Summer Hot Spot: Universal Studios!

photouniversal1  photodespicable2 photospongebob

Looking for a great place to visit this Summer? We had the opportunity to visit Universal Studios last month and we had the best time! My son had never visited the park before and he wants to go back soon! The rides were so much fun and we loved the tours and the characters are just the best! I was actually quite impressed with Curious George and SpongeBob! I know, I know! They aren’t real but whoever is inside those costumes…they really have awesome personalities! They are fun! We saw them interacting with both adults and children. We couldn’t decide on our favorite ride but we did have a few favorites: Jurassic Park-The Ride, Transformers: The Ride-3D and the King Kong 360 3-D. You don’t want to miss these when you visit!  The King Kong 360 3-D seems so realistic!

King Kong 360 3D-Tram Transformers Characters-Prime and Bee Vertical

Photo Credit for photos above: Universal Studios.

Here’s more information on the amazing attractions at Universal Studios:

Universal City, California – It’s the chance of a lifetime to be completely immersed in the glamour and excitement of Hollywood.  Beyond its iconic red carpet entry and just inside the famed Universal Studios Hollywood gates awaits an authentic movie magic experience filled with dynamic animated characters, thrilling action heroes, resurrected mummies, roaring dinosaurs and ogre-lishis favorites.

Universal Studios Hollywood’s signature attraction, the world-renowned behind-the-scenes “Studio Tour” offers guests a unique opportunity to embark on an even closer journey to the inside workings of one of the most elusive businesses:  Hollywood magic.  With guidance from knowledgeable Studio Tour Guides and lively video narration from comedian Jimmy Fallon, guests navigate the 415-acre movie studio complex of soundstages, facades, working sets and special effects attractions.

Universal Studios Hollywood not only includes a movie-based theme park but also sits adjacent to the Universal CityWalk shopping and dining complex, the Universal CityWalk Cinemas and the Gibson Amphitheatre concert and special event venue.

Universal Studios Hollywood is “The Entertainment Capital of L.A.” and the only movie and television-based theme park to offer guests the authenticity of a working movie studio.  Within its gates, the rich heritage of movies past and all the stars and excitement of today’s Hollywood truly come alive.  The following highlights Universal Studios Hollywood attractions:

Transformers: TheRide-3D”

“Transformers:  The Ride–3D,” based on the iconic brand from Hasbro and electrifying film franchise, directed by Michael Bay, and celebrated for its multi-generational appeal, inventive storyline, spectacular action sequences and amazing special effects, will revolutionize theme park ride perceptions when it debuts as a cutting-edge mega-attraction at Universal Studios HollywoodSM in May 2012.

The dynamic, motion-based thrill ride will tell an original “TRANSFORMERS” story using original, photo-realistic 3D-HD media, sophisticated special effects masterminded by Industrial Light & Magic, and one of the most elaborate roaming flight simulator ride systems ever created.  Fusing high-tech elements with an epic new “TRANSFORMERS” tale, “Transformers:  The Ride–3D” will be Universal Studios Hollywood’s most ambitious ride ever created and will set a new standard in the world of theme park attractions, stretching the medium’s potential as an immersive and powerful storytelling vehicle.

King Kong 360 3-D Created by Peter Jackson

King Kong, among the screen’s most powerful and enduring icons, reemerged in Summer 2010 as a new signature attraction created under the direction of Peter Jackson on the famed Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour.  “King Kong 360 3-D Created by Peter Jackson” will be the largest, most intense 3D experience on the planet, combing thrilling visceral effects with the world’s largest Surround Digital projection system to create a next-generation theme park experience. In the new attraction, guests will wear special 3-D glasses as they enter a darkened soundstage aboard the Studio Tour trams and will be transported— via the magic of Surround Digital 3D projection —deep into a tangled jungle location.  They’ll find themselves caught in the middle of a titanic struggle between a 25’ Kong and a 35’ tall voracious dinosaur – action which sends the packed trams sliding ever closer to the edge of a bottomless chasm.

