Saturday, June 6, 2015

Southern California Trip 2014 Day 5 Wednesday October 29 Universal Studios

This is the 5th of a series of posts dealing with my fourth trip to South California. I’ve made minor corrections to these reports. Also, I’ve added additional thoughts with the hindsight of a ¾ year later or to add further clarification.  These are indicated by “NOW”. After I booked the trip I unexpectedly had to move and during that had an Eastern Canada trip that didn’t go that great, so I was already pretty tired before the trip began.

Actually woke to my alarm today. I walked to a bus stop in Orange and took the 56 bus (Orange County Transportation/OCTA) to Orange Metrolink Station. I paid $63 for a 7-day pass (there was a bit of confusion because the vending machine options are different on weekdays than weekends) and rode the Orange County Line Metrolink train to LA Union Station. This time when I switched to the subway the pass reader accepted the Metrolink pass. I dashed there because the Metrolink train arrived late but the Red Line train I got on (LA Metro) left late as well. Then it was stopped because another such train broke down at my exit stop, Universal City/Studio City Station. Finally got there and crossed the street twice and took the free Universal Studios shuttle to Universal's CityWalk.

[NOW: My starting point again was Orange Mango Hostel in Santa Ana. Universal City/Studio City Station is in Studio City, part of Los Angeles. When I crossed the street to catch the shuttle, I was in Universal City, which is partly in Los Angeles, partly an unincorporated municipality, though I don’t know which areas are part of Los Angeles. Universal's CityWalk is considered part of the larger Universal Studios Hollywood area.]

I ate breakfast at a Crepes place there and noticed my earband was missing. Luckily I packed a spare though it was at the hostel. I wandered the CityWalk area a bit (shopping area accessible to the general public, like Downtown Disney, only CityWalk was created first) and then got in line for Universal Studios' theme park. As with Disneyland they let everyone into a small section of the park before the park fully opened. Unless otherwise noted, photography was only allowed in each attraction in the loading area. Lots of construction today and Jurassic park: The Ride was broken down the entire day. While waiting for the rest of the park to open I noticed the first showtimes for various shows.

[NOW: For Halloween the part had a zombie theme running through it. I did manage to ride Jurassic Park on a later date.]

When the park fully opened I went down the four escalators to the Lower Lot, where I rode the new Transformers 3-D ride combination track ride, motion simulator tech and 3-D video).  I then went to Revenge of the Mummy; photography even of loading area discouraged as you're supposed to put your stuff in a finger activated locker. The ride is a roller coaster. Great effects but very short. I held onto my glasses with one hand. There was a delay getting my stuff back because the locker machine wouldn't recognize my finger at first.

I returned to the Upper lot and went to Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. It took a while to get in because a lot of passholders who had priority were there. Lots of zombie life sized mannequins en route. The ride has two pre-shows so my back was in pain when I finally got to the ride, though the ride itself, a motion simulator is quite good. As with Transformers, this ride was new to me and both were in 3-D. I then walked to another motion simulator, The Simpsons Ride. Being a single rider I had a slightly shorter wait in line. Motif is sabotaged roller coaster.

[NOW: This was the only time this trip there was a single rider option this ride.]

I then walked to Shrek 4-D which was just about to start, 3-D again. Theatre seating with water and air squirting to various effects and seats that moved slightly.  I had lunch at Pinks where I got a souvenir cup. I then went to one of the three big highlights of Universal Studios, the Animal Actors Studio involving a wide range of animals, many from movies. Photography permitted. Of particular note was Sparky from the Ace Ventura movies. He's been part of the show since at least 1996 when I first visited the park. I then walked to Universal's House of Horrors which proved to be closed for Halloween. Let that sink in a moment.

[NOW: I later learned that Universal's House of Horrors was closed permanently and would be demolished in the near future.]

I then went on the second of the three best Universal attractions, the Studio Tour, recently having had King Kong added. Sadly this time sound was an issue but still fun. There's also Jaws and Desperate Housewives' street as part of the ride, as well as some famous vehicles including KITT from the original Knight Rider series. The vehicles weren't just of interest to humans: a deer was looking at a couple of them as we passed. BTW while the Studio Tour is down a set or two of escalators it's still considered an Upper Lot attraction. Photography permitted.

I then returned to the Lower Lot and rode Transformers: 3-D again, then visited NBC Universal Experience, a small museum which includes the Back to the Future car; photography permitted.
One more time at Transformers 3-D and then back to the Upper Lot. I had gone down the stairs this time and tried to do the same going back up but only managed two of the four sets.

[NOW: Specifically it’s the DeLorean car in the museum.]

I arrived early for Waterworld, whose first showing was at 3:30; the only other showing was too late for me. Waterworld is the last of the three great attractions, a live action stunt show in water and jungle gym type set, with pyrotechnics. The lower rows are for people who don't mind getting wet. Best to show up before the emcee because you have to pass through the wet zone to get to the dry zone. Photography permitted.

[NOW: Overlooked but noted in a later report: After Waterworld I visited the Special Effects Studio (humorous but factual; pretty self-explanatory; photos permitted). I didn't revisit this on my next visit to the studio.]

I did one more go with Simpsons: The Ride then wandered around taking photos. I left the park and did the same with the CityWalk. I visited Things from Another World, a comic shop there; most of this franchise is actually in Oregon.

I took the Universal Studios shuttle back to just across from Universal City/Studio City Station, took a Red Line back to LA Union Station and the Orange County Line Metrolink train back to Orange Metrolink Station (part of the time you could actually see better through the camera than through normal viewing. I The arrival was a slight miscalculation: I meant to get off one stop sooner, at Anaheim and take a different bus back. Had quite the wait waiting for the 56 bus back. I stopped off again at 7-11 and got some hot dogs. So fun oversall despite some mishaps. As for Jurassic Park...  thank goodness for special deals. ;)

[NOW: The Red Line again is LA Metro; the reason on the train back to Orange I could see better with the camera part way was it was getting dark. The 56 bus again was OCTA.]

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