Tag Archives: Universal Studios

A Wizard’s Birthday (or A Full Universal Day)

When I got my Universal Studios pass again this year, I knew it would be worth it since you only have to go twice to make it the cheaper option than buying tickets. But I didn’t know if I’d go much more than that because I don’t love going there as often as I do Disneyland. I’m pretty sure that I won’t be getting another pass after this one expires, so I’m making sure that I get my Universal fix in while I have a pass.

So when my friend Erin told me that her daughter Olive was doing a birthday adventure at Universal, of course I wanted to join in! I’ve known Olive her entire life and I love that she is so into the world of make-believe. She loves everything Harry Potter and loves being in the park to do spells.

They wanted to get there when the park opened, so it was an earlier start than I’m used to. I was at the gate before it opened and it was raining a bit while I waited for them to join me. But fortunately that stopped soon after and it ended up being a pretty gorgeous day out.

Olive could easily spend the day just doing the Harry Potter ride 13 times. That’s actually what she said her plan for the day was. But the grownups in the group knew that wasn’t how the day was going to go so we encouraged her to pick other rides she wanted to go on. We went on the Minions ride, she and I watched when the others went on Jurassic Park, and I got to ride a few other things without Olive. But the main part of the day was spent in the Harry Potter section of the park.

It was nice to see that they were already decorating for the holidays and most of the buildings have garlands and wreaths on them.

We did the Harry Potter ride twice as a group and we also had a nice lunch at the restaurant there. While I can be a bit tired of the same things over and over again, I love being there with Olive because seeing things through a kid’s eyes is just such a fun experience. Seeing her believe in everything in the park as something real is a great thing. So many kids are jaded by her age and I appreciate that she still believes and is still a kid and not an elementary school aged teenager. Kids should get to be kids and that’s exactly what she does.

While we were at the park I was starting to deal with some pretty bad nausea. I had my medications with me and was taking them while I was there, but I was glad when we decided to take a break from the rides and go watch the Waterworld show. I see that show almost every time I’m there and it is still one of my favorites.

I was feeling a bit better after sitting down for the show, but I was not feeling like I could do any more rides. I don’t think I would have thrown up on a ride, but I didn’t want to risk that or do anything that would potentially make me feel worse. So while everyone else was getting ready to ride the Harry Potter ride again, I had to say goodbye so I could go home and try to feel better.

I didn’t feel too horrible about leaving early because some of Olive’s friends arrived just as I was leaving. And I had been in the park for about 6 hours which is longer than I’m normally there. So I had a full day and I think that Olive had fun while I was there. And from the photos I saw on Facebook, I know that she had fun after I left too. It looks like they stayed there until the park closed so they had a super full day!

I’m only about halfway through my year with this annual pass to Universal so I’m sure I’ll make it back there again before it expires. Some of the employees there mentioned that they were going to do a special castle show for the holidays so hopefully that will be this year so I can see it. And I’ll probably go back right before my pass expires to ride all my favorites one more time before I know I won’t be going back for a while. And maybe Olive will want me to go with her again and we can have another Harry Potter filled day!

Halloween Time In The Daytime (or The Fun Of The Single Rider Line)

When I renewed my Universal Studios pass earlier this year, I knew that I wouldn’t have to go that much to make the price worth it. I actually had already gone enough to make the pass worth it back in June, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t going to go more. And when my friend Michelle and I figured out we both had a free Monday afternoon, we decided we should go to the park and have some fun that day!

It actually worked out perfectly because I had to meet someone near Universal that evening, so being over there prevented me from having to drive over in rush hour traffic. We got to Universal around noon and were trying to make a plan on what we wanted to do. We always like riding the rides in the Harry Potter section, but we also wanted to go on other things. So we decided to head down to the lower lot and go on some rides there first.

As we were heading down, I realized that I left some one-time front of the line passes I had gotten in June. I had gotten stuck on a ride and they gave us some passes to use another time. The park wasn’t too crowded, but waiting 30 minutes per ride can add up. But when we got to the Mummy ride, we realized that there was a single rider line! We don’t care if we don’t ride together (you don’t talk while on the ride), so that’s what we did and we only ended up waiting about 5 minutes before we got to go on.

After we both rode on the Mummy, we headed over to Transformers where they also had a single rider line. And again, the regular line was about 30 minutes and we pretty much walked on as single riders. It really doesn’t matter about not riding in the same vehicle and we only had to wait a few minutes for each other after the ride. The only other ride down on the lower lot is the Jurassic Park ride, and even though it was a warmer day neither of us wanted to get wet so we headed back up the escalators.

We went on the tram next. I think the tram will always be special to me since I worked at Terror Tram. And the signs for Terror Tram were up even though that only happens at nighttime. The sign said it was a 10 minute wait for the tram, but we walked right on to one since we didn’t care what car we were seated in.

