Universal Studios in LA promises it's visitors to be a real unique experience. To others who exercise the right to be frugal, it's a drain on resources. But, what the heck. We'll probably never be in LA again. It started with a 45 minute drive through insanity that landed us at the parking garage. Time to cough up $25 to park on site or $40 if you want "preferred" parking about 200 ft closer to the entrance. There should be a sign: "Welcome to Universal Studios, home of the upsell". With the money deducted from our account the nice lady at the booth looks at the kayak mount on top of the Jeep and asked me how tall it was. Apparently I gave her the right answer and she handed us a sheet to park in the over-sized lot. Turns out over-sized vehicles park in the preferred lot right next to the entrance. Sweet. A stroll through Universal city leads us up to the entrance gates, but not before we were approached by a lady trying to sell us the "discounted" fast pass tickets before we get there. For those of you not in the know, a fast pass ticket is just a mere $72 over the price of a regular ticket. What do you get for your money? A chance to look like a complete dick and skip the line in front of everyone else. Upsell #2.
Another $210 gets us past the metal detectors and ticket checker people. That inital entrance immediately gets you hit with a "Let me take your picture" person. Upsell #3. Forget it, I'm not going to even try and to keep track of the rest of the day here. Guests are then treated to the Universal studio globe twirling for the world to see. The skies above it are dark and it's unusually cold. Brisk temps in the low 60's have kept away the mass exodus of people who usually flock to this place year round. A light drizzle hit the park just a couple of hours ago. That's good new for us. Cold doesn't define when we are able to be outside and the lines are shorter because of it. First up: Universal Studio Tour.
The tour tram takes us through building fascias where movies are made on site. It actually doesn't look like much up close. I suppose the attention to detail isn't needed when the most movies are glazed over using CGI technology anyways.
The tram passes by some filming. Our tour narrator gets all serious about being quiet and flashes on the "filming in progress sign". Most people are all "oooo.... aahhhh" that they are witnessing something being filmed. However the stark reality of it is the tram's diesel engine is so loud it echoes down the streets as we drive. Then consider we can see another tram in front of us, and another one behind us. Let's just call this what it is folks. Staged acting for the audience. Supposedly that staged actor in the chair is Scott Eastwood as identified by the tour guide.
We went to turn left for the King Kong exhibit and then got stuck on the hill. The driver calls for a dumptruck to come over and give us the final nudge up the incline because of the rain. So far.... not real impressive Universal Studios.
Continuing past a line of movie cars peaked my interest. Unfortunately these real deal movie cars are just sitting outside wasting away. Above is Biff's car from Back to the Future 2.
A quick stop into the scene from Jaws and a seriously cheesy shark attack on the tram. Lame. What's next? An exploded plane from "War of the Worlds" from a scene when it crashed into a suburban town. Now this was cool. Well done and attention to detail here gives me hope into the rest of the day.
Off the tram and back into the park. Suddenly we find ourselves walking through Sprinfield, an icon of TV if there ever was one.
We spent the rest of the day hitting up rides and walking the streets. Most of the rides are small and contained inside a building. You get strapped into a roller coaster seat and are subsequently bounced and jostled in front of a huge 3D motion picture screen. Damn things made me nauseous.
Off to the Waterworld set for a live stunt show. And why not? It makes sense to use one of the biggest losses in all of film to entertain their paying audience. In all fairness, the stunt show was pretty cool. A little corny, slightly cheesy, but I definitely could appreciate the things accomplished by the stunt performers.
The live shows and entertainment just kept on coming. Next it was over to the presentation on special effects and how it works in film. Lame. Maybe some redemption with Hollywood animals? How about no. Yeah... they were able to accomplish about 3/4 of their routine correctly. One poor volunteer kid got peed on by the dog instead of being jumped over. You read that right. The trained universal studios dog peed on him.
Overall it was a pretty cool day. Most of the place had some amazing buildings and there was plenty to do without getting bored. We had to go just to go. That being said, I'd rather be in the desert.
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I'm just a guy, with a wife, a dog, and three cats. Watch us travel the country.
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