Universal Studios

Since we’ve done the nature thing to death it was time for some more secular entertainment, so we thought we’d spend the day at Universal Studios. Since we had already walked in one direction from the motel the night before and didn’t see any Universal, we deftly deduced that it had to be the other way and started walking. 15 minutes or so later we started to suspect that the advertised ‘5 minute walk to Universal Studios’ actually was in some other direction. So we stopped a woman and asked. It turned out that we were one (big) block off target and the lady said: ‘That’s a reeeally far, you’d better take the bus!’. (Jonna comments: she pointed this fact out several times for us actually). Since we just walked that distance we decided to walk back anyway (and about 15 minutes later we stood in front of Universal Studios). I guess we just didn’t have quite the same view of what ‘far’ is.

Universal Studios is on the top of a hill and there is a free choo-choo to take you up top. And it starts off with the ‘Universal City’ which is mostly a bunch of shops, although they are a bit nice. More on that later.

The actual park is more of a collection of shows than a regular amusement park. We started out by walking the House of Horrors which sucked badly. The only remotely scary things were the actors skulking about in the house.

Next up was Terminator 2: 3D which was surprisingly good. A bunch of actors stand in for the actual actors when they switch back and forth from film to ‘live’ acting, their faces are shaded at all times so it works pretty well. And being Universal Studios they also had some specifically recorded scenes with the original actors. Way above expectations. Also hilarious was the Cyberdyne representative greeting us before going in to the movie theater (Jonna comments: “So, do you all have your 3D glasses or did someone manage to lose them on their way in here? You lost them? Oh, you managed not to see the obvious sign and huge stand outside?! Really?! …Super *sugarsweet*)

Afterwards we went to the Animal Actors show which was basically a bunch of animals doing tricks. Most interesting though was when they demonstrated how they get the animals to do certain stuff and how they create scenes that have both predators and preys in them at the same time.

When we got out they called out about the WaterWorld show, but we couldn’t find it at first so we had lunch first. When we were done they had the last call for the same show so we hurried in. It was a very elaborate set with a large pool and a big fort with lots of towers. Show starts with couple boats racing in followed by pirates on water scooters. The actors did their very best to make the audience as wet as possible and since we were among the last to arrive we got our fair share (Jonna comments: a guy ran by and threw a bucket of water on us. Very high-tech.). The show also included a lot of pyrotechnics and wasn’t bad at all.

Shrek 4D was next and it was one of those 3D-movies with the big glasses. The fourth dimension consisted of effects inside the theater such as water and air sprays. The actual movie was just like the Shrek movies, so if you like those you’ll like this one.

This concluded the upper section of the park and we went down to the lower court where they have a couple of more traditional rides like the rollercoaster ‘Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride’ which we went for first. It’s housed inside a building and is as far as I can tell, pneumatically driven. So it starts out with an awesome acceleration and since it’s all inside a building there are no high slopes, just lots of twists and turns. It also goes backwards the last bit. Fun, but nothing worth writing home about (Jonna comments: ummm…so I guess this is not equal to writing home?).

The other regular ride was ‘Jurassic Park – The Ride’ which was one of those ordinary water log ride things with a big slope at the end where you get wet. There are a lot of chances to get wet at Universal Studios by the way; I guess the climate makes it popular since you dry up in like five minutes (except for the day we were there when it was really cloudy). Anyway, the ride was kind of boring except for the last slope. Just a lot of unconvincing mechanical dinosaurs.

‘Backdraft’ was the last thing we went to, it is a sort of show where they demonstrate how they made a lot of the special effects in the movie Backdraft. The first part is a little documentary where the actors and directors tell stories about the movie and the last bit is an automated recreation of the factory fire scene in the movie. We found it so-so and we decided that we had enough of the park after that (There was actually only one attraction that we didn’t go to, and that was some sort of tour where they showed off how they did stunts and such in a bunch of movies. But since we weren’t that impressed by the Backdraft show we decided to skip it.).

Overall I wouldn’t really recommend the park unless you can visit it off-season as we did with practically no lines to the rides. The rides are fun, but not if you have to wait more than half an hour in line for them.

Since we were done with the park a bit earlier than expected we strolled around in Universal City a bit. It was really nice, as long as you don’t shop anything (it was a bit expensive), street performers and fun neon signs aplenty. There was a movie theatre there as well and we decided to catch ‘The Brave One‘ since we both like Jodie Foster. The movie turned out to be great, highly recommended!

Later, back at the motel, we saw a rather fun commercial (in that little disturbing sense) where Barbie went shopping in a little store and you got to swipe a credit card and everything. Great for your 7-year-old brat-in-training!

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