Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Universal Studio

Last time I took you through the Hollywood, the stars & the Oscars. How about going behind the scene this week? Come…this time I’m taking you to Universal Studio.

Universal Studios Hollywood is reputedly the world’s largest film studio and theme park, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Los Angeles. The park was opened to the public in 1964, allowing the public to see behind the scenes of the film world. The park features the latest in state-of-the-art video and audio technology, and uses impressive special effects and stunt shows to entertain visitors.

On a bright Sunday morning, I & Prosenjit took the Metro bus 444 to LA Downtown. On the way we were joined by Sudipto, Sita (both of them Prosenjit’s project mates) and Suchitra (Toyota Project but in different module). So after a long one hour in the bus we got down at Pershing Square (This name should sound familiar for those who read the previous posting on Hollywood).From there, the metro train flew us to Universal City. At Universal City, after waiting for a while, the Universal Studio Shuttle arrived & it took us to the Studio.

The trademark globe of Universal Studio was at the entrance of the Universal Studio. Photo sessions begun immediately there. We walked into the studio to find ourselves in front of a nice fountain with three sculptures, one of a director, a cameraman & a light boy, which truly depicted the essence of movie making. Analysis of the map & prioritizing the rides & shows was done. There were atleast 15 rides/shows in the park. The ladies with us had come without having breakfast. So we moved into a food court. After everybody’s stomach was satisfied, we rushed to the first in the list of our rides, Jurassic Park. We were literally carried to the place by long escalators.

Jurassic Park
We moved through the famous gate on which “Jurassic park” was beaming & found ourselves in a long waiting queue. But the queue was really moving fast & for company there were visuals from the “Jurassic Park” movie being played. So very soon all of us got into the ride. The ride started very smoothly through the very cool stream of water in a picturesque surrounding and herbivorous dinosaurs gazing on the stream bank. There were some small & big dinosaurs making movements all around. When everything was looking fine, suddenly a car written “Jurassic Park” started rolling towards us & fell just few inches from us splashing water all across. Then there was some red alerts everywhere telling that there was danger ahead. We entered a dark tunnel & suddenly from the top we saw Tyrannosaurs ‘Rex’ almost trying to engulf us. We picked the speed & moved across its jaws .It kept following & then there was a shout “escape”. Next few seconds we were falling freely & almost everybody’s heart stopped. The ride came to an end after that free fall.

Got out of ride & there were survivors photos to see & buy. The images of each one of us when the ride was in free fall were captured on camera. It was a hilarious photo to look at. Prosenjit was almost in coma stage, some look like that was the end of world. Suchitra was in deep penance closing tightly her eyes. Sudipto was very expressive with mouth wide-open in awe. Sita had resigned from life closing her eyes. I was laughing like a mad when the fall was happening. Thought of picking that photo, but it was very expensive (29$).We came out of the ride thrilled & kept talking about the ride for a while. Then we moved to the ride ”Revenge of Mummy”

Revenge of Mummy
We kept all the bags & cameras in the automatic locker provided & entered the tunnel. It was a typical Egyptian setting inside straight from the Mummy movies. There was a sound of the insects humming everywhere & few clips from the movie were being played. We got into the ride & the ride began with a slow journey through some amazing Egyptian gold like pharaoh statues. Then we entered a cave where suddenly lots of mummy hands came out of walls & roofs to grab us. The ride picked up the speed & started flying very furiously. Now it was moving down the slope with great speed & there was darkness everywhere. There was light at end of cave where the ride was heading towards & suddenly we saw it was dead end & we were about to hit the walls with speed. The tram stopped just few inches from hitting the wall; it went back & took another turn. Then again it sped up to reach a bright sun like object, before we realized there was a sand storm trying to engulf us, so the tram moved back in the same speed it went. The ride came to end after that. But we were expecting much more from that ride.

At each location of the park, there were sign boards showing all the rides/shows, next ride/show timing & expected wait time. That was very useful to plan our schedules.

We moved to watch the Shrek-4D show. That show had a very long queue. We patiently waited in the queue talking about the Shrek movies. Back ground story so far where Shrek & Fiona get married was told. Then we got into the theatre & wore the 3-D goggles.

