Just Published: Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
USH presents a unique problem. Unlike DCA, there isn't loads of space for expansion. Yet, I did find several places for new attractions, as well as tweaking current attractions.
Tell me what you think. What sounds good? What would be better?
Seuss Landing would do that, and provide a reason for families to visit this otherwise family-unfriendly theme park.
Beyond that, I can't emphasize enough how badly USH needs Men in Black. No one in Southern California has opened a shoot-'em-up ride. The first theme park to do that will *own* this market for at least its first season.
If Universal put in Shrek (done deal), replaced E.T. with Men in Black, rethemed Back to the Future as the Fast and the Furious and built Seuss Island (with a working Sylvester McMonkey McBean or a Lorax dark ride) on the site of the Ampitheater, it would destroy California Adventure's attendance, cripple Magic Mountain and take quite a few tourists away from Anaheim.
As for buying land. THERE IS NONE! If it were that simple, then we wouldn't be worrying about getting rid of ET or the Amphitheatre. As much money as USH makes, it doesn't make nearly the amount that is saved by being able to film on the surrounding property.
As The Six Million Dollar Man and Battlestar Gallactica were popular at the time, there were attractions revolving around those features (as well as Jaws, Psycho, et al).
JP, I am only a mild fan of Poseidon, but I think one of its main problems is the hokey script. I only plugged it into my plan as an example of how they could semi-clone an Orlando attraction and make it new. I think it could be exciting with the X-Men, if it was done PROPERLY. Personally, I would kinda like to see them tinker with Spidey and turn that into an X-Men version instead. I just do NOT want to see that ride cloned here. But I am just not positive that a different theme here would still allow Spidey to be special.
Anthony X, thanks, but I don't think the people who created it are idiots. Unlike most parks, this one wasn't born, but grew into a park. Shows were the main thing here, so by the time they started creating rides, there just wasn't a lot of decent space for them. Remember, some of these "idiots" created USF also, and that park has been planned out very well.
UO Insider... umm... you need a reading tutor. I'm not sure Robert was saying BTTF should be completely replaced or agreeing with my idea of just replacing one side. If you read other threads on here that talk about BTTF, you will see that it isn't all THAT popular anymore. But I chose to replace one side and to keep BTTF on the other. If that happened, USH could really see how popular BTTF is or isn't. Then they could film a new movie for it!
Oh, and I did a little research. Seagram DID sell Universal Concerts in 1999 to House of Blues Entertainment. Seagram owned 20 venues at the time and sold 19 of them outright. Guess which one they didn't sell. HOB leases the Amphitheatre, but I couldn't find out when the lease is up. Since Universal apparently only makes money from concertgoers when they park or eat, I don't see the need to retain the Amphitheatre after the lease.
How much do you think it costs to move a show? Broadway shows go on tour and they are usually more elaborate than the Spidey show is. Of course it wouldn't be worth it unless it moved to a themed area. And claiming that theming has "no cash value" shows that you have absolutely no understanding of what keeps Disneyland going. You didn't think it was all those new attractions, did you? Read the posts on TPI. People complain about the haphazard theming all the time. And people who complain are less likely to buy Annual Passes, aren't they?
I never said that the guide had the screens on during the attraction portions of the ride. They were on as we visited the sets. THAT is irritating. And I don't know who has said they are an improvement. I haven't heard that ONCE yet. And seeing that hodgepodge of poorly edited film clips would not encourage me to buy any of the films featured. In fact, I walked away with far less regard for them. So it is important for them to get this RIGHT.
Not that it will make a significant impact on Universal's US parks, but the one of a kind feel of IOA's Spiderman will go away in 2004. Universal Studios Japan is currently constructing the identical attraction into their New York area (basically where Kong was at USF).
--USH cannot install a large outdoor coaster because the noise would interfere with backlot filming. When USH wanted to expand the park to the New Falls area (JP3 sets), nearby homeowners protested and actually got an injunction against the park. An outdoor coaster is not going to happen.
--Re: your comments on the tour. This may not have occurred to you, but there are any number of factors which determine which clips the guides play, when they get played, and why they don't. For instance, the Apollo 13 clip at the backdrop often gets skipped because there's no tram in the Mummy, but another tram is close behind--the tram cannot delay going into the Mummy to avoid a backup. Similarly, trams cannot stop in front of the bridge and play videos--it would cause too much of a backup. Conversely, guides/tram drivers will often know that, say, there is a delay going into Earthquake; so the driver will go very slowly in hopes of avoiding the back-up--and thus the guide plays a lot of clips.
