(MOVIE PLANNING VIEWING: ANYTHING BY UNIVERSAL STUDIOS INCLUDING JAWS, PSYCHO, KING KONG, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, A SLEW OF WESTERNS, FAST AND FURIOUS, WAR OF THE WORLDS, HORTON HEARS A WHO, JURASSIC PARK, THE MUMMY)
Chapter 1: Universal Studios – the Entertainment Capital of LA
After spending the night trying to consolidate and pack our bags (four between us) to ensure all weighed 50 pound (23 kgs) and under, we jumped out of bed earlier than usual to a) get to Universal Studios around opening time to beat the crowds and b) try to tire ourselves out so we would sleep on the flight home! Getting to Universal Studios was reasonably easy – head back down to Hollywood Boulevard to catch a train (yes, LA does have trains – remember ‘Speed’??) to Universal City where a shuttle bus takes you up the hill to the themepark. We went through security – again, with the metal detectors and bag investigations (!) – bought our tickets, had the obligatory park photo and walked in to decide where to first. Our aim was to leave by around 2:30ish as we still had some shopping to do, so our first point of call was The Simpsons Ride which was awesome (and had no waiting except through the prelude to the ride). Based as a rollercoaster ride at Krustyland, it is a simulator ride that you are riding with the Simpson family with Sideshow Bob on the loose and out to kill the Simpson family. Excluding queuing, the ‘ride’ itself goes for six minutes and is a cool 4D experience without actually riding a rollercoaster – I’d like to see them try to replicate that ride for real! After exiting Krustyland, I made the most exciting discovery – a Cinnabon! At Universal Studios! Mmmm, breakfast! So munching my Cinnabon, we then headed around to the go on the Backlot Tour. Also known as the Studio Tour, it lasts for approximately 45 minutes and you travel around the backlots lead by a tour guide. Along the way are sets and props from many famous movies and you experience a number of staged attractions including a flash flood, an earthquake in a train station, the Ten Commandments parting of the Red Sea, the actual Wisteria Lane where they film Desperate Housewives, the plane wreck from War of the Worlds, Norman Bates at the Bates Hotel from Psycho, miniature set from King Kong, a set from Horton Hears a Who, a staged car stunt from the Fast and Furious, various cars from movies including the deLorian from Back To The Future, the Death Machine from Animal House, jeeps from Jurassic Park, and again so many scenes and memories from movies and TV shows! And of course the pretty cool attack by Bruce the anamatronic shark from Jaws! We jumped off the tour and headed down the five sets of escalators that take you down to the bottom where we rode the Mummy ride which was like a four-wheel drive rollercoaster that bumped around forwards then reversed back through the course again. After watching to gauge how wet I’d get, we then jumped onto the Jurassic Park ride which was heaps of fun. The ride takes you through a serene pool with animatronic dinosaurs eating and swimming and then the scenery starts to change with the more vicious dinosaurs starting to take over and then ‘we must escape’ by going up a ramp that then sends you flying down the other side in a splash of water. Fun, fun, fun!
After a wrestle with Scooby Doo and a photo – op with Bumblebee from Transformers, we decided to ride the Mummy again before heading back up the escalators to engage with the Terminator 3D experience which was the best ‘3D ride’ that I have ever done. All consuming, with live actors, robots and the 3D footage that almost filled your entire vision, including the periphery, just awesome. Finally it was time to buy some souvenirs, pick up our ‘official’ park photo and head off to do our last minute shopping.
Chapter 2: The most expensive pair of joggers in the world...
Searching for a Macy’s we caught a taxi from Hollywood to the Beverly Centre as we were still in search of runners for each of us, some other clothing items etc. Not actually a long distance to travel from where we were; we were caught in the infamous LA traffic snarl but with a savy driver, we weren’t too much out of pocket. Wandering around the Bev Centre, I managed to find a pair of joggers, however with time running out and it being such a big centre, we weren’t successful on any of the other items we were after. So we decided to jump a taxi and head back to our hotel, finish packing, shower and then head to the airport to fly home. Hmmm, this taxi driver was not so accommodating and the traffic was way worse! So my ‘cheap’ joggers may have turned into the most expensive pair I have ever bought!
Chapter 3: Home Time!
Back at our hotel, we continued to wrestle with our suitcases while we waited for our shuttle to arrive. Running nearly 20 minutes late, we relaxed because we had been told our shuttle was a direct service – straight to the airport. Unfortunately the driver was not aware of this and proceeded to pick up twice more so our trip to the airport was a weird zig zag – at least we saw more of LA (more than we needed to and needless to say there was no tip!). Checking in was an odd experience, we were flying with Delta and they just have a terminal at LAX all to themselves where you check in regardless of whether you are flying domestic or internationally. So at check in we went through customs (!), joined more queues with all other Delta customers to get through security and screening and then hung out at whatever food locations we could find! So not duty free shopping for us, just a couple of hours twiddling our thumbs before boarding! Anyways, the flight was fairly uneventful, only 18 hours long and we were very glad to be home after the most awesomest holiday ever!
Forty rollercoasters, 13 states, 10 themeparks and millions of memorable and brilliant experiences – thank you to everyone who made it all possible!