Day 7 – 19 Dec 07

As you can see, I am pretty determined tonight to finish up my US series so I can get started on my Taiwan series before the details start giving up on me.

So, on Day 7, the last day of our US trip, we were off to Universal Studios. We had higher expectations of Universal Studios than Sea World or Disneyland because the movie theme appealed to us more. Some quick research on the Internet the night before assured us a little. The place seemed like fun!

As we were going to the airport directly, we checked out of the hotel with our luggage in toil. Bye Ramada!

We were supposed to make a trip to Kodak Theatre but apparently this wasn’t conveyed to our driver so we gave that a miss. Not that we really minded in the first place 🙂 Our driver is a nice and friendly Chinese man who also conversed with us in Mandarin!

The obligatory “Been there, done that” shot.

Check this out! Film shootings right on location at the theme park! Such familiar names! How exciting! No, we didn’t catch any filmings though… 

A pic with Beetlejuice. They (actors in various impersonations) were everywhere! Unlike Disneyland.

 

We made a beeline for the famed Studio Tour. Saw the write-up and photos on the Internet and I was pretty excited!

 

Before boarding the ride, we took some pictures of the view. Beautiful with good weather but the Hollywood sign was nowhere to be found! 😦

On board the ride, we were seated right in front so our guide was just in front of us. It was a good thing we were not relegated to the cabins at the back or we could only contend with seeing a filmed version of our guide on TV. He was quite a funny guy, witty and chatty, but a little too duh and talkative at times.

Tokyo Drift (I think).

 

I thought this was really cool though I am not really a car-person!

 

This was exciting too! It was meant to show some of the special effects used in the movies. And the water gushing out shown in the picture is only the tip of the iceberg! Moments after, water just gushed out and we were wet! I can’t remember which movie though…

  

Our vehicle also went into water a la Hippo tour. It was very interesting how all the ships and King Kong shown in the movie King Kong were actually all very miniature in size but made to look really huge due to camera tricks (right photo)!

 

We also experienced an “earthquake” – a fake one of course.

 

Familiar? This is Wisteria Lane. No, we didn’t catch any of the famous housewives filming on location.

 

Plane crash? No, this was the actual set used for filming Steven Spilberg’s War of the Worlds. Amazing.

 

Didn’t manage to catch a glimpse of the famous sign, so had to make do with a picture of the poster of the sign. Sad!

 

Heh! Thought this was interesting. When we were there, the writers’ strike was still on-going.

 

Dracula! The expression was real! I was quite ticklish so was feeling a little uncomfortable… :p

 

Water World. Didn’t watch the movie but this show was really quite good! As always, the audience was separated into the wet and non-wet zones. We sat ourselves just above the wet zone. It was too cold to take the risk!

Next, we went to this show called Back Draft. It’s adapted from a movie of the same name. The screening demonstrated use of fire and water. I remember there were sudden explosions and fire, water gushing out and the place reeked of kerosene after the explosions. Stuffy inside..

 

Animal show. Animals were cute. Did spot some famous animals, like Babe. The girl from the audience was really adorable!

 

Apollo 13! One of my all-time favourite movies!

 

We then made our way down to the bottom of the park and took rides at The Mummy Returns and Jurassic Park. I still remember we went from one escalator to another; it was quite a long journey down. Along the way, there was a commentator reading out some famous quotes from movies and TV shows and asking the visitors to guess the movie/show. Innovative idea to engage your audience!

Both rides were super fun! Both rides were perfect, minimal waiting time probably because it was a weekday and it was getting dark. The former was like those roller-coaster rides (minus the 360 degree turns), goes two rounds, just that for the second round, you retrace the same route going backwards. Gulp!

The Jurassic Park ride was equally fun and we were pre-warned that we will get wet. We had an ominous feeling when we saw vendors selling raincoats to cautious visitors. We decided to be garang and did without a raincoat! Fun fun fun! We were wet because we went underneath a waterfall-like structure and the climax saw us dashing down (like the Haw Par Villa) to huge splashes of water!

 

One last parting shot. We had to wait quite a while because there were just groups and groups of people posing to take pictures!

 We left at the park’s closing time and did some shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch. We each bought some stuff for our sisters.

Dinner at Bubba Gump (again). May seem unadventurous but after that forgettable dining experience at Mimi’s, we decided it was better to be safe than sorry and to stick to the tried and tested.

 

We had some seafood platter but because I wasn’t too keen on seafood, we ordered calamari as a side.

One of various signs placed on the walls all around. I like this!  

A picture of the famous bench, suitcase and shoes!  After dinner, we did some frantic last minute shopping at the Citywalk. Bought some chocolates and candies and magnets (what else?) as souvenirs. Then we were off to the airport! I was seriously depressed now! Why do good times end so quickly?! We were rather late (about 20 minutes behind schedule) and scrambled to the park’s entrance where our van and a grumpy looking driver (not the original one) holding a placecard with my name on it were waiting.

After checking in, H thought he had managed to let me go into the Business Class lounge and use some of its facilities. Turned out to be false hopes in the end 😦 But he was really nice and gave up his “privilege” for a while until I told him it was perfectly fine. I used the time to browse through some books and magazines – got two US tabloid-type trashy magazines and one novel – which by the way, am still not done with it yet.

At the departure lounge waiting to board. H was at the Business Class lounge before coming over to join me.

In transit at Taipei (Taoyuan International Airport). How was I to know then that I would be back at the same place 4 months later….

That concludes my LA-Vegas-Grand Canyon-San Diego trip. It has been a relatively good and eventful one. I managed to fulfil my long-cherished dream of finally stepping foot on the Grand Canyon. Las Vegas was an absolute blast though I suck at gambling! Disneyland was so-so but again, it is that how-can-I-not-visit-Disneyland-if-I-am-in-US mentality! Sea World was really not my cup of tea but at least I can plot on my Facebook Travel Map that I have been to San Diego!

Sure, there are regrets, like how we should have taken a helicopter ride across the canyon, or I should have taken more photos, but which trip is perfect? All these little should-have-done-that moments just add up and make a second (or third) visit worthwhile! 🙂 I have kept all the theme park maps, brochures, receipts, paper bags, ticket stubs etc as momentos of the trip! 🙂

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