But we did still get to see some of the Terror Tram stuff down by the Bates Motel since they can’t take it apart every night. I didn’t really get any pictures of that because I was seated on the wrong side of the tram. But it’s always fun to see where I used to work and where some of my friends still work!

Then we decided it was time for some Harry Potter fun.

First we got some lunch because it was getting a bit late in the afternoon and we both needed to eat. The Three Broomsticks restaurant in that section of the park is pretty good and I’m always happy to eat there. I didn’t get any Butterbeer this time but it was still a good meal and a nice time for Michelle and I to sit in the shade and relax.

We then went on both Harry Potter rides (we pretty much walked onto both rides) and then realized that it was time for the last Waterworld show of the day. That’s always a great show and it seemed like perfect timing that it was happening right then. It was pretty crowded in there, but we found some seats in the shade pretty close to the front (but not too close that we were in the splash zone). The show was just as good as always and again it was a nice way to enjoy the afternoon.

After the show was done, we were pretty shocked that we had done everything we wanted to do in the park so fast. We really expected to take longer to do everything, but the single rider line really saved us. But in under 5 hours we did 5 rides, a show, and had lunch. Plus we had the time we had to walk to and from the car to the park and all the walking we did in the park. I don’t think even on an empty day I would expect to get more than this done in that amount of time. It really worked out perfectly for us and I’m so glad we went!

I might be going back to the park next month, but I really don’t have any concrete plans yet. And I’m debating if I’ll renew my pass again when it expires next year. I do really enjoy going to Universal, but it’s not the same as going to Disneyland. It’s totally repeatable, but not in the same way. And if I’m trying to do better on budgeting, the cost of my pass (even if it is pretty low) could probably be put toward better use. But I’ve got a while before my pass expires so I’m guessing I’ll be back at least once or twice before I have to think about renewing.

A Universal Evening (or Checking Out The Castle)

One of the fun bonuses for having an annual pass for Universal Studios is that they do some preview events for passholders from time to time. And pretty soon after renewing my pass, I got my first preview event invite. This time, it was for the upcoming light show that they are going to be doing on the castle in the Harry Potter section of the park.

When they originally announced the new light show, my friend Michelle and I realized that it was going to be starting after our passes were blacked out for the summer. So when we got the preview invites, we jumped at the chance to go and signed up! We had a viewing time of 9:20pm for the show, but we figured we’d just go to the park after we were both done with work and have some fun before the light show.

We got to the park around 5pm and found a pretty amazing parking space (which doesn’t always happen at Universal since they aren’t as great with their parking lot as Disneyland is). And since we were both getting a bit hungry for dinner, we decided to make a stop in CityWalk before going into the park since the food is a bit better there.

We went to DongPo Kitchen where we had gone once before. They have amazing green beans that we were both kind of craving. We decided to get those again along with some chicken and pork belly and had a pretty awesome meal!

We then headed toward the front gate of the park where we had to check in for the preview event and get our wristbands. We also got coupons for 20% off a purchase in the park. I didn’t think I would be purchasing anything there (I’m really trying to not shop as much), but it was nice that they gave us those as a perk.

Michelle and I weren’t sure what we were going to do at the park. We only had about an hour before the park closed (the preview event only had the Harry Potter section open) and we were debating on what we wanted to ride. And as we passed the Special Effects Stage, we realized the show was going to start within a few minutes. I hadn’t seen the show in about a decade, so we decided to go in and check it out.

We were sitting on the side in the front, so it was a bit tough to see everything. But we could still see a lot and I noticed how much they’ve changed the show. It’s pretty awesome what they do now and they have real stunt people in the show doing stage fighting and lighting themselves on fire. It’s a big improvement over the old version and I have a feeling I’ll be checking it out again.

When the show was done, we only had about 5 minutes until the park closed so we had to pick one ride to do. And we figured since The Simpsons ride was right there that we would do that. The line wasn’t too bad and we got to cut ahead a bit because they were looking for a group of 2 to fill up one of the ride vehicles. And after waiting only maybe 10 minutes, we were inside the building waiting to go on the ride. I love the little digs at Disneyland attractions that they have inside there!

When we were done with that ride, the park was officially closed so we walked over to the Harry Potter section. There were 3 showtimes for the new light show (8:40, 9:00, and 9:20) and we figured we’d try to watch it at least twice. But first, we wanted to ride the Harry Potter ride which is one of my favorites.

As soon as we got off the ride, we headed outside and the light show was starting! We couldn’t really be in the viewing area since we had a different showtime, but we had a pretty great view from farther back!

And as soon as that show was done, we made our way to the front of the reserved viewing area to see the show from up close. The show is only about 5 minutes so I’m glad we didn’t really have to wait in a big crowd to watch it. It’s pretty awesome and the projections are incredible up close, but I was a bit disappointed how short the show was.

