/ travel

Day 21 - Universal studios

Up early today for our last full day in America... Left the hostel at 8.30am for Universal Studios, which we were both really excited about as we'd get to do a studio tour and a theme park in one. It was only a 15min drive away, and by the time we were through parking ($15) and walking through City Walk it was a little after 9am, the time the park opens. We bought our tickets which were quite expensive at $75 each.

From Road Trip USA
It was really quiet as we got there so early, and after walking through the gates a lady approached us and asked us if we could do a survey for her. We said yes iffily and answered a couple of questions and were then given queue jump pass for the studio tour! Had read last night that the best way to do the park if you arrive early is the studio tour, then the lower lot and finally the upper lot. So we headed for the tour and used our queue jump so had no wait. We boarded the tram and sat on the left (the best side to sit).

Began the studio tour by driving around all the currently used sound stages, most of them closed up looked like they were in use. Saw a few bits and pieces and went in to the King Kong 3D experience, it was incredible, best 3D we've ever seen. Didn't realise until halfway through there were screens on both sides (King Kong was killing Dinosaurs oh yeah). Then we did the outdoor lots, the New York plot which looked great but didn't get to go through it as they were preparing it for filming a new movie. Transformers 3 was just filmed there. After that drove past the famous cars from movies bit which was also really cool, every car would be followed by an ooh and aah. Saw the DeLorean from Back to the Future, jeeps from Jurassic Park and the good cars from fast and the furious.

From Road Trip USA
Next we went to the set from Jaws with a fully functioning mechanical shark (the one they actually used in the movies). Wisteria Lane followed that, where they were actually filming when we drove past, saw a "Silence on set" sign which was cool. War of the Worlds plane crash set was insane, which we went to next. Had a real Boeing 747 smashed up as part of the set, looked very realistic, apparently a Pilot who flew over the set called in an emergency saying that there had been a plane crash haha. There was so  much stuff it could easily be a blog post just on the studio tour, Jimmy Kimmel did the video guide ("Have a Tramtastic Day!").

We walked down to the lower lots, which were surprisingly empty and went straight for the Jurassic Park ride. Wasn't expecting much thought it was more of a child's ride but the final drop was an 85ft vertical drop which scared the hell out of us and soaked us right through. Then we hopped over to The Mummy ride (feeling like we were kids again) put my bag into the fingerprint secured lockers (COOL). No queue at all, and surprised us again being so good. We went on it straight after with pretty much no queue the second time either. To be honest it was no where near as good the second time I think it is more of a shock factor ride.

After the thrill of Jurassic Park and The Mummy rides we headed over to the Cinnabon stand to get some snacks (my Cinnamon swirl was 850calories and delicious). It was getting a lot busier by this time and the queue for the Studio Tour was 60mins!  Hit up the House of Horrors after Cinnabon, was the biggest queue yet of nearly 10mins and half worth the wait.

From Road Trip USA

Could have been scary but there are so many people walking around you are never alone long enough to get frightened. I did get jumped out on by this weird mummy thing which made me poop myself but other than that was a walk through a dark house.  On to the Terminator 2: 3D show....Wow, first sign it was old was when Sarah remembers watching the trailer for it on the Terminator 2 VHS. Then on to the show - pretty much a joke. Everything was ancient, apart from the guy onstage who was supposed to be Arnold Schwarzenegger who looked nothing like him. Aftwerwards we went to Shrek 4D, where we got lucky and managed to join the back of the queue just as everyone started moving and got into the next showing. Was much, much better than the Terminator 2: 3D nonsense. Really funny with the weird moving seats (SPOILER).

Then the Special Effects Stage, got seats right at the front which was awesome, two classic American presenters bantering with each other. There was also Larry the hilarious stage hand which was apparently his "first day". We were a bit nervous to be sat so close to the front when they started asking for volunteers but luckily there were lots of eager people in the audience, someone sat right behind us screamed for a chance and got chosen. They spoke about and demonstrated CGI, motion capture (was cool to see it being done), etc. Was a really good show, funny and informative. It was about 3.15 and we were aiming to leave at 4 so we had enough time to do one last thing  - The Simpsons Ride. The queue took 35mins but didn't feel like it as there were tv's everywhere showing The Simpsons so could watch whilst we waited. We weren't really sure what the ride was and found it weird when the queue split and people were going upstairs as we were going downstairs. We ended up in a tiny room of 6 before getting on the ride. Won't spoil it for anyone but we both really enjoyed it and was nothing like anything we've seen/been on before!

After the thrill of the park we headed to the shops for some last minute souvenir buying and a well needed rest. We went to Starbucks where we had the worst customer service... Hardly any staff so a big queue, and the staff that were working weren't really doing a lot and gave the wrong drink to one woman. Then we received the wrong drink too, and the woman was really rude about it, muttering to the other workers about it! Glad to get out of there and finish our coffees we headed back to the hostel. Didn't stay long as it was around half 6 and didn't want to leave packing too late. We found directions for the nearest Walmart - about 15mins away. When we arrived there it looked a bit scary, but found out it was right next to a police station. We bought lots of American snacks so we could bring some back with us, then went back to the hostel to find directions to In-n-out burger. We'd been looking forward to this for a while as we'd read such great reviews about it. And it definitely was the best fast food we'd had this holiday! There wasn't much choice but didn't need any more than it offered, was really fresh, great service, the fries were a bit weird compared to other places (they are cut in the store).

We went back to the hostel for the last time... packed everything up which took quite a while. Both feeling sad to leave we went to sleep at about 12.30. Getting up earlier than originally planned as we are slightly worried about carmageddon!

J.