This past week, we traveled to Southern California to visit Universal Studios and Hollywood. Our hotel was within walking distance of Hollywood Boulevard, and though it was old, and a little strange, we enjoyed our time there. I remember walking along Hollywood Boulevard as a child, looking at the names on the stars. Of course, so many have been added since then, it is impossible to see them all. What I don’t remember is the stars being covered with dirt and grime. But then, the amount of foot traffic on that street has certainly increased as well. I was tempted when I saw that someone with a sharpie had added his own name to an empty star. I recalled an episode of I Love Lucy, where she and Ethel stole John Wayne’s star. I guess she managed to put it back, because we found it there along with her own star.
There are two things I noticed that California drivers use more often than drivers where I live. The first is their horns. Apparently there is no grace period for drivers with out-of-state licenses to learn the ropes. I was honked at early and often while trying to navigate their bumper-to-bumper traffic which seems to last all day. The second thing they use consistently is the turn signal. People in my home town are much more casual about changing lanes and tend to just mosey on over in front of me. This, of course is very annoying. I discovered how valuable my flicker is when I had to make it across four lanes on the freeway within one mile. With my turn signal on, drivers held back and allowed me to move over again and again even though traffic was heavy. California drivers–I tip my hat to your courtesy!
At Universal Studios, I paid a hundred and ten dollars for the privilege of being spit on by spiders, lizards, frogs, dragons, dinosaurs and robots. I half expected Homer Simpson to plant a big loogie on me, but fortunately, that didn’t happen. Instead, I was swallowed by the Simpson baby, Maggie, who had grown to enormous size after crawling into a nuclear reactor. She did have a pleasant baby powder smell.
Universal Studios are definitely the masters of motion simulation. We were plunged to the bottom of a crashing roller coaster ride, placed on a long conveyor belt where we were turned into minions, trapped in an earthquake, and drafted as participants in a quidich match. Everyone’s favorite was the Harry Potter ride. Hogwarts has been reproduced in detail, including talking pictures on the walls. The ride is quite realistic. One ride that was a little to real for Kirstin and David was the Walking Dead. It is actually not a ride, but a walk-through complete with real zombies–maybe too real.
After spending thirty-two dollars for four hotdogs, we opted to take our appetites out of the park and dine at restaurants in the nearby CityWalk. There we found many excellent choices with reasonable prices. My personal favorite was the LudoBird. For just ten dollars you can get a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, fries and a drink. The fried chicken is the creation of chef Ludo Lefebvre’s and it is fabulous. Another outstanding restaurant in the CityWalk is Camacho’s Cantina, where I enjoyed the best cheese enchilada I’ve ever had.
Compared to Disneyland, Universal Studios offers fewer rides and attractions, but, as a trade-off, lines are very short. In fact, we never waited in line once–even though we did not pay extra for “front of the line,” tickets. We spent two days there, but you could easily do everything in one day.
Finally, enjoy the video of Kirstin and David dancing with the Minions.