, Falls Lake, New York Street on the backlot and Stage 01, Stage 19, Stage 29, Stage 41.
Hulk [Feature Film]2003Ang LeeIMDB Database page about Hulk
A new set of houses was built on Elm Street on the backlot for this movie. Banner's childhood home was built on the Falls Lake tank. These stages were used for interior scenes: Stage 01, Stage 12 [underground lab], Stage 22, Stage 23 [father's house interior], Stage 27, Stage 28 [the first floor of Bruce Banner's house], Stage 35.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl [Feature Film]2003Gore VerbinskiIMDB Database page about Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Old Mexico (as Tortuga, shot during December 2002), Falls Lake, Little Europe (as Port Royal), including the exterior of Will's workshop.
The Italian Job [Feature Film]2003F. Gary GrayIMDB Database page about The Italian Job
Falls Lake (Venice palace boathouse canal sequence)
Van Helsing [Feature Film]2004Stephen SommersIMDB Database page about Van Helsing
Falls Lake and stages.
Evan Almighty [Feature Film]2007Tom ShadyacIMDB Database page about Evan Almighty
Ark flood sequence shot on Falls Lake. Stage 12 (top section of the ark) and Stage 27 (entrance and lower section of the ark) were also used.
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets [Feature Film]2007Jon TurteltaubIMDB Database page about National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets
Stage 12 (treasure room), Stage 41, New York Street (opening scenes set in 1865), Falls Lake
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World [Feature Film]2007Gore VerbinskiIMDB Database page about Pirates of the Caribbean: At World
Falls Lake, Stage 12 (tropical island village / Singapore), Stage 23, Stage 24, Stage 28, Stage 31.
Shooter [Feature Film]2007Antoine FuquaIMDB Database page about Shooter
Falls Lake log cabin was blown up in a major stunt sequence.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull [Feature Film]2008Steven SpielbergIMDB Database page about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Falls Lake, Old Mexico (as Peru), Freeway Park, Stage 27 [Cemetary where Indy and Mutt find the Crystal Skull], Stage 29 [Indy's house]
Inception [Feature Film]2010Christopher NolanIMDB Database page about Inception
Falls Lake
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides [Feature Film]2011Rob MarshallIMDB Database page about Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Shooting on Falls Lake in August 2010 - Bell tower stunt sequence in front of the bluescreen backdrop.
Wanderlust [Feature Film]2011David WainIMDB Database page about Wanderlust
Falls Lake
Battleship [Feature Film]2012Peter BergIMDB Database page about Battleship
Falls Lake
The Amazing Spider-Man [Feature Film]2012Marc WebbIMDB Database page about The Amazing Spider-Man
A number of the buildings on Universal's New York Street area were temporarily replaced with new facades for this production, which was filming during January 2011. The sequence where Captain Stacy and Spider-Man meet was shot on New York Street.
Falls Lake - bridge was set up in front of the bluescreen backing for the Williamsburg Bridge stunt sequence.
The Hangover Part III [Feature Film]2013Todd PhillipsIMDB Database page about The Hangover Part III
Falls Lake
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [Feature Film]2013Francis LawrenceIMDB Database page about The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Falls Lake (the clock face stunt sequence was shot at this backlot location in March 2013)
Beyonce: Formation [Music Video]2016Beyonce
The sequences featuring the sinking police car carrying Beyonce were shot on Falls Lake on the backlot.
Sully: Miracle on the Hudson [Feature Film]2016Clint EastwoodIMDB Database page about Sully: Miracle on the Hudson
Falls Lake - full size rear-half of the plane in the water tank
Dunkirk [Feature Film]2017Christopher NolanIMDB Database page about Dunkirk
Falls Lake
Harry Styles: Falling [Music Video]2020Dave Meyers
Falls Lake was used to film the submerging set, which was suspended by a crane from above the water tank. The sequence was shot in a single take.