Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Western View - Universal Studios Hollywood

Welcome back to A Western View. It's been a little while since I've had a chance to update everyone on the goings on on the west coast and this week you're going to get 2 updates! Lets get going shall we?

Welcome to Universal Studios Hollywood! I made a visit to the park recently to get caught up on everything going on.

We’ll start off with the Tram Tour. I am a huge fan of this attraction as it lets you get up close to a real working movie studio and shows you places you’ve unknowingly seen hundreds of times in films. Recently the park moved to a new tram “guide” by adding comedian Jimmy Fallon. He brings a lot of fun and enjoyment to a portion of the ride experience that has otherwise been lacking for quite some time (sorry Whoopi).

The other thing I love about the tram is that it’s like a bunch of attractions in one. Ironically you can do a number of Universal Studios Florida’s attractions, both current and recently demolished, all without leaving the tram. Above you see the Tram entering King Kong 360 | 3D which is an all out amazing attraction. It’s hard to truly express how great it is without experiencing it. Riders are whisked away to Peter Jackson’s Skull Island and thrown right into the middle of a battle between that famous giant Ape and three T-Rexs, which results in total anarchy.

Also still alive and biting is our dear friend Bruce, or as he’s know in the movies, Jaws. Still a major part of the tour, Jaws continues to thrill visitors out west even after the loss of its counterpart in Orlando. I apologize for the shot, he’s very hard to catch especially when you’re on the wrong side of the tram.

As the tour comes to an end, Jimmy Fallon sings us a song he “wrote when he was a kid” bidding us all to “Have a Tramtastic Day.” The song will definitely get stuck in your head for hours after the ride, it’s almost worse than “it’s a small world.”

But on to the bigger story at hand, Universal is hard at work finishing up Transformers: The Ride 3d which is set to open this Memorial Day. Heading down the Skyway to the Lower Lot you can see that construction barriers have been pushed out past the entrance to Revenge of the Mummy while the park preps all the buildings along the way to the new ride’s entrance.

Down on the Lower Lot (for those of you who have never been to the park, it’s built on a hillside where the main park is on the Upper Lot on top of the hill and some attractions like Mummy, Jurassic Park and soon Transformers are located at the base of the hill on the Lower Lot) riders who want to ride Mummy must enter via the locker area while the exterior is spruced up.

The Transformers building is receiving the final exterior touches in the form two giant figures. Optimus Prime and Megatron will soon be locked in battle over the entrance of the attraction. I’m not sure which will be which but my first glance I assumed the left was Megatron and the right Optimus, though I’ve heard it’s opposite. We’ll have to wait a little while longer to find out for sure.

The attraction really impresses with it’s sense of dominance over it’s surroundings. Often I’ve thought the entrances to both Jurassic Park and Mummy were a bit subdued, but there is definitely nothing subdued about Transformers. Also, hard to see, on the left of the street major work is happening at the old Panda Express location. I’m told that they are increasing the size of the location and adding more dining options to accommodate hungry guests wanting to ride the new attraction.

That’s going to do it for this update. Come back Thursday for an update from the Disneyland Resort where we will check out all the new things going on as they prepare for California Adventure’s big rededication and the opening of Buena Vista Street and Cars Land!