Having been to Universal Studios in Florida twice in my teens, when we were planning our trip to Los Angeles, visiting Universal Studios Hollywood was at the top of my list. As Mr ESLT had never been to either before, he really had no idea what to expect. He kept asking ‘is it like Lightwater Valley’? Now, for those not familiar with Lightwater Valley, it is a little English theme park which doesn’t hold a candle to Universal Studios in the slightest. I tried on a number of occasions to explain what to expect to him, but he still couldn’t get his head around the enormity, and amazingness of it.
One question he kept repeatedly asking me was ‘will we look stupid not having any kids with us?’ and I must admit the thought did cross my mind as well. Were we going to look like the odd couple wandering around a theme park trying to find enough to do to occupy our time if all the rides and attractions were catered to children? However, from the second we arrived, we knew we were going to have a great day and that Universal Studios Hollywood is certainly for big kids just as much as little ones.
There are plenty of live shows going on in the park throughout the day and there are boards up showing the times. As we got there we noticed that Waterworld was due to start in 30 minutes so we headed for that. We took our seats at the back, as the front of the stand was designated the splash zone and even though we would have dried in a second in the June Californian sun we decided against it (party poopers I know). The show, actors and effects were fantastic, Mr ESLT and I watched the 20-minute show intently, laughing and gasping everytime someone got soaked. I think Mr ESLT then knew today was not going to be anything like a day at Lightwater Valley.
We also watched the live Special Effects Show at the end of the day. I’ll be honest our feet were hurting from walking the length and breadth of the park and we used it as an opportunity to take the weight off for a while. Well, I’m glad we did, as it was an amazing show and the stunt men were fantastic. We really learnt a lot about how special effects are done in the movies and it was great that there was some audience participation.
The only show I personally could not get on board with was the Universal’s Animal Actors live show. I’m not a fan of animals being made to do tricks. Now I’m sure at Universal the animals are treated very well and loved and cared for a lot, but I just couldn’t bring myself to see it. I’m sure it’s a great show if it’s your sort of thing.
3D and 4D Shows
We loved the 3D and 4D shows, the Shrek 4-D show was my particular favourite, I mean come on who doesn’t love Shrek? Full of special effects and innuendo, it was one of my favourite attractions in the park. The Transformers™: The Ride-3D was another favourite. Just prepare to be jolted around and if you are pregnant or have heart or back problems, maybe give them a miss.
There are a few rides dotted around the park and in all honesty less than I thought there would be. The Jurassic Park water ride was a particular highlight of our day and the ultimate splash at the end of the ride certainly cooled us down in as the midday sun beat down on us. If only we’d had more time we certainly would have gone on it over and over again.
Mr ESLT and I have different ways of dealing with roller coaster rides. He giggles(!) all the way through the ride and I keep my eyes tightly shut. So when we rode on the Revenge of the Mummy ride we did just that. For me it was terrifying and even Mr ESLT was happy just riding it the once. It is a great ride if roller coasters are your thing.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Even though I have read all the Harry Potter books and seen all the Harry Potter films, I’ve got a confession – I’m not the biggest Harry Potter fan. Yes, they are entertaining but the idea of dressing up and waving a wand as a 34-year-old woman just isn’t something I could ever see myself doing, apologies to those who do. However, with that being said that’s not to say I wasn’t completely blown away by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter the sheer size of it was fantastic and seeing Hogwarts was pretty special I must admit.
With a couple of rides – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™ and Flight of the Hippogriff™, live shows from the Frog Choir throughout the day and places to grab something to eat or drink, including Butterbeer, which I’m not a fan of but judging by the length of the queue a lot of other people are.
Having grown up watching The Simpsons, it was great to actually visit Springfield whilst at Universal Studios Hollywood. With The Simpsons Ride™and Krustyland, which was full of arcade style games and plenty of places to eat, we spent a lot of time in Springfield. We also spotted a number of the characters wandering around which we could have had our photographs taken with if we had wanted to.
World Famous Studio Tour
It was easy to see why the studio tour is a highlight of the park. We loved learning about the history of the studios and hearing about the movies and TV shows that have been filmed there over the years. We even tried to spot a celebrity or two on the lot but failed miserably. The tour also incorporates a couple of 3D rides – King Kong 360 3-D and Fast & Furious – Supercharged, which really added to the experience and broke up the live commentary. Even though the tour took an hour it really did feel like we blinked and it was over.
The Walking Dead Attraction
Walking through The Walking Dead attraction was probably one of the scariest things I have EVER done in my life! Yep, I’m that much of a wimp. I literally walked in silence, white as a sheet and praying that the next corner would be the exit. Having never seen The Walking Dead, but knowing the premise I sort of knew what was coming, but OH MY DAYS – I just was not prepared. As arms grabbed for me and the ‘Walkers’ jumped out I genuinely hated it but completely loved it at the same time!
It really isn’t for the faint hearted, in fact, a few people were leaving through the fire exits along the way as it was just too much for them. I’ll be honest, I did need to grab hold of a bench once we had exited, just to pull myself together and catch my breath. Mr ESLT, of course, wanted to do it again because he loves that sort of thing, me – not so much.
We walked through the City Walk on the way into and out of the studios passing the numerous restaurants. We had planned to eat at The Hardrock Cafe on the way home, as I have an obsession with the place, but we had grabbed one of the biggest hotdogs I had ever seen in my life in Springfield at lunchtime, we just couldn’t manage anything else. The City Walk is also home to a number of shops including souvenir shops where we grabbed a couple of mementos to remind us of our amazing day.
Front of Line Pass
One thing I really must recommend are Front of Line passes. With them we were able to walk straight to the front of the line at all attractions once, which meant no waiting in line. Some of the queues for some of the rides were so long I actually said to Mr ESLT that I would have given up before even getting near the front. We arrived within minutes of the studios opening and left as it was closing and only just managed to get on and see everything that we wanted to, if we had not had the Front of Line passes we would have had to miss some things out and that would have really been a shame as all the shows, rides and attractions were fantastic.
We had an amazing day at Universal Studios Hollywood and can categorically confirm that it is not just for kids. We had an action packed day and enjoyed everything we did and saw and would not consider any of it overly kiddy. There is of course areas specifically for little ones but with no need to go near them we just stayed away. If anything, it is fun for all the family and certainly a highlight of our Los Angeles trip.
- We were provided with complimentary tickets and Front of Line passes for our visit.