We let the crowd clear a bit before we headed out. I’m glad that we were able to go to Universal and considering that we were only in the park for about 2 hours I think we got quite a bit done. I won’t have a chance to go back for a while unless they do bonus days for passholders (which they do from time to time). But if this is my last visit for a while, I would have to say it was a pretty great visit and I feel like I got everything done that I wanted to do.

Another Year Of Universal (or Hanging Out With A Little Wizard)

My Universal Studios pass expired a little over a month ago and I wasn’t sure originally when I’d be back. I knew I’d be getting another pass eventually, but I figured I probably wouldn’t start using it until after the summer since the pass level I get isn’t good for the summer. But when my friend Erin mentioned that she and her daughter Olive were going to be there on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, I decided that I should get my pass sooner than expected.

Even though the pass I get isn’t usually good on weekends, when you have a new pass you can have your first day be any day. So that worked out pretty well for me. We knew that it would be pretty crowded going to the park on a holiday weekend, but we figured that even if we only got one ride in we would be pretty happy.

Olive loves all things Harry Potter, so our first stop had to be the Harry Potter section of the park. Olive has one of the wands that can be used to do spells around that part of the park and she wanted to test out her wizard skills as soon as we got there.

Olive is really cute with all of the wizard stuff. She believes in it (which I loved!) and she practices the various spells so she can do them all when she gets to the park. She can even do them behind her back or with her non-dominant hand!

And since we were in the Harry Potter section, we did the main Harry Potter ride first. Because of the way the seats are on that ride, I have to use the alternative loading area. That’s fine with me (and I’m no longer fat-shamed on that ride) but sometimes it can be a bit of a wait because only one magical bench can be used at a time with the alternative loading. It usually goes pretty quickly, but it seemed to be taking forever for us. We found out later that the ride had broken down and the people who were on it rode it again. But they were given one time front of the line passes because they got stuck and they decided to give one to Olive! That was so sweet of them and then it was our turn to ride.

And somehow we got stuck on the ride too! We were only stuck for maybe 2 minutes and it wasn’t in too bad of a spot (and we weren’t hanging in a weird position). The ride started up again pretty quickly and the rest of the ride was fine. But the employee at the loading area felt bad that we had to wait so long and we got stuck so we got 2 more one time front of the line passes! This was amazing because we knew the lines would be horrible all day and these passes were going to save us so much time!

After the ride, we made a quick stop for lunch and then did the tram tour. I’m sure I’ll be sick of the tram tour eventually, but I do still love it and how silly it is. I enjoy seeing the fun theme park elements of the tour and I really love going past Bates Motel and remembering the good time I had working there during Halloween Horror Nights.

After the tram we headed down the set of escalators to the lower lot to ride some of the rides down there. Erin and Olive haven’t been on any of those rides and Olive decided to try the Jurassic Park water ride. I usually don’t go on it because I don’t like water rides, but it was hot enough out to want to cool down a bit. I think Olive was a bit nervous about how big the drop is on the ride, but she seemed to enjoy all the dinosaurs on it and I promised to warn her when the big drop was going to happen. And when the ride was done, she seemed pretty glad that she tried the ride. And she didn’t get that wet because it seemed like all the water hit me! I’m glad I wore quick drying workout pants but my shirt was dripping with water.

Erin wanted to try the Mummy roller coaster, which I love, and we thought Olive might want to try it too. But after being in line she decided she didn’t want to do it so Erin and I did the kid swap service so I rode first and then she went on it after. It was fun getting to have some time hanging out with Olive and she and I decided to work on planning out what else we wanted to do that day.

And of course, all that Olive wanted to do was the Harry Potter stuff some more. That was fine with me so we headed back up the escalators to go back to the upper lot. We rode the Harry Potter ride one more time (we didn’t get stuck this time) and Olive did some more spells around the park. And since it was warm out, we made a stop to get frozen Butterbeer, which is one of my favorite treats at Universal.

We just walked around enjoying our drinks and I was glad that the park wasn’t nearly as crowded as I was afraid it would be. Of course, having the front of the line passes helped a lot too. But it was a gorgeous day out and it could have been much worse with the combination of the holiday weekend and the nice weather.

Olive had been saving money to afford some glasses (I don’t know Harry Potter stuff too well but I guess this is a big deal for a character she loves) so we did some souvenir shopping to end our day. Olive seemed so excited that she got exactly what she wanted and that she was able to pay with the money that she had been saving.

After shopping, it was time for me to head home so I could do some of my normal Sunday chores (like laundry). I’m so glad that Erin and Olive invited me to join them at Universal that day. Even though I had been recently, this was the first time I had been with a kid in a very long time. I think the last time I was there with a kid was when I went with Olive which was almost 7 years ago! It’s so fun seeing a theme park through a kid’s eyes and I hope that I get to go with Olive again soon!

