Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Universal Studios Hollywood and The New Adventures of Old Christine, California

Today we went to Universal Studios Hollywood. This entertainment center is made up of two distinctive areas which include the Theme Park/Studio Tour and the City Walk. The City Walk area is an outdoor mall that gives you the feel that you are walking through a downtown area of a city. It is full of movie theaters, shops (themed by the Universal movies and TV shows) and restaurants. This area is located outside the theme park and is free except for parking. The positioning of parking requires you to walk through this area to get to the actual theme park and studio tours - very cleaver. Once in the park there are three areas to explore and experience: the Upper Lot (which is the main area), the Lower Lot (nestled amongst actual studios) and the Studio Tour (lower outdoor movie sets). To start, it's recommended to do the Studio Tour right away before the crowds grow too large. So that's what we did. The Studio Tour is a narrated tram ride that takes you through many actual outdoor sets like those used by Desperate Housewives TV show as well as the neighborhood airplane crash scene used in the movie War of the Worlds and many more. The tram narrator provided information and video clips about each set that made the stops that much more interesting. It was very interesting how the small scale of the sets is made to seem actual or larger size in the various movies or TV shows. The tram tour also includes specifically designed themed attractions like Jurassic Park and Jaws where the tram is rushed by dinosaurs or attacked by a robotic shark. The tram narrator hams up the these campy scenarios. These themed scenarios make up about fifty percent of what you will see on the tour.

After our tour, we explored the Lower Lot which has a handful of attractions and rides. We found the best ride in the park to be the Revenge of the Mummy. The other attractions were more like demonstrations on how special effects are done with one show devoted to the movie Backdraft. We got hungry, of course, so we ate at the Jurassic Cove Cafe which included a Panada Express chain restaurant. The food quality and portions were good and what you would expect from a fast food Chinese restaurant.

Stomachs full, we turned our focus to the Upper Lot. This area has more restaurants rides, attractions and outdoor shows like WaterWorld. Everything in all areas carries theme of Universal's movie and TV offerings. In general we were disappointed with this theme park. We found the attractions to be a little campy and fewer in number than expected. It seemed the number of gift shops and restaurants far out-numbered the actual attractions. We would not recommend this park unless you are a huge move and TV fan.

Tips:
1. If you want Jay Leno show ticket (which are free), go to the Hollywood Ticket Outlet on the Upper Lot and ask if tickets are available for the current week's show. We went directly to this ticket office when we got into the park and were rewarded with our choice of two nights to choose from. They have a list of who will be appearing on the show which helped us choose a date.

2. General parking is $12, but you can purchase preferred parking for $20 which puts you closer to the entrance if needed. If you go off season and don't mind a little walk then $12 "non-preferred" parking lot is just fine.

3. Citypasses can be purchased in various locations, or you can find other discounted tickets for Universal. Check local tourist information, visitors guides, etc.. We purchased our Citypass for $219 per adult at Costco, which gives us admission to Universal Studios, a 3-day parkhopper to Disneyland & California Adventure, Sea World and Sand Diego Zoo. Costco seemed to have the best price in citypasses, we've seen them for the $270 range elsewhere.

4. Universal Studios dining accepts AAA discount and offered 10% off the price of food and drinks.

5. Sit on the left side of the tram tour - you'll see more and be able to take more photos without a bunch of heads in the way.



To finish out our day, we attended the filming of the sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. We got our free tickets online at the Audiences Unlimited website. This was great way to see the filming of a sitcom. You can see the "behind the scenes" of how the director, writers, and actors work together. The actors film a scene, then based on the audience reaction to jokes and how the writers felt the script worked, it was rewritten and retaped. We got to see the dialogues tweaked several times for each scene. During the many pauses in the shooting to change the script, a comedian entertained and educated the audience, which was actually quite a bit if fun. We didn't even know this show very well, but still enjoyed our visit quite a bit.

Tip: We were surprised by the very few tourists in the audience - there were many locals and groups. We found out that groups can go to these free tapings for fundraisers, and each member receives $20. If you're in a group of 10 or more, when you make your reservations, you may be pleasantly surprised to make a few bucks, as well as have a few good laughs!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, we love "Old Christine"... that's great you got to see it live.

- Janelle

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