Saturday, March 14, 2015

For the Kids, Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios is a great place to take the kids.  Not only do they have wild and interesting rides, but you can get a look "behind the scenes" at how movies and tv shows are made.

The park is actually split into two parts.  The upper part is the theme park, with the majority of the rides, the characters, and the food.  It's separated from the lower part with one of the largest escalators in the world.  The lower part is the actual film lot, and a tram ride shows visitors quite a lot of it.

First, the rides and attractions.  Using the same sort of "flight simulator" design as Disney's Star Tours, the Back to the Future ride lets visitors ride in a modified time machine into the past and future, and the tourists almost get eaten by a dinosaur along the way.

The ride that dominates the entire park, though, is the Jurassic Park ride.  The plot is simple; the tourists are on a boat excursion through the park when the "incident" from the movie releases the animals.  The boats are diverted into the waste processing facility, while being threatened by a variety of animated dinosaurs, and just as it seems they're about to be eaten by the T-Rex, they dive beneath his feet and down a huge drop into water.  The "you might get wet" warning is an understatement--the ride is designed to soak every rider to the skin.

Follow the soaking with the Backdraft attraction.  After an intro area that shows how some of the fire effects are created, the crowd is ushered into a mock-up of a factory that explodes into flame right in front of them.  There are literally explosions happening twenty feet in front of you, with no more protection than a handrail.

The tram ride is a mostly tame but very entertaining ride through movie history, complete with the Bates Motel from Psycho, the shark from Jaws, and a simulated earthquake in a train station.

All in all, Universal Studios Hollywood is a great place to take the kids for a weekend.

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