Changing it up from the Disneyland fieldtrip, over Spring Break we surprised the girls and took them to Universal Studios. It’s quite the trek there, but Costco had (still has, until April 24 I hear!) this deal where you buy a day, and you get the rest of 2015 free. It’s not a bad deal, even if we just go once every quarter.
I’ve never been to Universal Studios. The closest I got was when we surprised my friend Polly for her baby shower five years ago.
I was pregnant with Jamie then, and she was pregnant with my godson Riley. She and The Fatherland took us down the City Walk for the afternoon. It’s not a bad place to hang out if you just want a “taste” of Universal. And the food choices aren’t bad at all.
Sam and Jamie were quite thrilled that it would be the first time for the three of us, and there was nonstop banter in the car. And because it was a drive, there was non-stop “are we there yet?” and “how many more minutes?!” I may have lost half my mind.
Because Universal is the home of entertainment and movies, a lot of their attractions featured 3D, 4D and many many special effects and shows. It was like going to a behind-the-scenes theme park, and learning about how they make movies come to life. While most of the park may have been too young for Jamie to fully appreciate, she was able to retain some good information about the production world, and understand that some of the things she thinks look scary are really just an illusion. Sam was able to grasp a little bit more of it, and now asks me if what she sees on TV is real, or it requires some special effects, and what kind (yikes).
It being our first time, we followed the suggested guide and first took the girls to the highly rated WaterWorld show. The stunts were amazing, and Sam was pretty starstruck.
Then we saw an Animal Actors show, which turned out to be Jamie’s favorite (I foresee an animal-related occupation in her future), because of all the animals that were running and flying around.
Of course, we HAD to meet the cast of Despicable Me 1 and 2, who made their rounds and came out every 15 minutes or so.
Daddy promised them they’d win a Unicorn at the Super Silly Fun Land…
… and they did!
It was the highlight of Jamie’s day. She was just about ready to go home at that point. I will say that the Unicorn in the game is stiff, and not as “fluffy” as the plush ones they sell in the stores. The one they sell is just about triple the price though!
Sam rode Minion Mayhem, the new attraction in 4D. It’s a really quality kind of ride, so my husband got a switch pass for me to go on. We learned about the switch pass trick in Disneyland when we went with a friend. Jamie, not being tall enough to get on most rides yet, had to be left with an adult. Theme parks offer switch passes for groups in these situations. Basically, the people who get left behind with the kids can ride immediately without the hassle of getting back in line, when their accompanying adults come back from their turn. The switch pass can usually get the rider and three or four other people in, so when I went, Sam went with me again. It works out well, because even at Disney, Sam gets to ride some of the longer lined rides and roller coasters twice.
We didn’t take them to the water park because we didn’t bring a change of clothes. Most likely it will be part of our next trip over when the weather gets warmer.
After that, we went on the classic studio tour, which featured part of the KingKong movie in 4D. I tried to prep Jamie for what to expect, but even I wasn’t sure since it was my first time. She held on to me tight and wouldn’t leave my lap in anticipation. I kept telling her how brave she was for even trying, praying it would help. My husband says that the King Kong portion was a new part of the tour, so he couldn’t tell me what to prep her with either. We were in the dark on this one… literally.
It was like being in a scene from the movie, where the tram was put in a dark cave-like room which turned out to be screens from top to bottom. It was made so that you’d imagine what it was like in the land of King Kong, fighting of all the dinosaurs. We got sprinkled on with some water (which was supposed to be dinosaur saliva), but I think the dark, the loud noise and scary music — it was too much for Jamie. I tried to calm her down by saying King Kong is there to save us, and she listened for a while and stopped wailing.
The rest of what followed after King Kong — the fake flood, and simulated earthquake stressed and scared her even more. The surprise attack from Jaws was what finally did her in.
She refused to go on anything else after that, so we didn’t get to see the Shrek 4D attraction with Sam and Dad. We just took a picture for posterity after.
And so while they were inside the ride Jamie and I did a typical de-stressing activity — we went shopping.
The girls didn’t know much about the Simpsons, The Mummy, Transformers, Jurassic Park and Fast and the Furious, but Dad wanted to go down and see what we could do there. They opted to do Jurassic Park first, and Sam liked it. My husband however also scared himself silly in anticipation of when things go wrong and the surprise drop at the end, and so insisted that I use the switchpass to take Sam on again (because she wanted to go again).
Then to Daddy’s delight, the girls were introduced to the Transformers.
They’re pretty funny for a bunch of robots. And the voice of Optimus Prime is very much like the actual actor in the movie.
It was nice because the trip added a new repertoire of movie characters that they could eventually learn about. We didn’t introduce them to the Simpson’s, but the girls did get a taste of Homer’s favorite donuts.
The girls collapsed on the way home; Sam from all the new ride excitement, and Jamie probably from all the stress. And despite Jamie’s freak outs which resulted in ultimate clingy-ness, I quite enjoyed myself too. I appreciated the new perspectives I gained on the entertainment industry.
Hopefully when we go back, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will already be open, and it would be another fun adventure for us all!