Clapping contests between the cars? Uh, no. Aside from the fact that such a thing is cheesy, there are actual rules about non-essential noise at the loading line, because the drivers and tour assistants (the people who load the trams) need to hear the loudspeakers.
Furthermore, certain luminaries have required that their clips be played on the tour--that's why you will always see the Brian Grazer clip on the front lot.
Anyway, I am a tour guide, so I could go on and on about the tour.
--Theming at the park sucks. On that I agree.
--And my number one idea for the park? Get rid of the carnival games. They're cheap, shoddy, ugly, and degrade the entire park. Why would you pay $45 a head for games you could play at Chuck E. Cheese?
And I have absolutely no problem with clips being played during down time. We waited for many minutes before the boring "Red Sea" portion. We watched the Paul Newman and Tom Hanks clips. What LAME clips! If they were comprehensive clips, then they would be fine. But they are Universal clips, obviously, and seeing a bunch of clips from three movies isn't all that thrilling. If they have time to waste, they can at least waste it with an ENTERTAINING clip. Put together a ten-minute clip of the biggest Universal movies and then chop it up into shorter clips for the tour. And add some actual information to the clips! Like the Anthony Perkins clip they used for the Psycho show.
You know, there are all kinds of places to build another amphitheatre. There aren't that many places to expand the park. The amphitheatre will go one day. There are currently places for new attractions. Once those fill up, then the Amphitheatre's days are numbered. It all depends on the deal Blackstone makes if they buy more than half of the park.
As for clips, management is constantly changing the DVDs, and tour guides are given a great deal of discretion in deciding which clips to play (aside from a small number of mandatory clips, like the aforementioned Brian Grazer one). How many times have you taken the tour? We all wish that every popular film had a corresponding clip on the DVD--but there are intellectual property and copyright issues to deal with, and not every director/producer/movie star is amenable to his/her work being used as part of a theme park attraction. (See Jim Carrey, who didn't want "The Truman Show" used on the tour DVD.)
And, once again, the amphitheatre is not going anywhere. If you have proof to the contrary, I'd like to see it.
--The Anonymous Tour Guide
My guess is it'd be more feasible to build a new ampitheater elsewhere on the property than it would to build a new park. Of course, that doesn't mean it could be done. We could be talking about which option is less impossible here. ;-)
Still, Universal's gotta find some way to expand in the market, unless it is content with USH dying a slow death.
So Vivendi will either have to sell them the lease, or promise that the lease won't be renewed. No company could be foolish enough to buy a park with no plan for expansion.
As for the Tour, I did only ride it once. Because there was no way in HELL I was going to climb back on that travesty. I know from dozens of rides what the Tour CAN be. I also now know what it SHOULDN'T be. It doesn't take a dozen rides to figure that out.
Secondly, the Uni Amp is a separate corporate entity from USH. USH could be bought, sold, or traded on the black market, and the Amphitheatre could still be there doing business as usual.
And yes, attendance is down. However, I think USH will be just fine in the long run (even without your plans for it), simply because so many people want to experience the glamour and excitement of a real studio. Sadly, USH is as close as they'll ever get.
And then you disagree with just about everything everyone else says. You even have a tour guide posting, and apparently someone else who works there (whoever wrote that big chunk of text without paragaph spaces) and you dimiss them with ridiculous exaggerations like "In 10 years the park will be NOTHING."
Why, Kevin? Because they're not going to move Spider-Man downstairs and tear out the Amphitheatre? In less than ONE year, they'll have Shrek 4-D, which might revitalize the park the way Spider-Man Rocks was supposed to. The park will be nothing in ten years? Do you think tourists from Nebraska will stop coming to Hollywood and riding the tram by 2012?
And one thing you seem obsessed about is the Amphitheatre. I will state this very clearly: USH and the Amphitheatre are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS. TATG tried to pound this home, but you're not getting it. No matter who buys USH, or controlling interest in USH, the Amphitheatre does not come with the bargain.
For that matter, USH could completely close down, and the Amphitheatre would continue operating, with CityWalk still around to take in the dining and shopping dollars (you do understand that USH and CityWalk are two different entities, don't you?)
It's fun to take a map of the park, put colors and numbers on it, and make up your own attractions. Other TPI folks have invented whole theme parks, like the Classic Monsters Park.
But you have to have an understanding of what is physically possible and financially sound. For example, I'm sure people want an outdoor coaster, but they CANNOT HAVE IT. TATG pretty much explained that.
I think you should be more open-minded to people's responses, especially from insiders, or else go play Sim Theme Park and take your petulance with you.
