A few posts ago I talked about our trip to Disneyland and my general intolerance for the whole thing. If you haven’t read that post, it’s aptly titled “I’m going to throat punch a princess”… gives you a little idea of what I thought about Disneyland. I suggest you read it since it’ll give you an idea of what I’m comparing Universal Studios to, but you don’t have to. It’s OK, I can handle rejection.
Anyway, the saving grace of our California vacation was, most definitely, the day we went to Universal Studios. All five of us agreed that it was the best day of the trip, hands down. And to get all of us to agree on anything is saying something.
The only downside was that the drive over there because it sucked. It was about a 30 mile drive from where we were staying which is nothing back where we come from. We live 30 miles from the ‘big city’ (that’s a relative term, just so you know) and we drive there in about 30 minutes, no biggie. But not here. No, this was our introduction to LA traffic. It took us an hour and a half to get over there….an hour and a half and a lot of the husband cussing under his breath. Oh, and here’s an interesting side note: the motorcyclists in California can split the lanes so it’s not unusual to have what appears to be a guided missile fly by your window when your stuck in traffic. Don’t stick your hand out the window without checking your mirror…just sayin.
So, with the help of the car’s navigation system, which we have nicknamed Edna because she sounds like Edna Mode from the Incredibles, we found our way to Universal. We took the obligatory pictures in front the Universal globe and then into the park we went.
Let me tell you how I knew this was going to be an awesome day: Lucille Ball and Dracula met us right inside the gate. Oh yeah…this was my kind of place. Not only were the characters right there, no stalking them ala Disneyland, they were awesome! Over the course of the day we had our picture taken with Lucy, Dracula, Marilyn Monroe, the Scooby Doo gang, Spongebob, Curious George, Jaws, the Despicable Me Minions, Woody Woodpecker and Frankenstein. No waiting in line for 45 minutes…they were just there, hanging out. It was awesome!
We are total movie nerds anyway, so Universal is right up our alley. We couldn’t wait to take the kids on the tram ride so they could see all the backstage stuff. They loved it! They recognized the downtown area from several movies and we even got to see people auditioning for America’s Got Talent. The psycho house and Bates motel, complete with Norman Bates actor, the old west town and flash flood were all neat things to see. And the King Kong v. T-Rex thing is just too cool. The only bummer is that the Jaws area was being repaired…that was the one that I was really looking forward to. Also, our tram operator was hilarious and made the ride even that much better.
Once we were done there we went to the Waterworld show. Waterworld was not one of my favorite movies but I have to say that the show is pretty cool. The stuntmen do some amazing water stunts, not to mention the guy that lights himself on fire and then falls 45′ into the water. Plus we got to stay around after the show and meet some of the stuntmen.
We filled the afternoon with more rides and more shows. Kate won a giant stuffed ninja penguin by shooting basketballs in their midway area. The guy gave her extra shots because he totally didn’t think she could do it and then she sank back to back baskets to win it. She was super proud of it even though we had to lug it around with us for the rest of the day.
The last thing we did before we left the park was the Haunted House maze. We had all lined up to go in and then the girls had second thoughts about it so Mike & I ended up taking them out and Wyatt went through by himself. This was the one thing I really wanted to do so when Wyatt came out, he waited with the girls while Mike & I got to go in. I love scary movies but I was a little nervous to go through it. It was a good thing we didn’t take the girls through because it was wonderfully freakingly awesome and scary! I screamed and giggled uncontrollably throughout the whole thing.
When you first go in, it’s totally dark and you can hear the people ahead of you screaming so you know something is coming. We turned a corner and a strobe light came on in a sudden burst. There’s a Nosferatu lookin’ guy in the corner staring at you and then it goes dark. The next second it comes on again and he’s right beside you. Right there. Leaning in like, I’m-going-to-eat-your-eyeballs close. I screamed. Loudly.
There’s lots of wonderful scares and the actors are really awesome because even though you know they aren’t going to touch you, they get really, really close to it. The best part was when we went into the room were the werewolf and Van Helsing are…you walk through it on this little bridge-like walkway that has solid wooden sides up to about your waist. There’s a werewolf statue on one side with a woman in it’s arms and on the other side is a statue of Van Helsing. I was absolutely sure that one of these was going to move so I was completely focused on them. I’m starring at Van Helsing, waiting for him to move and I finally decide he’s not going to so I start to look back over at the werewolf, because that must be where the scare is going to come from, when this guy launches himself over the side of the bridge right next to me. I freaked out. No…I really freaked out. I screamed and started backpedalling away from this thing, completely running over Mike in the process. I was shoving him backward as I was backing up but I had stepped on his foot so he couldn’t move. That didn’t stop me from practically climbing over the top of him in my very best imitation of Shaggy & Scooby when they see a ghost. I ended up knocking him into the poor guy behind us and, in general, causing a huge scene. Like I said, I freaked out just a bit. And the crazy thing is that I can’t even tell you if the guy was dressed like a werewolf. I didn’t even see him that well, just a dark shape launching over the railing in my peripheral vision. From there on I was a mess and all I could do was giggle ridiculously through the rest of the maze. It was so awesome!
And the awesomeness didn’t stop there. We decided to go through the CityWalk area right outside the gates and see if we could find a good place to eat. We took a picture under King Kong and while we were looking for restaurants, Wyatt saw a sign for iFly indoor skydiving. We walked down to check it out and after watching for a few minutes Mike decided we had to do it. Me, I’m not much of a heights/falling-to-my-death type of person, so I was skeptical. But since I won’t ever actually skydive, I figured this was a good alternative.
|The whole family, suited up and ready to fly. We look like airborne smurfs.|
|Me, acting like a dork, as per usual.|
Our instructor explained what we would be doing and the instructions he would be giving us and then we were led to the giant wind tunnel. Abby went first and it was fun to watch her following the instructions to keep herself flying. Then the instructor took ahold of her arm and leg and flew her all the way up to the top of the tunnel and back down several times. That freaked me out a bit.
When it was my turn I wasn’t sure what to expect when I jumped off of the doorway and into the wind, but it I know I wasn’t expecting how it felt. I didn’t feel like I was falling at all…it really was like flying. And it was amazing! We each got to go in two times and the instructor taught us how to move our legs to make us go forward and back and how to make 360′ turns. The kids were completely hooked. Wyatt wanted to go again and again but it was kinda spendy so we just did the one session. They were already planning a trip to Seattle to visit the nearest iFly location to our home.
We finished out the night with a great dinner at the HardRock Cafe and coffee at Starbucks. It was the perfect end to the best day of our vacation. Even the 2 hour return trip through evening traffic didn’t bother us. In fact, on the last day of our vacation we got done with our last few rides at Disneyland by noon and decided to make the drive to Universal Studios again, just to let the kids have more time in the iFly wind tunnel.
So, would I go back to Disneyland again? Mhe. Probably not. But I would go to Universal Studios and the CityWalk again and again.