New Backlot Sets

After being damaged or destroyed in a June 2008 fire, the iconic sets on Universal Studios’ famed backlot are back in operation. Production resumed on the world- famous Courthouse Square, Brownstone Street and an enhanced New York Street in 2010. The new sets, including a contemporary cityscape that is the largest modern urban backlot shooting location in Los Angeles, are featured on the Studio Tour – featuring Hi-Def digital servers and flat screen monitors.


The Simpsons Ride

Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson – stars of TV’s longest running series – ride along with guests in the mega-attraction “The Simpsons Ride.” Guests are rocketed along with the Simpson family on a hysterical, almost unimaginable adventure.  Visitors experience a side of Springfield previously unexplored as they enjoy the ride’s interpretation of “Krustyland,” a new fantasy amusement park dreamed up by the show’s cantankerous Krusty the Clown. Universal’s award-winning creative team collaborated with “The Simpsons” Creator and Executive Producer Matt Groening and Executive Producer James L. Brooks to create and open the first-ever mega-attraction based on the blockbuster TV series. It features the show’s classic humor and many of its instantly recognizable characters – all voiced by the original actors.


Revenge of the Mummy—The Ride

The theme park’s first-ever roller coaster, “Revenge of the Mummy—The Ride” is based on the phenomenally popular “Mummy” films.  A state-of-the-art roller coaster, the attraction taps into rider’s primal fears through immersion in a total multi-sensory environment.  Utilizing animatronics, sophisticated motion picture technology, state-of-the-art ride, audio and robotics engineering, the ride preys upon common human phobias:  fear of the dark, fear of insects, fear of speed, fear of heights and fear of death to deliver the world’s first psychological thrill ride.


Jurassic Park—The Ride

Universal Studios Hollywood brings famed director Steven Spielberg’s epic movie roaring to life with “Jurassic Park—The Ride.”  The phenomenal interactive ride thrusts guests into the living, breathing, prehistoric world of Jurassic Park, a land where stormy skies are pierced by colossal, three-dimensional, five-story dinosaurs and a world where visitors discover that they have become prey for a terrifying T-Rex.  “Jurassic Park—The Ride” combines the most sophisticated state-of-the-art computer and robotic technology to create animatronic figures that are more advanced than any other ever designed.


Shrek 4-D

“Shrek 4-D™,” based on the DreamWorks’ Academy Award-winning hit, is a four-dimensional eye-opener to the ”Greatest Fairy Tale Never Told.” Featuring ground- breaking “OgreVision” animation and sensory immersion, “Shrek 4-D” is Universal Studios’ state-of-the-art attraction that reunites the comic talents of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow with the artistry of the animation team at PDI/DreamWorks who created the original blockbuster in an all-new animated saga that bridges the storyline between “Shrek” films.

 Adventures of Curious George

The “Adventures of Curious George” is a 30,000 square foot play zone that takes guests on a voyage through space, a wild romp in the jungle and a fun-filled trip to the zoo.  The immersive activities are divided into a trio of adventures based on entertaining antics from the timeless children’s book series.  With vivid colors and interactive amusements, “Curious George Flies to Space,”  “Curious George Goes to the Jungle” and “Curious George Visits the Zoo” are all brought to life.


WaterWorld—A Live Sea War Spectacular

Transformed into the eerie-futuristic, mist-shrouded netherworld, “WaterWorld—A Live Sea War Spectacular” represents the most complex combination of high-tech special effects, pyrotechnics, flame and human stunt work ever attempted anywhere in the world.  The attraction puts studio guests in the middle of the exciting action that  involves hundreds of stunts and fiery special effects.  Highlights include giant fireballs rising 50 feet in the air and cascading to earth in a spectacular wall of fire and a seaplane that swoops in directly above the audience, skidding across the water and coming to an explosive crash landing just inches away from startled spectators.


Terminator 2: 3D

“Terminator 2: 3D” combines thrilling live action stunts with the most sophisticated digital imaging technology ever created, projected on the world’s largest 3-D screen to achieve the visceral, immersive effect of a virtual adventure experience.  Starring the original cast from “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong and Robert Patrick have reunited with triple Oscar-winning “Titanic” writer, director and producer James Cameron in the filming of the spectacular 3D film sequel.


