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1st Time DLR California & Universal Hollywood : 9 - 17-Oct-16 *Photos added*

Author Topic: 1st Time DLR California & Universal Hollywood : 9 - 17-Oct-16 *Photos added*  (Read 7982 times)

Lavi

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Thank you so much fir posting. Keep up the good work! ;)
Amd enjoy you holiday!

How do think DLR is compared to WDW and DLP? (A question for when you have enough time)

DisneyRon

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Thank you so much fir posting. Keep up the good work! ;)
Amd enjoy you holiday!

How do think DLR is compared to WDW and DLP? (A question for when you have enough time)

I'll summarise my thoughts at the end Lavi, but I do really like the parks here.  ;D

DisneyRon

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Day 1 of Universal Studios Hollywood arrived a little early as I woke at 4:45, going back to sleep I woke at 8:15.

After breakfast I headed over to the park, from the Hilton it's a pretty short walk, but there's also a shuttle service to the Citywalk, which puts you close to the entrance as well.


The queues for security were pretty short, they had a lot of stations checking bags so that went pretty quickly.
The actual ticket check on the gate was rather slow though and it took a pretty long time to actually enter the park.

Once inside the gate I headed down to Despicable Me, as that was showing a nice short wait.
This, like many rides at Universal, is a simulator style ride where guests are turned into Minions and put through Minion Training. :) It's a lot of fun, and not all that wild. Some bumps and drops, but nothing too dramatic.

After Minions I wandered around the park a little, and grabbed a Freeze Ray Smoothy.
This is a little like a Dole Whip Float, except with Banana soft-serve icecream, rather than pineapple. Unfortunately the banana icecream is rather "fake" with a very chemical banana flavour, I can't say that I liked it very much. The juice it was served in was pretty nice though.


Taking the giant escalator down to the Lower Lot, seeing that Jurassic Park only had a 10 minute wait I got in line. The ride itself is relatively calm, until the very end that is...
The final drop is damn steep, and I don't think anyone got out of the boat dry.
I also found myself with a young lady clinging to my arm during the entire ride, I didn't mind, but it was odd to have a complete stranger just grab your arm and hang on for dear life.


Heading back up the giant escalator and went to the other side of the park to take the tram tour.
This "ride" is a guided tour around the various sets and soundstages of the active Universal studio complex.
There are various set pieces along the way to show off various special effects or filming techniques, like an attack by Jaws for instance (though the shark is formally called Bruce, after Spielbergs attorney).
 
After the tour I headed to Hollywood and Dine for lunch, a counter service restaurant with Coke Freestyle machines.

Next up was Waterworld, one of the big shows in the park, and very popular.
Various benches in the arena are marked as splash zones and if you're seated in those you are very likely to get wet. Either from the stunts being performed, or splashed by the cast themselves.


The park was slowly being transformed for the nights Halloween festivities, and guests were leaving.
This meant that waits were getting shorter in places.
I headed over to the Wizarding World, the Forbidden Journey was still at 50 minutes, but Flight of the Hippogryph was only 10 minutes. So I got into line, once we were at the station and loading I once more discovered that my legs were too long for the ride. So I left without riding, quite disappointing.

After this I headed out of the park and back to the hotel.
This gave me time to take a shower before heading out to my dinner reservation at Dongpo Kitchen at City Walk.
The food was good, but it was a weird experience with the dishes arriving out of sync. I had my main course well before my appetizer for instance. :)

Anyway, it is time for bed. Tomorrow is another of Universal Studios, and I hope to use the early entry to ride some of the busier rides. :)
« Last Edit: October 26, 2016, 09:19:46 PM by DisneyRon »

DisneyRon

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Having set my alarm for 6:30, I naturally woke up just before it went off.  :P

After breakfast I headed out to the park, walking over to the entrance, as the hotel shuttle only starts at 8, and I wanted to be at the gate as close to opening as possible.
Security was only running a few gates, but the wait wasn't that long.
The lines to the entrance though went all the way across the plaza.
After what felt like an eternity I entered the park and made my way to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, this is the primary section that opens for early admission, most other rides won't start until 9 when the park opens, and some even later.

My primary mission this morning was to get on The Forbidden Journey, when I arrived at Hogwarts the wait was only 15 minutes. Unfortunately this ride too proved to not be designed for someone like me. Not my legs, but my shoulders and torso were the issue this time. Thankfully they have a "testing seat" outside the loading dock so you can check before actually attempting to board (and it appears to be pretty common, as a wizard picked me from the line to test due to my height). Somewhat disappointed I headed through the exit before the loading dock and left Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.

Now I had 20 or so minutes to kill until 9 when the rest of the park would open.

