A quick, wet trip to Universal Studios Hollywood2007-08-16
"They ought to have an American Boy Place," were his exact words. After throwing around a few options, we settled on a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood as the most appropriate alternative.
There's plenty here for a seven-year-old, superhero-obsessed boy. Last night, I bought two print-at-home tickets from the Universal website. The tickets were available to Southern California residents only (though they didn't check my ID at the park gate), and give you two days for $49 ($12 off the regular one-day price of $61).
We started the day at Shrek 4-D, a show I've longed enjoyed, but that my son hadn't seen in the theme park theater before (just at home on DVD). The air puff/spider effect freaked him out a bit, but more because he didn't understand how they did it, at first, and there's little in life he hates more than not understanding something.
After many, many questions about the technology of 4-D shows, he allowed us to continue to Back to the Future, which we got to ride for one last time before it closes next month to make way for The Simpsons ride. My son enjoyed BTTF even more than Shrek, which might be due to the fact that he's seen stuff with Shrek, oh, about a trillion and a half times, but he'd never seen anything from Back to the Future before today. (Note to self: put it on the Netflix list.)
Brian was disappointed that our local Universal park didn't have a Spider-Man ride, like the Universal park near Grandma and Grandpa in Orlando. (Join the club, kid.) But we saw Spidey and several other superheros walking the pathways, so he wasn't completely disappointed.
The Orlando parks don't have the original Universal Studios tour, though, so we hit that next. I hadn't been on the tour since Universal revamped it a couple years ago, and while the tour doesn't pack the punch it did in the era before DVD extras and "behind the scenes" cable TV shows, Universal's done a fine job in keeping fresh this 40-minute trip through its front and back lots. I'd not seen Universal's "Denver" western street since I was my son's age and the other set effects on the show, from Earthquake to Jaws to the Fast and the Furious cars, elicited enough questions from Brian to keep him from eating much of anything for lunch.
We wrapped up our short trip with a ride on the Jurassic Park River Adventure. Universal's promoting the ride on its guidemap with the slogan "Now Wetter Than Ever!," which I took as marketing hyperbole from a park that hadn't opened a major new attraction this year. But Uni's not kidding. I have never gotten wetter on any theme or amusement park ride than I did today on Jurassic Park. The ride takes no mercy on its guests, with water streams, waterfalls and geysers soaking everyone on board before your boat ever gets to the final drop.
Which, of course, dumped about twice as much water on me as I ever remember getting on this ride before. On a 90-degree-plus day in Los Angeles, this super-soaking gets a big, wet thumbs up.
Unfortunately, by the time we got to the top of the loooooong Universal "starway" escalator to the park's upper lot, we were dry again. Fortunately, we still have that second day on our tickets.
Add: Rumors flying that NBC's gonna move The Tonight Show from Burbank to Universal Studios Hollywood. Perhaps when or before Conan O'Brien takes over the show in 2009.
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