Universal’s Animal Actors

Taking their cue from Hollywood’s top animal trainers, the furry stars of Universal’s Animal Actor attraction give guests an entertaining behind-the-scenes peek at how some of the most lovable pets that light up the big screen.  A show for the entire family to enjoy, Universal’s Animal Actors feature cuddly animal stars from such hits as “Evan Almighty,” “Night at the Museum,” “Ace Ventura Pet Detective” and “Dr. Doolittle.”


The Universal Experience: Behind the Scenes of Universal Pictures

Universal Studios Hollywood rolled out the red carpet for  “The Universal Experience:  Behind the Scenes of Universal Pictures,” an attraction showcasing an extraordinary collection of never-before-seen props, costumes, wardrobe and artifacts, including the 1973 “Best Picture” Oscar statuette for The Sting, culled from Universal Pictures’ library of over 6,000 titles.  Designed to put the magic of Hollywood within arms reach of guests, The Universal Experience draws on memorabilia dating back to the Studio’s early beginnings in 1912, and highlighting the advances in film technology from the days of early motion pictures through modern-day filmmaking.


Special Effects Stages

The entertainment industry’s greatest movie making illusions takes center stage in Universal Studios Hollywood’sSM multi-media attraction, “Special Effects Stage,” which provides a fast-paced, funny and compelling behind-the-scenes look at the fast-changing world of Hollywood movie-making magic. Via the magic of digital technology, the “Special Effects Stage” allows guests to participate in pivotal scenes from some of Universal’s most memorable films and reveal the hidden secrets of some contemporary filmmaking techniques that produce the slight-of-sight effects thrills in Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters.


Studio Tour – Behind-the-Scenes Tram Ride

The Studio Tour at Universal Studios HollywoodSM, which has taken over 150 million visitors behind the scenes of the movie and television industry’s biggest hits, introduces a new video “host” in June 2011 as comedian Jimmy Fallon, star of NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” becomes the ride’s “video Studio Tour Guide.”

Jimmy will introduce a series of videos that will be seen on the Hi Definition monitors located in each Tram car to augment the “live” narration provided by Universal Studios Hollywood’s tour guides.

Amid working soundstages and sets, movie facades and recreated streets of the world, the “Studio Tour” takes guests through a variety of special effects attractions designed to showcasing based special effects.  Highlights include:

War of the Worlds & Other Famous Movie Sets

Passing through one of the film’s most highly recognizable scene from a set left completely intact from Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster, “War of the Worlds,” guests aboard the Studio Tour will observe a small town devastated by an elaborately choreographed 747 jetliner crash.  Maintaining scenic authenticity, a series of special effects dramatically enhance the surrounding ruins with still-smoking wreckage and shattered debris.

In true Hollywood fashion, the “War of the Worlds” set is sandwiched among other original sets, including those from “Jurassic Park: The Lost World,” the snow-covered town of Whoville from “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and the Psycho House and Bates Motel from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller, “Psycho.” Several decades of blockbuster movie history are crossed in just a few hundred yards.


The Fast & The Furious Extreme Close-Up

A visually spectacular chase sequence inspired by the much anticipated “Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift” film is an exciting new addition to the Studio Tour.  Utilizing advanced robotics and state-of-the–art computer generated “previsualization” technology — a technique used to define and refine complicated chase sequences – the new tram experience will thrust guests into “in–your-face” close-up range of the pulse-pounding, rubber-burning underground world of drift street racing.

“King Kong” and Bigature Props

With help from the Oscar®-winning artisans of New Zealand’s Weta Workshop Ltd., Studio Tour guests will experience an update of a classic film technique as they pass within a few feet of “King Kong’s” S.S. Venture tramp steamer, an exact replica of the film’s “bigature” prop.

“Bigatures” are large-scale, highly-detailed miniatures which can be filmed at close range and manipulated in ways not possible with full-size props, digital generation or the more commonly used miniatures.  This big-miniature offers the ultimate in realism when combined with traditional and digital effects.  With the movie-making elements properly staged, Studio Tour guests will experience a scene lifted from the blockbuster.  Set against a panoramic backdrop of the primordial environs of Skull Island, they will observe the S.S. Venture as it navigates through a dense marine fog.  The moment will be further punctuated by the deafening, primal roar of “The Eighth Wonder of the World,” Kong.


