If you are in southern California, Universal Studios, Hollywood is a must visit! Growing up in the age of television, movies, and 3D, Universal can give you a behind-the-scenes look at how these shows are created. Add in tons of great characters, a few rides, and some great photo opportunities and it may well become your favorite theme park where you don’t spend hours in line!
Though Universal does have some rides, games, and characters, it has a more prominent i.d. as a place where you can see how real movies and television shows are made with cool special effects, sets and more. My husband and I hadn’t visited in over 15 years, so we were thrilled just as much.
Once you park, you enter at the Universal CityWalk, a three-block entertainment, dining and shopping promenade. With over 30 great places to eat, a 19-screen movie theater featuring a eight-story-high IMAX, seven hot night spots including the new Jon Lovitz Comedy Club and Samba Brazilian Steakhouse & Lounge, indoor skydiving and more than 30 stores, you can spend an entire day sight-seeing there! Everything there is larger than life, and my 12-year old was drooling over the shopping, but we had a destination.
Now, we didn’t come expecting or desiring to meet and greet characters, but I will tell you right now, we saw more here than at Disneyland. There were often no lines, they were abundant and running around constantly the whole day we were there and they were very friendly. My kids were too shy to go up to any, but I did photograph them, and Sponge Bob will come running up to you with his fun personality and even sat in my husband’s lap while we ate a snack midday!
My husband and I were eager to see the Special Effects show. We learned the secrets behind the making of our favorite blockbuster movies as well as learned about CGI, stop motion, motion capture, and 3-D technology. My older two kids were impressed by how “cool” the show was and they put it on with a lot of comedy and audience participation so if you get there early, you may be pulled on stage. It was well worth our time!
Plenty of places for cool photo ops:
Our family favorite of the whole park was the Studio Tour. Riding the trams in itself can be a fun ride for kids, but for almost an hour we toured the backlots of Jaws, Desperate Housewives, Psycho, Whoville, and special effects from the Fast and the Furious! You see how floods are “created” and cleared up, you feel the heat from real action films, and the set of automobiles from old films and TV shows is cool too!
Just earlier that morning the cast of Desperate Housewives were actually filming on “Wisteria Lane” at Universal, how cool is that?Overall, the experience was amazing, by far cooler and less stressful than the crowds at Disneyland.
Right now you can buy a day ticket at regular price, and come back for the rest of 2011 free, how’s that for 8 months of fun?!
Don’t get me wrong the magic is quite different at Mickey’s place than at Universal Studios. I can tell you though, there was far less crying and whining from ME as the kids at Universal and it was quite refreshing. I loved seeing the behind the scenes of TV/movies and that just can’t be found at Disneyland.