Greg (gregstoll) wrote,

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Universal Studios/Disneyland trip recap and pictures

For our babymoon, David and I went to Universal Studios Hollywood (mostly to see the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter) and Disneyland!

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<- Me in front of the Universal Studios globe!

<- The entrance to the Harry Potter ride goes through Hogwarts Castle, where the fat lady showed up! She wishes she could come along...

<- After Harry Potter, we went to the Simpsons side of the park. Here I am outside of Duff Gardens, next to Tipsy and Surly!

<- This meet-and-greet with a Transformer was baffling. He was moving around deftly but also talking in a way that it was clear the speech was live. Is there someone in that suit? Or is it remote-controlled? We may never know...

<- Me under a dinosaur at the Jurassic Park ride.

<- We ate lunch at Cletus's Chicken Shack, and David found Spider-Pig! The TV in the background is playing all sorts of restaurant-related Simpsons clips.

<- David in front of Hogwarts Castle!

<- I don't mean to brag, but...

<- David met Scooby-Doo and Shaggy, who were very big fans of his shirt!

<- Next up was Disneyland. Here's David on the Finding Nemo submarine ride!

<- David enjoys a Darth by Chocolate, which was a delicious dessert! (OK, I enjoyed it too...)

<- David and I attempted to open the Disney vault! Then we just went in the store.

<- While we waited for the parade, the tea cups were lit up very nicely.

<- Parade time! Here's the Little Mermaid float.

<- We went to an animation class and learned how to draw Olaf! Here's David's version...

<- ...and here's my version! Yeah, David's is better.

<- David showing off a very nice matte. Everything past the rope is a painting!

<- We got into position to watch the World of Color show early. The lit-up ferris wheel (which we had ridden early in the day) was especially pretty!

<- Since it was July 4th, the show opened with a tribute to America. There was a sheet of mist or water or something that they projected things on to. It looked way better in person than it does in this picture!

<- Frozen! Yes, they played "Let It Go"...

<- Finally, Star Wars!

Random observations from the trip:
  • LAX is a crazy airport. Our luggage came out really quickly, but then we waited for our rental car shuttle for over half an hour. The traffic outside the terminal looked like regular rush hour traffic!

  • We rented from MCar, and instead of us having to inspect the car for damage the guy just walked around with it with us and took a video. Clever!

  • Dinner on Friday was Del Taco. I could tell we were in California because a lot of menu items had avocado!

  • My phone took us on a kind of crazy route to our hotel near Universal Studios. It sent us through a lot of residential neighborhoods, which was neat at first but got tiring pretty quickly. Finally we just started ignoring it and heading in the direction of the hotel, figuring it would take a hint. (which it did!)

  • On the freeway, there was a motorcycle in the lane next to us, and as we watched the rider did a wheelie, which he maintained for over a mile. It was neat for a few seconds but then kinda scary. I did not want to be anywhere near him if he fell!

  • At Universal Studios, the main Harry Potter ride goes through Hogwarts Castle, which is pretty well-done. One room you go through is the Defense against the Dark Arts classroom, where Harry, Ron, and Hermione show up to offer to sneak you out of class. Unfortunately, it was in this room that we heard the ride was having problems, so we got to hear them offer this over, and over, and over. They fixed the ride in around 20 minutes, thank goodness!

  • My stomach was a bit iffy at Universal Studios but I did manage to have butterbeer, Buzz Cola (brewed specially!), and pumpkin juice.

  • At Universal Studios, you can buy a "Front of Line Ticket" that lets you skip to the front of all the rides. This ticket is less than 2x the price of a regular ticket, so a lot of people had it. (you get a special lanyard so they're easy to spot) This bothers me from an egalitarian perspective...this seems to be one of the things that money shouldn't be able to buy. Even worse, at the Special Effects show we went to (which was good!) there was some pretty neat audience participation parts, but everyone had been pre-chosen from the people who had a Front of Line ticket. Booo!

  • At Disneyland on the Star Tours ride, right at the beginning we get stopped by Darth Vader who says there's a rebel spy onboard, and it was me! A light above me went off, and I sheepishly apologized :-)

  • Now that Disney owns the rights to Star Wars, they're starting to add more shows, etc. One of the cutest was where a bunch of kids get to train to be Jedi. They all get Jedi robes and are generally adorable. I wish I had taken a picture, but see here for some samples.

  • I had heard that the music on It's a Small World wasn't the same on the whole ride. This is technically true, but the music is similar enough in the different sections to still be a bit tiring...

  • On July 4th, we went to Disney California Adventure. It was much less crowded than we expected (maybe everyone was planning on seeing the fireworks at Disneyland!), so we got to ride a bunch of rides we didn't plan on. Good times!

  • To plan our trip we used (and the accompanying book), which I would generally recommend. It means you get a schedule with everything planned down to the minute, but just having an order of rides to visit is helpful.

  • I'm not the biggest fan of the movie Cars (it's fine enough), but Cars Land at Disney California Adventure is really well done. It looked like it was right out of the movie!

  • Drawing Olaf at the Animation Studio was a lot of fun! It just goes to show - with a good enough set of instructions you can draw anything!

  • The World of Color show was really cool - lots of really neat projections and such, even if we did get wetter than I like. (the optimal amount of wetness is none)

Tags: pictures, travel

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