Then we had two people, one a PARK EMPLOYEE, talking about BTTF being replaced. I never suggested they replace it. I suggested they replace ONE SIDE of it. It was Robert who suggested the replacement. So another CLARIFICATION. And that park employee, JP Parking Guy, questioned my inclusion of a Poseidon-like attraction. I admitted I wasn't overly fond of the show, but believed it could possibly work with a new script. So that was another CLARIFICATION.
Then LC questioned my suggestion of building food places into new attractions. Another CLARIFICATION followed. Plus, I gave LC kudos for bringing up another subject I missed.
An Anonymous later commented that my idea for a Lorax ride didn't fit with the movie theme of the park. And I ADMITTED I messed up on that one. Yes, I would still like to see it built, but it clearly isn't something I am fighting for.
Then we have my debate with the tour guide. So far that is the ONLY portion of this thread which I have outright disagreed with someone. But I guess it only takes one person to "disagree with just about everything everyone else says." You must be a math major!
I'm sorry but just because someone is a tour guide, it doesn't mean they know everything that will go on with the park in the future. I have a good inside source, someone higher than tour guide, who knew about Shrek long before it was revealed. This person has also informed me that ET is supposed to be disappearing next year and that the Amphitheatre will go in the near future. These are current plans. Doesn't mean they won't happen, but from recent history (which include plans for rehabs which haven't been revealed yet either) I would bet they will. It's not like I'm operating in a vacuum here.
As for more of the points that you TWO seem to not be getting. I KNOW the Amphitheatre and USH are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS. Which is why I kept talking about the lease and not the Amphitheatre. But if we get down to simple business operations, the Amphitheatre building belongs to Universal. The land it sits on belongs to Universal. All HOB owns is a piece of paper allowing them to hold events inside that UNIVERSAL building on UNIVERSAL property.
I also believe I mentioned that IF Blackstone bought controlling interest in the park, they will do it with some sort of agreement regarding that lease. Yes, Vivendi would only be selling interest in the PARK, but do you think Blackstone will happily pay a billion or so for a park that has virtually no ability to expand WITHOUT the land the Amphitheatre sits on? Do you think Vivendi, way over there in France, is worried about what happens to the Amphitheatre? All they probably see is a piece of paper worth a few millions and a company willing to pay HUNDREDS of millions. USH has NO choice in this matter. This is a big game of Monopoly being played by Vivendi and Blackstone and many others and the Amphitheatre and the park are just properties. And the lease is barely a Utility.
Then you have the nerve to say that I am not listening. Yeah, cuz TATG is listening really well. I call the movie clips "lame" and "poorly edited" and TATG claims that the clips are up to a tour guide's discretion. The tour guide could play every one of them, they would still suck. I don't care how nicely piles of crap are distributed, THEY ARE STILL PILES OF CRAP!
Also, I never ONCE said they should build an OUTDOOR coaster. Yet you two (unless you are the same person on another computer) seem to have attributed that myth to me. I suggested the Grinch Coaster, which, from what I hear, is basically a Matterhorn-type coaster. That is mostly indoors. And does anyone on the planet think the Matterhorn is loud? Coasters CAN be created with a minimum of sound, you know. Furthermore, I would NEVER suggest an outdoor coaster for this park, especially not when I keep bitching about the horrid theming. So maybe you should ask me to CLARIFY before you ASSume to understand what I am saying.
As for the park being dead in ten years. I never suggested it wouldn't exist. But it sure wouldn't be Universal's jewel park, would it? Just how well was it doing last year before the super-cheap APs were sold? Worse than DCA! T2: 3-D premiered in mid-1999 and the park barely equaled the year before, where they lost 5%. 2000, which should have seen a huge increase from a new major attraction only saw a 2% increase, which disappeared in 2001. So the park has already started its death rattle if something doesn't get done. Something DRASTIC. Something like getting rid of the Amphitheatre.
Let's crunch some numbers. The Amphitheatre holds just over 6000 people. It seems it features about 4 shows a week. 4 x 6000 = 24K. Multiply that by 52 weeks and you have one and a quarter million people. Notice I generously gave every event sold-out attendance, which we all know doesn't happen. So we will make it easy and say the Amphitheatre brings in an extra million potential customers into CityWalk every year. How many people do you think a roller coaster, a Men in Black or a Spider-Man would bring in a year? Most likely not a million, but considering a new coaster at Magic Mountain brings in a couple hundred thousand, 500K is not out of the question. Now those people are not only going to wander through CityWalk, but they are actually PAYING to get into the park, EATING in the park more than once and BUYING SOUVENIRS in the park. How much does Universal make off the two or three hours the concert-goers are inside the Amphitheatre? How many times do they eat in that timeframe? What percentage of them actually eat in CityWalk? EVERYONE eats something in USH. So I don't buy the little "fact" that the lease would bring in more money than new attractions would.
