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4:29 p.m. - 2004-10-29

Universal Studio's

I see that because I’ve put so many pictures into my last entry that it takes what feels like FOREVER to load my page (sorry about that folks). So I’ve chosen to include less pictures.

A collective is “Ahhhhhuh!” whine is heard by Mugwhump, and she is touched.

Back to our holiday travels - Thursday (the 14th) morning our bodies did not want to respond to “screech, screech, screech” of the alarm clock. These old bones were sore, stiff and generally dysfunctional after two days of two theme parks, and the thousands of miles they had covered.

I hate T’s travel alarm!!! I’ll put that in writing! (oh, I guess I just did) My lovely radio alarm clock at home gently wakes me with the sounds of 100.3 The Q radio station. I hit ‘snooze’ and am allowed 10 minutes before it tries again. The travel alarm, on the other hand, is not so gentle and diplomatic. No!!! It’s ‘SCREECH … SCREECH … SCREECH …” is more like the threat of nuclear war, and once the ‘snooze’ button is hit it’s displeasure at our lack of rising is shown again in only 5 minutes. My guess is that the designer of this travel alarm clock is the kind of person who needs to throw the waking devise across the room before waging the war against daylight. This could be the only reason for allowing such a short naptime between snooze hits.

I digress, and you want to know how we continued our day . . .

Once up and showered we went down to the motels “breakfast room” (we had vouchers for what they loosely call 2 free Continental Breakfast’s. Which consists of a choice between two containers of dry cereals, a carton of milk, percolated coffee, and some baked goods that look like they were meant to feed small Keebler elves – mini danishes, and petite dry muffins.

From this vast array of food choices we got our mornings nourishing start, and off we left on our excursion to Universal Studio’s - deep in the heart of Los Angeles. We had our “” downloaded directions and headed out to the freeway. This is were I will share my umbrage with Expedia. Expedia gives very detailed directions, stating the length of time and distance for each leg of the journey. Each Exit and On ramp are clearly marked and noted in distance, right down to the point of a mile (ie. 1.2 miles). However, and this is where I take umbrage, whomever it is that calculates out how long you will travel each leg obviously hasn’t traveled these same routes themselves. What was clearly printed as taking only 45 minutes to travel from our motel in Anaheim to the parking lot at Universal, in fact took us 1 hour and 30 minutes. These precise calculators did not factor in the constant traffic jams that exist in this part of the world.

I see I’ve digressed again and rather gone off on a tangent. My apologies.

Upon arrival of the front gates …

we stopped for a Kodak moment to celebrate the occasion. These are the front gates of Universal Studio’s. I was excited to walk the red carpet. Once through the gates, and after thoroughly consulting our “Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, California Adventures, and Universal Studio’s Guide” we knew we needed to high-tail it to the lower level. Which meant we needed to walk past everything else we were going to see later, and traverse three sets of extremely long escalators to reach the lower level area. Within this section is the new ride “The Mummy” (taken from the Universal Studio’s movie of the same name) which is like many of the rides at Disneyland – a car on a track the takes you on a scary 1.5 minute decent into hell and back. Scary because it travels at the speed of light, in the dark, and half of it you travel backwards. T REALLY enjoyed this ride, but I found that it was over all to quickly. Barely worth the amount of time you spent standing in line.

None-the-less we tucked this ride under and belt and headed off to conquer the next big thrill – Jurassic Park the Ride. This one you are guaranteed to get wet. Much like the movie you ride in a water tight jeep style vehicle, and take the ‘tour’, but somewhere along the route trouble unfolds are you are met – face to face – with several spitting, biting, clawing oversized pre-historic lizards that are looking for a tasty meal. What fun!! I enjoyed this one best so far.

We were so soaked that we chose to take the “Backdraft” tour next. This is a walking tour of the making of the movie “Backdraft”. Your tour (as a small group of 50) walks through three stages. Each explaining, via TV monitor with a dialogue from Opi (I forgot the actors name – that kid from Mayberry who grew up to be a Director of some of the best movies going). Opi explained some of the intricate ins and outs and problems with filming this movie. But the last stage was a re-enactment of how an industrial fire could spark and flow. Very cool!!! Not really ‘cool’ per sae, actually temperatures in that room reach well over acceptable comfort very quickly. Explosions, fireworks, and tilting walk-ways were people are standing. Down-right exhilarating!

