It’s a seldom event that you get to visit the place of your dreams. I grew up looking at the Disneyland and Universal studios in movies and had dreamt of going there since childhood and when I got a chance to visit Universal Studios Hollywood it was a dream come true. There are not a lot of places which exceeds your expectations and especially when you have such high expectaions and dreamt of it since childhood but I must say Universal exceeds my expectations. I thought of Universal as an amusement park with crazy roller coasters and thrilling rides. Rides are definitely thrilling but in a unique way. Almost all the rides/shows have a VR component to them, apart from the amazing rides, there are live shows, character sightings and they have this amazing tour of Universal Studios where they take you to show they shoot various scenes of movies. All in all, it is an amazing experience and I was so happy and satisfied that I ended up buying the annual membership pass at the end.
We had just one day in Universal so we got an express entry pass which was totally worth it, it’s impossible to go all the rides in a day without the express pass. We started our day with Universal studios tour which is a must go in Universal. Tour lasts for around 1 hour and takes you through the Hollywood Studios where they shoot movies. A bus ride takes you through the Studios and they show all the places and how they utilize a place to shot movies. The best part of the tour is the King Kong and Fast & Furious 3-D show. Imagine yourself sitting on a bus which takes you in one of the world largest 3-D theatres with a 360-degree view and watching a 3-D movie. The effects are such unique and the story is well integrated to make you feel as if you are a part of the story.
Another major attraction and probably the most famous of Universal is the Harry Potter world they have created within the Park. There is a whole section of the park decided to Harry Potter which have 1 Roller Coaster, a 3-D Animated roller coaster and a lot of Harry Potter shops to buy the best Harry Potter Merchandise there is. The 3-D ride is crazy, it makes you feel as if you are sitting on a broom and flying alongside Harry Potter and exploring Hogwarts. It takes you through some of the halls, quidditch Stadium, in and around the Hogwarts and the animated effects are so real that it makes it a fascinating experience. Another literal spellbinding experience is the magic wand which you can use at various places inside the park to do a magic trick. You can buy a magic wand as a merchandise and there are several places in the Harry Potter world where you can use these wands to open boxes/doors with a magical spell. You rotate your wand say the magical words which are different for every box/door and whola the box/door opens!! It literally feels like you are doing magic. There is also a roller coaster which is built to give you a tour of the castle with the theme of Hagrid’s house. Even though I am not a Potter head Harry Potter world inside Universal is simply an enchanting experience.
Apart from Harry Potter, I loved the Transformers-themed ride. Using 3D HD media and flight simulation technology they have created this mind-blowing adventure where you fight alongside Optimus Prime against Decepticons. Throughout the ride you get hit by Decepticons, chase them, fall from a building; just like Harry Potter flight simulation and 3-D effects makes this ride one of the best rides that Universal has to offer. All the rides in Universal have 3-D effects expect “The Mummy”, this one is like other enclosed roller coasters with the theme of The Mummy film franchise. There is also a Simpsons themed ride which is also based on 3D media and flight simulation technology Simpsons is another ride which I really liked. Apart from this there are also rides based on Kungfu Panda and Minions. Universal has integrated technology in an amazing way with its rides and it’s amazing to see how they have a fusion of 3D media and flight simulation technology to create this one of a kind Theme park.
There are a lot of live shows put up inside Universal. One of them is the Animal Actors where you can see the Trainers performing a show with animals and these animals are the ones which are used by Hollywood in their movies. Along with the show, they introduce you to all the animals and also tell which movies they were used in. Animal Actors is really fun to watch. Another show is called Special Effects show where they show how various Special effects are created in movies, how they put a man on fire, how do they make people fly, slow motion, motion capture and others. This one is compelling to watch and next time I watch a movie probably I can figure out how they created a special effect. My personal favourite show was Waterworld a stunt show, in which they have created this whole story takes you to a time when all the land is submerged with water, there are some stations where people are living in constant search of land and they get attacked by one of the villains. Universal has created this amazing action-packed show a lot of effects like a flying car, pyrotechnic effects and much more. There are specific timeslots for all the shows and happen twice or thrice a day so make sure to plan the day such that you get time for all the shows as well.
Apart from rides and show, there are also a lot of character appearances which goes on throughout the park, they have fixed timing for character appearances but we could spot most of them easily while walking around the park. We were able to spot Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, The Simpsons, Shrek, Donkey and Princess Fiona, Scooby-Doo, Shaggy and many others.
At the end of the day, we were glad that we bought the Express Pass else it would have been impossible to cover all this in a day. There is a special line for single riders where they fill in the single spots available on the ride, If you are visiting alone or ready to split up and ride individually there is no need to get an express Pass, single rider line is as fast an Express entry.
I was so happy after our visit to Universal not just because it was one of my dream places but also because it lives up to its expectation and it truly one of the best amusement park out there.