But I guess I wouldn't know since I obviously haven't put anything more into this than some colored squares on a map.
Here's my way of thinking about USH: The ultimate, immersive, interactive DVD experience. And yet, it's DVDs, I believe, that have made the USH experience, and the tram tour in particular, seem less "special."
DVDs have raised the bar for "behind the scenes" movie information. Someone once accurately called them "a film school in a box." Next to the directors' commentaries, extra scenes, storyboards and interactive features available on DVD, the movie clips shown on those tiny screens on the tram tour do disappoint. And it is movie geeks--the type of people who likely have a stack of DVDs at home--who are most passionate about an attraction like the tram tour.
So Universal can look at this one of two ways: a problem or an opportunity. I've described the problem. The opportunity comes from the fact that DVDs have created an even more insatiable desire for insider movie knowledge.
That's where USH can come in. But it has to find a way to keep its attractions fresh and informative, even to the DVD geek. *And* it has to make its experience much more immersive than it is now.
The extra land from the amphitheater would help. *Any* extra land would help. The bi-level construction and misshaped layout of the park puts it at a severe disadvantage for guest flow and crowd control. That's especially crucial for a park that must update constantly (due to its theme) and therefore, take areas of the park down for rehab on a regular basis.
I hope USH's employees are not offended by this thread. The passion that their park elicits is an *asset,* not a problem. It's far better for fans to argue about you, than ignore you and forget you exist.
Like Robert says, this park has the potential to be the best. Well, I honestly don't think it can ever be better than IOA due to its outdoor-coasterless future, but it can surely be better than USF. They have a real backlot here, which is frankly losing its importance with all the film-clip babysitting. Robert is EXACTLY right in his DVD commentary. Millions of people have gotten far more film-savvy since the emergence of DVD extras and, frankly, what little information we are given now is insulting. And not to be rude, but what a tour guide has to say about THIS is unimportant. Its what the TOURISTS say that is important, of which I am one.
It is the fact that they screwed with this, while doing so little in the rest of the park, that really irritates me. Is it just a coincidence that Blackstone Group owns 50% of UO and not of this park? There is a whole bunch that CAN be done. I suggested a few things. Others can suggest alternate solutions. But I tried to solve problems that I know many guests are having since I actually LISTEN to what they are saying. Others should try it.
Now, the reason I said that you can't possibly know how to fix the tour when you've only been on it once-- and there are close to 200 clips. As I've stated, guides can pretty much play what they want. Unless you've been on dozens of tours and seen *every* clip on the DVDs, you simply can't unequivocally state that all the clips suck. You wouldn't know! Guest survey data indicates that the video screens are actually pretty popular among tourists. Most people barely listen to the guide (as evidenced by the number of people ignoring the safety rules), but are transfixed by the movie screens. You also have to remember that the average tourist is not like you: most USH visitors hope to spot a movie star and get a good snapshot of Jaws, and are neither theme park nor movie buffs. Bear in mind, too, that the tour is continually being tweaked and adjusted to accommodate recent productions *and* guest feedback.
As for me being a tour guide... I know the tour better than anyone else currently posting to this discussion, and certainly better than you do, which obviously makes me more qualified than you to "fix" the tour. Furthermore, you should listen to me, and the other park employees posting here, because the greatest ride/theme park ideas in the world are useless if they're unfeasible for the employees and the company. (Kevin, would you like it if I came to your workplace ONCE, told you how to fix it, then said that my ideas were worth more because I'd been ONCE?) It’s as simple as that. For instance, you think guides should play clips going up to the Collapsing Bridge—I can tell you why (and I did tell you, in a previous post) that is absolutely impossible. You think guides should hold clapping contests between the cars--I told you why that's impossible. You think Universal should tell Brian Grazer, one of its biggest moneymakers, to "bite me." I told you why that is impossible. Who’s got the advantage here?
If you really want to get through to Universal management, Kevin, USH listens more closely to repeat visitors than to one-time guests. If you want to be taken quasi-seriously, get an annual pass.
As far as some of the points you make: I knew about Shrek over a year ago. Knowing about Shrek is not and never was an exclusive club, especially considering the huge construction fence announcing it has been standing for a number of months.
Two, the rumors about ET are nothing new. We've been hearing them for years.
Three: Here's a news flash! USH is opening something new in 2004! Go tell that to your "inside source."