The staff however kindly let us into the Simpsons section early, with a lot of people heading off to the Studio Tour.
Just before 9 the Simpsons ride was opened and I got in line.
This is another simulator ride, a new skin for an older Back to the Future ride apparently, but this was a fun little outing to Krustyworld with the Simpsons and Sideshow Bob trying to kill us all along the way.

After exiting Krustyworld I headed down the escalator towards the Transformers ride.

This is perhaps the most popular ride at the park after The Forbidden Journey and gets a lot of hype.
The wait here was for the most part non-existent this early in the morning, so after a few minutes I was at the loading dock.
Which is where the true nature of the ride revealed itself, simply put, it is a more jerky, less immersive, less advanced version of Ratatouille. :o
Your vehicle is still locked to a track, rather than mounted on an Omnimover, but other than that it works the same way, you go from screen to screen watching section of the "plot" of the ride play out while mild special effects are thrown at you (wind, heat, water that sort of thing).
It wasn't bad, but once my mind started comparing it to Ratatouille as it's technological successor I was sort of let down from all the hype I had heard on this ride. Also, Ratatouille has a better plot for a ride, but that could be the fault of Transformers' usually terrible stories from the recent movies.


After the ride I headed back up the escalator and walked over to see the early "Animal Actors" show.
This is a simple but really fun show with live animals that have starred (or will star) in film or on TV.
They mainly show how work is done with animals in film, often including practical examples with animals on stage.
It includes a little sketch comedy and some interaction for volunteers from the audience, and after the show you can come and meet a few stars of the show (3 of the dogs and a chicken this morning)

After the show I headed towards "Super Silly Fun Land" which is the section dedicated to Despicable Me, and had my picture taken with Gru. :)


Seeing that Gru's Lab Cafe was open (it had been closed yesterday) and I was feeling a little hungry, I decided to have an early lunch (it was a little after 11).
After lunch I headed to the Minions ride, which was showing a 20 minute wait and got in line.
The ride was as enjoyable as the day before, and still funny.

After exiting I made my way to the final ride that I wanted to do at the park, Shrek 4D.
The wait here shows a consistent 20 minutes, but that's probably a result of the length of the pre-show and the show itself. As for the ride, it is quite similar to " It's Tough to be a Bug"  from the Disneyparks, a 4D cinema experience where your chair moves a little and special effects are applied to the audience (air, heat, water, that sort of thing).
It's a fun little story though. :)

After Shrek I left the park and made my way to the Citywalk and the shuttle bus back to the hotel. I shopped a little bit on the Citywalk, but there aren't that many interesting stores here in my opinion, though the Jamba Juice smoothy I picked up was pretty nice.


At the hotel I typed up my report in the Lobby as Housekeeping was doing my room, but I'll be taking it easy tonight.
Not sure where I'll be having dinner, but I might head out to the Citywalk for a bite to eat.

Tomorrow is my last full day in LA, and I'll probably take Tinks advice and take a subway ride to Hollywood Boulevard.

« Last Edit: October 26, 2016, 09:24:24 PM by DisneyRon »

DisneyRon

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Today is my final day in LA, following Bad-pink-tinks suggestion I headed up to Citywalk and took the shuttle to the Metro station at the bottom of the hill.

picking up a TAP day pass for the metro I headed out to Hollywood / Highland station and Hollywood Boulevard and the walk of fame. It was fun walking up and down the boulevard and reading the stars, as well as take some pictures of the Chinese Theatre.


There were a lot of cosplayers in the area around the Chinese and Dolby theatres, some more low-budget than others. Oddly enough, many of the various spidermen were rather low budget. :D Not sure why these people were here, but they were an interesting sight. I did a little window shopping at some of the many, many souvenir shops.
After lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe I headed back to the hotel as I was very tired, I guess some of the exhaustion was coming out from the last few days. :)

Time for a long quiet afternoon and evening and then tomorrow I head back home. :)
« Last Edit: October 26, 2016, 09:25:46 PM by DisneyRon »

DisneyRon

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As I promised to Lavi earlier, I'll summarise my thoughts on the parks here.

Then over the next few days I'll be adding photos to various posts and then edit the title of the thread to indicate that it is complete.

Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure:

DLR is the granddaddy of all the disney parks, and you can see that in how its layout inspired or influenced the layouts of parks like Magic Kingdom at WDW and Disneyland Park at DLP, especially Mainstreet USA feels very similar in all 3 parks, even though each has it's unique changes to the layout and the stores are different for the most part. The area around Big Thunder Mountain again is quite similar in all 3, though DLPs Island location with the boat travelling around it probably works best from a visual standpoint.
I imagine that the area around Splash Mountain in DLR and Magic Kingdom are quite similar as well, but I wasn't able to take a look as Critter Country at DLR was closed to visitors for the duration of my visit.

