Monday, December 17, 2012

Hollywood does Grinchmas

Before heading back on Safari, I was inspired to share our latest trip!........."Simply having a wonderful Grinchmas time " was today's mantra.  Eric and I hadn't been to Universal Studios during Christmas so we gave it a shot. To add to the cheer, our friends Ricky and Miley joined in the winter event.

It was a cold afternoon when we arrived. We were caught in a light, misty drizzle that didn't keep us or anyone else away. But of course the day I wear my glasses, the lenses were full of water! It was a surprise to find that on rainy days, the park gives out free hot chocolate in heated tents!!! What service!!

Although the walkways were full of visitors, we were glad they weren't in the queues. Even the line for food was a breeze. We had decided to eat and headed to Mel's Diner. Great burgers were devoured! But, Miley was the odd woman out with her Chilli Cheese fries. We had some great service with our food. A busser even offered to help a nearby table with directions to their next destination, and they didn't have to ask!

First attraction up was The Studio Tram Tour. We had heard that the WhoVille scene had added characters and dancers for Grinchmas. Miley is a former tram tour hostess and she asked a former coworker which guide available would give the best spiel. A guy named Jay was the recommended tram host. He performed some fun voices and used his personality to give a better experience. Since we were at the front of the tram with him, he also had some funny side comments.
Jay, our fearless tram host

Although Jay gave an above average performance, we were a underwhelmed at the WhoVille scene. It was still drizzling, so the Whovians were only standing and waving. Lame! The host, Jay, added that they do a cool little song n dance, but the rain has stopped them. Knowing there would be a performance, you can imagine our surprise when the tram didn't stop and kept moving!

So basically we rode the whole tour for nothing?? All was not lost because it was fun for Miley to experience Kimg Kong for the first time. She hadn't worked there in a few years so even the Jimmy Fallon supplemental video is new to her. Universal is a working studio, so there is usually a slight variance in one's tram experience as they avoid film shoots. We missed Desperate Housewives' Wisteria Lane because of an insurance commercial.

To prove how short the lines were, we waited about 8 minutes for Transformers. That was also a first ride for Miley and she loved it! Who wouldn't, except for people prone to motion sickness? Eric would really like to see a soundtrack added to that attraction. The sensations of movement and technology are fascinating, but it lacks that little boost music would give.

The queue for The Mummy coaster was a "walk-on"! Although a fun coaster, it wasn't as exciting without the sound effects. For some reason they were never switched on for us. The attraction was slightly awkward because it was obvious something was missing. Our group did have a slight giggle as the unenthusiastic unload hostess sipped on a beverage. Where was the clapping???

So far we have Whovians that only wave hello, no sound effects on The Mummy, and a bored worker drinking what I hope was water. But, the four of us were still having a fun time in the cold.

We ventured into the future by visiting the Cyberdyne presentation at Terminator 3D.  But, according to Terminator 2's timeline, aren't we past what Sara Connor calls "Judgement Day"? Shouldn't the Terminators have taken over the country by now? Oh well.

Neither of us had seen the 3D/Live Action show a while. With rumors that a Despicable Me film will replace it, we had to stop by. I love the T2 film so I was definitely into the show. Motorcycles driving into and out of the screen, live actors, explosions, hydraulic theater seats, and CO2 enveloping the audience is great fun! There is a section in the middle that drags a bit, but I'm forgiving.  I'll miss the show once its gone.

During the show "load in"

It was now time for the icing on the cake, the Tree Lighting Ceremony. The show is held in the former Wild West arena. It was now an icy blue winter scene that surrounds a whimsically shaped, 60 foot tall tree. I don't really recall the film "The Grinch" all that much. I am more of a fan of the vintage cartoon. The show drew from both sources as they used the original music from the Christmas special. I looked like a nerd filming with my iPhone and snapping photos with my camera. Below you can see the video I shot.

Once the Whovians started singing the song 'Welcome Christmas" I got a little giddy and Eric was mumbling the lyrics. The show's writing was a little hard to swallow, but that song really brought out the feeling of Christmas. The show's climax ended with a lighting of the entire theater, the tree, and a snowfall. It was a nice treat for this wintery day. Eric and I then decided to get a little scared at the House of Horrors!

As noted in a previous post, I've always been a fan of Halloween and horror. It's great that Universal has a haunted maze filled with their classic characters such as Wolfman, Dracula, Chucky, and Norman Bates. The facility is a former Marvel themed restaurant and storage area that was renovated approximately 10-15 years ago. There are elaborate, eerie sets that fill up the two level space.


It's not really all that scary, but some people really do get frightened. I love whenever the film Psycho is represented! As the "Shower Scene" music plays, one must walk close by a creepy figure of Norman's mother sitting in a chair. We never knows if it's merely a figure or if she will jump out at you. This time she merely sat there (guess the performer was at lunch or a call sick).

To our surprise it was nearly 9 PM and the park would be closing soon. It was evident that the marketing campaign for Grinchmas had helped to keep in the crowds. To be honest I almost fell for the holiday marketing and bought a silly Grinch themed hat. Ricky did make a purchase but his hat was definitely more reasonable. I wonder who's Christmas tree will go missing tonight....blame Ricky!

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