Friday, April 17, 2009

Jason in Hollywood goes all tourist at Universal Studios Hollywood...

It was inevitable really, after finally spending the day at Disneyland California, there was no doubt that I'd also eventually have to return to Universal Studios Hollywood to spend the day with my family. 
Universal Studios Hollywood entrance globe
But not only did I do one day, but I went the whole hog and bought an Annual Pass which combined with my family's 2-for-1 promotion meant we enjoyed two days at the theme park (on Monday and Tuesday this week). 
Universal Studios Hollywood logo
On the whole I was impressed and surprised at how much I enjoyed Universal Studios after visiting over five years ago with friends. 
Universal Studios Hollywood entrance statues
It's certainly not as big as Disneyland and it's more densely concentrated, but it is a more grown up experience in comparison. 
The Simpsons Ride Universal Studios Hollywood
Krustyland Simpsons Ride
There are more rides to appeal to adults, plus there are a wealth of popular movie and cartoon characters roaming the Park and it is a totally different experience when you visit with your family when they have young children too.
Revenge of the Mummy ride
The main problem that Universal Studios has is that it's attractions are so dated. The new Simpsons Ride is great fun and there's a new Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster, but the rest of the rides seem really out of date. 
Universal Studios Jurassic Park ride
Jurassic Park dinosaur
Who remembers Backdraft these days? The last Jurassic Park film opened in 2001, Terminator 2: 3D seems totally ancient and even Shrek 4-D is starting to feel a bit passe. 
Shrek 4D ride at Universal Studios
Don't even get me started on the WaterWorld live action show which is based on one of the biggest movie flops of cinematic history (even though the show is still enjoyable to watch and get soaked at).
Universal's House of Horrors
Although having said all that, I totally gave myself over to the experience and really had fun with my family, including my niece and nephew (even though there is less on offer for small children).
Jason measures up for the Simpsons ride
My nephew loved the Curious George water feature, which is fantastic and just involves soaking the kids in lots and lots of water. 
The Adventures of Curious George water attraction
The character photo opportunities were also abundant at the Park and one of the highlights included 'Doc Brown' from the Back to the Future movie franchise (sadly another movie relic from the mid-80's to early 90's, or maybe I'm being too cynical and dismissing the nostalgic qualities of these films).
Spongebob Squarepants at Universal Studios
An animatronic 'Donkey' who was side-split-tingly funny and tailored his humour to the individual visitors who posed for photos with him. 
Universal Studios Hollywood photoland
It seems slightly unfair to compare Universal Studios to the Disney Parks as it doesn't possess the same immediate brand connotations or characters that Disney evokes, but the major difference I think between the two is the staff that man the Parks. 
Spongebob Squarepants at Universal Studios
At Disney you get the impression that all the 'cast members' genuinely love the Parks and you feel they really want the kids and all the visitors to have a wonderful time, whilst at Universal, you just get the feeling that the ride, shop and restaurant staff are a bunch of folks 'just doing their jobs' (although the characters would be the exception to this as they made my family feel really special).
Marvel Mania Shop at Universal Studios Hollywood
Anyway, like I said, over the course of two days I really indulged my inner child. 
Spider-man shop model
I bought Spider-man t-shirts at Marvel Mania, posed with characters and movie props around the Studio, rode every ride I could and spent my time devouring all the hot-dogs and burgers I could eat.

Jason 'Hulks out' at Universal Studios Hollywood
Jason Hulks out at Universal Studios

Jason gets all 'Fast & Furious' 
with the cast and cars of the new movie
Jason gets Fast & Furious
Jason posing with Fast & Furious movie stars

'Shark Attack' - Jason gets devoured by Jaws
Jaws devours Jason in Hollywood

Jason mingles with movie stars and props - 
Matt Damon from The Bourne Identity
Jason and Bourne Identity's Matt Damon and movie props

'Out of this world' - Jason with the Apollo 13 capsule movie prop
Jason and the Apollo 13 capsule movie prop

Jason gets 'terminated' on the Terminator 2 motorbike
Jason rides the Terminator movie bike
I also have to say that I was quite impressed with the selection of shops, cinemas and restaurants at Universal CityWalk compared to Downtown Disney.
Hard Rock Cafe at Universal CityWalk
So, if you ever visit L.A. or live here and have friends or relatives in town and are wondering what to do to entertain them, I'd highly recommend a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood.
Universal CityWalk
So after enjoying the delights of two of California's big theme parks, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum, Palisades Park in Santa Monica, The Grove and Farmers Market, the Griffith Observatory, the L.A. Zoo, Burbank's many film studio backlots, Runyon Canyon and West Hollywood, my family have flown home to the UK to recover from their California adventure.

Today another friend arrives to enjoy what L.A. has to offer and I'm off to see Britney Spears in concert tonight, so it's crazy fun time here at Jason in Hollywood...

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