Universal Studios

Trip Start Jul 14, 2007
Trip End Jul 27, 2007

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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, July 24, 2007

With the long and intensive AR conference over, I wanted us to do something fun today, and something that Ben wanted to do specifically, so we decided to finally hit Universal Studios today. We got there at around 12:30pm and stayed until the very end of the day - until about 9pm. It was a very long day, but fun, and I got some good pictures to prove it!

First and foremostly, we did something that I do truly regret and vow to NEVER do again. Ben wanted to see the various attractions there first, and the first one we ran into was the House of Horrors - basically, a haunted house type of thing. I really should have known better to just so whimsically agree to go to this with him, but I think I was just thinking that I wanted to be open to what he wanted to do, since he had made somewhat of an effort for the previous four days to do what I had wanted to do. What I wasn't thinking is that I am so deathly afraid and terrified of such touristy "attractions" where real people dressed as very believable monsters are regularly reaching out and grabbing at you around from any given corner, any given nook in the twisty dark maze of horror. And what I should have remembered was a very similar experience I had had just last fall in Amsterdam at the Dungeon Museum, where I was basically screaming at the top of my lungs and running for my life when some kind of a pirate man reached out to grab me through from beyond the steel bars he was imprisioned. A little too realistic for me, and yeah, it freaks me out. Basically, I get freaked out by anything "scary" like that, which is probably why I rarely watch horror films. Well, this House of Horrors while like walking through a real horror movie, and needless to say, I didn't like it! I was grabbing onto Ben the whole time as we walked through the dark corridors where at any time, a real monster could (and did) jump out in front of you out of nowhere and try to grab you. We basically walked through the whole thing with me being completely freaked out and paranoid (and screaming a lot when these monsters came out) while Ben, really strangely, remained completely calm, cool, and collected throughout the whole thing, not even making one slight little twitch of a facial expression whenever a monster bounded forth towards us. He was not affected one bit whatsoever - just a completely neutral look on his face while I was screaming my head off and running for my dear life. At the very end, this one monster just kept coming after and after me!! He wouldn't stop!! Ben said that he first tried to scare him, and when Ben gave no reaction at all, he went after me. He essentially kept chasing me and chased me out of the building until I realized that it was finally all over and was outside in the sun. I told Ben that I wouldn't do well being a character in a horror movie plot, and I'm one of those people that get killed first in these movies. I need to remind myself to never do such a thing again - it's not worth the near heart attacks it caused me. But I just still can't get over the way Ben acted, and what he said is "I'm not scared of anything." Must be nice to like this - I'm scared of everything; he's scared of nothing - what a balance.

My heart was still racing after this, but the next thing that Ben wanted to do was to go on the Jurassic Park ride, down below on the lower level of the park. We waited in line for 45 minutes, which Ben says is the longest he has EVER waited in a line (he's not a line-up person), and then finally got to do the "ride", which I had read consisted of getting really wet and an "84 foot free fall drop", which I found hard to believe, but I shouldn't have doubted it! We got into this big raft-like vessel and entered "Jurassic Park", just like in the movie. Between being intermittedly sprayed with water by Raptors or other things, I managed to take quite a few photos while keeping my camera fortunately dry (enough). This ride, moving through the river, was quite neat and serene actually - nothing scary grabbing out at us! But then we went into a dark tunnel and it was time for that advertised 84 foot free fall "drop". I wasn't sure exactly how that was going to work, but it was exactly as it said. Completely dark, the raft creeping up slowly to an unknown summit, and then boom - falling straight vertically down at the highest speed my body has ever travelled for 84 feet!!! The feeling was so unbearable, but yet inescapable - just falling at a velocity so fast. I screamed all the way down and I can't even remember if Ben did or not (probably not), and then finally we were at the bottom and once again it was calm and serene as we continued along the river at a slow speed. And then, if that fall weren't enough, a rush of water was dumped upon us and, true to the brochures, we were thoroughly drenched with water. I took a good picture of Ben right after the drenching - it's quite funny, because you can see the water drops dripping off every part of his face, and he liked it! What a way for my hair to get ruined for the rest of the day, which is why we decided to go to the Backdraft exhibit next, as Ben had been there before and said that the heat gets up really high, so I thought that would dry us off.

The Backdraft exhibit was neat, and not scary at all, but had lots of real pyrotechnics in it. I took a video of some of it - and if it turned out, I'll post it in my photo album here.

Next Ben wanted to go on The Mummy Returns ride, which I wasn't too sure about (I didn't want any more mummies grabbing out at me again), but did it anyways in the sake of openmindedness. It actually wasn't that bad! It was a rollercoaster ride, but not that long, and not so fast that you feel like you're leaving your heart behind you as you speed forward (ie. Jurassic Park). Also, it went sideways, and backwards, but never upside down, and no fast dips dropping straight down creating that sickening feeling of free fall.

After that we went on the Studio Tour, which I really wish I had brought my video camera for, as my still camera didn't catch the scenery as well as video would have. I did manage to take a few short videos of some of the things we saw but also, as we were in a tram car that was moving along most of the time, it was hard to capture the action on the still camera sometimes. Nonetheless, I did get some really cool pictures taken, which I will post here. They were filming one of my favourite tv shows there, Desperate Housewives, at the time of the tour, so we didn't get to go up Wisteria Lane, but I took a picture of it! Lots of other scenes too from movies and lots of generic outdoor "street"/"building" sets that have been recycled over and over in various films, which I don't think people notice have been used in other films they've seen.

After the 45 min. Studio Tour, we went to see the Animal Actors show, which Ben was opposed to because he believes that the animal actors are mistreated, but I wanted to see the show to see how they are in the show, to see how they are treated and if they appear to be happy. The show was awesome, amazing, and we got to see some famous animal actors, including some from the new movie, which I recently saw, "Evan Almighty", which was filmed there at Universal. It was just amazing to see what some of these animals could do, like a little tiny monkey coming up to the microphone and "speaking" as if he was MCing to the audience; a raccoon just running across the stage on cue and pulling down a sign that said "applaud"; and different dogs doing neat tricks that the average dog doesn't do. These animals are so smart, but it's not like they are specially gifted animals or anything. The host told us that most of these animals are actually rescues - so if they didn't get rescued, they'd probably be dead by now. I'm happy that they are actually living out their lives and seem to be having a really good time putting on the show. At least I hope they are.
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