Thursday, September 18, 2008

The unforgettable tour I

There has been no trip for which I had done so much pre-planning like this one. Right from the moment I landed here, I eyed the long weekend for a visit to LA and had been eyeing at various options available to me for this trip and when nothing worked out we joined the tour operated by joy holiday. It was a 4 day trip and it began on the Saturday, 30th August 2008.  LA is at a 7 hour drive from San Jose and the journey was pretty much comfortable and mostly uneventful . The moments that stood out in this journey are a visit to the winery, a Danish town called Solvang and the best of it all, the drive from Santa Barbara beach along the road adjacent to the ocean. With my favourite music playing on my ipod and the scenic drive, I was in heaven but alas soon it was dark and the marine drive came to an end. We reached LA at about 9 pm that night and checked into hotel after yet another struggle for vegetarian food in US.  A average hotel room but all we had to do there was just sleep overnight and get ready the next day. Ken our tour guide had given us a strict deadline to keep. Morning 7.30 AM we were supposed to be on the bus. And to everyone's surprise not even one group in the bus delayed and we set off for the first day of adventure at the universal studios, LA. After a journey of about an hour into the city, we landed up in universal studios and my first impression of the place, well it truly is a place not to be missed. 

Our tour guide made nice plans for us, he had all the ride timings in his mind and hence, all we had to do was to be with him and follow his spartan timings. First we set off to Simpson's ride, the newest attraction to the universal studios. It is a ride fully based on simulation. They trap you into a seat and just shake the seat, the way you would feel when driving on a really pathetic road on india say hosur road, bangalore but the effects they create around you in the screen make you really feel as if you are flying. The ride was simply awesome but a short one. Once done with the simpson's we moved to the other part of the studio where rides like mummy and jurassic park where there.  

The jurassic park was a very quite ride apart from a steep fall at the end and  the mummy was kinda ok, nothing much to crave about but what is commendable in these are the amazing sets they created for the riders to feel as if they were really there in the movie playing the real characters. Next we headed to the nearby special effects stages. After making one feel how the real characters in the movie would have felt, this was a place where they showed us how fake the hollywood world is.  They showed almost every trick they use in their movies and a short sample of how all this is done in a very engaging and enlightening way.  

Our next ride was the Backdraft. A set of the the movie backdraft which is based on the life of firefighters. Here the set which we all stood in caught fire right before our own eyes and we had a glimpse of how difficult the life of the real firefighters would be . It had amazing effects which will linger in memories for a long time.  

Next, we headed to the universal studio tour and here our guide was slightly off the target and we lost some 15 minutes , but nevertheless the tour was amazing. They took us to different sets which were and are still used in some of the hollywood movies. We saw sets of movies like Fast and The Furious,Psycho,King Kong and many other and the very famous serial Desperate Housewives. Also, we experienced how the create floods and rains in the movie. This tour of more than 30 minutes  was a great experience and some ardent fan of english movies would have had the time of his life time for sure. The man who stood at the psycho set with knife still in hands just to give the feel of the audiance shows the amount of thought that has gone in to entertain people.  Once done with this we went for our lunch, once done with it, we chose to do more of quite things. 

We headed straight to the Terminator 2 : 3D show. I would term all these 3 D and 4 D movies here as the next level in entertainment. You have real people and a screen running the characters, you have breeze blowing over your head when a helicopter flies above you and the 3 D effects they create.... simply marvellous. The next stop was Shrek 4 D. Where you feel all the adventure and jerks sitting right there in your chair in addition to the 3 D effects and the water sprinkled over you when the same is happening on the screen adds to the thrill.  

Finally we landed up in the biggest attracion of all, the water world. Well , the set of this movie have been amazingly re-created right here with a big space for audiance to sit and man how it was packed. After a struggle for the seat and waiting for the show to begin, it was more than 20 mins of great fun and excitement. With the plane crashing into the sets towards the end of the show marks the climax of excitement. Though I did not enjoy the movie water world, this show was among the best I have ever seen in my life. Awesome stunts and action sequences and some snaps with the star added to the glory of this. Our last stop was a trip to the horror house and frankly nothing much to be scared about. 

This marked the end of our trip to Universal studios. Overall the experience can be summed up as an effort to make the visitors re-live the moments the characters would have lived, to feel the same thrill,fear and excitement the characters would have felt. To be more precise, it is entertainment taken to the next level.  It is indeed worth all the praise you might have heard and all you are going to hear in future because they are on a trot to improve it and take it to the next level.