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Southern Calidornia vacation planning

Universal Studios Hollywood!

Universal Studios Hollywood is located in the heart of Los Angeles and is billed as the largest working studio and theme park in the world.  From studio tours to thrill rides and water activities, Universal Studios Hollywood is sure to make the list of your must see attractions in Southern California.  Easy freeway access and accessibility via the subway from Hollywood, visitors can easily spend an entire day here.  Adjacent to Universal is City Walk where you can dine and shop to your hearts content where restaurants and shops remain open after the theme park is closed.

Although you can see some beautiful weather year round in Southern California, summers can be hot and the park crowded.  If you can arrange it, winter and fall are the Best times to visit Universal Studios Hollywood.  The park is set up on 2 levels with a large escalator to get to each level.  Plan on arriving early and riding the main thrill type rides first because the lines can get very long for these attractions. Although the Tour can get crowded, the line moves very quickly so it’s ok to save this until later in the day.

Even though Universal Hollywood has many dining choices, I found them to be crowded with long lines.  Try to avoid the peak dining times by eating early or late.

I had a good time however, after visiting with 2-10 year old girls, I wasn’t impressed with Universal Studio’s Hollywood’s activities for children.  Unless you want to spend most of your day watching your kids monkey around with Curious George or catching a show at Universal's Animal Actors, there are basically no activities for younger children.  Most rides at Universal are too intense for younger children (and some 10 year old girls).

 


 

Universal Studio Tour

A must see at Universal Studios-Hollywood, the Studio Tour takes guest through real movies sets both old and new!  I must admit, they have come a long way since I first took this tour back in the 70’s. 

 

The tour is more organized and the old tour buses have been replace with comfortable trams that accommodate a lot of people so no matter how long the line looks, it moves very quickly. 

Although a little outdated and few children understand the concept, you will spend a few minutes on Amity Island where you WILL meet up with Jaws. The tram continues though Jurassic Park, Back to the Future and Psycho sets.  You will experience flash floods, and a new 3-D King Kong encounter as well the airplane crash set from ‘War of the Worlds’.  There is something for everyone on this tour.  Some places can be a little intense for children but I do recommend this for all ages.

 


 

Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride

OK, I’m not really one for action movies but I did watch and enjoy The Mummy!  I was looking forward to riding this attraction because I did read a little about it before I arrived.  Billed as Universal’s answer to ‘Rockin Rollercoaster’ which I LOVE, I couldn’t wait! The queue is huge and you are basically eves dropping on the making of the new Mummy Movie when an archeologist accidentally digs up ancient artifact which upsets ‘mummy’ (you know you are in trouble now).  It’s at this point the queue leads you right towards the Mummy and aboard the 16 seat coaster, yes I said COASTER!  What follows is a very dark, fast ride full of surprises and if you are not great with BUGS, be prepared!  I highly recommend this attraction and although it’s billed as a “family” ride, I personally think it’s too intense for younger children even if they do meet the 48’ required height.

 


 

Shrek 4-D

This is an attraction I had to ride alone since my 10 years old wrote off 3-D experiences a long time ago.  I do like the 3-D attractions (other than the creep, crawly things running across my feet) and decided to give it a try if only to understand what 4-D meant.  Other than the jabs at Disney (yes, I laughed), this was a great show!  All the great characters from the original Movie including donkey (my favorite) are here and as far as the 4-D, I am not giving it away so you will just have to experience this ride for yourself.

 

 


 


Jurassic Park…The Ride

I’ve seen this ride compared to ‘Splash Mountain’ but there is really only one stimulatory.  The ride begins as a peaceful water ride in a land filled with plant eating dinosaurs, but don’t get too comfortable!  It quickly turns into a fast moving ride for your life while being chased by the T-Rex who just broke loose.  There is only one was out and it happens to be straight down!  This ride can get very wet so, bring your ponchos and something to keep your valuables dry.

 



 


 

Terminator 2: 3D

Yet another 3-D experience that is based on the movie Terminator 2.  I don’t recall a lot of the plot because I was too busy dodging things fling out of the screen at me.  It is definitely an action show and again, may be too intense for smaller children.

 


 

WaterWorld

This was one of those attractions I’ve seen but never took the time to experience.  It just so happened we were leaving the park and saw the show was getting ready to start.  Everyone (almost) voted to see it.   It’s a very large stadium full of sets from the movie ‘Water World’.  Never having the desire to see the movie, I was not prepared for what was to come.  This is a high action performance with real actors and I was not disappointed.  At times there is so much going on that it’s difficult to keep up but it is a show worth seeing.  When they say ‘you will get wet if you sit here’, believe them and a lot of the time, it’s not by accident!

 


 

The Adventures of Curious George

If your plans do not include getting WET, stay at least 100 feet away from this area!  Since this is a relatively new area, I wasn’t prepared and it ended up costing me about $75.00 for suits, towels and water shoes!  Don’t get me wrong, this is a great area for kids (and Adults) to cool off on a hot day but come prepared!  Pack suits, towel and water shoes (shoes are required) for the kids (and maybe yourself because they WILL attempt to get you wet).  The major activity here seems to be targeting children and adults with a barrage of water from many different devices.  At first I was a bit shocked when I saw the unsuspecting Mom trying to show her child the many activities only to get totally soaked by the mischievous kid behind the water canon but, after a few minutes of watching this I admit I did chuckle (I know, not nice). After awhile, I actually found myself assisting the kids by pointing out new targets (yes, I was also a target!).

 

 

 


 

Universal's House of Horrors

This attraction is basically a walk through carnival type attraction much like the old wax museums (reminded me of the horror part of the Hollywood Wax Museum in Hollywood). Although it took a lot of convincing to get 2 girls to try this, one ended up turning around and running out about 15 seconds into the walk and the other, although she made it through practically ran the entire way with her eyes closed.   Personally I wasn’t impressed and thought it was a little out of place in a high tech park like Universal.

 

 

 


 

Universal's Animal Actors

Live onstage interaction with animals along with a small amount of audience participation make up this show.  This attraction is something mostly smaller children will enjoy.  It is shaded making it a nice break on a hot day.

 

 

 


 



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