Sunday, November 14, 2010

Universal Studios Hollywood- Universal City: Part 3

Universal Studios Hollywood Sign

Part 3 is finally here! If you haven't already read the earlier parts yet, here are the links for your reference: Universal Studios Hollywood- Universal City: Part 1 and Universal Studios Hollywood- Universal City: Part 2.

As stated earlier, Part 3 is about the long wait for the Studio Tour, the Studio Tour itself, and beef stew and wonton noodle soup at Garden Cafe- Arcadia.

Curious George Waterfall

After planning out our schedule for the rest of the trip, we decided to go for the Studio Tour, even if it would be a two hour wait. Besides, it is after all the main attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood! A sea of people were waiting in line. Well, you could basically skip the line if you had a VIP pass, but that would be an additional 100 dollars per person approximately. I'd rather spend that on a nice meal somewhere instead.

Studio Tour Logo

Even just reaching the Studio Tour sign took almost 15 minutes. Not a very good outlook for sure. At least the water misters were on full blast.

Waiting in Line 1

To make people not as bored while waiting in line, there were some posters on the side about Universal's history. It entertained us for a while, but not enough. However, the people waiting in line were much more entertaining. There was a mother and her son who were really pushing themselves to go quicker in the line, and the mom was definitely being the leader of the pack. She forced her son to move on so that they would be packed as tightly as possible among everyone else. When her son tried to say no, she replied, "We are here to move!" But, this story just got better.

View

The mom then got angry at other people for movingr in front of her who were before, in front of her. I was to her front right, and soon enough she was slightly ahead of me. As people tried to regain their position in the line after slumping back a bit, she started to get angry at them. "You are not moving in front of me! You can't cut in line!" Well, that being said she was being a hypocrite, as she was cutting in front of people, although not by much.

Waiting in Line 2

Soon she was probably ahead by about five feet of me, which was quite the distance. There was a better view to enjoy, and thus I took some photos. It was quite hot already, and taking some photos cured a bit of boredness. One friend of mine got quite ahead by this point from another friend and I as well. Different portions of the fat line moved differently, and the people who were closer to the poster side a good 50 to 100 feet ahead!

Employees with Water Guns 

There was then a break section where an escalator moved everyone down to the lower snaking line portion. When that happened, the mother and the son cut in front of people who had waited an hour and a half more compared to her. Talk about not teaching her son good values! In comparison to the dad who was teaching his sons NOT to cut in line this mom was doing the direct opposite. And she was not having an enjoyable time either.

Anyway, more entertainment came about in the bottom section with water guns. The employees didn't spray at me, but occasionally they sprayed at some people for fun.

Snake Line

By this portion in the line, we had probably waited a total of almost two hours. To get a feeling for how the line works, the people in the right came in from the escalators, and thus they had to go all the way to the back of this image where there were plenty of trees. Then, they had to snake probably about 10 times to reach the starting of the blue section, and from the blue section about another 20 times to reach the Studio Tour cars. This spot was around where the mom and son cut in line deliberately. Talk about cutting!

For entertainment in this spot, there were TV's with information talking about films from the past. The posters to each side also had information on old movies. However, everything started to get repetitive. The TV looped what it had shown for at least another three times while we were there and the posters were not well maintained and quite blurry to look at.

Panoramic-1

Panoramic-2

Eventually we did arrive at the loading dock. Can you see how long the lines were? That's how it was during the weekends, and the blue section was only one third of the wait. Some people told me later though that if you visited on the weekdays though there would be virtually no wait at all. Now you know! We also picked up 3D glasses at this point.

Solar Panels

It was nice to finally sit down on the tram and enjoy the ride. As the tram waited for everyone to sit down, I noticed this sign for solar panels. How interesting! But I didn't see the other panels during the tour.

Studio Tour

And yes! The tour started. Our tour guide talked from the front of the vehicle and her explanations were broadcast on the displays.

Back Lot Cafe
Despicable Me

We drove past quite a few interesting things before we arrived on a outdoor set. Above is the Back Lot Cafe which the tour guide did not talk about, as well as another "Despicable Me" advertising scheme. These stages you see in the pictures are used both for movie taking as well as for the Studio Tour. They are all intermixed between each other, and on the Studio Tour this time I went through three of them.



Hasbro Mr. Potato Head

We also passed by several living sections. One featured Mr. Potato Head for Hasbro.
Movie Trailers

And before we arrived onto the outdoor set we passed by some trailers. What a large set!

Studio Set

Now, does this look at all real to you? This section by the way was the section that had been burnt a few years ago, and the tour guide commented they have done their best to redo the outdoor set so it would be better than ever before. If you look carefully the door next to the tree has an actual door with real window openings, but the ones to the far right are just painted.
Studio Set- London

I believe this is a replica of London? Or is it Beverly Hills?

Studio Set- Chapel

We also passed by a chapel, which the guide said was a very  flexible building to use as it could serve for multiple purposes in a movie.

Buildings

And then there were even more replica buildings! These really looked great for a movie.

Studio Set- Chinatown

Hey! That's a replica of a Chinese butcher shop in a Chinatown somewhere. How interesting.

Picture Cars

The tram then moved on to talk about the various cars used in movies. For example there were Ferraris, but the engine had been taken out and switched for one by VW. There were also old cars.