Flash Flood

The “Flash Flood” attraction is designed to simulate the wrath of Mother Nature during a torrential down pour and on cue, pelts the tram with “movie rain.”  Culminating in a devastating flash flood visual effect, the attraction will become an even wetter experience as 40,000-thousand of gallons of water are dispensed and strategically placed new water canons heighten the drama. This seems so real!

Jurassic Park “Spitters”

Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster “Jurassic Park” not only lives on as a wildly popular Universal Studios Hollywood theme park ride, but the epic adventure also breathes life on the Studio Tour with many of the film’s original props staged roadside for guests to observe first-hand.  Taking up residency amid the original cars from the film, the giant camper that precariously dangled over a precipice, a lot of dinosaur cages and dinosaur carcasses, will be a herd of realistic and life-size Dilophosaurus dinosaurs.  These animated “spitters” as they are more commonly referred to in the film will emerge from their stealth spots, and make themselves known to guests through lightning-fast lunges and projectile ”spitting.”


Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb

Based on Universal Pictures’ blockbusters, “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns,” the “Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb” attraction sends guests spiraling through the ruins of Hamunaptra, where they confront images of awakened mummies, armies of slithering scarabs and a fortress of buried treasure.  The attraction encases guests within a sand and stone replication of an ancient Egyptian tomb.  Inside the burial chamber, guests traverse a rotating, vertigo-inducing tunnel and encounter the evil, haunting high priest Imhotep, sentenced to spend eternity as one of the living dead.


Earthquake—The Big One

Housed within a two-story soundstage containing a recreation of a modern subway station, “Earthquake—The Big One” puts guests in the midst of a fully dressed movie set, ready for filming.  In slightly more than two minutes, the earth literally collapses, simulating the devastation of a 8.3 magnitude earthquake. As the pavement collapses above them, guests face sparking power cables, felled telephone poles, noxious gases, a crashed 18-wheeler containing highly flammable contents, and a massive 60,000-gallon flood.


Famous Fast Cars

Famous fast cars will find a permanent parking spot along the Studio Tour route in an engaging display of over 16 recognizable prop vehicles that have appeared in such cult-film favorites as:

“The Fast & The Furious”

“Back to the Future” – the DeLorean, a futuristic Edsel and Biff’s Cadillac

“Serenity” – the Mule

“Animal House” – the Death Mobile

“The Blues Brothers”- the Blues Mobile

“The Mummy”- the Dusenberg

“The Little Rascals” – the ‘Norman Schwarzkopf’ go-cart

“Magnum P.I.”- the Ferrari

“Jurassic Park” — the off-road Mercedes SUV

Marx Brothers movies – a 1932 Ford Model A


Jaws Lake

Situated in the quiet New England town of Amity, “Jaws Lake” features an animatronic great-white shark similar to the one used in Steven Spielberg’s classic “Jaws.”   Guests explore the town, which also doubled for Cabot Cove in the TV series “Murder, She Wrote,” and find themselves at the mercy of the same man-eating, great-white that terrorized the citizens of Amity.  After collapsing the dock and causing it to erupt in flames, the shark lunges out of the water for the ultimate movie making special effect.



The futuristic Starway links the upper and lower portions of the Universal lots.  With spectacular views, this multi-layered escalator and adjoining steps stretch over 1/4 mile to an area of the studio previously inaccessible to the public. “Revenge of The Mummy—The Ride,” “Jurassic Park—The Ride,” and the new “Universal Experience” are some of the attractions located on the lower lot.

Such a fun place to visit! For more information, about tickets and hours, check out the Universal Studios website! Another tip for when you visit: Purchase a Front of the Line pass (you can upgrade and it’s well worth it!)

*Self Disclosure: SoCal City Kids received free passes to review the park but any opinions are those of SoCal City Kids.



  1. Sounds fun! Think you for featuring! We are thinking of taking Tori’s family there while they visit CA.

  2. Thanks for featuring! brother and Mum will love this!

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