Travels: USA Roadtrip 2019 – Episode 7

USA Roadtrip 2019 – Episode 7:
Universal Studios Hollywood

On our 10th day (22nd January) in the US, Enrique, Idriss and Khalid went to San Diego, Max explored LA, while Audrey and me went to the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park.

We arrived way before the park opened, as Audrey was so excited that she didn’t want to miss out on a single minute. So, we had some coffee at an interesting donut place, where they even sold donuts with bacon!

Donut with bacon
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Once we managed to enter the park, we went straight to Hogsmeade (Harry Potter World). I was stunned by how beautiful it looked. The roofs were even covered in sparkling fake snow!

Hogsmeade (Harry Potter World)
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One of my childhood dreams became true – I drank butterbeer! It was made of butterscotch- and shortbread flavours (and didn’t contain any alcohol).

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To be honest, at first I was suspicious and wasn’t sure whether this drink – which would probably be too sweet – would be worth 8.20$. I asked a girl, who had one, how she liked it, and to my surprise she asked me whether I’d like to taste it, so I did. The frozen option tasted better than the sparkling one, as the gas really didn’t go well with the very sweet taste. I decided to risk getting a whole one for myself, just to fulfill that childhood dream of mine. 

Apart from butterbeer, one could buy a variety of other drinks and sweets from the Harry Potter World. There was even a Honeydukes and Zonko’s store.

Sweets from the Harry Potter World
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We went into Hogwarts, where our first ride was awaiting us. First, we had to walk through the whole castle, passing by the entrance to Dumbledore’s office, corridors with talking paintings, the sorting hat preparing us for the ride and many more. The walk took a little more than 5 minutes, along the space usually reserved for queuing. Imagine how long that wait would be! We were actually really lucky to go on a day where the park wasn’t very busy, as we only had to wait for maximum 5-10 minutes at each attraction.

Hogwarts (Harry Potter World)
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The attractions were mostly simulations, where one had to sit down in a kind of rollercoaster seat that guided you through the story. Huge screens and the movement of the seat gave the impression you were experiencing the story, like flying on a broomstick in Hogwarts. It was fantastic!

The Walking Dead attraction was different – we had to walk through that world and real humans acted as the Walking Dead. While usually I find tunnels of horror quite boring, this experience was a whole different thing. Walking for yourself is different than a seated ride in which you can’t move, and human performers are definitely scarier than plastic ghosts. I walked through it hugging Audrey and we screamed the whole way.

Aside from attractions, we could go to 3 different shows. There was one about special effects, in which they were explained, but also demonstrated. Another one was about animal actors. It was fascinating how well trained those animals were. It wasn’t just cats and dogs, but also animals like pigeons, rats and others that I didn’t even know could be trained that well. The third show was Waterworld, in which actors played a scene from the eponymous movie with Kevin Costner.

The show “Waterworld”
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It was stunning how the actors dove underwater with their jet skis, how parts of the stage caught fire and how real everything looked. After a few hours in this theme park, I really didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t anymore. For example, when I was inside a building and looked at its walls, I didn’t whether it was truly a wall, or if it was a screen that could change what I could see.

As a third option other than the attractions and shows, we could go on a 1-hour tour through the Universal Studios. We saw the buildings that were built for movies (sometimes only facades). We drove through some stages, essentially massive containers, each containing a set that plays inside. One of them was a metro station, in which a truck broke through the ceiling, coming towards us. We saw the cables it was hanging on, which a camera wouldn’t normally see. On our right water started flooding in through a stair case. It all looked so real, because it was real. It was all controlled, but real.

The park entry was around 100€, but it was definitely worth it (plus it was Enrique’s Christmas present, so thank you for that 🙂 ). I not only had a lot of fun and learned about movie making, but it was also the professionalism of how things were done, presented and performed that I found fascinating. One just gets the feeling that they really know what they are doing. I also loved the efficiency with which the staff guided us through the (in our case) short queues all the way to the seats.

It was easy to get distracted in the park and to keep postponing getting food. Therefore, once we had to leave the park in the evening, we hadn’t eaten since breakfast. We decided to go for a burger near our AirBnB. We looked around for a bit, in disbelief at how difficult it could be to find a burger on Hollywood Boulevard until Audrey thankfully spotted a place. The delicious burger and our super unhealthy fries just made the day complete.

Eating junk food in Hollywood
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Click here to read the next episode of this USA Roadtrip 2019 or navigate through the Table of Contents:

Table of Contents

  1. Prologue & Epilogue
  2. Arrival & 1st Day
  3. Bryce, Zion and The Grand Canyon
  4. Cabin in the Woods 
  5. Yosemite
  6. The Golden Gate Bridge
  7. Huge trees & Hollywood
  8. Universal Studios Hollywood
  9. The LA experience
  10. A paradise of stones
  11. Finally, Las Vegas!

Written by Julia Heuritsch | Last edited: 29th June 2022

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