One More Universal Day (or Getting In All My Rides)

It’s almost been one year since I got my Universal Studios annual pass. I’ve totally gotten my money’s worth with my pass since I only had to go 2 times to make it worth it. But I wanted to get in one more day before my pass expired. Also, when I went, I still thought I needed surgery so I wanted to ride all my favorite rides before I couldn’t go on them for a while (like what I did at Disneyland).

I went to Disneyland with my friend David and he and I were both in agreement that we wanted to try to get as many rides done as possible. What we didn’t think about was that the park was going to be a bit more crowded than we expected with it being spring break for a lot of schools. But we managed to really time things out right and I think the we kind of killed it with getting in all of our favorites.

Our first stop was the tram tour. I love the tram and there are also so many fun little theme park elements to the tram that is just fun to experience each time. And this time, I really liked seeing King Kong since David and I had recently gone to see the new King Kong movie. I still miss the old King Kong, but the new one is still awesome. I don’t know if it was because the park was so crowded or if there was something else going on, but there seemed to be a couple of places where the tram was stopped for a pretty long time. Our tour guide tried to keep us entertained with as many facts as he could think of, but you could tell that he was hoping that we would start moving again soon.

And for me, the highlight of the tram tour every time is to go past the Bates Motel where I used to work during Halloween Horror Nights. Even though I don’t want to work there again, I miss the good times that I did have there. And every time the tram goes by my old workplace, I can’t help but smile at the memories of me scaring so many people there.

After the tram tour, we headed down to the lower lot to ride the rides down there. I usually don’t seem to make it down to the lower lot, so I was glad that we did that. We ended up riding the Transformers ride twice and The Mummy roller coaster once. Those are both pretty great rides and it made me wonder why I didn’t make the effort to go on them more often in my visits over the past year. But at least we fit them in this time.

We then headed back up to the upper lot to ride The Simpsons ride (another one that I don’t seem to go on that often) before heading over to the Harry Potter section of the park.

First, we rode the Forbidden Journey ride. That is one of the best rides in the entire park and since the last time I was there they changed the ride from being 3D to 2D. I have to say that the 2D version was much better for me and I felt more into the ride than I had the previous times riding it. I would have gone on it again, but I think we were both feeling a bit tired by that point.

But before we left the park, we had one more stop to make. David also has an annual pass to Universal but he had never tried Butterbeer before. That is one of my favorite treats in the park and I couldn’t end our day without getting one so David could finally try it.

Even though I really enjoyed the hot Butterbeer when I had it, I think the frozen one is really the way to go. And I think David liked it too so I’m glad that we made the stop to get them before we left the park for the day.

When we left, it was pretty much during rush hour so we decided to get some dinner at CityWalk. I’ve had dinner there a few times, but we went to Karl Strauss which I hadn’t been to since I worked at Universal Studios. I used to go there all the time for a late lunch before my shift started because it always has good food and they were always so nice to all of us who worked there. This time, I got a burger that had a blue cheese sauce on the side. That was awesome and I was so full when I was done.

I think that this was the perfect last Universal day with my pass. I’m thinking about getting another annual pass since they are pretty inexpensive (only about $20 more than a 1 day ticket), but I probably won’t do it until after the summer is done since most of the summer is blacked out for the pass level I would get. There aren’t as many rides at Universal as there are at Disneyland, but it’s still a fun park to go to and I love having awesome places to go for a fun day adventure!

I didn’t know at the time that the surgery was going to be canceled, but I still totally consider this a way that I was able to celebrate not needing surgery this week and it really was a great celebration. But how I celebrated only hours after I heard the news will be in tomorrow’s post. And I think it was the perfect nerdy way to celebrate!

A Universal Adventure (or Lunch And A Tram Tour)

This past Monday I was originally going to go to Disneyland. That didn’t end up happening (and I’m glad I did change my plans), but since I had my afternoon free I decided to make some other plans. I thought about it for a minute and realized that it has been a while since I went to Universal Studios. I’ve got about 2 months left on my pass and wanted to make sure I went at least one more time before it expired. So I called my friend Robert and he was free too so we decided to go to the park to hang out!

Since I was coming after my workout and Robert had to go to work at 4pm, we didn’t have a ton of time at the park. But since we both have passes and didn’t really care too much about what rides we went on, this worked out perfectly. We made plans to meet up at the gate at noon and I rushed to get ready to drive over to meet Robert. We ended up having pretty perfect timing and got to the front gate within minutes of each other.

As soon as we went inside, we went to get some lunch. Robert has been working his way through the menu at the Three Broomsticks restaurant in the Harry Potter section of the park, so I was happy to go there so I could help him get a few more things knocked off the list. Plus, the food is pretty good there and isn’t like traditional theme park food. I was pretty hungry after my workout (and it was lunchtime), so I got the bangers and mash for my lunch. It was a bit more food than I normally would eat, but it was perfect!

