A fun time.
Universal Studios, near unlovely Anaheim, Los Angeles, combines two kinds of entertainment. There are rides and there is the back lot tour.
I took my son there for the rides and myself for the tour. Having tried a couple of the rides and finding I had left my organs plastered to the tunnel of one, courtesy of 4G forces, I passed on the remainder, letting Winston have at it.
We had booked the guided tour and our guide – incongruously yet accurately named ‘Happy’ – proved to be a fount of information and a real movie enthusiast. In his spare time he acts in repertory theater so showmanship is very much in his makeup. While the guided tour is not cheap it comes with three benefits – valet parking, no lines and a fine catered lunch. You can live without the latter but the first two are lifesavers, quite literally. With seemingly some 20 million people visiting daily valet parking is a non-trivial benefit and as for no lines …. well, it comes down to what your time is worth, I suppose.
In touring the back lot during the afternoon you begin to realize just how large the lot is. Over 50 acres with some six dozen lots, this is a real working movie studio and while one or two lots were out of bounds – movies were being made – the whole thing was an absolute blast. During the tour you are treated to (subjected to?) some special effects, but there are no G forces in sight. This is a good thing after a decent lunch.
In the event, for he is as big a movie buff as his dad, Winnie enjoyed the afternoon tour immensely and by the time it ended, well past 6pm, we were on our last legs. It’s a very full day.
Town Hall, familiar to ‘Back to the Future’ fans. It’s used so often that Universal has to change the façade to disguise it.
The Bates Motel, beloved of Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ fans. Built undersize to emphasize the claustrophobic aspect. Some fool actually made a remake of the movie, which has to be the dumbest idea yet in Hollywood history.
While we waited for our tour bus, a group of thirty Chinese disembarked, spotted this mural, and proceeded to dutifully pose identically, one by one, as each of the twenty-nine others snapped his picture. A nation of true individualists, those orientals.
Downtown Latin America. Nearly all the buildings are comprised solely of false fronts.
‘The War of the Worlds’ set. Even Steven Spielberg makes the occasional clunker, for the movie is awful, but the set was tremendous. Having paid $60,000 for this first generation Boeing 747, he proceeded to incur another $175,000 to transport it to the lot then have it cut up and generally destroyed. It’s in the movie all of 60 seconds ….
On the ‘WoTW’ set. Our guide told us to look out for the ashtrays in the arm rests of the seats, identifying this as a very early jumbo jet.
The prop warehouse and area were terrific. Here’s Winnie getting ready to do some ‘Supersize Me’ shopping.
The prop building has tens of thousands of props, including hundreds of furniture sets from all eras, statuary, gadgets, you name it. All pieces are bar coded for ease of retrieval. This is a 1930’s era switchboard which Universal had to build as no originals remained. First seen in the Paul Newman/Robert Redford vehicle ‘The Sting’ it has been used in many movies since, and is so popular that Universal often rents it to other studios.
All snaps by Winston on his Panny LX100 except for the penultimate one which dad took.