L: Yey! Universal Studios! we entered firmly clutching our coke cans, having read that you get $15 off the exorbitant entry fee to the park with 'any' empty can. 'Sorry sir, you have to be a southern California resident to be eligible - and anyway its the wrong type of coke can'. Cue Dave into customer from hell mode. We get an $8 tourist discount after a good ten minutes of 'I want to talk the the manager please' and we're on our way, well, almost, as Dave is refused entry as he has the wrong ticket!
Finally in, after surviving the commercial onslaught of trinket shops, upsells and popcorn scented air and this place is HEAVING. I don't mean kind of busy, I mean the opening of a brand new store that's giving 50% off everything sort of crush. We are faced with a digital display of how long the queues are, '15 mins - Haunted House', studio tour is already 45 mins. We dash into the Haunted House which started off like any old fairground ghouls and ghosts set then out of nowhere a real live character jumps out at us screaming, we all flew about 3ft in the air and Amber's piercing squeek was set to automatic mode after that. It sends you round twisted corridors, every character looks as if it's going to kill you complete with chainsaw and psycho wig. Cameron is pushed to take pole position, despite fighting, he clings to every door frame with a look of sheer terror on his face. We fight through body bags hanging on butcher's hooks and frankenstein's operating theatre, every horror movie you have ever seen is in this place with a struggling actor happy to scare you to death. If you had a heart condition, I'd say set your pacemaker down a notch!
Next up was the queue of the day for the Movie set tour. They make queuing as bearable as they can with TV's to alleviate the boredom, icecream sellers strategically placed at every turn and fans blowing cool mist from above. We finally board the bus and were entertained by a Whoppie Goldberg wannabe, we saw real live stages and sets where they were filming yet to be released movies and tv shows. We experienced the 3D King Kong ride which was incredible, a flooding canyon, Jaws nearly biting our arms off and a murder at Bates Motel, all while sitting on the bus! That done, we made for the Jurassic Park ride which nice and relaxing until we dropped off an 84ft vertical waterfall, I notice they have a heart defibrilator at the exit, how comforting. This was followed by The Mummy Returns ride, a mere 45 minute wait but even I quite enjoyed it (basically I managed to keep my eyes open). It had a high speed accelerator start, with beetles crawling on your feet and a twisting carriage - oh, and then it went in reverse. We decided to put off the Simpsons simulator roller coaster until Dave felt his stomach could make it so we caught a couple of shows. The Simpsons' ride was fabulous, a fully simulated screen makes you think you're on the roller coaster of your life complete with jaults and thuds, Cameron's favourite! We all went to see the Animal actors show, which despite my reservations, was wonderful. We got to see a few famous pets from all sorts of movies as well as performing monkies, mice, cats, birds and of course dogs. Mostly rescue animals and you a strong sense they were loved and well looked after. I even think there was a chicken too.
Weary and tired, I relented to see Waterworld which ended up being a real show stopper. Kevin Costner's 90's flop was incredible, a fully flotating set with speed boats, jet skis and even a burning plane crashing into the set - wow! Universal Studios was a great day, even with the queuing and on the way out, Dave had another pop about the coke can incident and we got $28 back, how's that for a good ending?