It wasn’t too crowded at the restaurant so Robert and I had a nice time just relaxing and catching up. He works for the Oscars so he’s about to get really busy with helping out at the show. So I wanted to take advantage of the time we had to hang out before he gets too busy with work. We had just seen each other recently (he came over to watch the SAG Awards at my house), but we both have had a lot of things happening in our lives lately. So it was nice to catch up.

After our lunch, we were debating about if we were going to go on a ride or just walk around the park. We ended up deciding to go on the tram tour since that’s always fun to do and it was a pretty nice day out. I had told Robert a while ago about how it was interesting to sit in the very front of the tram because of the way some of the theme park elements of the tour work, and it was awesome to find out that we were going to sit in the first row of the front car!

We had a nice time going through the tour. It is silly and gimmicky, but it’s always fun. I like to see what the backlot looks like when they are filming different shows, and I really do love the theme park elements and how cheesy they can be sometimes. When we were getting close to the Jaws part of the tour, the guide told us that Jaws was under refurbishment and we could not go through it. I could see that it was all torn up, but the guide told us not to be sad because we were in for a special treat. And as we got closer to the ride, we saw that one the animatronic Jaws was off to the side getting ready to be used!

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one of the Jaws out of the water so that was a really awesome thing! I do love the Jaws part of the tour so I’m glad they are working on keeping it looking nice so it will be around for a while to come.

One of the last things on the tour that we always see is my old workplace. I love going past the Bates Motel or Bates house. Even though I had some unpleasant experiences with working Halloween there (specifically with guests who decided to hit or attack me or other employees), I do still look back at that time with happy memories and I miss working there. So getting to see where I worked does make me happy.

After the tram tour, Robert had to head home so he could get ready for work. I thought about staying at the park to walk around a bit more, but I decided to head home so I could avoid the worst of the rush hour traffic. We were in the park for a little more than 2 hours, but even though it was a fast visit it was the perfect thing to do that day!

I don’t know if I’ll be back to the park before my pass expires. I am looking at getting another pass for next year if I can find a good deal like I did this time. But if I don’t make it back for a while, I’m glad that I have had a couple of great days at Universal and really got my money’s worth with the pass.

A Harry Potter Afternoon (or Enjoying Some Butterbeer)

Since my appointment with the surgeon about my liver was in the morning, I knew I’d have that afternoon free. And when I have an afternoon free, I always contact my friend Michelle to see if she wants to go to Disneyland or something. We had gone to Disneyland recently enough, so we decided that we should do another adventure at Universal Studios. And right before that day, we discovered that they were offering one of the special Harry Potter drinks as a hot version for the first time there! So we figured it was meant to be that we went to the park.

Our entire reason to go to Universal was to ride the Harry Potter ride again and to get the hot butterbeer. We decided to get our drinks first since we were both a bit hungry and wanted a snack. We were warned that the drinks were hot so we decided to find a place outside to sit and people watch while we waited for the drinks to cool down.

hot-butterbeer

For those of you wondering, yes the hot butterbeer is awesome! I really love the frozen one, but this is just as good. It’s not as sweet as I expected it to be (except for the topping which was a bit too sweet but I didn’t taste that until I got to the end of the drink) and it felt like such a treat! We just hung out and relaxed while enjoying our drinks (and discussed the craziness of me having a tumor).

Our next stop was to ride the main ride in the Harry Potter section. After my fat shaming incident, things have gotten much better and I do enjoy the ride now. I use the alternative loading area so I have more time to get into the ride, but there is no issue with me fitting into it. The ride was just as fun as it was the last time and I know it will be one of those rides that I go on each time I go to Universal.

The only other ride we went on was the little roller coaster in the Harry Potter section. It’s a cute little ride (nothing too crazy), but since we didn’t want to do too much else in the park it was a nice way to spend some time.

Besides the butterbeer, the other main thing about going to Universal was to see the Harry Potter castle lit up at night. With the time change, there was finally a chance to see that happen. But we had some time to kill before the sun went down. At least the sky looked really pretty while we waited.

sunset-at-universal

And we got to check out one of the short shows that they do as well. I hadn’t seen one of the shows before, but this was really cute (even though I haven’t really read or watched Harry Potter and didn’t know all the references).

harry-potter-show

They do character photos after the show and we had no plan to stick around for it. But then they decided that the line would be starting behind us and we realized that since we were first we might as well take advantage of it and get a fun photo from the day.

group-photo

And before we knew it, the sun was down and the castle was lit up. It really was beautiful to be there looking around because they worked really hard on making this section of the park look amazing.

castle-at-night

You get sucked into the world and it feels like the outside world doesn’t exist anymore. You get to escape, which was perfect since this was the day before the election and we were both scared what would happen (I’m still pretty freaked out now after it’s all gone down).

We walked back through the Harry Potter land to get back to the main gate to leave the park (it was only a few minutes before the park closed so we weren’t going to stick around). We went to a fun Chinese restaurant at Citywalk for dinner to wait out rush hour traffic before heading home.

