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Topic: Universal Studios Hollywood

  1. #1
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    Default Universal Studios Hollywood

    I did post while I was out in the states that I'd do a one day trip report when time allowed. Since people have shown interest in what I get up to on my days off when I'm out at the office and I think we have a couple of members heading out west soon I thought I'd get this posted. Apologies for some of the picture's quality, I only had my phone with me.

    Sunday 14th of November dawned dry, warm and sunny as California always delivers (honest) and I set off up the I5 and 101 to Hollywood. There are times I really appreciate being encouraged to work hard at school and in life, this morning was one of them.;)


    The usual unpleasantness involving $15 at the parking booth had me safely tucked up in Curious George B1Q by 10:20. (can you tell I took a photo of where I parked?). A quick stroll through City Walk pausing only to SMS this photo to my dear sister had me at the ticket booths not long after.


    Now one of the reasons for driving an hour up here from Irvine was that while Disney now wants $101 plus tax for a single day hopper Universal were doing 'buy a day get a year free' for just $75. A quick application of 'pick the left-most queue' had me walking straight up to a very helpful lady while the sheep stood ten deep waiting for the central booths. Since she was so quiet she processed my annual pass there and then rather than taking my money and directing me to the pass centre inside the park.

    The park was not that busy, so while I was keen to get on the backlot tour early I took the time out to first visit an attraction I'd never done and go into the House of Horrors.


    This is basically a permanent version of the mazes they put up for Halloween Horror Nights and all the better for being permanent with some very elaborate sets and monsters. It is also far larger than the temporary ones they build, well worth a visit.

    Next up was my second reason for visiting, the new King Kong 3D attraction on the backlot tour. The backlot tour here is far far better than anything in Orlando, simply because this is a real backlot where films and TV really do get made every day.


    We passed the open doors of the sound stage where the next Muppets film is being shot, but only saw the backsides of the sets. As you drive around the guide tells you what is being filmed where and what has been shot there in the past. They will also then show clips on the tram's monitors so you can compare the two.

    The courthouse square from Back to the Future


    There was something setting up here, but the guide could not tell us what. On to what for me was the main event, King Kong 3D, which was simply amazing. The tram drives into a long tunnel, dressed from Peter Jackson's film.


    Once fully inside screens come to life each side, so clear and huge that you really do feel you are suddenly in a primaeval forest with dinosaurs going about their business around you. The screens extend way above and below your eye line and as the dinosaurs notice you and start thinking about lunch King Kong puts in an appearance to save the day. As they fight the tram lurches from side to side getting knocked about. The best part is when he puts a hand on top of the tram to vault over and the whole thing is pushed down a couple of feet.

    The tour carries on for about another 30 minutes, taking in such sets as the miniatures for King Kong,


    the Wild West, Europe,


    Desperate Housewives,


    Whoville, the Bates Motel and War of the Worlds,


    The backlot tour is worth the entrance price alone and lasts a good 45 minutes or so.


    Continued below...
    Last edited by spencem; 22-09-2019 at 09:51 PM. Reason: typo correction
    5 Trips to Florida, Christmas in LA, Disneyland Paris twice and odd days here and there.

    All my trip reports are now HERE.


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    Default Part 2

    Once back in the main park I had a wander around looking for lunch. The Christmas decorations were beginning to appear inside the park as well.



    Lunch ended up being a pulled pork sandwich and some crisps from the Flintstones BBQ.

    After being entertained watching people having their photos done with Zorro and his girl I went over to catch the 1pm Water World show.


    The film might have been a pile, but the show is great cheesy entertainment with some great stunts. There is a plot apparently, but no one including the cast seemed to know what it was about. All I know is that at one point this plane flew over the back wall and crashed into the pond,


    and that at the end everything blew up, great stuff.


    Back on dry land I took a quick stroll across the park to see another 'new' attraction, the Special Effects Stage.


    There used to be a very similar show in the lower lot, but that has gone to make way for the new Transformers ride. It has been updated in its new home and is an expanded version of the Horror Make-Up Show from Orlando.

    Talking of the Lower Lot, that is where I headed next. The Park is built on the side of a very steep hill and divided into an upper and lower area linked by a huge set of escalators. At the moment there is not much down the bottom, just Jurassic Park, the Mummy and a historical exhibit of Universals back catalogue. Sometime next year these will be joined by Transformers, which is currently a hole in the ground and a crane.


    Despite the 80F heat not many people fancied Jurassic Park. I did brave it and stayed mostly dry.


