Sunday, May 25, 2008

Vacation Post #4: Universal Studios

   Let me first say, if you go to Southern California, intending to see Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Sea World -- save Disneyland for the last. It's not that the other places aren't cool, it's just that Disneyland is so much cooler...   On Saturday, May 4, after three (well, two and a half) days at Disneyland, we headed to Hollywood, to spend the day at Universal Studios. I had not been to Universal since I was about seventeen. I'm a lot older than that now. Not much has really changed. Well, okay, a lot of things have changed -- it's not that I'm indecisive -- but I guess I just didn't know what to expect anymore. There are new attractions, that I have never seen before -- the Shrek 4D movie, the Terminator 2 3D experience, the Jurassic Park and Mummy rides (a new Simpsons themed ride opened a couple of weeks after we left). We met the Simpsons and Dora the Explorer (yay!) wandering around the park, and we saw Frankenstein's monster once. But, somehow, Universal was kind of a disappointment. I think part of it was that the Disney glow was still on me (it still is). The park was dirtier than Disneyland, and people walking around with open cans of beer, just isn't conducive to that family friendly atmosphere -- I know, I'm a prude. And don't get me started on our attempt to get some lunch. I think I just never thought of Universal Studios as a theme park, but as more of a behind the scenes tour of Hollywood. 
   We did the backlot tour, which was what I was looking forward to. It was almost exactly the same as it was the last time I was there -- that's about 19 years ago, by the way. It was kind of dull. Here's how it goes: you ride around on a shuttle, and your over enthusiastic guide -- who probably recites her monologue in her sleep --  tells you about everything you're seeing. 
   "Over here is the office where such and such a director took a nap while filming such and such a movie. Here is a vacant lot, where a lot of movies you've probably never heard of, were filmed. This is the backside of a building where lots of cool stuff happened once. Here, in this non-descript building, many of your favorite television shows are being filmed, as we speak! I swear!" 
   After that, you go through a subway disaster and  get up close and personal with King Kong. Both of these were there the last time I was -- and they were more impressive then. 
   I realize I'm making it sound like we didn't have a good time at Universal Studios, but really we did -- it was just a little unsatisfying. The best part of the day was the Jurassic Park Ride -- which is like a half hearted attempt at a Splash Mountain ride. Sorry, there's that Disney comparison again.

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