Hollywood: Universal Studios
What started out as a gimmick in true Hollywood fashion has flourished into one of
Los Angeles ‘ most exciting attractions:
The movie studio tour. These fortresses, once reserved
for Hollywood insiders, are now being applauded by throngs of visitors as studio moguls roll out the red carpet for the general public.
Receiving top billing is Universal Studios Hollywood, the birthplace of the studio tour.
This is by far the world’s largest movie studio offering an extensive Backlot Tram Tour that
transports guests to the land of make- believe, giving each a front row seat and an insider’s
edge to Filmmaking. As the tram maneuvers about the building facades and fabricated cityscapes,
guests can view state of the art LCD flat screen video monitors from inside the tram which display
where many movies and television scenes were shot. Celebrity narrators, such as Ron Howard and Jason
Alexander, add a bit of anecdotal verve.
In fact, Alexander narrates an entertaining film montage titled Before
They Were Stars, a look bona fide celebrities prior to their making a splash in Hollywood.
Blurring the line of reality are 11 location sets, from Courthouse Square, one of Hollywood ‘s most frequently used backdrops,
to six Point Texas, the oldest backlot set and site of the first studio tour.
No trip is complete, however, without a glipse at the Psycho House and neighboring Bates Motel.
Built for director Alfred Hitchcock for his 1960 thriller Psycho, the set was used again in the Gus
Van Sant remake starring Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche.
The house was built to a three-quarters scale atop a knoll to give the illusion of greater distance when
viewed from Bates Motel, which is actually located just a dagger- toss away at the bottom of the hill.
Enhancing the tour is the Movie Making Special Effects, a series of smoke and mirror attractions created
to simulate the making of many Hollywood special effects.
This component of the tour exposes guests to every conceivable natural disaster, from blustery
snowstorms and flash floods to a jolting earthquake. King Kong, the
Staggering 30- foot, 6.5- ton gorilla, resides in one of the world’s largest soundstages disguised
as The Big Apple.
The tram also attempts to cross a rickety bridge on the verge of collapsing and makes an ominous
stop to the Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb.
Guests also enjoy an outing to Cabot Cove, the idyllic town where Jessica Fletcher lived in the television series Murder She Wrote.
This set was originally constructed for Steven Spielberg’s classic horror film Jaws, and is still home to an animatronic,
man- eating shark who continues to lurk just below the water’s surface.
The illusion and excitement continues long after the tram tour has come to halt.
Exhilarating amusement park rides and endless adventure await. Cruse through the Jurassic Park river Adventure, experience
Water world, or take an out- of- this- world odyssey on E.T. the ride.
There’s also opportunities to become part of the show
at the World of CineMagic, where audience members act as Foley Artists creating sound effects for The Nutty Professor;
while pint- sized guests are treated to The Rugrats Magic Adventure, a 20- minute show based on an episode of the animated series.
And, while roaming the park, guests might do a double take as they spot Lucy
And Ricky, the Blues Brothers and other stumming lookalikes strolling about
. The park opens daily at 8am, 9am during non- summer months and admission is $43 for adults.