It wasn’t that long of a visit to Universal Studios (we were there less than 2 hours), but it was a lot of fun. After being nervous about my doctor appointment and then in probably a bit of shock after, I needed something to distract me from my day and make things end on a positive note.

My pass to Universal is about halfway done. I’ve got about 6 months to keep going to the parks and then I’ll have to figure out if I want to get a new pass. Before this, I hadn’t been to the parks since I worked there, but now I’m really enjoying it. It’s not as fun as going to Disneyland most of the time, but this is much closer to me and I still have a great time there. I’m hoping I’ll get at least another couple of visits in before my pass expires and I have to make a new plan on what to do.

Another Universal Day (or Having Much More Fun)

I’ll admit, my last trip to Universal Studios wasn’t the best time. I felt bad about being stopped by the “fat police” for days after it happened and it really upset me every time I thought about it. I know I’m probably making a bigger deal out of it than it was, but for me it was just humiliating and I never wanted to have an experience like that again.

After that trip to Universal, I did some research online and found out that for the accessible loading area for the Harry Potter ride they have a loading area that doesn’t have a moving walkway (which means I would have more time to get onto the ride). It reminded me of the accommodations Disney makes on Space Mountain so I kept that in mind for when I could go to Universal again.

I made it back to the park this past Monday and I’m happy to say that the day went so much better! I went with my friend June, but it turned out my friend Robert was going to be there too so we all got to hang out!

We started our day with taking the Tram Tour. Both Robert and I are ex-employees so we had a bunch of fun talking about our time working at Universal while on the tram tour. And I got to show him different places that I had to go for work while I worked there for Halloween. I got to share with him some crazy stories from my 3 years there and all of us enjoyed seeing the silly stuff on the tour. One of my favorites has always been Jaws and I got a pretty decent picture of the shark coming up to the tram (we were sitting in the first row of our car so it was tough to not get the tram railing in the photo).

jaws

And of course we got to go by my old workplace on the tram. Because Halloween Horror Nights is about to start, the Bates Motel was hard to see because of the HHN stuff that is already in place.

bates-motel

But the War Of The Worlds area (where I worked my second year at HHN) was still looking as great as ever!

war-of-the-worlds

After the tram, we were starting to get hungry so we walked over to the Harry Potter section and went to Three Broomsticks for lunch. Both June and Robert have been to the park a bunch so they both have been working their way through the menu at Three Broomsticks. They were able to share with me what was good and what was too filling to eat for a lunch if you are planning on still riding more rides.

While I am working on HDE, I also wanted to make a good choice for food. There were a couple of things that looked good to me, but I also knew that I didn’t want to feel too full and I might get a snack later. So I ended up getting the chicken salad (which was one of the cheapest things on the menu so that was nice) and I was pleasantly surprised by how giant the salad was!

lunch

It was really good, but not as filling as I would have liked. I ended up being hungry again sooner than I would have wanted to, but that’s not the worst thing. If I had planned things out better, I probably would have gotten a side of something with my salad. That will just have to be something I do next time.

After lunch, we headed over to the Harry Potter ride so I could hopefully have a better experience. Robert wasn’t going to ride it, but because of the alternative loading area he was able to wait where the load/unload area was (and he held our purses so we didn’t have to use the lockers). The alternative loading area was actually a fun adventure to get to and while the wait was probably longer than the regular wait, it was totally worth it! Oh, and I wasn’t stopped by the fat police so that was pretty awesome too!

The bench you ride on it brought over to the side where you can load. Nothing is moving around it and I was able to get into the seat easily without feeling rushed. June helped me pull the harness down and it locked easily. When the employee came over to check the harness, he asked me if it was too tight because I could loosen it 2 clicks and still have it low enough to be ok. I don’t know if I’ve gotten that much thinner or what happened to me last time was a weird experience, but obviously I am small enough to have harness options now. I did loosen it one click (we put it down really tight because that’s what they did last time to me). After we were all set in the bench, they handed us the 3D glasses and the bench moved over toward where the regular ride was.

When we moved over, we had to wait a minute or two for our bench to have a turn to go into the ride system. But while we were waiting we were able to see all the benches from the back that were on the ride track! Both June and I are total geeks about seeing how the rides work, so this was so exciting for us. Even when we started the ride we could see a bit of the track and arms controlling the benches before we got into the regular ride.

I seriously enjoyed this time on the ride so much more than last time! I know that last time I was feeling pretty upset the entire ride time and that made it tough to focus on the ride and have fun. This time, there was no stress and everything was just amazing for me! And when the ride was over, we got moved back over to the alternative loading area where I could take my time getting out of the bench (which I needed because my hip was locking). And after we were out of the ride, we were able to see a bit of the ride track for the regular loading area (which was behind us) and found out the loading area is actually 20 feet above the ground!