What is certainly noticeable is that DLR is much more cramped in terms of space than the other parks. Everything is closer together and the paths are certainly narrower.
New Orleans Square for instance is a beautiful area in the park, but it is severely hampered by it's cramped layout, though the look of the Haunted Mansion here is something special, but those narrow streets are a nightmare with heavy crowds.
This does result in the park feeling crowded very quickly as people can't spread out nearly as much as they can at Magic Kingdom or Disneyland Park.

See what I mean with crowded? This is before the Halloween Party

In terms of rides, there is plenty to do in the park, though many of the rides have a fairly low capacity.
Because this park is close to several major US population centres it sees a lot of annual pass visitors, to the point where cast members will ask if you have an annual pass for any transaction where it provides a discount.
This does mean that staying at a hotel on site provides you with the advantage that the park fills up a little slower early in the morning, if you arrive either for Magic Morning time or just at park open there are quite a few popular rides that won't see super long waits until at least 10 AM.

Disney California Adventure is in my opinion a beautiful park, Carsland is probably some of the best themed landscape imagineering I've ever seen, and on a grand scale, and the only thing I can think of that might come close to it will be landscaping at the new Avatarland they're building at Animal Kingdom in Florida, and that will need a year or two to be completed.

Cars Land, the imagineering is quite impressive here

The section around Soarin' fits right in with the neighbouring Grand Californian and is exactly what I imagine the great national parks in the US would look like.
The parts around the pier and California Screamin' seem like a throwback to the 50s coastal amusement parks you see in film.


It has a nice and clean layout, with plenty of room, so the park doesn't feel as crowded as quickly, though its attraction count is a little low, and many of its top attractions appear to have pretty low capacity, so wait times fly up once the crowds hit them in the morning.

This is one park where the fast pass is king. Soarin', Radiator Springs Racers, Toystory Midway Mania and California Screamin' see such long waits that the only realistic way to do them is to get a fast pass for them, or be prepared to wait a long time. Soarin' is doable if you're very early, as its wait time probably won't go past 30 minutes until 10 in the morning, but everything else will be over 45 minutes almost instantly.
Radiator Springs Racers generally didn't go below 80 minutes during my time in the parks, and grabbing a fast pass meant doing a literal sprint for it's fast pass distribution point first thing in the morning, the queue for it extending from the fast pass station all the way through Bug's Land, with all passes for the day given out by 10:30.

A Disney Hotel really isn't necessary, there are many 3rd party hotels around the parks, many of them closer to the actual entrance than the Disney Hotels. :) There also aren't enough perks for staying at a Disney hotel to account for the price difference, no meal plans as we understand them, no fast pass advantages, or anything like that.

I really enjoyed my stay and visit here, and the Halloween Party was fun, but in many ways it is a small park like DLP, and much like DLP a 4 day visit will easily let you do everything, though here the crowds are worse due to the prevalence of annual passes from the many major cities nearby.
If you go, and it is certainly worth going, then really make sure you know when there are no holidays going on, because that really doesn't help the crowds.
I was unaware that my visit coincided with the holiday associated with Columbus Day, and it was noticeable.

Universal Studios Hollywood:


This can be fairly brief. This park is quite small, and if you're willing to get out of bed to enter the park early at 8AM you can probably finish a majority of the rides in the park before lunch without seeing too crazy wait times, the shows will be harder to see in one day to be honest.
So if you want, you can do this park in a single day, just get there early and take advantage of the short waits in the morning. Most rides won't see long waits until at least 10-11 AM.
Ride Capacity is surprisingly good for the most part, so even later in the day the waiting times won't get too crazy, with a few notable exceptions (Transformers the Ride and The Forbidden Journey see long waits).

The major thing here appears to be that this is an active movie studio, which happens to have a theme park alongside it, rather than anything else.
The Studio Tour here is pretty nice, and apparently the VIP thing they offer is really cool, but rather expensive (it basically triples the cost of a single day ticket).

Also, there's the escalators... :D Giant monstrosities running up and down the hill to move visitors to the lower lot and the studio tour, the hills are rather steep here so I can see why they did it.
Another thing that really stood out in my opinion is the warning signage. There is so much more of it compared to the Disney Parks at Anaheim, it was really odd to be honest. :)

As for hotels, the Sheraton and Hilton are basically a short walk uphill from the park and Citywalk, though both hotels share a shuttle running back and forth from the hotels to the Citywalk, so there's no real need to walk over. But since the service doesn't start until 8AM, you'll need to walk over if you want to make the most of early access to the park with your tickets. These hotels aren't cheap, but there aren't too many hotels close to the park.