Regarding the amphitheatre: Please post evidence that Blackstone is going to purchase a controlling interest in USH. Please post evidence that the amphitheatre is for sale. It seems you've based a tremendous amount of your argument on speculation. I will say that a new ride could bring in a lot of people; however, considering how long it would take to construct a new ride or new themed area, and that the amphitheater is a steady source of money, it’s a dangerous gamble. I doubt that Blackstone would buy anything until the SEC investigation is over, anyway.
As for numbers and statistics: There is a lot more to theme park attendance than what attractions are in the park. General economic conditions, the strength of the dollar compared to international currency, weather conditions, political situations, and numerous other factors come in to play. Personally, I think USH's biggest mistake is pricing itself the same as Disneyland, when Disney clearly offers a better value for the dollar in terms of number of attractions vs. cost of admission.
Finally, Kevin, while you think of me as a lowly tour guide, you should be aware that my current work situation at USH affords me a great deal of responsibility as well as access to a great deal of information. I’m not as low on the totem pole as you seem to think.
For example, I have used the word "IF" many times in regards to Blackstone. I didn't say "WHEN." But so far everything that Vivendi has "looked into" has become reality, so let's call that one playing the odds. Still, even IF Vivendi doesn't sell controlling interest, that little math problem I worked out still exists for WHOEVER runs USH. Like Robert said, and which was ALSO ignored, the Amphitheatre could be moved elsewhere. That is a win-win situation.
As for the clips. Well, out of the twenty (at least) that I saw, maybe three or four of them weren't awful. And I know some of them have to be used most of the time, like the John Wayne clip and the green-screen clip, and those two were both poorly done. If out of all those clips there are actually good ones, then the problem lies with poorly trained tour guides, which doesn't make the problem go away. Or that there are simply too many poorly done clips, which is more likely given how greatly those poorly-edited clips outnumbered the good ones. Why are there ANY bad clips at all? Why offer them to the tour guides? You cannot tell me that you think all the clips are good!
Furthermore, most tourists "are neither theme park nor movie buffs" is the EXACT problem with many of the current clips! Only movie buffs could truly be entertained by that John Wayne clip, since they could at least have the fun of naming the movies involved. The same with many other clips. Since so many have almost no informational value, they are nothing more than babysitters to anyone but true cinephiles. At the very least they could have titles alerting us to the films involved. Even the freakin' Academy Awards does that and most of us recognize clips from the movies they show clips from!
Also, your being a tour guide does not mean you necessarily know more than anyone here. Has every single person involved in the creation of the Studio Tour been a tour guide? Of course not. And you said they allegedly listen to visitor feedback to tweak it. So it is EXACTLY people like me who are deciding what may stay or go.
Then you go on to REPEAT things you said a while back (the collapsing bridge, clapping, Grazer)... things that I had accepted and did NOT debate you on, yet you climb up on your really high horse to hammer them home. I DO actually bother to read every word of every post, unlike some tour guides I can name.
And then you try to be all big and bad by thinking you know something about the new attraction in 2004 while I don't. I didn't say I mentioned ALL of what my source told me. I am simply waiting for enough information on some of these to post. A new attraction in 2004 is no news flash. WHAT attraction will be.
Finally, much of your arguing seems to ignore the little fact that the majority of USH's visitors ARE locals. Same as Disneyland, DCA, Knotts and Magic Mountain. So, although a lot of those things come into play with tourists, Magic Mountain proves year after year that if they build it, people will come. The park WILL see a bump this year and Shrek will most likely improve on that the following year. And the new big attraction in 2004 will most likely improve upon that. Not because of tourists. Because of locals. Especially because of AP holders. Like me! Oh wait, I guess I discovered another comment where you just ASSumed facts not in evidence. And you talk about me...
And yes, we do know a heck of a lot more than the regular guest, we're just stuck in the situation that we just can't talk about some things, or we become suddenly unemployed!
T.A.T.G.-Remember, he has a source, you have better ones.
-Yet another tour guide
Why would I respond to another post that agrees with me? Nothing to say there.
You complain about the nature of the clips, but as I have stated, guest survey data indicates that the clips are immensely popular. Regardless of how you feel about them, they are here to stay. And how would you know which clips are required to be played, when you've only taken the tour once? TOUR GUIDES would know which clips are required. No, I personally don't think every clip is great, but other people are allowed to have different opinions.
Yes, I mentioned that visitor feedback is used to tweak the tour. I also mentioned that USH puts very little stock in the opinions of one-time visitors. Sorry to burst your bubble, but USH is not listening to people like you.
