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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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 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.
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 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.