A Tram-tastic Day at Universal Studios Hollywood

It’s time I finished up this series of posts on California! Dan and I woke up on our third full day in the Golden State and headed over to Universal Studios Hollywood. We had timed our visit to fall between peak seasons, in the hopes that the crowds would have died down somewhat. Of course, this also meant much shorter park hours…if I remember correctly, Universal opened at 10AM that morning, and closed around 6 or 7. After two full days of exploration, I was happy to sleep in a little bit before jumping into our final day’s adventures.

Despicable Me Minions on our Universal Studios Hollywood Park Tickets
Our park tickets had cute little minions on them!

I love visiting this park. Sure, it’s small, and has relatively few offerings when compared to its counterparts around the world, but I love the Mom & Pop feel of the place. Besides, we hadn’t come all this way just to see different versions of the attractions back in Orlando. We were there for one specific attraction: The Studio Tour!

Views Over Studio City From Universal Studios Hollywood
Oh, yeah. The Studio Tour is also the home of the King Kong 360 3-D experience, but I was more interested in learning about the history of movie-making!
Entering King Kong 360 on the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood
Entering the Kong portion of our backlot tour!

The tour departs on guided trams, and takes visitors through the facades and working film sets for countless productions. The best part is, the sets are still used to this day! You never know what you might see while driving through the backlot!

Live Filming With Zombies on the Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour
So what did we see? Zombies. Lots of zombies. Or more accurately, a commercial featuring zombies!

Some of the movies made on the various sets include Back to the Future, The Amazing Spiderman, and Transformers. Then there are the working soundstages, where famous movies of decades past were filmed, and where popular TV shows are still filmed today!

Working Backlot Area on the Universal Studios Hollywood Studio TourBuildings Used For Filming on the Backlot of Universal Studios Hollywood

Highlights of the tour included seeing The Bates Motel and accompanying “Psycho House,” as well as the lake from the final scene of the same movie.

Norman Bates and the Bates Motel at Universal's Backlot Studio Tour

The Lagoon Used in Psycho, Seen on the Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour
This is where the car was pulled out of the water at the very end of the movie Psycho!

I don’t want to spoil too much of the remaining tour, but I highly recommend checking it out for yourself!

After exiting our first tram tour of the day, Dan and I made our way downstairs to what I call “the big kid rides.” The layout of the park is so unique in that its two main levels are connected by a series of escalators – or a never-ending set of stairs, for those brave souls who like a good physical challenge. The lower level includes rides themed around Universal movies Revenge of the Mummy, Jurassic Park, and most recently, Transformers, as well as several dining options and a small showroom dedicated to the film-making process.

The Lower Level of Universal Studios Hollywood
The Lower Level of Universal Studios Hollywood
A Raptor at the Jurassic Park River Adventure in Universal Studios Hollywood, California
A raptor leers from the bushes at the Jurassic Park River Adventure.
Boats Loading Up at the Jurassic Park River Adventure, Universal Studios Hollywood
The Jurassic Park River Adventure

The upper section of the park includes some milder, more family-friendly rides, a fantastic haunted house (which was sadly closed for the season), and WaterWorld, a stunt show based on the movie by the same name. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which opens in 2016, also seems to be on the upper lot.

Meeting Despicable Me Minions at Super Silly Fun Land, Universal Studios Hollywood

We had a great time just walking around, soaking up the atmosphere, and taking pictures of the awesome views afforded by the upper lot. California, I love you. And despite one low point – I hate theme park food, and walking around on an empty stomach while loathing all possible food options is no fun – I really enjoyed our day in the park. I didn’t want the day to end, because it signaled the conclusion of our first real vacation as a couple. But what better way to end the day than by literally running out of the WaterWorld show and making it onto the last Studio Tour of the day?

The Universal Studios Tram Tour, Hollywood
Can I just move to California and work here!?

The next day, we woke early and drove the short distance from Universal City back to LAX. We turned in our beloved rental car, a Hyundai Accent that cost only $16 to fill up after our four-day adventure, and settled in to wait for our flight back home. I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I suspect I won’t be able to stay away for long! California has my heart, and I can’t wait to return and explore all she has to offer.

A Retro Looking Neon Universal Studios Hollywood Sign, California
Disclosure: As an employee of Universal Orlando Resort, I visited the park free of charge. I was in no way compensated for this post. All opinions are entirely my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Universal Orlando, Universal Studios Hollywood, or any of its parents or affiliates.

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