Wait, what's that? You have an annual pass? Why, so that you have credibility on the Internet when you've only been to the park in question once? Sorry, but that doesn't qualify you as an expert. Even if USH does survey you, your opinion puts you in the minority.
As for Blackstone/Vivendi, as I said, I'd like to see what the SEC has to say about Vivendi first.
And there is a problem in moving the amphitheatre--if you have to remove it because of lack of space, where are you going to put it? It stands to reason that a place named the UNIVERSAL AMPHITHEATRE should somehow be connected with UNIVERSAL STUDIOS and UNIVERSAL CITYWALK. I don't think moving a 6000 seat arena is practical.
Kevin, I'm calling your bluff: What's opening in 2004? Certainly I do not think I'm "all big and bad" by posting that a new attraction will open in 2004; I'm merely spreading the word. Isn't that what this website is all about? If you really do have such an important source, you'd know what's opening, because it's already been decided.
Also, Kevin, I'm going to repeat a question I asked in my last post that you didn't answer. What would you think if I went in to your workplace ONCE, told you how to fix everything, and when you objected, I said your opinion didn't count? That's neither fair nor reasonable.
I'm also going to repeat something else from a previous post since you obviously didn't understand it. You are making ad hominem attacks--and that's what people do when they lack facts or evidence or the skill to deconstruct an argument.
Now I know why they make us sign confidentiality agreements.
I think both this discussion's tour guides and our desperately back-pedaling host would agree that Universal never, ever, OVERestimates its guests. The clips -- really, the entire tour itself -- is meant as a broad introduction to filmmaking and movie trivia aimed at tourists who aren't involved with the movie industry.
Also, due in equal parts to Universal's sense of pride and the total lack of cooperation from other studios, the clips must feature only Universal films, which does limit what can appear in the montages. For example, New York Street appeared as London in the hugely successful Austin Powers 2, but New Line forbids USH from using any footage.
Kevin, 2 clips that I know of feature John Wayne. If you're referring to the general "Western action" montage, those clips are pretty much split between classics and lesser-known films. The better-known ones are "Destry Rides Again" and "Winchester '73", both of which star Jimmy Stewart.
The other one is a John Wayne-only montage. Unfortunately, almost none of these films is memorable -- "The War Wagon," "Pittsburgh," "Rooster Cogburn." This doesn't mean the clips are aimed at true cinephiles (or, let's face it, true Western film buffs). It means people like John Wayne, and Universal made a lot of John Wayne movies, but the Universal library contains only mediocre
John Wayne films.
But that's enough. Tourists see John Wayne, playing a cowboy, riding, shooting and saying pithy lines. Western music is playing, and the tram is driving along a Western street. Universal made only forgettable John Wayne movies, but the montage is a celebration of John Wayne the actor and the Western as a genre. The guests love it. Universal has basically turned a disadvantage into an advantage -- an admirable feat, since the studio can't go back in time and sign John Wayne to a lifetime contract.
You say the clips "have no informational value" and are just "babysitters to anyone but true cinephiles."
I say the clips bring the backlot to life, and help everyone, from children to foreign guests, see the connection between the current standing sets and their use in actual films. Guests at Universal can't see filming, and can't see stars, but they can look at the European streets and say to themselves, "Frankenstein's monster walked here."
And when Universal has good films to work with -- say, the montage of Ron Howard films, or Oscar-winning movies -- the combination of editing, content and music make for a pretty fantastic multimedia experience.
You want to be informed. Most people want to be entertained. I think the Universal Studio Tour, despite its flaws, does both.
Before you respond -- please, Kevin, for the sake of this entire discussion -- take the tour again. One bad tour guide, or one bad traffic stall, shouldn't color your entire perception of the tour and its future.
Even on the other coast we go through the same things...sigh.
With a good guide, fortunate timing and available sets, the tour can be a wonderful experience. Get a poor guide, bad timing and closed sets... and it is nap time.
That shouldn't be. Ultimately, if Universal's to have the world-class park we want it to be, the tour must consistently provide top-quality information, insight and information. That doesn't mean each inidvidual tour must be th same. That's impossible. But the guides must have the flexibility, training, experience and options available to them to bring each tour to that level, no matter what's happening on the lot.
I don't see that now. Perhaps that goes to the issue of whether Universal wants, or is willing, to make USH the world-class park that its fans desire.
