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The seemingly endless smiles and giggles emanating from the little traveller in our group quickly dispelled the myth that Universal Studios is not suitable for the under five.
Within minutes of walking through the golden gates we where greeted by her favorite character of the moment E.B. from the popular movie Hop. Seconds later Shrek arrives sending up a cheer from the crowd and is quickly overshadowed by the arrival of Nickelodeon’s Sponge Bob.
It was a veritable stampede of soft toy stars!
The little traveller was having a ball and this was before we encountered the brilliant Shrek in 4D experience, played games at the Flintstone’s Casino, were drenched watching the fantastic Waterworld (live action stunt show) and then became thoroughly soaked at the Nickelodeon water park play area.
Yes, I would recommend bringing a few dry t-shirts in a waterproof bag.
Now if you are a resident of Los Angeles with an annual pass granting repeated access to this amazing theme park then this does not apply to you, but if you only have a day or two to enjoy the many attractions in this working studio come theme park, then take heed.
The ONLY way to visit Universal Studios and make the most of the experience with you family is with a ‘front of the line pass’.
For an additional price you receive a snazzy lanyard that allows you direct walk-up access to all of the attractions in the park. Rocketing past the snaking cues of red and sweaty park goers, this special ticket allows you to fit into a day a good majority of the world class rides and shows.
And the rides, to coin a So-Cal phrase, are “AWESOME”. The new Simpsons roller coaster simulator had me laughing out aloud as you are sent upside down (and all directions) in the cartoon world of Simpsons.
The Jurassic Park ride finishes with a drop that rivals Splash Mountain any day. The house of Horrors walk through ghost house is a legitimately frightening experience. And The Mummy (rollercoaster/ghost train) definitely is worth the white hairs one acquires from the dips and twists.
Let us not overlook the shows, such as the special effects display, Blues Brothers Rhythm and Blues review and the crowd pleasing animal stunt show. Nothing new in the animal show, but so well done that all of us were clapping for more. Loudest of all the little traveller.
Food wise there are some great options but most exciting to a hot dog addict such as myself was that you could enjoy a Dodger dog and a world famous Pink’s hot dogs within the park at neighboring concession stands. Two of LA’s most famous dogs, without sitting through eight hours of baseball or trying to beat the queue at Pinks which begins early in the morning. I tried both. Guilty!!
Possibly the best thing to do on arrival in the park is head straight down to the Studio Tour. This classic feature of the park has changed a lot over the years, in some ways as a result of the devastating fire of 2008 and others as a result of Films and TV shows made over those years).
The ‘ride’ is a relaxing tram journey past a number of key sets, sound stages and bungalows. As well as special effect displays and simulations.
The tour gives some great views of lower lying Los Angeles and is a good way to get your bearing on the facility. It runs the length of around 50 mins and has a relatively short wait time regardless of what ticket you hold.
Taking you past new and old features of the park this classic attraction is a must. Norman bates Pycho house still stands proudly on the hilltop – but is now flanked by a Suess like set from the Grinch and a terrifyingly real plane crash set. Poor ole Jaws still raises his weary head for each passing group … although possibly needs dentures now to flash a grin.
An important note is that the King Kong 3D component of the ride is … well … pretty scary. I was so impressed with the dinosaur /kong attack simulation that at times I found myself screaming out. As did the little traveller also. She was a little upset to be honest. All credit to Peter Jackson. But then began cheering when the big monkey swung in to her rescue. Which says that for the feint at heart or young in age, close your eyes … hold on tight … but don’t miss out. It is all an illusion.
Like the illusion of cinema, at the core of which, a little magic in the mix., a magic day (or two) can be had at Universal Studios.