Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Day at Universal Studios

We spent a pleasant day today at Universal Studios in Universal City, California.

We took our youngest son and a friend in celebration of our son's recent birthday. One of the perks of homeschooling is going to a theme park on a weekday!

I hadn't been there since I was a teenager. The tram tour of the backlot is still the highlight of a visit to Universal, complete with shark attack, earthquake, and parting of the Red Sea:

The Bates Motel and house from PSYCHO, as seen on the tram tour:

One of the houses on Wisteria Lane, from DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, shot from the tour tram:

Later in the day we walked past the capsule from APOLLO 13:

The park is situated on a hill and is divided into an "upper lot" and "lower lot," navigated by a string of four escalators:

We saw everything the boys were interested in in about five hours. It was a nice day but I was frankly glad we hadn't needed to purchase tickets, thanks to friends who work on the lot. I would not recommend paying full price given the limited entertainment options, particularly for those who aren't interested in THE SIMPSONS, SHREK, or the House of Horrors. In fact it was interesting, some family-friendly attractions I'd heard about over the years, such as E.T. and BACK TO THE FUTURE, came and left without my ever having seen them. If you're a paying customer looking for a full day of entertainment, Disneyland or Knott's Berry Farm are better options.

That said, it was a beautiful, sunny day; it was great to take a break from the work and school routine and see the Universal lot for the first time in many years!


Blogger VP81955 said...

Universal is an okay theme park, but anyone who really wants to see a studio at work is advised to take tours elsewhere, particularly Paramount and Warners. (I've taken those two, and I understand Sony/Columbia has one on the old MGM Culver City lot it now occupies,)

8:37 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

You're absolutely right -- that would have been a good thing to mention in my post. I've been on the Warner tour multiple times -- as long ago as the '70s -- and it's excellent, and much more "real." I've also visited other lots, including Paramount, with friends over the years and had the chance to watch filming in progress, which is always a very interesting experience.

While Universal has actual working sets, such as Wisteria Lane, it's more of a theme park experience compared to what it's like to visit a working studio lot in a small group.

Best wishes,

8:43 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Psycho's not one of my favorites. I remember being a part of a tour (at Universal-Orlando) where the shower scene was recreated - complete with an actress with some sort of body wrap, an actor with a knife, a shower, curtain, and several cameras to take different shots. Then they showed how the scene would have been edited.

I know there was a fire somewhere on the lot a few years ago, around the time I first visited LA. I heard the Back to the Future set was damaged in the fire but I'm not sure to what extent.

7:33 AM  
Blogger DKoren said...

Oddly, growing up down here, my family never went to Universal Studios. We always went to Disneyland, but nowhere else. One of these days, maybe when my nephew is a little older...

7:41 AM  

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