I have no clue where I have started "back-pedaling." My stance that the Studio Tour sucks in its current inception still stands. And I don't know where this little fact that I have only ridden the Tour once has come about. I have ridden the tour DOZENS of times. I have ridden it once with the monitors. So that makes me completely unable to tell whether the Tour has improved or not? Can you steer the tram a little farther from logical? Someone out there who actually took the Tram Tour more than a decade ago, please tell me whether the new incarnation is better! Anyone? I doubt you will see many people climbing on that wagon because this attraction is NOWHERE NEAR ITS HEYDAY! Way back when there was VERY LITTLE in this park, yet out-of-town tourists made sure to check this out for the Tram Tour alone. Who would do that now?
And that is my point, which keeps getting ignored TIME AND TIME AGAIN. This is the SIGNATURE ATTRACTION in the park. Which means it should be the BEST ATTRACTION in the park. Is it? I don't care if you are a tour guide. This IS NOT the best attraction in the park. Currently it is only in the Top Five because there are so few top-quality attractions IN the park.
Robert is EXACTLY right in his post. The tour is inconsistent. Part of that inconsistency lies in too many piss-poor clips. NOWHERE did I say they should get rid of the clips. Yet ONCE AGAIN I am being accused of something I never said. (That must be my back-pedaling! I'm denying things I NEVER said!) All I suggested is that Universal make ALL the clips good. That shouldn't be too hard. Montages like these are little more than mini-trailers, which are created all the time! Universal just has the wrong people making them. Get the trailer-makers to make the clips. And then they need to use them properly. That will improve that portion of the ride immensely.
Better training for the tour guides is also a must, apparently. Our guide was actually good (though all "acting" should be permanently banned from the tour FOREVER... "You're not supposed to go over the old bridge. No! Don't!" Oh, please just drive us into the lake to stop the bad acting!) but it was the clips, or his choice of clips, that prevented us from enjoying the tour. Yes, US. I noticed the people in my section all paying more attention to the guide's face than to the clips. It seemed to me that the clips were simply a cue for many to look outside the tram. Furthermore, I found myself giving lots of little tidbits to my fellow riders, who were all far more fascinated by them than they were in the zillionth time we "checked in" on those zany passengers in the fourth car. And how did I know they would find these tidbits interesting? They were tidbits I learned ON the Tour when it was actually a great attraction!
Now for other tidbits: As for NOT responding to the person who agreed with you. WHIFF! Way to miss another point! My problem was with you calling ME rude, when the rudeness clearly started with the person before me who agreed with you. But if people agree with you, then they must NOT be rude, right? Don't go around pointing out certain behavior if you are unwilling to point it out in everyone. It weakens your argument.
While we are on the subject of arguing, don't throw around "ad hominem" incorrectly either. An ad hominem attack is one where the person COMPLETELY ignores what the argument is about and goes off on a tangent about what someone does with his mother. Or something to that effect. ;-) I believe my novelistic posts commented on PLENTY of your points. And that was what my alleged "ad hominem" attacks were about anyhow, that you two WEREN'T commenting on my points. For example, I say the clips themselves are poorly edited and I get stuff about guide decisions. Unless the guides edited them, they aren't to blame for a lot of those clips.
Another argument no-no: don't use the phrase "not feasible." Flying into the sun and living is "not feasible." Moving the Amphitheatre (which does NOT mean the entire building would be moved... sheesh!) or getting rid of it completely IS plenty feasible. It may not happen this year or even ten years from now, but it will NOT be there forever. That is a fact of both business and of nature.
As for USH not listening to me? Why not? I may have ridden it once post-monitor, but far more people have seen my complaints about the tour than almost any other single person who has ridden it this year. And this is coming from a person who any TPI regular would claim is a Universal geek! Even worse than me is Robert, who owns this site. Which THOUSANDS of people visit. Including MANY Universal execs. If they weren't interested in what people like us have to say, I guess they wouldn't register on the site then, would they?
As for the clips (yet again with the clips!) only being entertaining to cinephiles. Yes, I was wrong. I should have said to cinephiles and to tourists who don't see many movies each year. To many of us who have seen John Wayne shoot a gun a zillion times, they are NOT exciting clips. And we are once again going off on that tangent about "tourists" liking them. Locals are the majority in USH, guys, so don't play the dumb yokel card so often. I would dare say your average LA citizen isn't as impressed as a family from Utah.
But you basically REMADE a point that I made earlier. The clips AREN'T being used to bring the sets to life. I want to see the sets in the clips, which you surely can't do in the John Wayne clips. A perfect example where USH ALMOST gets it right is in the suburbia set. We see the houses and the signs for what shows they are featured in. Cool! And then we get to see a music video (with that damn Smashmouth song again! GO AWAY!) which shows us that suburbia set with a fresh coat of paint. Cool! Problem is, the music video has about five billion cuts in it so you never really get to see the neighborhood behind the rockers much. Another example of a good idea with poor execution.
