Universally Speaking

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Jan 04, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hollywood Historic Hotel

Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I suppose it was likely to happen. There is only so much narrating of your own life you can handle before you lose the plot and find you don't want to write anymore and it has occurred. I am now sitting in San Francisco thinking back to a day in LA and trying to remember the poignant points while also thinking about a busy day ahead. Some 100 or so blogs are hard going but I can’t help but think it will be great to look back on them some day and remember our travels with fondness. I’ve bought myself a bit of time by forgetting to charge the camera, what that in mind I better crack on.

Los Angeles is not as bad as everyone seems to make out. Well it isn’t for a day or two anyways. You do get the feeling of uneasiness a little after coming from relatively 'safe’ countries such as New Zealand, Australia, China…Vietnam, and for the most part the town isn’t all that attractive but there are things to do. We chose to spend some of the remainder of our hard earned money on Universal Studios and are very glad we did.

To get to the Studios we would be riding the metro which required us to get to the intersection of Hollyood and Vine, home of the much hyped Walk of Fame stars. Our walk took us past the famous (everything is ‘famous’ in LA) Paramount Studios on Melrose past intersections all with spectacular views of the Hollywood Hills and then along the broken street of Vine. The street partly improved at the start of the Walk of Fame but not as much as I thought. The stars look a bit shoddy in fact. I was expecting everything to be shiny and kept in this section of LA; but it is a little unloved. The pavement has been allowed to break up a bit in places and just doesn’t inspire you as it should. Slightly disappointed, but not surprised – Hollywood is just a little bit overhyped.

The metro was quick and easy and took us to within a short walk of Universal Studios – we could have waited 15 minutes for the bus shuttle with all the other lazies, but thought considering the walk is only approximated as 9 minutes long (very specific I thought) , what’s the point. All the other slightly less English people, stayed and waited for the shuttle at the bottom of the hill.

Universal Studios isn’t cheapest at $77 each but it probably is worth it. The queuing at the entrance was annoying because it was mainly down to badly managed systems – The studios are trying to sell annual passes and so get customers to fill out application forms once at the till therefore taking ages – I also noted the girl behind the till was a one fingered typist. You know the type; they’re the ones who click a letter and the swoop their index finger over the next letter and then the next giving a long pause between each click. Infuriatingly slow. The ‘greeter’ at the gate however did a good job by letting people know which queue was the shortest, and where new tills had opened up. He was very jolly.

Once inside (on a weekday) the queues were almost in non-existence. The worst queue we had was one in which the Studio Tour shuttle had been paused because filming was taking place and we jumped out of that queue anyways (to come back later) to avoid wasting time.

All the features on site are excellent and much enjoyed. A couple of things are maybe a bit dated or a bit young (Shrek 4D was made for the kids obviously and the Terminator 2 3D show was a little past it’s best – Kate informs me she saw this same show 10 years ago but she still enjoyed it). Everything else – Brilliant. I was in my element being a big film fan. I loved the Simpsons ride (and meeting the characters for a photo) and the other rides too were cleverly animated theme rides for all to enjoy. Particular highlights otherwise for the day were the Studio tour (which was fantastic – we saw Wysteria Lane, the Manhatten city scene, a King Kong 4D ride, the house from the Great Outdoors -that ones for dad, and a huge blue screen as well as some weather effects, some more street scenes from different parts of the world etc etc), the Special Effects Stage (hosted by a couple of comedians, this showed off several tricks of the camera to get the effects required while keeping the crowd amused with some nice simple comedy – was not expecting it to be as good as it was) and "Waterworld", which finished the day in style (a special effects live show with fire, water, stunts – brilliant).

My only downside of this great day was that me and Kate were unable to have lunch because we arrived at 11 (only one hour past the earliest arrival time) and only just managed to fit in everything we wanted with absolutely no breaks. It was truly non-stop, and we do not hang around. This is obviously a big plus point also because nobody wants to be bored in a theme park. The time flew past. Universal Studios is now one of my favourite days out because of the variety it offered – its clearly somewhere for the family to enjoy.

At the end of the day after we filed out of the spectacular Waterworld show, Kate and I took a stroll along the shops of City Walk lit up in their Christmas fayre and dined extravagantly in a hamburger joint. I had my first Chilli dog and found it messy but understood why it was popular and Kate found perhaps both the biggest gummi bear we have ever seen, but certainly one of the biggest commercially available gobstoppers. Our walk around City Walk was a pleasant Christmassy end to the day which was only overshadowed slightly by the long walk we would have back in the dark along the streets of downtown Hollywood to get back to the hotel. We watched the Grinch on TV when we got back. Merry Grinchmas.
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