After that, Robert had to head out to get ready to work that night. But June and I were going to stick around a bit longer and headed over to watch Waterworld. It’s such a fun show to watch and I enjoy it every time! And we sat all the way on the far side, so it was a different view than I’m used to seeing.

waterworld

Our final ride of the day at Universal was the Minions ride. This is in the place that the Terminator ride used to be in and I had never been on it before. It was a cute little ride, but probably not one I’ll be doing all the time. It was a bit jerky and it’s in a corner of the park that I’m not usually in. But I’m glad we got to ride it this time because I’ve been curious about it.

I think it’s pretty clear that this trip to Universal was significantly better than the last time. I’m so glad I learned about the alternative loading for Harry Potter because I know I’ll be using that from now on. It really helps me and makes a huge difference in my enjoyment in riding the ride. It’s tough when I feel super rushed to try to get in and out of a ride and this makes that go away.

I’m not sure when my next trip to Universal will be. My Mondays are starting to get really busy and my pass might not be good for Sundays at all (and if it is, I’m not sure if I want to deal with the crowds). I’ll totally be there again at least one time before my pass ends next year, I’m just not sure how soon that will be. But I’m already looking forward to it!

A Day At Universal Studios (or Trying Not To Let One Negative Thing Bug Me)

Even though I had a full day at Disneyland on Sunday, on Monday I had another big adventure! I had scheduled an outing to Universal Studios with my Disneyland buddy June and some of her friends!

When I was new to LA, I had gotten an annual pass to Universal Studios a couple of times. Then when I worked there at Halloween Horror Nights in 2007, 2008, and 2010 I had free tickets from working. But since my last season of working in 2010, I hadn’t been back to the park. They had made a bunch of upgrades and changes over the years, but this month they opened The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter so I figured it was time to go back to check it out (it also helped that Costco is selling an annual pass for $94!).

Overall, I think the day went pretty well. But there was one thing that got to me. But first, the good stuff.

As soon as we got to the park, we made a stop to get lunch (we got there around 12:30). We could have chosen to eat somewhere outside the park, but we figured why not have some fun and eat somewhere inside. We originally thought we would eat at the restaurant in the Harry Potter area, but the restaurant had a pretty long line so we decided it wasn’t worth it. We ended up at the restaurant in the Simpsons area of the park and we all got some pretty yummy burgers!

After getting some food, it was time to have some fun! The first ride that I went on was the Transformers ride which had been built since the last time I was in the park so it was new to me! This ride is a simulator ride that does move around a track and has both a 3-D movie and sets combined. I really like simulator rides and I thought this one was extremely well done! The sets and screens blended together nicely and it really felt like we were moving the entire time! I wish we had time to go on it again, but since I have an annual pass I can now go on it whenever I want.

After that ride, we headed back up to the upper lot to meet up with one of June’s friends who was joining us. We met up at the Harry Potter section of the park where we got some Butterbeers to cool down in the heat.

Butterbeer

I thought it was pretty good and I think I’ll probably get it again the next time I’m at the park. We also wandered around the area a lot admiring how cool it looked and seeing all the kids use their wands to make things happen in the store fronts.

Wizarding World

We did ride the Forbidden Journey ride, but more about that in a bit. We also rode the little rollercoaster in that area. Even though it is a kid’s coaster, it did go pretty quickly and I thought it was really fun.

When we left Harry Potter, we headed down to the studio tour.

Studio Tour

One of June’s friends had never been on the studio tour and they had changed things since I had been there, so we were all pretty excited to go on it (plus, we got to be in the shade and got a bit of a breeze when the tram was moving). The studio tour is such a classic. I love getting to see the various backlot spaces and the fun things that are added to the tour (like King Kong) are always entertaining. And I love going past Bates Motel since that is where I worked for 3 years.

Bates Motel

Since the last time I was at Universal Studios, they had added a Fast and Furious thing to the tram tour at the very end. It is done similarly to King Kong with giant screens wrapping around the tram (and they even have a screen in the very front unlike in King Kong). It was really fun and a cute addition to the tram tour, but I do miss the avalanche/Mummy cave that used to be there.

After the tram tour, one of June’s friends needed to head home. We walked around the upper lot a bit checking out all the fun little signs that Universal has added to make the upper lot more fun (and more like Disneyland).

Universal Streets

Then we headed over to Waterworld to watch the show (and enjoy the shade in the stands). The show has been around for a while and it hasn’t changed much, but it’s still really fun to watch the performers doing the stunts.

Waterworld

Ok, now time to talk about the not-so-fun part of my day. The first ride we rode in the Harry Potter area was the Forbidden Journey ride. When that ride opened in Florida there were dozens of news stories about how fat people were being turned away from the ride. I knew that the ride here had similar restrictions, but a couple of my friends who are 2 sizes bigger than me rode the ride and had no issues. And I searched a bunch of online forums and it seemed like my measurements would fit into the seats just fine.