As for Universal having good films to work with... like Ron Howard's. OMG! I had to laugh. Okay, I know that many people liked "A Beautiful Mind" but I found it to be just like most of his other films. Uninvolving. ("Pi" did the whole mad genius thing MUCH better.) And don't get me started on how Dr Seuss is spinning in his grave over "The Grinch."
Anyhow, now that I got that off my chest - why did he do that to my beloved Grinch? WHY??? - where did all this "lowly" tour guide crap come from? I never once said someone was less than someone else due to being a tour guide. The "non-rude" agreement guy claimed that I knew NOTHING because I wasn't a tour guide and I simply pointed out that I did know someone who worked for USH who was in a higher position than tour guide. On this site I am basically a journalist and a journalist doesn't have to work in a job to write about it, does he?
Furthermore, going down that work road. TATG's analogy about coming in to my workplace and telling me how it should be run doesn't work at all. My real job isn't entertainment-related. So you would actually have to learn a lot before you could say word one. Entertainment is a whole 'nother area. We ALL know a little something about entertainment. We have all been entertained in our lives. And we can all say what we liked about the entertainment and what we didn't. If we couldn't, then they sure wouldn't be asking guests what they thought of attractions, would they? Do we have to be directors to complain about Michael Bay's quick cuts? Do we have to be writers to complain about the moronic "Planet of the Apes" twist ending? Do we have to be actors to see what a poor actor Keanu Reeves is? Attractions like the Studio Tour are created FOR us to react to. Hopefully in a positive manner.
Which brings me to a question. What exactly are they asking the guests? Are they asking broad questions like "Did you like the monitors?" Are they getting detailed like "Did you like this clip? How about this other clip?" Or are they doing what they should and asking "Why did you like/dislike this clip."
You may not like my answers, but I am sure I have given far more detailed answers than most as to why certain clips are working and certain clips are not. I think the smartest thing that has been said in this entire thread was Robert saying, "the tour must consistently provide top-quality information, insight and information." Consistently? Apparently not. Information? Rarely. Insight? Hardly? Information? Wait, didn't you already say that, Robert? I'm sure you had another witty I-word there. How about "involvement?" Because that no longer exists either.
As for the clips. Universal has to get permission for everything on the tour, so what they have as a selection is what they can use.
You say you're a journalist on this site. Great. You bring up some great points, as do the others here.
My own two cents. USH is a great park. They have things that they can improve upon, but they need to keep the unique stuff there, like backdraft, etc. I was saddened to hear of West's going, but they did update Animal Actors to Animal Planet, and they have Waterworld!
Write a letter to the company, let them know how you feel. You might just be surprised by the response.
T.A.T.G-As a fellow guide, hang in there. What you are saying is correct. And you gotta love those confindentiality agreements!
Yet Another Tour guide
Any regular to this site knows by now that I am perfectly fine with debating the merits or lack of merits on anything. But absolutes simply don't work. "NOT FEASIBLE" is an absolute that instantly renders everything before it meaningless. "Not likely" would have been a much better choice of words... I have heard it is VERY likely... but at least it wouldn't have been a complete and total rejection of everything I merely suggested. To use a phrase like that without proof, which is of course impossible at this juncture, shows a lack of imagination and that is ENTIRELY what this thread was supposed to be about.
I do happen to know stuff, like how the monitors may very well be the beginning of the end for the tour guides existence. I would hate to see you all go, so it is a bit odd that so many are fighting so hard for the things. The day when ALL we get are clips like these will be the last day the tram tour will hold any significance for many.
Oh... forgot one thing:
But it hasn't been greenlighted and it still hasn't been selected as THE proposal. There still seems to be some waffling going on. So I DIDN'T want to mention it until it got the green light. This ain't Screamscape, ya know.
Main Entry: 1ad ho·mi·nem
Pronunciation: (')ad-'hä-m&-"nem, -n&m
Etymology: New Latin, literally, to the person
1 : appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
2 : marked by an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made
May also want to have some type of law enforcement there too. :-)
Main Entry: fea·si·ble
Etymology: Middle English faisible, from Middle French, from fais-, stem of faire to make, do, from Latin facere -- more at DO
Date: 15th century
1 : capable of being done or carried out
2 : capable of being used or dealt with successfully : SUITABLE
3 : REASONABLE, LIKELY
synonym see POSSIBLE
- fea·si·bil·i·ty /"fE-z&-'bi-l&-tE/ noun
- fea·si·bly /'fE-z&-blE/ adverb
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