Like the vast majority of my trip reports this is WAY too late! This is a trip my friend Michael and I took in May 2013. Seeing as we’re both movie fans and I’ve managed to up Michael’s interest in theme parks over the years we decided that a trip to California was in order. Not only to visit the parks but also see some movie studios, take in a little trip to Vegas and a few days in San Diego –which I had visited a year earlier and really loved!
Some of these updates will be quite short so this might not be as extensive as my usual trip reports but going through my photos I felt I had some decent stuff that I wanted to talk about, so indulge me please in this California Adventure!
Our itinerary had us arriving into LAX – which I was a little afraid of given the horror stories I’d heard over the years. I had myself and Michael well prepared for a hellish arrival. Much to my surprise this was the easiest US arrival I’d ever experienced! I think we arrived at a good time because we went straight through security and our bags were waiting for us! I’m not sure what kind of bizarre airport I traveled through but I don’t expect to be so lucky the next time I’m at LAX!
Given that it was evening by the time we arrived we just took a quick trip down to Hollywood Boulevard to get some dinner and take a look around. A bit of a tacky place I must say but still – there’s some really cool looking buildings around here and I really regret not being able to visit any of the movie theatres. Maybe next time!
Here’s some photos!
Like all my trans-continental adventures of recent years this one starts on a big BA plane!
Hey look, it’s Las Vegas! I’ll be seeing you later!
Looks like we made it to the right place! I was a little worried about getting through LAX given the horror stories I had heard but somehow this turned out to be the easiest and smoothest arrival in the US I’ve ever experienced! We walked off the plane, straight through security (it seemed like our flight arrived at a time when no other did because there were no lines at customs) and then our bags were there in minutes. We were off the plane and on our way to the rental car place within 10-15 minutes. I realise this is probably a huge fluke but I wish my experiences of arriving at US airports were always like this!
Here’s a clear sign you’re in Hollywood – Batmobile Limo sitting outside your hotel as you check in.
After checking into our hotel we decided to venture down Hollywood Boulevard for a gander.
This hotel is a big deal or something for some people. Looks cool.
Woo! Chinese Theater! Sadly, the theatre was closed for its IMAX renovation at this time which is a shame as I’m a movie theatre geek and would have loved to have seen something in here.
Egyptian Theater! Sadly, this place wasn’t showing many movies when we there so I’ll need to try and get inside this one some other time.
This guy is important. Important to this Trip Report at least.
For our first meal of the trip we went for the most "Hollywood" restaurant we could find...
The first of very many burgers on this trip.
Michael can deepthroat a burger really, really well.
Hollywood Boulevard was way more tacky than I expected but I still thought it was pretty cool. I’d love to come back and see a few movies in the various theatres someday. Anyway, out Califoria Adventure has begun! Up next – Universal Studios Hollywood!
Last edited by Divv3k on Fri Jul 18, 2014 8:19 am.
Our first full day took us to Universal Studios Hollywood! This was a new park for me and one I was really excited to visit being a big fan of the Orlando version.
We weren’t sure what to expect from the crowds given that this was a Sunday in May so we arrived for opening and made our way straight for Transformers and managed to get multiple rides on it before any queues started to form. I really liked it! I mean, it’s still no Spider-Man beater but that ride system really works well and I don’t think there are many themes that it wouldn’t work for. Although I do still think this was a missed opportunity to get some really kick arse animatronics into Universal but maybe that’s just wishing for too much. Mummy’s good if you don’t compare it to the much superior Orlando version and Jurassic Park is more or less identical to Islands of Adventure’s – which is certainly a good thing!
The real star of the park is obviously the Tram Tour which was really great. As a HUGE Back to the Future fan I was super excited to see the Hill Valley square in person. There’s just loads of great moments in there and my only regret is that we didn’t do the VIP tour that lets you get out the tram! Next time.
The rest of the park is good, but when we visited there were loads of construction walls around the Despicable Me and Potter sites which made the upper half of the park a little less appealing. Still it was a fun day and I’m itching to get back!
When you see this globe it can only mean one thing. You’re in Hollywood! (Or Orlando or Singapore or Osaka)
Nope, definitely Hollywood!
If you needed any more assurance that you’re in a movie studios park just consult the statues.
Yeah, this Trip Report is really late.
First stop – Transformers! This ride is by far the best thing to come out of the movie franchise.
The animatronics in the ride are REALLY lifelike!
Optimus Prime shrunk himself down in order to fulfil all your photo op desires.
Try not to think of Orlando’s version of this when you’re riding and you’ll really enjoy it.
Universal spared no expense bringing us a Jurassic Park attraction.
Spinosaurus. He wasn’t on InGen’s list.
One of the few water rides I’ll happily take a soaking on!
Onto the backlot tram tour. This was a lot of fun!
Save the Clock Tower! It was so awesome getting to see the Back to the Future square in person.
More behind the scenes stuff.
InGen – We Make Your Future.
It wouldn’t be a backlot tour without some kind of flooding scene. So here it is.
Apparently this is the only western set that’s left on the Hollywood backlots so it gets used by loads of studios whenever a western setting is needed.
Disaster! I mean, Earthquake! It was cool seeing how this tour influenced a lot of attractions that got expanded upon in the Florida park.
Like this one! Here's one place where Hollywood has something cool that Florida doesn't!
Shark still looks fake.
If you want to sleep with a gardener then this is where to go.
Bates Motel! Some shady dealings are going on here apparently.
The War of the Worlds plane crash scene was incredible! It looked so real.
I really love that they kept this for the studio tour. It really shows the scale of some of these big budget productions
If you want to pretend you’re not in California anymore just stand in front of this screen.