The movie was simply flabbergasting. There was wonderful 3-D effects & excellent story with characters I love. If that was not enough there was this 4th dimension! Imagine a scene where there are spiders hanging around & Shrek picks these spiders & throws. You see these spiders flying at you & falling on the ground (till here 3-D effect), next moment you see spiders moving on the screen & you feel something is climbing up your legs!! You get an impression that the spiders are actually climbing up your legs!!!

One more scene, Shrek is chasing the villain in a chariot & as the chariot moves; the chairs also start moving giving the impression that you are also involved in chase. Too good!! Everybody in our gang was very happy after the show. We took some snaps wearing those 4-D green goggles.

Terminator-2 3D
We moved to the Cyberdyne Institute to see the Terminator-2 3D show. As we entered there was presentation about the fictious Cyberdyne Institute which gets interrupted by Sarah Cornors & John Cornors (All Terminator fans should be familiar with these names!).Then as we get into theatre, there was an amazing display of 3-D effects. What better combination than T2 effects & 3-D effects. It was a ‘super’ show.

Universal Studio Tour
This tour allows the public to see behind the scenes of the film world. Today, a visit to the park, which attracts around 35,000 visitors per day, begins with an exciting behind-the-scenes tram tour of famous film sets, with a simulated earthquake, a collapsing bridge, and several surprise attacks from key Hollywood film characters, such as the shark ‘Jaws’ and the famous giant gorilla ‘King Kong’.

The tour started in a tram which was equipped with audio-visual aids & a commentator explaining the history, geography & milestones of Universal Studio. We were taken to the production place where sound generation was done. We went next to few permanent sets put up in studio like the streets of England, streets for cow boy movies & Mexican street & a house setting on a snowy winter day. The metrological department of studio showed how they convert the seasons quickly when they created rain & flood in few minutes. Then a bridge which collapses & gets back to normal form was shown.

There was a patch of thick forest which was looking familiar & suddenly it became clear that where I had seen that. It was in movie “Jurassic Park” where the Tyrannosaurus “Rex” gives entry in the movie on a rainy night. Do you remember the scene where the kids are struck inside the car & they see Rex breaking the fence & plucking the wheels of car? That particular scene was shot here. I always thought that was in Costa Rica.

We came across a pond where suddenly a shark almost attacked the tram. Then we were explained that the famous scary beach scenes from “Jaws” were created in this pond. The shark which was moving was a mechanical shark called “Bruce” (Also learnt that Spielberg named the shark as “Bruce” after his attorney’s name!!)

Then it was time to see some ‘live set’ which means the shooting had happened recently in the set & they preserved the set as it was. The place where we were taken was a airplane crash site with plane pieces scattered everywhere, aeroplane seats thrown all across, a car half burnt, broken houses .We were then told that was for the latest Spielberg movie “War of the Worlds”(which gets released sometime in June end).

The tour now entered a place where there was a railway station set. Suddenly it started shaking & the station roof got collapsed & a heavy truck started rolling towards us & stopped just in front of our tram. If that was not enough, a train coming to the station started moving out of rails towards us. That was the earthquake scene. Next we moved across the tunnel & out of blue, a huge figure emerged at started shaking the tram. It was ‘King Kong”, the famous tall towering ape.

We were taken then to the place where the moon landing scene from movie Apollo-13 was created. After all the wonderful time, the studio tour came to an end.

Back to the Future
We rushed to “Back to the Future” ride. That ride was all about virtual reality & it took us smashing through the glass windows, through a boiling volcano mouth, through a valley almost hitting mountains, through dinosaur’s mouth. That was an excellent ride too.

I went & took snaps of me with Shrek & few on the “Fat Boy”. Fat Boy is the Harley-Davidson bike used by Arnold in Terminator-2.That was such a macho bike & it really looked powerful.

Evening was getting closer & we went to the Van Helsing. Unlike other rides, this one was a walk through the haunting castle. The castle was dark & walk was exciting with ghosts jumping suddenly & skeletons rolling all around.

Still there were lots to do in the park, but time was not on our side. We took leave of Universal studio. Came back to Universal city by the shuttle & caught our metro train which took us to Union Station. Ladies proceeded towards Torrance in 444 bus, while me & Prosenjit went to explore one more route to Torrance, which we did successfully!

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