Universal Studios

Welcome to the place where all the magic happens! 

Actually you kinda come here and work all the magic happens, so it's not longer much magical, but that's not the point, and anyway

The iconic Universal theme music at the beginning of a movie has always given me that excited "movie time!" feeling, so I was glad to go see some of the sets, go on some rides (my thing. In case you hadn't noticed) and of course, do the famous Studio tour.

Especially to take lots of photos for my mother, who'd know many of these sets and squeal over them much more than I would.

We were a bit unsure/skeptical about what was actually there (especially considering the price), but day was a total success.

Boo. Yah.

So I was looking at some of the other blogs nominated in the competition that's going down (for which if you haven't yet voted, you should totally do that now), and a lot of them are rather fantastic, but I see so many words and so few pretty pictures! 

I'm not here for that. No one is, let's be honest.

So, I bring to you - Universal Studios: in picture form!!

Like everything else here on this blog.

Let's go.

Things that are surprising: there's actually big...arcade mall and entertainment area that's not part of the Park, which you have to walk through. The parking would still be $15, so I'm mildly confused by the entire thing, but anyway.

Welcome to the studios: Hint: The bloke with his arm up is a real bloke. Brilliant costume.

So the entire place is made up of mini sets and facades of different streets and eras and countries and looks. All very cute.

It's about 9.30am. It always feels weird, but this is always the best time to get on the biggest and best rides for the day.

There are only a handful of them here at Universal, but what they do have is pretty damn shiny. All the way down on the back lot though, so...

Way down.

Pretty Hollywood Hills views though.

So, at the bottom: The Mummy roller coaster. It's pitch black. It's fast. It's (not really that) scary. It was excellent. We went on it twice. In a row. Oh yes, it's wonderful going to California theme parks in a mid-Winter mid-week.

Transformers 3D: brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. We walked out (twice, again, ahehehe) both exhilarated from what we just did (annihilating those darned Decepticons) and in awe of the incredible technical prowess we just witnessed. 

Seriously - so you walk in (for a long time; rooms upon rooms of empty lines, set up for what must be hours-long waits in Summer, it's so satisfying just going past it all) and get into a little pod with maybe 8 other people. You put on your super swish 3D glasses, get locked in and BOOM you're zoomed into this adventure, chasing megatron, dodging fire, flying through city streets Spiderman-like and ramming through Devastator.
Down, boy.
The little pod moves just like a car and and rolls around in such a way you really feel like you've just accelerated quickly, dodged a bullet or fallen face first off a skyscraper. There's fire and everything, folks.

Phew! Enough of an endorsement? They're not paying me, I swear...

In other news, there was also the Jurassic Park ride....let's just say you got wet. Very, very wet. Plus Lizzie had a split second where she thought she was going to die, and that's always fun.

Near death experiences: good times.

Back up to the top.

SIMPSONS RIDE - similar idea to the Transformers ride, still rather excellent.

This made me happy.

Now we got all the adrenaline-pumping things out of the way, it's tour time, folks.

Informative things while waiting.

MORE 3D things to expect.

Waiting view was okay though, I suppose.

Here we go.

Starting with Universal's timeline of movies...from old... new. 

So Universal Studios are working studios - obviously, but you kind of forget, for some reason - and though the warehouses are mostly soundproof, you pass where shows are filming and you have to keep quiet. Here they were filming CSI, I believe. We also passed the soundstage of the US The Voice. No Adam Levine, unfortunately.

Where they made Despicable Me, and where they're making the sequel. 

Uh oh. Shiz just got real.

Time to put on those dorky glasses, four eyes. 
So this is supposed to be a cave in Skull Island, from Peter Jackson's King Kong (I'm not sure, I saw it when it first came out but not since, but I suppose we can trust them) - the tunnel suddenly turns into a jungle, with phenomenally massive 3D screens on either side. The entire thing is made specifically for the tour bus, it turns into your ride pod - it shakes and twists, while the giant monkey rescues you from a giant jungle crevice and rips open a T-Rex's jaws. 

It's won a presigious 3D association's award for Outstanding...ness, which has never before been won by a theme park, and it is pretty bloody damn well impressive.


Careful Tallulah, your geek is showing.

But really, if you're as excited about this as I am, call me. We should get to know each other. In the absolute least creepy way possible.

Moving right along...

Tokyo drift stunt secrets. Robots. The secret is always robots.

Next, we drive through some continents:

If ever Hollywood needs a Western...
...or Europe... (Where in Europe, you may ask? Doesn't matter, in Hollywood, just EUROPE). 
Bugger a star on Hollywood Boulevard, I want my name on a street sign.

More of King Kong's Skull Island - a lot of it was shot in miniatures  this is the set - see the tiny boat. A perfect, detailed replica of the big one.

Went into a set, where things fell apart and sparked and everything escalated rather quickly...

Abandon ship!

Also, you might need a bigger boat.

Daaaaaa dah. Daaaaaa dah. Da da da da da da da da.

And now, welcome to Wisteria Lane, plus a hundred other residential onscreen places.

Home of the Munsters.
I knew my mother used to watch The Munsters when she was small, so I came home and was like, "Mother! Guess what!"


"We saw the Musters house at Universal Studios!"

"Ooooh, really??"

"Yeah! I think. Was the house purple?"

"I don't bloody well know, it was in black and white."

"Haha, you're old."

The set of How The Grinch Stole Christmas!

Cue screechy stabby noises.

This is the set of War of the Worlds, where they actually bought a giant plane and ripped it to sheds and flung it through fake buildings.

Where do I sign up for that job.

There was a last odd ride bit - for The Mummy movie, where they pretend the driver is cursed and drives us into this cave things, where things swish about a bit and then it's all over. I love the Mummy movie don't judge me anyway so it was all good.

Off the bus, and off to a last couple of things - 

Situation normal.


There was a half hour long show where they demonstrated all the types of special effets, old and new, from sawing one's arm off with a special knife to performance capture animation.

Australian family represent.

Seriously though, when they got up and said they were Aussie, the host bloke went, "Aussie Aussie Aussie!" and I swear at least a third of the warehouse yelled back, "oi oi oi!".  

"We're surrounded," the bloke muttered conspiratorially. Damn straight. It has been our secret Downunder plan all along. Mine is an evil laugh.

Green screen tech.

Performance capture.

Finding the moon! Or, alternatively, that bloody black dot on my lens I can't get rid of. Same thing, really.

Thought it was actually the audience volunteer they put in the suit who was falling and panicking so hilariously, but they swapped him for the actual stunt guy :( 

That's more or less it folks, I hope you had fun and didn't have all your movie magic ruined. After all, we still don't know if Leo was dreaming the entire ending in Inception or not... why, spintop, why?!

Until next time, mes amis.

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