California

Universal Studios, part 2

We arrived at Universal Studios around 9:30, and in the previous post, we spent our morning exploring the World of Harry Potter.  It was now 1:00 and we thought… now what?  Well, we did have the “Front of the Line” (FOL) pass.  Why not use that?  So we decided to go to the Lower Lot area to check out the rides there, and to take the Studio Tram tour.

We descended 4 sets of escalators to the Lower Lot, only to find out the Studio Tour has its own entrance, located on the opposite end of where we found the Lower Lot entrance. Meanwhile this lower lot had a food court with a Panda Express, a Jurrasic Park cafe (ribs and roast chicken!), an area to meet a Transformer, and these rides:

  • Jurrasic Park the ride – a slow moving ride in a boat (think its a small world) only instead of cute dolls, you have attacking dinosaurs.  At the end is a big splash finale.  We chose to skip this ride.
  • Mummy, the ride – a high speed, roller coaster type ride.  Nothing like the old ET Ride which this building used to belong. They even provide free lockers (for up to 90 minutes) for you to store your stuff.
  • Transformers 3D – similar to Spiderman 3D in Orlando.  You are in a Transformer car, trying to help Optimus Prime and the Megabots from allowing Megatron and the Decepticon destroy the city.

Thanks to the FOL pass, it took only 5 minutes to wait for the attraction, allowing us to quickly head back and cross over to the Studio Tour.

On our way to the Studio Tour entrance, we had to pass through the Simpsons the ride. We decided to go on that attraction first, and with our FOL pass, it took 2 minutes to get on the ride… which was another 3D virtual reality attraction.

Finally we get to the Studio Tour entrance.  The line for FOL was walk on, while the other people waited 30 minutes.  Like most of the other attractions at Universal, the Studio Tour had to promote things in 3D. There were portions of their tour, like the King Kong thriller, and the Fast and Furious finale, which required using your 3D glasses.  Quite honestly, they should give you a pair of 3D glasses with your ticket, so you can use the same glasses all day.

Having not been to Universal in 4 or 5 years, they added quite a few things. They took away the Battlestar Galactica, even took out the Earthquake effect, but they kept the classics like the “flash flood” in the old village, and Bruce the shark from Jaws.  They added a new King Kong (since the last one got burnt down), scene from War of the World starring Tom Cruise, and even changed up the beginning of the tour with a drive through of the employee’s backlot area.

After the tour, we looked at our list and saw that we checked off most of the items.  At 4:00 we decided to just finish our day with a drink at Starbucks (run by Universal, at theme park prices), then went to see the Shrek 4D show, then the Minion Mayhem attraction (surprise, both required 3D glasses).

We skipped the WaterWorld, the Animal show, and the Special Effects show.  We were out of the park by 4:30, and after walking around the City Walk , we were on the road by 5:00 pm. I found out that there’s free Wifi you can use, and a link which has the approximate wait time for the various attractions.

Was the FOL pass worth it? Here’s the math:

The regular gate price for general admission is $115, but you can get it as low as $90 if you buy it online.

The FOL is normally $199. The price includes general admission and the pass to bypass the regular line. You are guaranteed front of the line at each ride and show.  AAA has the FOL pass for $179, if you buy it online, which is only $64 more than the regular general admission gate price.

We bypassed a lot of the line, especially at Harry Potter (even though it was only 1/2 hour wait) and the Studio Tour (another half hour)… that was a time saver of an hour for just 2 rides.  We accomplished 90% of the rides (we skipped Jurrasic), and missed 4 shows.

Overall it was worth our splurge, and it was money well spent.