Jason's Pictures

Highlights from the trip to Universal Studios

Date:Wednesday, March 16, 2005: 11:00pm PT

So today I took the plunge and went to Universal Studios. It was a very interesting contrast to DisneyLand. Mostly this stems from the fact that it really is an actual movie studio, and as such, incorporates many actual filmmaking techniques in some of its best attractions.

Universal Studios Entrance

The easiest evidence of all this is clearly the actual props and sets that can be found all around the area.

Car from " The Blues Brothers " Cabin from " The Great Outdoors " House from " The Grinch who Stole Christmas "

The studio tour pretty much had everything that I expected (having heard and seen most of what's there in commercials and so forth,) but the fact of the matter was that it was still all exciting and marvelously done. There was Jaws, of course:

Welcome Sign -- Before Trouble... Uh-oh
LOOK-OUT! SHARK!!!! Welcome Sign -- After

King Kong made his obligatory appearance...

News Chopper Going Down! The police are on their way The big boy himself

(and may I add that you could REALLY smell the banana on his breath? It was disgusting, really.
We got to see the flash flood, which was awesome!

Rain Some slight flooding Time to get a bit wet

And others...

Where Marty McFly grew up A fleet of cool cars Jurassic Cages

One thing I did learn about Universal is that they REALLY like their pyrotechnics. I went to their Backdraft Attraction which, despite being kind of old, was too cool for words. It starts with a few words from Ron Howard, Kurt Russell and Scott Glenn. Then....well, I think I'll let the pictures speak for themselves on this one

Sparks A-Flyin' Not so quiet anymore! New kind of spiral staircase!

You could feel the heat from the fires the whole time, and the floor was shaking and the explosions were loud, and it was SOOO cool. This is the sort of thing where you could try to describe it, but there's really no way to really do it and sound all that intellgent. The best I can come up with is that it was as close to being in a fire as one could possibly get. I mean there were no barriers or anything. Just us and the fire in the room together.

But just when I thought they had gone as far as they can, they hit me with the Waterworld Adventure. From what I heard, the movie stunk to high heaven, but this show was the coolest thing I've ever seen as far as a " stage show " goes. Again, yet another serene scene.

The characters set the scene with the fight to find out where the only dry land on Earth is.

Here comes the heroine The shooting beginsThe hero is on the way!
The rainbow connection The bad guys attack

Now, the bad guys take a bad shot, and check out what happens! (this was unbelievable)

What did they hit? OH MY GOD!!!LOOK OUT!

That's right! That plane crashed (no wires) through the back wall, with a huge explosion, skimmed the surface of the water, sloshed to a stop in the water. But just when you thought it was over...

The bad guy gets it! A random shot to the gas tank...KA-

Some finale, huh? They only perform it once an hour, but it is so worth it. These guys are amazing. I'm sure that Universal wishes the movie was as popular...

Continuing my UNIVERSAL trip, I went to see their SPECIAL EFFECTS demonstration. They showed examples on how GREEN SCREEN work is done, model work, make-up effects and looping. It wasn't anything I hadn't seen before, but it was still really cool to watch. I went to the TERMINATOR 2 3-D ride, which wasn't bad at all. They intercut live-action work with footage of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong. That, of course, means that it will forever be remembered as taking place BEFORE Terminator 3 came out, but that's ok. The only thing that I really was disappointed about was that this was the same technology that the DISNEY studio used for their Honey, I Shrunk the Audience ride that I went on yesterday, and Disney did it better. The HISTA ride was more or less static, so that if anything came flying out from the screen, it looked natural. The Termintor ride was like watching a movie. It tended to take you out of the moment. Not to mention, the HISTA ride also had air jets that would occasionally trick you into thinking there was stuff crawling all over you. The Terminator ride did, however, make up some points by having the coolest composite effect of on-screen explosion with real smoke and flashing lights in the audience. It was cool.

Finally, I did go on Back to the Future, The Ride. It was ok, but was spoiled by the fact that I basically knew the plot and had pretty much seen all the footage that they were using. The technology hasn't changed since the ride was made, so it, like STAR TOURS, was suffering from looking it's age. The footage was projected on a screem that was less than clean. The print was also a bit shaky and grainy. And, of course, it had an early-90's look to it. Nevertheless, it was still fun, albeit a bit short. On the plus side, I was able to get these shots:

The Delorean' I really wish they had let me drive! This picture was taken as the car was going 87.5 mph

Well, that's about all from me for now. It's getting late and I'm a gettin' sleepy. I may have some more to add tomorrow. In the meantime, if you want to get back to the TRIP page, you can click here. Good Night.