A Day at the Studio

Today, for our anniversary, I took the family to Universal Studios Hollywood. Now it has been ages since I’ve been to Universal Studios proper. Sure, I’ve walked through the park on the way to the Amphitheatre to see Peter, Paul, and Mary or Roger Whittaker, but that was ages ago. The last time I was at the park they were only the studios tour. I have distinct memories of the tram, of getting off the tram and walking through sets, and of ending up at some plaza where there were giant pencils. There was also just a western stunt-show. And lots of monsters walking around. So it’s been a while.

Given that Universal is only 20 minutes away, we bought general annual passes through the credit union online ($61 each). At the park, we upgraded one pass to a deluxe to get free parking. So Universal, and its companion Citywalk, are now a relatively cheap destination for us. We don’t even have to eat at the fancy restaurants there as there is a fast-food version of Versailles Cuban.

So what did we think of the park? We were pleased. There are a lot fewer rides than at the House of Mouse, but that’s OK. We started with the Studio Tour. They still have the standard stunts: Earthquake (but that ain’t no 1970s SF subway station!), Jaws, the Mummy Vertigo tunnel, the parting of the seas, etc. A number of the sets were interesting (especially the plane set from War of the Worlds), but I wonder how they keep them in good condition during the winter with the rain and Santa Ana winds. But still, we enjoyed the tour, and I would image it stays relatively fresh. We also went on the Back to the Future ride, which closes Labor Day. This was also quite good, although it could be better with hi-def screens. After that, we had lunch and went to see Shrek 4D. This was OK, but the wait in the dungeon was poorly managed, and the effects seems less coordinated with the movie. After Shrek, we visited the House of Horrors, which was good because nsshere actually got surprised by one of the monsters (it’s reassuring to see her be a kid occasionally).

By then, it was the hottest part of the afternoon, so we left the park and wandered Citywalk for a bit. We made our way to the cinemas where we saw Hairspray: The Movie. But that’s the subject of another entry. I’ll note I also picked up some Jimmy Stewart stamps; it was their first day of issue and the ceremonies were at Citywalk.

After the movie we had dinner at Versailles, and went back to the park. While my wife sat and watched the Blues Brothers show, nsshere and I went down to the lower lot. We watched the drop from Jurassic Park (and got wet) but didn’t ride the ride. We walked through the Lucy attraction and thought about Backdraft, but didn’t do it. We’ll likely do those next time. We then went back to the upper lot, and looked at the Nickelodeon Blast Zone (which definately confirmed what a review of Universal said: “they want to get you wet”). It looks like it would be fun for my nieces and nephews. We then picked up Karen, and saw the Animal Actors Show. At that point, we were done for the night. We returned to Citywalk, had some Ben and Jerry’s, and came home.

It was a wonderful day, and we’ll be back. Everyone was in a good mood, and it was nice having a day out with the family (and not fighting between us).