Don’t mess with these dudes. Or something.
Lunch. It was adequate. I found it strange that there was still a Flintstones themed cafe here, but hey I guess that’ll go eventually.
I last saw the Water World show in Osaka where it was all in Japanese. The English version doesn’t make any more sense.
Back to the Simpsons! Yeah, the ride system is still a bit jerky and uncomfortable but the pre-show is awesome which pretty much makes it worthwhile.
Unfortunately, there were no Flaming Moe’s to be found around here.
Seeing as the park is built on the side of a hill you get some pretty decent views. (If you look beyond the weird looking dude in the foreground)
Warner Bros Studios! We’ll see you real soon!
Oooh! The original DeLorean from Back to the Future! This was pretty awesome to see!
More awesome BTTF props. Hydrate Level Four please!
The Blue Brothers are still doing their thing here though I kind of get the feeling that less and less guests know who they are as the years go by.
Upon leaving the park we passed this. We didn’t even drive here but if you don’t take a photo of a sign that says “Jurassic Parking” then you’re not even human.
We rounded out our evening with a visit to City Walk where I was really excited to introduce Michael to a TPR favourite for dinner...
Buca!!! Once again this place was awesome.
Pizza porn. As always Buca gave you more food than you could possibly eat. Tremendous.
So that’s Universal Studios Hollywood. Maybe the Orlando version has slightly better versions of the attractions but if you’re a movie fan then the tram tour absolutely is a must do. This was a great way to start of our trip!
One of the reasons for this trip to California was to get a look behind the scenes at some of the movie studios based in Hollywood so we were very excited to take this two hour tour of Paramount Studios! They actually run a longer deluxe tour but we had plans for the afternoon and a longer tour coming up at Warner Bros later in the week so this was a good opportunity to get a look around.
As our visit was in May most of the TV shows which usually film there were on hiatus so the studio was a bit quieter than usual but it was still really cool to see the place and start to recognise places on the backlot from movies and TV shows from over the years!
In the afternoon we headed over to CBS Television City for a taping of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson but since they don’t allow cameras this update is all about Paramount. Here’s some pictures of the things we were allowed to photograph!
Our second full day in California took us to Paramount Studios in Hollywood!
Here’s a look at Paramount’s lot and a list of all the shows that have been filming here lately.
Hey, look! Hollywood sign off in the distance!
This was Lucille Ball’s office at the studios. Apparently she was a big deal or something.
In order to understand what your tour guide is saying they give you these very snazzy looking ear pieces. I’m going to distribute these to everyone I have a conversation with from now on.
OOOHH!! A building filled with nothing but ladders! The fun never stops at Paramount.
Here’s one of the main cross sections of Paramount’s backlot. It’s amazing how many times I’ve recognised this place when watching TV shows since I visited. Glee for example has used it a few times.
You can tell that Michael’s ready to break into a song and dance number of his own.
Sunnydale! Any Buffy fans out there? This was cool to see – many a monster chased occurred on this part of the backlot!
If you want to pretend the sky is blue in your movie then film in front of this.
Now here’s a historic stage at Paramount Studios! Stage 4 was home to the Ops set from the best Star Trek show of them all - Deep Space Nine!
And here’s an even more historic bathroom – this was Patrick Stewart’s favourite bathroom on the lot back in his TNG days apparently.
As the tour comes to a close you get led over to the famous arched gate for the studio.
A fun fact we learned on the tour – the Paramount logo features 22 stars which represent the original 22 actors who were contracted to the studio. Wow.
Inside this building was one of the most fantastic looking movie theatres I’ve ever sat in. Directors often use this to test their movies out on the big screen and give staff screenings. How much I would give to see a movie in here!
The Forest Gump bench! Apparently a few years ago Tom Hanks sat on this bench handing out chocolates to people on the studio tour. What a guy!
Of course, like any good tour this one ends in the gift shop where you can buy copious amounts of Paramount tat!
And that’s Paramount Studios! I’d love to do the longer tour at a time when more shows are filming and I’d certainly pay the extra to do so the next chance I get!
Up next – a visit to a very historic California landmark!
On our drive from Hollywood to Anaheim I had scoped out a very historic spot for us to stop for dinner - the oldest still operating McDonald's restaurant in the world! I love McDonald's and the history of the company fascinates me so when I realised we had the opportunity to visit here I couldn't not go!
I'm not letting history pass me by!
Anyone looking for some old school hamburgers?
There it is! Built in 1953 this was the third McDonald's restaurant ever built and the oldest that is still operating!
Before Ronald McDonald, Speedee was the mascot of the company - even in the 1950s McDonald's realised that promoting the speed of their service was important.
Michael's absolutely buzzing to be sampling a taste of California history.
Here's the original cash registers that were used at the store 60 years ago.
Whilst the full expanded menu is on offer here I had to order something classic - cheeseburgers, fries and a shake. That's pretty much all the original menu consisted of.
Next to to the counter there's a little enclosed seating area that was added later.
There's also a little museum next to it - here's how the McDonald's corporation ending up hitting it big, the milkshake mixer. When Ray Kroc sold these to the McDonald brothers in the 1950s he ended up owning the franchise rights to the company and the rest is history.
Some old school McDonald's tat.
Here's the original menu from 1953! Wow, this place was cheap!
The museum also has a little section saluting Speedee. He was a creepy looking guy.
The arches of the restaurant were designed to look just like the logo that would become infamous all over the world. Talk about foresight!
Alright, that's dinner sorted! If you're like me and fascinated by the history of what became one of the biggest companies in the world then this is a fun place to stop by.
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