Going to see the Universal Studios was in itself a big factor for hyper excitement. After having heard of Universal Studios Hollywood countless times, it was our turn to live it up. As usual, this time we planned our weekend wandering in Los Angeles solely for spending 2 memorable days in the heart of Hollywood. Like always, we started our day early and it was a summer day with the average temperature likely to sore up 80 degrees. We did our research well and we were aware of the fact that arriving at the Universal Studios as early as possible would be ideal. And indeed that was a great decision. The park opened at 9 but we were there at 8:15. Universal Studios Hollywood wasn’t nearly as busy as we expected it to be. We took pictures, looked around and still were the third in line.
Soon people queued up and they started letting people into the park, but not to ride on rides, just to wait inside the park. A glance at the red carpet took our hearts and the feeling was quite overwhelming. And then followed the obvious photo-session imagining being a real celeb gracing the red carpet. On thinking about those moments now, it feels really very funny. That was that, but what followed was even more glorious; it was the GLOBE! Standing infront of the revolving globe, both of us went mum as the moment was surreal. We have imagined this moment so many times before entering the park and the reality was even more fascinating. I couldn’t get over it and kept on clicking pictures and videos till Abhi literally dragged me away from there. Still couldn’t manage a perfect picture of it nonetheless. Moving on from there, we went inside the park through a lovely alley dedicated to London and a Parisian street filled with mimes. We then came upon the cutest pastel colored land ever, Super Silly Funland.
On entering Universal Studios Hollywood, we straightaway went for the Studio Tour without waiting till afternoon when the lines are long. The Studio Tour now also offers a new nighttime experience starting at 6:30 pm where guests can have a whole different studio tour experience.
Our goal was clear- we had to experience what was the best of Universal Studios and it was the Studio Tour. As per plan, our day at Universal started from the back lot via the Studio Tour guided by on-screen Jimmy Fallon. What’s special about the Studio Tour is that it brilliantly explores Hollywood’s most famous back-lot in the world’s largest working movie studio. The Studio Tour includes King Kong 360 3-D created by Peter Jackson, as well as Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives and Bates Motel from Psycho. We were also lucky to experience the all-new Fast & Furious Supercharged attraction.
The 45-minute tour, hosted by a guide and supplemented by on-ride HD video screens, took us past the front lot sound-stages and back-lot sets where thousands of films, television shows and commercials have been filmed over the years. On our way past these sets, we encountered several special effects demonstrations created specifically for the tour, including a simulated Earthquake in a San Francisco BART station, a Flash Flood in Old Mexico, and an attack by Bruce the shark from Jaws. We must admit, we didn’t even realize when the shark jumped and subsided under waters, but the rainfall and flash flood phenomenon was remarkable.
The attraction began with a few hints along the Studio Tour tram ride that the fun was about to begin. Then the tram took us into an abandoned warehouse where the “party” began. It wasn’t long before we felt the wind in our hair as the tram went speeding down the freeway in a high-speed car chase. There was the King Kong one that scared most of the kids. It really does feel that King Kong and T-rex are right next to the tram and jumping on it. The Studio Tour was so much fun and something for all ages. Whenever you plan a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood, the Fast & Furious Supercharged attraction is one not to miss. It feels just like you’ve stepped into the movie with all the thrilling action and adventure.
Universal really knows how to make 3-D rides. We entered a room and sat in our sections and in-front of us was a giant screen. Once we put on your 3D glasses, our adventure in Gru’s home began. We are being recruited for Gru’s latest scheme, turning the audience members into actual Minions. After making it through “Minion training” things don’t go as planned and we’re launched into an unforgettable trip through Gru’s super-villain laboratory. Once the ride ended we walked into a disco playing room and had a Minion-inspired dance party. As we walked out of the ride we walk out into the colorfully themed, interactive Minion-inspired outdoor venue which is a literal interpretation of the seaside carnival from Despicable Me.