General Observation:
Both parks hosted many foreign guests, surprisingly large numbers given the location of these parks (multiple major cities are close by, and those are majority Caucasian I believe).
DLR and DCA at times seemed to have a majority of Hispanic guests, to the point where I was surprised that most signage wasn't at least in English and Spanish, rather than English alone.
At Universal a majority of the visitors appeared to be of Asian origin. Much of the signage had additional text added (on stickers mostly) in what I assume was either Chinese or Japanese (sorry, I don't really know either language well enough to easily distinguish between them), at the Hilton a lot of the restaurant staff appeared to be Asian as well, I assume for the same reasons, many guests from that region of the world.
I can't really explain why there was such a big difference in ethnicities between the 2 parks though, you'd expect people to visit both, given how close they are, but this appeared to not be the case.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2016, 10:43:18 PM by DisneyRon »

Lavi

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Thank you so much, DisneyRon! Your informed opinions are very much appreciated!

DisneyRon

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Thank you so much, DisneyRon! Your informed opinions are very much appreciated!

No problem Lavi, now I just need to sort my photos and add them to the posts where appropriate.
Though I didn't take nearly as many photos as I did at WDW, or even my last visit to DLP.

DisneyRon

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Photos have been added to most posts, I hope you enjoy the report.

Thank you all for reading along. ;D
« Last Edit: October 27, 2016, 10:43:56 PM by DisneyRon »

lovindisney87

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Fantastic report and great pics thanks for sharing  ;D
[size=150]Disney trips
Many i cant remember from childhood including a 2 week holiday to Disney World in Florida

Davy Crockett Ranch November 2003
Santa Fe October 2010
Santa Fe March 2012
Cheyenne January 2014
Cheyenne January 2016 😁
Davy Crockett Ranch January 2019

Hopefully many more to come

bad-pink-tink

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great photos, oh how I miss the Cali sun ,lol if you think the crowds are bad now, you should see it in June when I go, Loving the photopass photos, I dont usually get them so its nice to see what they turn out like.

So glad you took my advice and went to Hollywood. Yes it is grotty and not what people think. I go there to go to the mall and to go to the cinema. and always during the day, once it starts to get dark its not safe or nice to be there.  This year me and a friend went to see Independence Day 3D in The Chinese Theater

oh yes the "cos players" lol they are part of the character of Hollywood. They make their money by getting people to pay for a photo of them, thats all they do , all day every day on Hollywood Walk of Fame. They are not official or paid by the studios, in fact Disney / Universal etc dont want them there as technically they are breaking copyright rules but the City of LA council want them as they contribute to the tourism industry.
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DisneyRon

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great photos, oh how I miss the Cali sun ,lol if you think the crowds are bad now, you should see it in June when I go, Loving the photopass photos, I dont usually get them so its nice to see what they turn out like.

So glad you took my advice and went to Hollywood. Yes it is grotty and not what people think. I go there to go to the mall and to go to the cinema. and always during the day, once it starts to get dark its not safe or nice to be there.  This year me and a friend went to see Independence Day 3D in The Chinese Theater

oh yes the "cos players" lol they are part of the character of Hollywood. They make their money by getting people to pay for a photo of them, thats all they do , all day every day on Hollywood Walk of Fame. They are not official or paid by the studios, in fact Disney / Universal etc dont want them there as technically they are breaking copyright rules but the City of LA council want them as they contribute to the tourism industry.

The California sun was nice, the weather was relatively "chilly" during my visit, sitting around 20-22 degrees C during the day and 17-18 degrees early in the morning and evening, very pleasant, though the early morning fog at Universal meant that jackets were actually necessary, but it was early October, so a little cooler weather was expected. There was even a little rain on during my last night at the Hilton.

The photopass photos are nice, I had good experience with them in WDW and it was similar here. Though I will say that you get a few stock photos of the ride with your photopass photo at WDW, which you do not get here.
Also important to know, it seems that non-US accounts can not buy a DLR Photopass for some reason, and even with Disneys tech-support on the phone they weren't able to let the account purchase a 1-week pass, or even a 1-day pass.
So I received an unlock code that gave me all my photopass photos for free.

Hollywood was an interesting experience, quite different from what I expected, as you correctly remarked.
I figured the cosplayers were there for money (some obviously more successful than others), but I can see how they help the tourist industry a little bit, even though the various film houses probably dislike their very existence.

Overall I'm very happy to have gone, and will probably return there at some point, it is a beautiful set of parks to visit.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2016, 11:08:20 AM by DisneyRon »

nathalie

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Hmm, I was at DLR from October 12th till 16th ... and oh my God ... I do think I've spotted you, you look awefully familiar!  haha

DisneyRon

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Hmm, I was at DLR from October 12th till 16th ... and oh my God ... I do think I've spotted you, you look awefully familiar!  haha

I was still at DLR on the 12th and 13th, so that's possible. :)
Perhaps I saw you as well, but I wouldn't know.

 

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