Universal Studios Hollywood
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Universal Studios Hollywood has grown into one of the major Southern California attractions to visit wether you are a local or tourist. While it is for all ages, Visit Southern California recommends that if you child is unde rthe age of 6 it is probably not the best attraction for them. Many of the attraction rides and sites at the theme park/film studio center around Universal Studios famous horror characters and movie monsters. This can scare the heck out of the young ones so be prepared.
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Universal Studios was launched in 1915, Universal Studios founder Carl Laemmle opened his 230-acre Universal City ranch on March 15, 1915, offering visitors the chance to walk around his outdoor movie studio, located just north of Los Angeles, and to watch the filming. Admission was just 25 cents, with a chicken boxed lunch available for just a nickel extra. The original Universal Studio Tour provided a nice little side income for the movie studio until the studios began adding sound to their movies, and Laemmle had to close the studio to the not-very-quiet public, to provide a soundproof environment for filming. Robert Niles - Theme Park History
The park reopened after the construction of sound proof stages and with the help of theme park specialists that helped create Disneyland and Walt Disney World it got turned into a tram ride of the studio facility and with growing profits and a general public hungry for more treats the theme park became a major attraction in 1964. As the movie studios blockbuster film line up grew so did their attractions and interactive shows with the park attendees. Major stunt shows from Water World to the A-Team have graced the theme park throughout the years, while simulated rides featuring King Kong and the Transformers have blown people away with their special effects.
The Theme Park Today
Throughout the 1980s the theme park was centered around the tram ride that toured the entire studio lot and took up most of the day. If you loved movies you loved seeing where the magic takes place. Of course you were treated to the backlot sites where "Back To The Future" was filmed and a quick scare when the tram appears to tip into the bay and out pops the mechanical shark from "Jaws". The most fun the tram tours used to provide wheich they no longer do was the stop at one of the studio stages. It was here that you de-boarded the tram and performed stunts, created sound effects or became the actor in your own movie. It was a truly cool way of discovering how movie effects take place and all the different tools used to create these scenes. It is sad that this is no longer offered at the theme park.
As time went on the tram tour began to phase out and not be the center of the theme park. Today it is no more than 30 minutes long and it is more ride based than studio tour based. It is still interesting and the commentary from the tram tour guide is funny. The big fun stuff now is the rides. And 2 rides in general are worth the wait and admission alone.
The movie themed rides at Universal Studios are extremely fun. Although gone is my childhood favorite based off of the films "Back To The Future", in its place are two extremely fun experiences. The Jurassic Park Ride and Transformers Ride. Jurassic Park is the Magic Mountain Log Jammer Ride on steroids. The create looking creatures and effects make you feel like you are swimming around with actual Dinosaurs. The build up to the climatic waterfall drop where the T-Rex jumps out at you freaks you out and may even get you pretty soaked! The Transformers Ride is a simulated 3D adventure where the Transformer you are riding actually does move around inside the studio. The movement along with the 3D realism makes you feel as if you are in the middle of the robot war. There are other sound and visual effects the Ride offers that enhance to overall experience. Wait times for these rides can be long but they try to break up the wait time with fun storytelling visiuals. As for the Harry Potter Wizard World rides and activities we have yet to experience it ourselves and will update this article after we get the opportunity.
Universal City Walk
Just outside Universal Studios Hollywood is Universal City Walk. You will typicall park your car in the lots provided and walk through City Walk in order to access the theme park. City Walk is a great place to spend an evening. Check out a movie, dine at any of their restaurants along the walk and find some fun activitoes to do. City Walk offers plenty of fun for all ages. The cost for parking is the only fee you will pay in order to enter City Walk. Restaurants here are typically a bit more expensive cause of the location and weekend crowds can make it more chaotic than fun. Either way if it is your first time you will get a kick out of all the visiual eye candy.