Krustyland & Transformers
We then headed to Krustyland and the 3D roller-coaster was so realistic that we were screaming for dear lives. All reviews about Universal mostly recommended the Transformers ride, so we took the escalators down to the lower level to check out the ride. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
Jurassic Park- The Ride
Next we hit Jurassic Park the Ride and came face-to-face a 50-foot T-Rex which ended in an 84-foot plunge, one of the largest theme park water descent ever constructed! We covered ourselves as much as we could, to prevent getting drenched on this 80 million gallon water ride.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter
After entering Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we got an astounding view down the main street, including its snow-covered roofs and windows filled with trinkets. Hogwarts castle towered over the rest of the land, thus grabbing our attention and making us want to enter and explore. It’s kind of a recreation of Hogsmeade with an amalgamation of landmarks, creatures, and themes from the films and books. Potter fans will be in heaven as they pore over the hundreds of little details in and outside of the buildings. But even if you are like Abhi and have never seen any of the movies or read any of the books, the land is still extremely enjoyable. It’s simply a nice place to look at and be in, which I think we can all agree is the bare minimum of what a theme park should be.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a dark ride/thrill ride that mixes large scale projections and huge psychical sets to take you in and around Hogwarts castle. During the ride we narrowly evaded an attacking dragon, fought with the Whomping Willow, get tossed into a Quidditch match, and jousted off Dementors. The feeling we get when we rode Forbidden Journey is one-of-a-kind and something that one needs to experience for oneself. The bench, yes the ride vehicle is a bench, moves in every direction and feels remarkably like free flight. Universal decided to make Hollywood’s Forbidden Journey 3D, which meant we had to wear 3D glasses on the ride. The ride was such a whirly one that we had the constant feeling that they were going to fly off during the ride.
The Mummy was a dark roller coaster, which actually was the most thrilling ride there. The roller coaster does go forward and then backward through it all. We had no clue about, which surprised us the most. I kept my eyes closed almost through the entire ride. Horrified much!
The most fun ride was undoubtedly Shrek 4D. It’s like being in the movie because of the 4-D. Plus – the bursts of air, chair movements, and squirts of water made everything more “realistic”. Shrek 4D was one of a kind experience and the pre-show was good as well. The short movie was pretty well done it hit all the spot for a typical Shrek Magic. The real treat was the 4D experience of combination of vibration, air, and water.
We would recommend all the shows as they’re all very well done and they often have some pre-show entertainment that can be fun.
Animal Actors- a splendid and a very cutesy show that featured trained animals used in Hollywood productions. The show included exotic birds, dogs, cats, pigs and other special animals that have been featured in some of Hollywood’s biggest productions. Audiences were given a sneak preview of how animals behave and interact in the movie industry, and guests (especially kids) were still asked to participate in the show’s various demonstrations. We got to see 2 of the owls that played in the Harry Potter movies. As an added bonus, we also got a close up view of some amazing animals of the show afterward.
Special Effects Show- an exclusive look into the secret world of movie magic. With stunts, practical effects, and cutting-edge technology, the newly updated show showed us behind-the-scenes of some of our favorite Universal Blockbusters. The Special Effects showed some of the vital movie effects. Fire Stunts, things like glass overlays and using models including actual models used in movies were shown. Also featured some fan favorites from past versions and some brand new, never-before-seen special effects, including a thrilling stunt performances by some of Hollywood’s best.
Waterworld- a 20 minute, arena-style “Sea War” spectacle that features live water, land and aerial stunts. The Waterworld show thrilled us within its first few minutes exhibiting JetSki stunts, fistfights and explosions, including an audacious finale where a full-sized plane crashes into the water, just a few feet in front of the audience. Inspired by a film, the plot goes like- Helen returns from Dryland to save her friends, when the evil Smokers attack. But the Mariner soon returns to save the day. The pyrotechnic, flames, water-based special effects including the explosive crash landing of the seaplane is set to an imaginative orchestral score.
Universal CityWalk is LA’s best shopping and partying arena. It has over 30 places to eat, a state of the art 19 screen movie theater with IMAX and more than 30 exclusive shops. It displays a pretty shopping scene with large billboards, an oversized gorilla and guitar overlooking the other stores. There are lots of places to eat and grab a drink prior or after visiting the Universal Studios. We had our lunch at one of the Mexican restaurants inside the CityWalk named, Camacho’s Cantina. CityWalk is especially pretty to look at during the night time. All of the flashy and colorful signs, we could help but take lot of pictures. There was a DJ night happening when we walked through it in the evening.
At Universal Studios Hollywood, the magic of movie making comes to life. The park combines the quintessential Hollywood movie experience with quality theme park attractions and shows. The Forbidden Journey ride was one of the best we’d ever been on. That’s really the one that made an everlasting impression on us. It felt like we were actually flying on a broomstick. We went for two days which was definitely enough time to do everything. Don’t skip the Studio Tour; it’s incredible. Be prepared to get splashed or sprinkles at almost every other ride! There is nothing quite like Universal Studios.
Universal Studios Hollywood R-O-C-K!!
Admission Fee – $120 on a regular day.
Tip: Bring your own water and snacks.