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Universal Studios, California (4 years later)

I’ve already done a fairly comprehensive review from last time we went: part one and part two. So if you’re going, read those posts first, however there have been a lot of changes since then, so here’s a bit more to know…

First; don’t go during spring break. We did and it was a huge mistake – the place was more packed than ever; you could barely move and the queues for the rides were ridiculously long. Get there early. At least we managed to do that, so the first places we went were fine.

Here’s a good tip: once you’ve bought your ticket and gone through the turnstiles, hang around with the map looking a bit lost. If you’re lucky, you may get approached by a member of staff asking to ask a few questions. Do it! It doesn’t take more than 5 minutes and we got front of the queue passes to the studio tour. It saved us a 50 minute queue later in the day and meant we could do some rides first and not worry about rushing to the studio tour. We also were told 1 week before it was announced in the media, that they’re building Diagan Alley from Harry Potter in Universal Studios, Florida, and the Hogwarts express will take you from there to the other park for Hogsmead. Now we have to go back there again too!

I’ll quickly list the changes from when we went 4 years ago:
No backdraft fire effects show.
No sound effects show.
No terminator 3D show
New King Kong 3D bit in the studio tour
New Transformers 3D ride
New special effects show
There was also a large area right in the middle where they were building something new, but I have no idea what.

So, we did the new transformers ride first, which was amazing! We should have ridden it straight away again because later the queues were more than an hour long. It’s a motion simulator, similar to the spiderman ride in Florida, with amazing 3D effects so you really do feel like the characters were there in front of you. There was more movement though, so you did shift to different spaces, but it was so cleverly done, you may have just been going back and forth to just 2 different rooms.

Then did Jurassic park, which was great fun. The ride had a bit of a glitch though, so before the drop there was a queue of boats waiting to go down, which did spoil it. I kept my eyes open this time!

Then my eldest daughter and I finally had the courage to do the Mummy ride. Oh my god. What a build up; and we had to queue for 40 minutes by then already, and in the end it was rubbish! My prediction is that’s the next ride to go. It starts off great – slowly moving past amazing sets and props replicating those in the film, but the actual roller coaster bit was a complete disappointment. It was in the dark, and quite fast, so a little scary, and then just neon rope lights in the shape of a supposedly scary face lit up as you went past. It felt incredibly dated and not worth the queue at all.

Next, queued for 50 minutes for the Simpsons ride, which the kids loved. It’s so funny, and at least you are entertained in the queue. We did the new special effects show, which younger kids would enjoy more because the jokes were so naff. However, it was entertaining and you get to sit down in the shade. We saw the Waterworld show again, universal2which had been altered slightly to include many more stunts and special effects than last time. Still a very good show. The animal actors was fun and we saw the dog from Marley and Me, so hopefully the kids won’t be so sad about it now! (Deliberately never watched that film.) They refused to do the house of horrors though, and now I wish I’d gone through by myself.

universal3We did the studio tour and that was quite different too. We didn’t go over the broken bridge, or do the bit where you go through the water. Maybe things were being filmed there. The new Peter Jackson and King Kong bit is brilliant. We had to be quiet past filming of a commercial, but didn’t see anyone famous. This is still my favourite part of the park and they had built more since we last went.

We were finished by 6pm easily. The only thing we didn’t do was the Shrek 4D show, which I couldn’t be bothered to queue for as we’d seen it before. So it’s a park easily done in one day. I was a little disappointed by this as I didn’t want to leave! I still prefer it to Disneyland.

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