Kevin has come up with a completely original idea for a photo essay! That's right... COMPLETELY ORIGINAL.
I have been to USH too many times over the past couple years so I decided to wander around and discover things I usually don't bother to do. Which reminded me of Joe's What You've Been Missing column, so I decided to fill my time taking snapshots of different things, since Joe probably won't be heading out here anytime soon.
Of course this trip was all about Revenge of the Mummy, so there were lots of things people haven't seen yet. Like these gorgeous statues outside the ride entrance.
You can't really tell, but these things are so fantastically shiny. I even saw someone buffing them at one point. On the right is a picture of the freaks "encouraging" you to go to the gift shop, since it is surprisingly NOT at the end of the ride. You can't tell but the building behind now says "NBC Universal." The new name is all over the place but a lot less intrusive than there on the side of the Mummy building. (Note the Universal Orlando ad right next to it. Good idea!)
Another thing Universal does that I really like are these "practice" seats in the queue. They are intended for riders who might be afraid they won't fit on the ride. They also make for great photo ops, if you get in close enough and make your model act appropriately scared.
Another great thing Universal does is adding characters TO the rides. These mummies looked like statues but were humans scaring the crap out of people exiting the ride. As they went on break, they stayed in stumbling character, even down the stairs. Nice.
I always see new characters when I go to USH. Last time I saw Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the dragon and SpongeBob, all of whom I've never seen there. I also saw Frankenstein's monster, who I haven't seen since he used to terrorize the tram loading process DECADES ago. This time there was Patrick, who hung out with SpongeBob, and Donkey, who had a great waffle cart set and Eddie Murphy's recorded voice. Very well done.
I also saw a fat, sweatsuited Professor Klump, who did a good Eddie Murphy impression. It's these human characters I have really come to love, like Fiona and Doc Brown, as they are able to interact in a completely different way than the big-headed peeps.
I waited around for the Special Effects Stages show, which didn't start until 11:30, just to see how they incorporated the new films.
In the first stage, all they have added is one little Van Helsing
effect, which was lame, but the castle's image was in front of the host, who stuck his head out behind it (which you could see only on the screen) then said, "Now it's Dracula's castle... and my butt!" which he stuck out. Very funny. (I must say here that when it comes to hiring hosts - not actors - for shows like this, Universal does a much better job than Disney. The hosts for this show are always excellent, as they are for the Horror Show at USF and T2:3-D on both coasts. Disney can do fine, but just check out many of the hosts on the Great Movie Ride. Just saying...)
In the second stage, I thought they might transform Fluffy (the robotic creature) into the Werewolf from Van Helsing but they didn't. There was a bit about how that movie created its monsters, but not enough. The final stage is the sound stage and it is the easiest to add new movies, as long as they have scenes with the required sound effects. Here they not only had long scenes from Van Helsing and Riddick but a couple from Peter Pan too, which got major applause from the audience, about 80% of whom were foreign. (Must've been more popular overseas.)
As I said, I had waited for this show, and since there isn't much to do down here if you don't feel like riding the two rides or seeing Backdraft, I stepped into the Lucy exhibit.
This is a nice little exhibit, but it is taking up valuable space! Nothing huge could fit in here, of course, but if they dumped Backdraft AND this, they could fit something MAJOR. Don't close Waterworld until you address this ignored area!
Wandering around, I noticed that this Universal tries to make up for its okay attraction roster with lots of photo ops.
The stockade has been there forever, but the other three are relatively new. Well, the Babe one comes and goes, but people really seem to love it. I heart Babe!
Finally, make sure to stop on your way to the Studio Tour for some fantastic shots of the backlot.
On the right side is the lagoon where Creature from the Black Lagoon
was filmed, among other films, and is where the parting of the sea happens. Behind the backlot is the Warner Bros lot, which should look familiar since this is just a faraway shot of the one they use at the beginning of their films. On the left, in front of that non-studio building, is their famous water tower.
At the pace USH is improving, hopefully I will return next year. But they have to encourage me!!! Hint hint...
My two pennies... Gimme yours!