Monday, April 28, 2014

A day in Universal Studios

Today, I present you the Universal Studios Hollywood ! A must-have if you like fairs and cinema !

Plan your visit !

How long should you stay ?

I advise to stay 1 entire day from the opening (or even 1 hour before, because some attractions open early)  to the closing (the hours change according to the day, you can find them here). We stayed from 11 am to 5:30 pm but without break and with the "Gate A" pass. And it was enough to see the main attractions, but not all.

What pass should I take ?

When we went the first time, my aunt offered us the "Gate A" pass which was great, but it allowed us to cut the line and to seat in the front row. It's quite expensive ($139-$159), but this is really a great deal if you're only here for one day.

If you're living here, it's better to take a 1 day pass ($84_If you're in Caltech, you can have discounts). Indeed, the 1 day pass allows you to return as much as you want during the year (except during certain days), so it might be a good idea to have time to see everything without spending too much money !

Take a tour in the park !

Universal Studios Hollywood are 20min away from Pasadena. There is a part only for the studios and a part for the attractions. 
Universal studios from above
The park itself is a classical, except that the decor and the characters are linked with Universal (Shrek, Simpsons, Transformers, Jurassik Park, etc.) and that the fun has more to do with movies and special effects than rides. This is perfect for me, but if you're more the 6 flags kind, pass your way.

Jibouille as a worker
Discussion between two actors
Here is what we've done during our day :
  • Studio Tour
We began our day with a visit of the studios, which is a is a ride in a bus between the sets.
The bus tour begins with the storehouses and the closed sets first, then goes into the open sets. We saw for example which sets were used for "Back to the Future !!".

Did you recognize the "Back To the Future" townhall ??
We arrived then in front of a cars collection, and watch a little show :

Then we arrive in a jungle forest and enter a tunnel where we see a fight between a T-Rex and Kingkong. This is really impressive !
Here is a video I found on youtube. It 'll give you on idea, but imagine that everything is in 3D and that you're completely surrendered by the screen. We even feel the T-Rex's slobber...:-)

After the thrill, we arrive in a quiet mexican town...until water comes !!

Mexican town and cowboy town side by side
After, we visit other sets including Jaws Lake and Wisteria Lane and we end in a subway station...

Jaws lake
Amity island
Wisteria lane (houses were only front before, but the shows worked so well, that real houses were built !)

After this frightening simulation, we visit other sets specially built for disaster movies. 
Crash plane

destroyed house
  • The Simpsons Ride
This attraction looks like a little to what can be done at the Futuroscope (Poitiers, France): you are in a moving seat with a 360 screen which give you the feeling to do roller coasters with the Simpsons. This is well made and thrill-seekers can enjoy it (i.e. those who do not close their eyes during the ride...).
  • Animals Actors
This show stages trained animals for movie purposes. It presents an overlook of work methods and what animals can do. Jibouille filmed the full show. So, if you enjoy that, here is the video below. Pictures are better than words!

  • Special effects stage
This show highlights the different technics to make old and new special effects. This is well done but there is not enough explanations in my point of view. In conclusion, you will have fun, but you will hardly learn something. 
  • Transformers : The Ride
This ride is very similar to the Simpson one except that doing roller coasters, you are in the middle of a battle with Optimus Prime instead!
  • Waterworld
Show mixing fire and water, fights and romance. The story is not very interesting but there are beautiful stunts and the show is performed to the "american way", i.e. set to the millimeter (among other things, the flight went straight in front of us, we really thought that they missed!)
Flight which went straight in front of us
  • Shrek 4-D
This ride is one of the most succeeded! To recap, you are like in a cinema and you follow the adventures of Shrek and Donkey who try to save the Princess Fiona. Except that it is a 4D experience, i.e. the movie is in 3D and both water and air are pulsed to you to think that something touches you. You really believe it! For instance, once lots of spiders are falling on you and thanks to the pulsed air you have really the feeling that they are slipping through your legs! In conclusion, we truly recommend this show!
  • Jurrassik Park : the ride
Short aquatic ballad into the Jurassic Park. This is little bit disappointing because there is not enough action! 

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