    This is basically the same as Orlando, but maybe a little shorter? It ends the same way, that's for sure.


    The Mummy ride here is very different to Orlando, but still a great indoor dark coaster.


    I quick drink a look round the exhibit and it was time to travel back up, I didn't get a photo, but these escalators are huge and I seriously would not like to walk up if the power went out.

    Back up and into the day's longest queue, 20 minutes for the Simpsons.


    This is an exact copy of the one in Orlando, so just as good.

    The Backlot tour being so good I decided to take it again, and this time sit on the opposite side of the tram. It was just as good from the right-hand side and there is loads to see both sides. As you can see time was getting on as we got to the Jaws section.


    Here in Hollywood Jaws is done as a set from the tram, but still has the shark attacking you along with flames and explosions. Earthquake is done in the same way, with the tour tram going inside the set and watching the place shake apart and the train crash. There are several of these set pieces, including one for the Mummy and the Fast and Furious.

    By the time we got back, it was almost fully dark and beginning to get a little chilly for my shorts and t-shirt, but I wasn't going before seeing Shrek.


    Again this is exactly the same as Orlando. Another direct copy is Terminator2 3D, which I didn't bother with.

    As I was leaving the park the Blues Brothers were just starting their last show of the day so I stopped for a while.


    I didn't stay for the end but instead headed out into City Walk in search of dinner.


    As you can see this was busy, being quite a draw with locals as well as tourists.
    Halfway down I found my dinner in the form of a Tony Roma's which everyone always raves about.


    Being on my own I bypassed a lengthy queue and sat at the bar. I have to say while it was good it was not amazing, Smoky Bones does better ribs in my opinion. I wish I'd walked a little further and tried Bubba Gumps to be honest.

    City walk is larger here in Hollywood I think than Orlando, it certainly seemed it to me as I had to walk the full length to get back to my car.


    A quick stop in Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Latte for the drive back to the hotel and I was on my way into the Sunday night LA traffic by 7pm.

    I had a good day, and if the opportunity presents itself I'll certainly be back to use my 'free' annual pass.
    Last edited by spencem; 22-09-2019 at 10:09 PM.
    5 Trips to Florida, Christmas in LA, Disneyland Paris twice and odd days here and there.

    All my trip reports are now HERE.


  3. #3
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    Sounds like a great day spencem, the photos are very clear considering you only had your mobile phone.

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    Brings back memories for me. First went in the early 80s.

    Backlot tour was great. Some of the things I remember from then were, original Battlestar Galactica drive in event. Hitchcock show, the trail from Sparticus where they crucified all the slaves. Bates house and one of the shows was Conan the Barbarian. I also remember the tram going through the parting of the red see from Moses. Fantastic place with so many bits of history

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    Can't think of a better way to spend a day off your phone takes better pictures than mine;)
    the backlot tour looks brilliant

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    What a acracking day spencem, and also enjoyed your photos.

    Thanks for sharing your day.
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    Agreed - amazing photos for a camera phone! Is US Hollywood better or worse than HS Orlando? It sounds as if it doesn't have as many rides - but maybe you just didn't go on everything.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeonieM View Post
    Is US Hollywood better or worse than HS Orlando? It sounds as if it doesn't have as many rides - but maybe you just didn't go on everything.
    You have to remember, that there is no IOA at the Hollywood Studios. it is purely a studio's, very much working too.


    Sounds a great day, I really must make the effort to do the west coast

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    Thoroughly enjoyed your report and the great pictures to go with it, spencem! In spite of having been to California a few times, this is one park I've never made it to but always wish I could. It was very interesting to read your comments on what's there and what's like Orlando.

    Question: You said the Mummy is different to Orlando. How is it different?











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    Quote Originally Posted by LeonieM View Post
    Is US Hollywood better or worse than HS Orlando? It sounds as if it doesn't have as many rides - but maybe you just didn't go on everything.
    It is better than just the studios in Orlando, as my sister pointed out there is only the one park and City Walk in Hollywood. There is an animal actors show that I didn't do, a very large and fun looking children's area themed on Curious George that I obviously didn't visit and the Terminator2 3D show. What makes it better is the Backlot tour, simply amazing.

    They are also adding the Transformers ride down the bottom and something new in the top area. There used to be a wild west show up there, but it is surrounded by work walls now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Veness View Post
    Question: You said the Mummy is different to Orlando. How is it different?
    It has a different layout and different surprises, same theme, cars and track systems but a very different ride.
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