Click on the play button to see some cars, as well as a fun Fast and the Furious section involving dancing cars!
King Kong Entrance

When we arrived at this entrance, it was quite obvious something special was going to happen- King Kong 3D! I did not take any pictures inside as water could spray out, but the effect was quite real. Screens all across the tram gave an nice effect and the tram also moved around lightly to make the simulation feel real. Overall it was quite nice, and yes we did get wet. Not bad at all compared to during the morning, so that was fine!

Studio Set- Mexico

You might have thought that there would be no more chances to get wet during the tour, but that would be a false assumption. A weather forecast was brought out on various places in Universal Studios and one said rain. Guess what? Simulated rain actually came. The buildings dripped with rain and a large wave of water came through to hit the left side of the car. I was on the far right, so I did not get wet from this.

Bird @ Studio Set- Mexico

There was also a bird standing on the roof, which distracted me from the rain before it actually started. The scene with the bird just looked very beautiful, as if the bird was either very lonely or very "strong."

New Mexico Section

 After that we passed by more replica buildings, this time with a Western theme.

Lake

This lake here could be used to shoot water scenes, but it was just only one of the few places where movie makers could choose to shoot water scenes; we saw quite a few interesting places later, like a large water tank.

Bunnies

Bunnies! Only if I could have gotten closer to them to take a close up, this was all the zoom could do from the car.

Water

We then reached another opportunity to possibly get wet, as the tram moved slightly inwards to a flow of water that streamed from the lake.

Entrance to Working Set- Subway

After looking at some supply sets for movies we reached another special stage- a working movie set! Really, that was more a lie, since other people I talked to later said they saw the same thing more than ten years ago.

Subway

Now that I am looking at the picture I took I can see why this set was old- the Minute Maid container is not even the most current one! Anyway, what happened with this scene was that it got all dark and then there were special effects of water, large noises, and random things coming from the ceiling and other places. Quite a scary place to be, if you don't like disaster scenes.

Boat-Lake

We then reached a scene with another lake that seemed to be peaceful, but then there was...


...a shark scene! And the shark ate the dummy person.

Homes

We then drove by plenty of beautiful homes also. They had plenty of new cars too, like that E Class Convertible which at the time was not widely available in dealers yet!


Then we passed by a snowy Christmas scene section. Quite large hmm?

Old Style Scene

Right after seeing the snowy scene there was a scene with a old style motel. It gave me a flashback to older movies and the bare tree coupled with the old car further enhanced that feeling.

Plane Crash Scene

And yet again, we passed by another disaster scene, this time for a plane crash with a Boeing. The plane was to the left and I was to the right, so I did not bother to take a picture.

Universal Studios Car

Time for a relaxing drive back to the loading zone for the Studio Tour. Almost!

Wood Cabin Home

We then passed by a wood cabin home. Very relaxing, but it was yet another set to be used for movie taking.

Water Set

See the back? That's the other water set I was talking about where producers could shoot water scenes. We then went through a Mummy feature section with rolling tunnels. And after that, it was...

View

Back to the original place where we started the tour! Same scene, different timing and lighting.

Panoramic-AfterTour

There was still yet a giant line, although tours were going to close soon. Here's another perspective of the line- the outdoor section before one would enter the blue section.


And the upper portion of the line can be seen through the video. Really, it's not that long, but the line moved very slowly during peak hours. Not fun at all.

Taxi

On the way back to the main entrance of Universal Studios, we passed by a old style taxi.

Universal Studios Hollywood Fountain

And then we saw the fountain at the entrance yet again! It is quite a popular people for people to sit down and rest, and kids like the mist from the fountain too.

Universal Studios Logo

I did not take that great of a picture in the morning with the globe, so I tried again after going out. And this one was more interesting, especially with the lighting.

Universal Citywalk 1

We then decided to run through Citywalk. 

Universal Citywalk 2

Ready, set, run! I took all these pictures while jogging through Citywalk. And what an interesting site it was. There were plenty of good restaurants to eat at. I noticed this was the place where Food Network shot at for one of their shows. And there was a Yogurtland too! It would have been nice for my friend to try out this frozen yogurt fad, but we were pressed for time and had to leave.

Beef Tendon and Wonton Noodle Soup @ Garden Cafe Arcadia

And back at home one friend treated us to a meal at Garden Cafe- Arcadia. The original plan was to go to Tasty Garden- Arcadia as the food there is better, but then they were filled with people. At least our meal was OK at Garden, and we also got free soup which Tasty Garden doe not offer. If you didn't notice compared to my older photos of Garden, they have revamped their plates. Gone are the pretty blue plates, in are some drab and smaller white plates with the exception of traditional American soup bowls and entree plates. And the condiment tray doesn't use bottles, instead they are jars with spoons now. Not very convenient when the bowl of beef stew + wonton noodle soup required plenty of vinegar to boost the flavor in this occasion.

Overall? A fun day nevertheless. And for those who reached this part of the post, thanks for sticking in to see over 46 pictures and 4 videos. :).

Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal Terrace Parkway
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Tel: (818) 622-3801

Garden Cafe-Arcadia
850 S Baldwin Ave
Arcadia, CA 91007
Tel: (626) 446-0688

2 comments:

noobcook said...

There's newly-opened universal studios theme park in Singapore, but it's really mini compared to the other venues. Looks like you had a good time :)

EatTravelEat said...

noobcook,
Yep, we certainly did! I should check out Universal Studios in Singapore if I ever get to go! :)