By Nolan P. Smith
(Victor Valley)—With 2015 just beginning, what better way to welcome the year than with planning a vacation or two. Being in Southern California, we are fortunate enough to have a wealth of vacation destinations all within a minimal drive. Universal Studios Hollywood is one of the staples of theme parks, as well as the entertainment capital of Los Angeles.
The entertainment business is something all of us can partake in: whether its films, television shows, plays, DVDs, we all want an escape from time to time. Universal Studios allows for a look behind the scenes of the movies and shows we love so much. Their guided tour not only takes visitors around the filming locations and sound stages utilized in making today’s films and television series, (we saw the sound stage where CSI was being filmed), but we also witnessed many historic outdoor sets used for films like the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the Bates Motel from the classic movie Psycho, as well as New York and Los Angeles “streets” used for shows like How I Met Your Mother and movies like the blockbuster film, The Avengers. It was the busiest of the attractions, and well worth the wait, as the tour peeled the cover back on some of Hollywood’s movie magic. It also featured King Kong 3D-360, which is a part of the tour that boasts the largest 3D experience as visitors are transported into the world of Peter Jackson’s King Kong.
It wouldn’t be a theme park without rides and attractions, and Universal Studios boasts some of the biggest names in films today. Their newest attraction is Despicable Me- Minion Mayhem, a ride dedicated to the animated film franchise, Despicable Me. For me personally, this was the best ride at the park; it was fun, engaging and memorable. Visitors wear special 3D goggles and travel through the Minion Factory, filled with explosions, death-defying escapes, and, of course, fluffy stuffed animals. This ride utilizes a 3D screen to take riders into this animated world, and does so flawlessly. It featured the best animation out of any of the other attractions, and left me wanting to ride it again and again.
An older ride at the park measured up to the enjoyment of Despicable Me: Jurassic Park-The Ride. A water boat ride filled with animatronic dinosaurs, the ride had the classic theme park feel to it, taking riders into the ever dangerous park made famous in the Steven Spielberg films. This was the ride I was most excited about trying out, and it did not disappoint. Just be warned: you will get wet on the ride.
Other enjoyable rides include Transformers The Ride-3D and The Simpsons Ride. Both rides featured massive screens as the main attraction to the ride, and both used it superbly. Transformers showed off some dynamic live action 3D, as the Simpsons showed 3D qualities in a 2D manner, staying true to the roots of the animated series. Revenge of the Mummy- The Ride is a high speed indoor roller coaster set in the deserts overrun by the Mummy and his followers, as Shrek 4D is a short 3D animated film, complete with interactive elements that draws the viewer in.
I visited the park on a rainy day and expected to have some delays or mishaps. Yet, rain or shine, the park was spectacular, and the weather did not impact my visit in the slightest. Even across from the park at the City Walk was a treat, as the variety of shops, restaurants and even a dueling piano bar is enough to want to visit City Walk again and again. In the theme park, Universal Studios Hollywood had signs of coming attractions, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a Fast and the Furious attraction, and more. I highly recommend visiting Universal Studios Hollywood: one visit and it will prove why its one of the elite theme parks in the United States.
For more information, including tickets, please visit http://www.universalstudioshollywood.com.