Ever since my dad shifted careers to start working for the movie ticket broker Fandango, we’ve had the chance to enjoy a number of benefits.
Up to this point those benefits have been rather specifically movie ticket related (for obvious reasons). However, today we got to take advantage of benefits related to the company’s attachment with NBC Universal:
That’s right, we went to Universal Studios, y’all.
I had a blast spending the day with my family — pictured above in the featured image if it wasn’t clear to everyone — and just wanted to take a little bit of time to debrief myself from the trip and publish a couple of the pictures. Who knows, maybe that can serve an auxiliary purpose of showing some people the theme park/studio lot who can’t get there.
He says as if there aren’t plenty of outlets for that already.
But I digress. The day began, funnily enough, with work. I still work with the Gladeo League, and every two weeks (more or less) we have meetings over Google Hangouts. Naturally I forgot that today was the day I had a meeting at the same time as we needed to drive up.
Luckily it took plenty of time to get up to Universal.
Check out that fancy map
I would like to take this chance to apologize to Michelle and everyone else again for having to deal with my jostling around in the car during our meeting. If any of you happen to be reading this.
That said, even if you guys are reading this, I’m sure neither you nor the rest of the audience is interested in the logistics of driving to a theme park.
It’s all about the parking, after all.
Yeah we parked in the Frankenstein Lot. Also yeah, I got my sister to pose like everyone’s favorite amalgamate Universal monster. Also also yeah, my dad photobombed the picture.
But do I care?
Nah. It’s a great shot.
But hey, let’s jump into the park shall we?
Just kidding, got you! First I wanted to talk about this.
Look at these trees with me. These are trees outfitted with mist sprinklers. Sprinkler trees. I don’t know who came up with this idea or where they are now, but wherever they may be they should be happy I’m not there. Because I’m not sure whether to smack them for being so silly or hug them for being a genius.
It’s just so perfectly weird in all the best ways. I’m still trying to sort through my thoughts and we caught these walking into the park at 10 a.m. or so.
Okay. Now let’s get into the park. Seriously this time.
The first thing we did was wander the length of the main level to check out the different facets made available to us. Eventually we settled on the Studio Tour as our first stop.
Not included in my photo slideshow above is the interactive portions of the Tour, most notably.
The ‘ride,’ if you’re interested in calling it such, features two 3D virtual experiences. They both took place inside dark rooms with imposingly large screens surrounding the trams, which sat on rocking bases to simulate motion. One was based on King Kong and the other was based on Fast and the Furious.
There were also a number of examples of soundstage tricks throughout the time strolling around the studio lot, all capped off with a fun, snarky tour guide. Who started off the journey making fake airhorn noises.
Also in case you were curious, the Fast and the Furious portion of the Tour was just as ridiculous as the movies. Somehow they managed to pack two-and-a-half hours worth of insanity into about five minutes. Great stuff, honestly.
After finishing the Studio Tour, we moved over to check out the Simpsons region of the park.
The wait for the Simpson’s Ride was a little rich for our blood, so we decided to go straight from there to the Lower Lot.
I didn’t get a picture of the escalators down, but there were seriously at least seven. The lot is built into a crazy steep mountain.
At the bottom there are a few rides, but Aly and I did not tackle the Jurassic Park ride specifically. A few years ago I took the literal plunge with my dad when we weren’t expecting what it entailed, and the picture that was taken of us that day still graces out living room.
But that’s a story for another day.
Today our time in the Lower Lot consisted of two rides: Transformers and the Mummy.
The Transformers ride was okay, though I frankly don’t have much to say about it. It was a 3D experience similar to the two portions of the Studio Tour I described, except moving around rather than being stuck on a single panel.
It did manage to be just as ridiculous as the Fast and the Furious portion of that Tour, however. Though that is a given considering it was based on a Michael Bay experience.
I think my tweet from that time sums up my thoughts pretty succinctly.
Somehow the ride incorporated that mentality while also containing an arc where Optimus Prime died, then came back to help save the day. All within the span of about five minutes. Good stuff.
From there we moved into the Mummy, where a lot of the fun came from the lead-in. Mostly watching Aly freak out as we got closer to the front.
The ride itself actually wound up being way more intense than either of us expected. It accelerated ridiculously quickly — but of course the park planned things specifically to take photos right when those G-forces hit.
As a result, we got this gem.
I thought very hard about using this for the featured image.
But if I did, I wouldn’t be able to zoom in like this:
Talk about 100 percent pure magic.
After finishing in the Lower Lot, we moved up into the place my family was looking forward to most:
Hewlett Packard land. Everyone’s favorite technology-driven world.
I jest of course, but we really were excited for the Harry Potter stuff.
There were a couple of awesome things about this part of the park specifically. First and foremost, Butterbeer:
That stuff is real good. Enough said.
Then of course, the wands:
My dad’s job includes a discount at all the stores in the park, so we were all able to get wands of our own. Personally, I snagged a Luna Lovegood wand because of how beautiful a shape it takes:
It looks like a broom or an arrow, and it’s great. I also managed to get the last Snitch keychain on the rack and it’s just as beautiful. I’ll have to figure out what to do with it, since I’m not sure I want to actually stick it on my keys. Looks fragile, man.
My dad also got one of the special wands that interacted with parts of the park and he looked real cute walking around waving it at things.
But anyway, the other great thing about Harry Potter was the fact that my friend Tiana just so happened to be coming to the park today as well, so we met up there and jumped on the big attraction.
Honestly the line going into the ride was the best part. It had so many amazing facets to explore that were all recognizable rooms from the movie.
The ride itself was just okay, though. Fun but a little overwhelming when it rolls you totally upside down as your feet hang free.
I tapered off on photos around this part of the day. My phone had trickled down into single-digit percentages so I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my abilities to keep it alive. Basically we ate at Mel’s Diner, I had an obscenely complicated trip around the park attempting to find a bathroom and we wound up over at the Minion’s Ride. Based, of course, on Illumination’s Despicable Me.
I’ll be honest, that ride was probably the worst part of the day. It was cute, but very impersonal compared to the way a lot of the other rides were presented.
Also it reminded me a little too much of the mobile game my sister messed around with a few years back, honestly.
On the way out we hit a couple of stores.
Also here’s something we found in one of the stores that will stare into your soul for the next few nights.
From there we left the park, took that neat-o picture I used for my post’s featured image out by the big globe and went over to City Walk so Aly could drag us to Voodoo Donuts.
That, in a not-so-concise nutshell, was my day at Universal Studios. From there we drove home, where I got in some more Don’t Starve on the oh-so-convenient Nintendo Switch:
Then I started working on this blog post.
Don’t think I have too much more to say without things getting weirdly meta and self-contemplative, so I’m going to leave off where I started. I had a great day with my family and I can’t wait to see where we wind up next.