Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Universal Studios Hollywood: What to See and Do

Hello my travelers! I spent this past weekend in the wonderfully sunny Los Angeles, California and tonight is my first blog post on the trip. The first post focuses on Universal Studios Hollywood for some rides, roller coasters, tours and donuts (see picture below). Now if you have been following the blog for a while or if you are new, you should know I love theme parks! I am an annual passholder for both Disney and Universal in Florida, so I can give you good comparisons on both. Now lets get started...Action!

We had an early flight and arrived about 10am in the City of Angels (anyone else remember that movie with Nic Cage and Meg Ryan?) and after checking into the Lowe's Hollywood Hotel we went to our first stop...In and Out (a must for the west coast but this is for another blog post!) then a little sightseeing around Hollywood then finally over to Universal.

It was around 3pm at this time, we knew we definitely wanted to do the Nighttime Studio Tour so that's why we waited a little longer to make sure we were there when the sun went down. Universal Hollywood is set up differently than it's sister park over in Orlando, it feels more compact but at the same time more spread out, I know that's hard to interpret! You can check out a map here. Many of the thrill rides including Revenge of the Mummy, Jurassic Park: The Ride and Transformers are found in the lower level of the park. Whereas Springfield and Wizzarding World of Harry Potter are found in the middle with The Walking Dead and the Super Silly Fun Land on the outer perimeter, Shrek 4D and Waterworld towards the entrance and the iconic studio tram tour being an escalator trip away from Springfield.

We hit the lower level rides first, we knew it would be crowded later in the day. And it was Friday. And it is summer. If you don't have a full day but still want to see everything budget your trip to include the Front of the Line ticket. It is a lifesaver and guarantees you will see everything on your trip. At both Universal Parks you have to put your bags, purses, etc. in a locker while you get on rides such as Revenge of the Mummy and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. That means I didn't have my phone or camera for some of the time (womp, womp) but I did have it out for the new Walking Dead attraction!

This baby just opened on July 4th and let me just say...it's a good one! I was a little hesitant at first and by hesitant I made my friend enter then exit the queue line three times before getting a pep talk and words of encouragement from the guy working the outside of the ride (yes, this happened). The attraction features animatronics but be warned there are some real actors inside.

It's dark, creepy, scary fun! If you are the fan of the show like myself, you have to check it out. A word of warning to parents: if you have a child that is afraid of the dark, the undead, tight spaces and people jumping out of corners...DO NOT ENTER. I can't tell you how many sobbing children (and some adults) I saw exiting this attraction. It is not right for the child to endure something they don't want to do, it is helpful for you, the child and those who are trying to enjoy the attraction to know what you are getting into. Here is a good video that offers a full walk through of the ride!

We were able to knock off all the rides in the park and shows all while taking a picture from Universal's newest cartoon film, The Secret Life of Pets. There are tons of great photo opps all over the park so keep your eyes peeled!
It was around 7:40pm, yes, it was still very light when we boarded the tram for the "Nighttime Tour" experience. Check your map to see when the last tram departs, you don't want to miss it! Ok, the biggest tip I can give you from this...SIT ON THE FAR RIGHT of the tram. I can't stress this enough, you get the best views, best pictures and you get to see everything. I was on the far left. I did not get to see everything. It was still fun but this is something where you really want the best seats in the house!

The Tram Tour actually takes you on real working film locations as well as combining movie props, sets, and rides/attractions. You come face to face with dinosaurs and King Kong via a cool 3-D experience, that shark Jaws is seen in the water of Amity trying to attack you, see Norman Bates carrying out a victim over at the Bates Motel (the coolest set!) and then decides to go after you, Whoville from The Grinch, escape an earthquake, the plane crash from War of the Worlds and meet up with the gang from the Fast and Furious in a new part of the tour.
Jaws-Amity Island

House from Psycho

War of the Worlds set

War of the Worlds set
I wish I had more cool pics to share but it was very hard to shoot from my location. The nighttime tour also has some fun extras like "Marilyn Monroe" posing on set, Frankenstein's Monster roaming around a set and the experience is just a little more fun in the dark! This tour is only available in the summer months so be sure to see it if you are there. Just remember...RIGHT SIDE OF THE TRAM!

There are some really beautiful views from the park, look at the scenery! You can also make out the Warner Brothers lot (see the tower!) if you look carefully. The temps had cooled and the night sky was out, we decided to check out a few of our favorites before exiting the park.

I LOVE The Simpsons so the whole Springfield area is super fun to me, definitely try the "Flaming Moe" at Moe's Tavern as well as some Duff beer. You also have to try one of the delicious, huge donuts over at Lard Lad (Homer would be so proud), big enough to share with your whole group. Or you can eat the whole thing yourself. Secrets are secrets.

Universal Orlando has had the Wizzarding World of Harry Potter for a few years now as well as the newer Diagon Alley but the West Coast at least has one portion now! The Harry Potter areas have so much character and design that even those who aren't fans will find themselves in awe of this area. It is a definite must-visit!

If you are on vacation in Hollywood or a local wanting a fun day/night out, I highly recommend Universal Studios Hollywood! The tram is reason enough to go and now that they added The Wizzarding World of Harry Potter? I would make it a part of your LA experience! 

For all the information on Universal Studios Hollywood including attractions, tickets, and pricing click here!

"Do-nut" be lame, get out there and explore!



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