It is safe to say here that although we were soaking wet upon entering the venue, our clothes were toasty dry upon exiting.

It was closing in on noon by this time, and we had wanted to take in “The Mummy” one more time, but the line up was extensive and we had so much more we wanted to see. Our only means of getting back to the upper level was the extensively long escalator I mentioned previously. Up we went.

Back on the upper level we quickly assessed the needs of our stomachs, and the next available “Water World” showing.

Water World won. This is picture represents the back drop to a mini version of the movie. Except it has real people, live action, explosions, and . . . . the potential for viewers to get . . . soaking wet. By the time that T and I got into the stands the only available seats were in the ‘soak zone’. Perched we were, ready to feast our eyes on another thrill packed entertainment package. And thrilled we were too!! What you can’t see in this picture very well are the many levels that would be covered by said troop of actors. Many prat falls off of high gang planks. High speed sea-doo’s zippy around with battling good against evil, and one speed boat carrying the villain. And even, to my amazement and extreme surprise – a small, but authentic, plane is vaulted over this backdrop into the pool you see before us – with nary a wire or cable to propel it. (You see the crane on the left hand side, which we quickly surmise is how the plane is hoisted back into place for the next showing, but is in fact used during the 30 minute show to have a man dangled upside down from).

NOW we were starving, and after leaving Water World we attempted to find a restaurant or food bar that would take care of us. We located a

(no only kidding – T didn’t catch this fish, nor did we have shark for lunch. This was just a little extra entertainment and photo op on our trail to find …) 50’s style diner which more that adequately, but not cheaply, filled the need. Here is were I made the demand purchase of a drink container in the shape of …

Sorry, no picture ….

Drum roll please ….

In the shape of ….. Spongebob Squarepants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes – it’s true – I have found my earthly Nirvana. Spongebob Squarepants is at Universal Studio’s!!! In fact I made little children cry in my efforts to get this picture.

OK. I’m only kidding about making little kids cry. There were only two little blonde girls in front of me and they thought I was a sad excuse for an adult and let me go first. Although Spongebob wasn’t as excited to see me as I was to see him, Patrick appeared to take one step away as I sidled up between the two. Undaunted, I pose proudly for my official photo. For the life of me, however, I don’t know who that rather large woman in the black t-shirt is.

The picture taking prompted a stop at the Nickelodeon Souvenir shop. I had intended in only purchasing 1 wee Spongebob keychain, but upon the hubby’s insistence I waltzed away with not only the key chain, but a T-Shirt, picture frame, and slippers. So you see folks – I am not the one who buys all the Spongebob paraphernalia.

After filling my boots here we tried out Shrek and Donkey 4-D the movie (very very very cool and fun), Van Helsing Fortress Dracula Spook House (very scary with real people popping out to creep the life out of you), Back to the Future ride (so-so), and Terminator 2: 3-D (also a very cool 3-D experience – much better glasses than at Disneyland).

And just when you thought I was going to finish . . . . we finished off our day at Universal Studio’s by taking the Studio Tour. On this tour we travelled through the actual sound studio’s for Universal. Past many sound stages that film many of our TV shows. And for the life of me at this moment – I can’t think of the name of a single one. I should have taken notes.

Anyway – also in this tour we went through the Studio backlot. Where there are many familiar streets and buildings that are all fake fronts. Here …

is what has doubled for City Hall for movies, but could be recognized as Cesar’s (or whomever the big was) Palace in the movie “Gladiator”.

We also travelled down what looked like your average towns residential street. It had recently been repainted and cleaned up for the filming of the new series “Desperate Housewives”. This …

is one of the fake houses on the fake street where they live. And for some of you 60’s TV Show buffs - this house is also that one the Munsters lived at. Cool, huh? Does anyone remember the street address? 1313 Mockingbird Lane. (Oh I’m a sick mind for trivial knowledge).

This was an incredibly enjoyable day. Probably because I love TV and movies, and to be there where they are created was just a fabulous feeling for me. There was more that we saw, but I can see this is turning out to be one huge entry, and I’m exhausted. So I’ll leave you with one last photo.

My tired, sore, swollen feet and ankles lovingly being warmed by Spongebob.

Still more holiday adventures to come. Cheers - LJ

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