Universal Studios

We had ventured into Universal Studios the previous night for Halloween Horror Nights which blew our minds. The bar was set very high. We had purchased the front of line passes after our travel agent insisted on getting them to avoid long waiting lines for the rides and shows. In hindsight we probably could’ve saved some money as we visited the theme park during school term. There were hardly any lines.

Growing up in Zimbabwe I had watched tv shows that had the Universal Studios monument in the end credits. It was rather nostalgic now standing in front of that monument in person. There was no sign of the horror we had witnessed the night before. No clowns or zombies, no lunatics or classic horror characters to scare us through mazes today.

We took a right turn and headed towards the Waterworld stunt show. I watched the movie when I was a child and vaguely remember Kevin Costner in it. I have it on good word that this is a terrible movie. We got to the show early enough to avoid getting buckets of water thrown at us as we found our seats. It was great to see the stunts and be amazed at how much movie magic they can create right in front of me. I did manage to get splashed with the huge water plunges which I gladly welcomed in the California heat.

As we made our way to the studio tour buses we passed SpongeBob who looped his skinny spongy arm around mine and walked away with me. I tried to explain to him how busy I was but he only let me go when I kissed his cheek.

Our tour guide was great. Her humour, wit and sarcasm were much appreciated throughout the tour. She took us to see the tv and movie sets, thankfully Chucky was not there to ‘welcome’us. The first stop was the town of Who-ville. It was Halloween so the Who’s and the Grinch were nowhere to be seen. The Bates Motel was next on the tour. We got there just in time to see Norman carry a large plastic bound bloody parcel to the boot of his car. We sped away just in time to Wisteria Lane but there were no Desperate Housewives on set. Our tour guide showed us more movie magic by getting our tram stuck in a flood and then in an earthquake in a subway. We snaked our way through the movie backdrop to Skull Island where we watched the epic battle between King Kong and the T-rex. Our flimsy tram was thrown around in their fight and each time these beasts roared we felt drops of their saliva on our skin. Great job Peter Jackson. Before Kong had the chance to rip us to shreds we drove off back to the start of the tour.

The Simpsons’ ride was very well done. It was a 3D animated ride. In our cosy pink Simpsons’ family car, and with our 3D goggles on we started this loopy rollercoaster ride. This is not an actual ride. You sit in the car with a screen in front of you. The car jolts around in sync with the curves and loops that pop up on the screen. It is very easy to forget this though. You feel yourself ducking and dodging things on screen. What I thought would be a kiddy ride turned out to be a fun and imaginative experience.

Terminator had a short screening that involved stage performers and pre-recording. A wonderful use of technology and perfect timing. Sarah and John Connor are still fighting to bring down Skynet. They seem to be doing a great job at that so we left them to it. At the end of the show we were lead into one of the replica stores. Full scale replicas of Alien, Darth Vader and Yoda blew my mind. So did the price.

We took the escalators down to the rides. We had ridden the Jurassic Park the previous night and enjoyed it. They say save the best for last so off to the mummy ride we went. I was disappointed with the lack of Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz but this was still a good ride. Screens on the ride showed mummys chasing after us with those flesh eating beetles trying to crawl under our skin. Skeleton soldiers also tried to grab us as we sped past. Thankfully none of our fates were sealed in a sarcophagus.

Finally we came back to the dinosaurs. I was more looking forward to the last 10 seconds of the ride when the T-rex comes in to grab you followed by the sudden drop. I would do this ride over and over if time permitted.

The day came to an end and a new group of people were waiting for their chance to experience the Halloween Horror Nights frights.

The Universal Studios studio walk was the perfect way to end the day. Seeing stores like Hot Topic was awesome along with the hints of the movie world still all around us; Forrest Gump, Back to the Future and King Kong.

Finally it was dinner time at Wolfgang Puck. They serve the best steak I have ever had. It was grilled to perfection. I am yet to find another steak to blow my tastebuds the way Mr Puck did.

 

 

 

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