The smoke still clearing from one of the gunfights they put on
Today we were going to visit Universal Studios. I was looking forward to this one, because I had friends who had mentioned the back lot tour and I had heard about the King Kong part. As this is a movie studio they have a lot of rides or shows that have to do with special effects, stunts or are movie themed. When we checked the schedule, the first thing that appealed to us was a show at their old western town. We figured we would see a gunfight or something along those lines, and we weren't disappointed. It ended up being a comedic confrontation between the good guys and the bad guys. Both sides were played by stuntmen, and they did a good job with falls and simulated fights, both with fists and guns. The highlight was when they blew up the middle building, whose front detached and fell to the ground, ready to crush one of the good guys. But "luckily" the part of the building that was to crush our hero was the window, so the wall fell harmlessly around him.
More Western Stunt Show. The building with the six window was the one that fell at the end. The center top window was the one that fell around the stuntman
We all liked it. The kids saw lots of action, and it held their attention just fine.
But there was more to do, and we headed over to where the Animal Actors program would be put on. This one was just OK for me. Of course the animals were well trained, but it wasn't really impressive. I grew up watching Lassie or seeing Clyde the Ape, so seeing them do the same things, while interesting, got a little boring. Still they added enough comedy in there to move it along.
Our next stop was more to my liking, but much less to my baby, Jessi.
Animal Actors Show. If you look close you can a bird soaring in front of the fan in the center of the picture
The King Kong ride puts you on a tram that is supposedly an elevated train (like the El in Chicago), in a major city. King Kong is on the loose, and we stubble in on his rampage. They did it very well, and you could easily suspend belief, and see yourself on the el. As your train pauses, you look through someone's window in a building and see a news report, with a reporter telling you about Kong's escape and trashing of the city. It is supposedly an "on the scene" report, and then the reporter notices a tram full of passengers (that would be us) right in the midst. Cue, Mr. Kong. We move again, and suddenly he is there, just his head, shoulders, and one arm. But he is huge. Jessi has had no trouble suspending belief at all, and is sure she is going to be the banana for this big monkey's next meal. She is crying and screaming.
Part of the Back Lot tour. This prop was from the movie "Back to the Future"
Margo is doing her best to calm her down, but it kind of added weight to the dramatic scene. We were able to get her calmed down after we were past him. On a conscience level, I think she knew it wasn't real, but how much experience with reality does a 2 year old have? When in doubt yell and scream, and let Mom fix it.
Actually the King Kong ride was part of the back lot tour, so we continued out, just like we had wandered in, and drove out of the soundstage and into daylight. We took a jaunt over a bridge that started to collapse as we went on it, and then went on to be part of flood. Not long after we went through a little sea side village, and got to watch a fisherman and his small boat get dragged under by Jaws himself. Then Jaws had to jump out at us, on our side of the car. Jessi didn't like this either. Jolene on the other hand loved it. She knew it was all pretend and took it all in.
More Back Lot tour-This is the house from the movie "Psycho"
Poor Margo had to keep comforting Jessi. Me, I was trying to capture all of this for posterity on my Dad's video camera. The tour had a few more surprises for us. We got to see a river "parted", ala the Red Sea and Moses. If you have ever scene Mel Brook's History of the World Part I, you saw the river. They do it with a clever hydraulic system that lowers a top piece that the river is flowing over, as the piece, which spans the river and is about 10 feet wide, the water level lowers, in the middle, where the piece is at. It in effects creates a waterfall on both sides, and then you drive through the middle. We saw all sorts of props from movies and a few famous movie houses. The finale of the tour was when we drove through the Battlestar Galactica set, and were rescued by Captain Apollo himself. Jessi was not crazy about this one either, but she was getting used to the noise and excitement.
Jessi (takes after her mother)
After we were done with this it was past , so we decided to give Jessi a rest and get something to eat. We finished up, and found our way over to the E.T. the Extraterrestial ride. This one was very popular and we had a bit of a wait. When you finally got to the front of the line, they asked you for your first name and then gave you a credit card sized piece of plastic. Then you went through another queue, which was much more interesting, as it was kind of a prelude to the ride. It had various audio, visual, and written displays to start to get you in an extraterrestial mood. When you reached the front of this line, they took your card, and put you in a cart that resembled a ski lift. And like a ski lift it carried you above the ground.
Fievel the Mouse show
Jolene loved it. She had seen ET before and was into it. Jessi was not. This just seemed wrong to her, and she floated between squirmy to crying depending on what was going on at the time. We had gotten her a stuffed ET doll, and that helped some. She used it kind of like a teddy bear. But, the ride went on. We flew all over earth, and then went with ET to his homeland, which was somehow necessary to save Earth. Then we came back. Mission accomplished and we were all heroes. To reward us, as we walked out ET said good bye to us, using our first name. So I got a "Good-bye" Bill, and the so did the rest. At least we knew why they needed our name...
Next it was the Fievel the Mouse program. Now, I had zero desire to see this one, but both my daughters, especially Jessi knew about Fievel and wanted to see him.
Jessi was all tuckered out
Yeah, like I was going to say "No", after traumatizing by baby all day. It was OK, but even Jolene seemed to think it went on a bit. Jessi loved it. She sang with them and clapped, and was just riveted at times. She would happily wave at me when I would swing the camera in her direction. So I guess she wasn't scarred for life by her meeting with a giant monkey, Cylons, and an alien being.
The last "big" thing for the day was to see the Miami Vice program. This was a scene set in the Caribbean where our heroes Crockett and Tubbs were after the ever present drug smugglers.
Bedtime for Jolene and Jessi
There were an assortment of fights, falls, and water craft all zooming about in every which direction. Both girls were OK with this. These were real people after all. It was cool to watch them fall into the water or narrowly miss being blown up, while shooting bad guys left, right, and center. Not an alien Cylon monkey in sight. The climax involved a big gasoline depot exploding. It was not really gasoline, of course. But it was propane fueled which gave off a very hot flame. We were plenty close enough to feel it's heat.
By now it is well after . We are getting tired, so we wander a bit, and let Jolene (who seems to have more energy left than anymore) play in a few of the hands on places for kids. Jessi has decided to take a nap, and it wasn't long before the rest of decided she was on to something, and we left. Dinner and Sleep.