We were there for waffles again on another early morning. The trip on the roads was the usual circus but we made good time.
Talking on the way in we did forget to say that we saw another TV person, Chuck Lorre. He's a creator (Big Bang, Two and a Half, Mike and Molly) but has done a lot of things including writing and has a couple of shows in production at Warner at this time. He smiled and nodded at us as we walked past and said hello (he was literally two feet away from us).
But today is about Universal Studios which is like Warner but with a theme park as well. We made our way straight to the 'Frankenstein’ Valet Parking. This is driving to where you want to be and getting out, walking off after a guy gives you a ticket. The reverse happens when you pick it up with the addition of payment but we don’t have to pay today because we purchased VIP passes which include this luxury. No park hunting for us. Yay.
With our passes we followed the signage about an hour before the park opens (and our start time) and were shown to a well appointed lounge with a view of the park and shown the complimentary breakfast buffet. Pity we had waffled because there were fresh salmon, ham and bacon rolls, macaroons, yoghurt and juices in addition to the imperative coffee. We could wait on the leather lounges watching highlights of Universal blockbusters or wander out on our terrace to watch the forming crowd at the entrance. Couples and families joined us and a couple of earlier groups went out.
We met Heather, our guide and made our way to our open sided low bus and toured the lots where filming occurs and wandered the areas and poked about. The sound stage we got to visit was for the TV Series "About a Boy". We saw the indoor and outdoor sets and this was more interesting as there were still props out as they had only stopped recording for a week or so rather than a season.
We also visited the costume and props department and saw the massive array of stuff. We got a lot more freedom to poke about although the costume department was a “no photo” zone we were allowed to touch the costumes. It is interesting that there was an ET in an Aussie arrangement and more than a few Russel Crowe displays (Gladiator, Cinderella Man, Beautiful Mind, etc).
There is a lot of construction going on the edges of the park. One of the major developments started is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It just looks huge and likely to be a whole world. There’s also a Fast and Furious tour-ride coming.
Then we went to the buffet lunch at a French themed restaurant. There was a fabulous range of things here, much more than Warners (although we are trying not to compare) with a promise to go to the major theme park rides afterwards. The thing about the VIP pass is that you are ushered about, picked up and dropped off at the right places. Also at the rides and attractions you follow the guide to the ride and get on the next one. Some of these have 2-3 hour queues when it’s really busy so you can’t get through them all so it’s really good if you can do this VIP thing.
The Waterworld show is an on-water drama based on the climax of the Costner movie and is arguably more successful than the film. All stunt work, shooting, face singing explosions and jetski action. There’s also a ‘soak zone’ where you could get sprayed by the action (which may be jetski induced drenching). There is seating for 3,000 at this one and in the queue you may not get in we got there 2 minutes before the start and went to our reserved seats. As the show started a group of Asian tourists spotted a gap at the end of our row next to Rosie – he said down and started to call over his mates. Rosie held up her VIP credentials and raised her eyebrow at him – he immediately understood and scuttled away apologetically.
The Haunted House was new to us. Basically you walk in and shuffle through the dark passing horror displays from movies and occasionally one of the exhibits would lunge or grab and you’d involuntarily squeal your way forward. You know it’s not dangerous but something gets triggered when a masked screaming thing in a blood-soaked apron comes at you suddenly illuminated by the strobe. Where you expected it, nothing, when you thought it was safe ‘boo’. Hilarious but not for the easily disturbed. Rosie screamed a lot but said it was a major highlight.
Next up was the new Minion Meyhem (Dispicable Me) a ‘simulator’ ride which is neat and similar to the Simpsons Ride but a lot more snazzy. Transformers is the most awesome simulator ride. It was hard to guess how the motion sensation occurred as the swinging and crashing and flying were just amazing. We also did Jurassic Park with ponchos lol, the Mummy (the only roller coaster in the park).
Then we had to farewell Heather after her looking after us most of the day which was sad. She really went above and beyond in as far as holding bags, finding loos and keeping us all going with her infectious enthusiasm. After the tour we made the Animal show which was adorable.
Adjacent to Universal is a retail lane which where we got dinner it being after seven. It has been a good day but one more thing, Hollywood Boulevard.
We toured the strip seeing the sights and it being Earth Day there were a bunch of people lying down in the handprints place at the Chinese Theatre. That’s LA. Even late it is still busy along here.
Off to Disneyland tomorrow which is our LAST planned event before our amazing holiday comes to an end.