Harry Potter

I loved walking through the line (we took our time since there really wasn’t a line and we wanted to see everything) and right before you get onto the ride there is the “fat police” who looks for heavier people and makes them try a test seat to see if they fit. And yes, I got picked out by the fat police.

I’m sure the employee was trying to be nice, but it was pretty humiliating especially since everyone else walking through the line saw what was happening. And honestly, I fit into the seat just fine. I just wasn’t able to close the harness to the level they needed it to be closed for really random issues. First, the seat tilts back and since my hips don’t bend all the way I had to be part way out of the seat to get the harness to come down. And my arms weren’t able to get the harness all the way down (there was maybe an inch between me and the harness) because of the angle of the seating. But when one of June’s friends came over, she was very easily able to push the harness down to the level that they need it to be at. The employee said it would be fine for me to ride so we headed on our way down the ride.

When we got to the ride, I had the same issue with not being able to get the harness down to where my body is. I asked the employees there to help and they said they weren’t allowed to push down the harness (again, there was like an inch between my body and the harness). They were trying to take me off the ride when I finally convinced them to let June’s friend out of her seat so she could press the harness down for me. Even after everything was fine, there were 3 employees asking me if I was sure if I wanted to ride the ride and if I was ok. Yes I wanted to ride the ride! I was just mad at them because they wouldn’t help me pull a safety harness down (and I understand that maybe they legally cannot touch a safety harness, but I was still annoyed).

The ride itself was fun. I loved the half movie half real set aspect of it and even though the 3-D has been getting negative reviews I didn’t think it was that bad. But honestly I didn’t enjoy the ride as much as I could have because I really felt awful for being called out by the fat police.

I’m so insanely grateful for June and her friends for being so cool about all of it. They never made me feel bad and they also agreed that it was pretty ridiculous that they refused to help me. They didn’t make it feel like a big deal and after we were on the ride they never brought the subject up again because there was no need. But even though we weren’t talking about it, I was still thinking about it.

Now that I know that because of the tilt of the seat it is difficult for me to pull the harness down, when I ride again I’ll sit down first and have a friend help me pull it down. But this also means that I cannot go to the park alone if I want to ride because I need the help. Honestly, I think even if I was 100 pounds less I’d have the same issues because my hips literally won’t bend that way when I’m sitting tilted back. So it’s not even as much of a weight thing for me as it is a hip issue thing for me.

I really tried to not let the fat police incident ruin the rest of my day at Universal, but it definitely put a damper on my day. That one tiny experience was really the only negative thing about the day and it sadly is one of the bigger memories.

Hopefully the next time I go to Universal I will have a better experience and will have better memories of the day.

Got A Closed Door And An Open Window (or Trying Not To Overthink It)

Yesterday was the callbacks for the Universal Studios tour guide position. I was very grateful to make it to callbacks. I think there were about 500 people who went to the open call, and there were fewer than 100 of us there at the callback.

For the first bit of the callbacks, they went over the training and expectations of this job. We learned about pay and schedules and a little bit of what the job would be like each day. Then we took a break and when we came back, we each had to get up in front of everyone and read a little bit of the script that the tour guides use every day.

The part I read was bit about one of the movies that has been filmed on the lot. It was about 2 sentences and I read it without tripping up over the words or sounding too shaky (I’m not the biggest fan of public speaking in front of a crowd like that).

After everyone read a bit of the script, they made a cut. And I didn’t make it.

I have no idea what I did wrong or why they didn’t like me. When I walked out, a few of the other applicants who had been cut told me that they were shocked that I was cut. I have no idea what they were looking for, but obviously it wasn’t me.

I was trying to not be too upset over not making the next cut while I walked back to my car. It’s hard to not get your hopes up about a job that is designed to work with actor’s schedules. But clearly it wasn’t meant to be for me yesterday.

But when I got back into the car, I noticed that I had an email from one of the many resumes that I had sent out earlier in the week. They wanted me to do a phone interview as soon as possible. I called them back immediately.

And one of the first things they had said to me was that the thing that made me stand out over all the other applicants was the fact that I used to be a tour guide at WB.

So just a few minutes after getting rejected as a Universal Studios tour guide, my past as a WB tour guide got me another job interview (and they want to hire an actor so that’s great!). I have that interview today.

Like I said yesterday, I’m really trying hard to stay positive. I’m getting a lot of interviews, so that’s a good sign. I know I’ll find something soon and I can’t let the rejection get me down. The only thing worrying me is having enough money for bills, but for right now, I’m ok and I should be ok through this month. In April I might have to worry.

But that’s not now and who knows what the near future has for me. And I’ll put it out here again, if anyone out there knows of any actor-friendly day jobs (either in LA or work from home), please let me know! Thanks!