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Universal Studios Hollywood Celebrates 50 Years of Movie-Making Magic
Story by Greg Aragon

reat Movies and television can take us away from our daily lives and transport us into fascinating different lands and realms. And when masterfully combined with state-of-the-art thrill rides and special effects, these cinematic experiences can be magical. Such is the case with Universal Studios Hollywood, where film making history meets modern day technology at the summit of imagination.

A friend and I recently escaped to Universal Studios to experience some of this magic, and to help the park celebrate its 50-year anniversary this year.

Univeral Studios Fast and Furious poster featuring Vin Diesel
Universal Studios Hollywood is where film making history meets modern day technology (picture courtesy of Universal Studios)

Our getaway began when we picked up our "Front of the Line" tickets and headed straight for Transformers: The Ride-3D, an immersive thrill ride blurring the line between fiction and reality. Fusing HD 3D media and flight simulation technology, this epic ride took us into a futuristic world where alien robots from the planet Cybertron fight it out on earth.

youngsters interacting with a Transformer
The Park not only features Transformers: The Ride-3D, but also gives guests a chance to meet the mechanical monsters

Based on the popular movies, this mind-blowing ride is so real, it had me screaming and dodging car parts, robot pieces and other objects as they flew at my 3D glasses, while fighting alongside Optimus and trying protect the AllSpark from Decepticons over four stories tall. Out in front of the ride, we encountered a couple of the huge transformers interacting with guests and taking pictures with youngsters and their families.

From battling transformers, we went thousands of years back in time to experience Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride. This heart-pounding roller coaster begins by slowly creeping past an ancient Egyptian tomb full of gold artifacts and hieroglyphics before catapulting riders 45mph in virtual darkness. And when the train stops and guests try to regain their composure, the Mummy returns and the coaster zips in reverse for a thrilling climax.

entrance to the Revenge of the Mummy - The Ride
Revenge of the Mummy zips past ancient Egyptian artifacts and hieroglyphics

After the Mummy, we went back even further in time, to the era of dinosaurs and experienced Jurassic Park The Ride. This wet and wild adventure begins with a peaceful boat trip through the park to get look at gentle herbivore giants such as the brontosaurus. But things quickly go wrong when the raft plunges 84 ft and crashes into a building full of vicious meat-eating monsters like a 50-ft-tall T-Rex. From here it's a race for survival and a lot of fun along the way.

at the Jurassic Park The Ride
Jurassic Park The Ride is a great way to come face to face with your favorite dinosaur

Safe from dinosaurs, we hopped on a tram for the legendary Studio Tour to explore Hollywood’s most famous backlot, in the world’s largest working movie studio. As one of my favorite theme park attractions, this behind-the-scenes experience takes guests through the neighborhoods of the eerie plane crash from the movie War of the Worlds, and the television series Desperate Housewives.

The narrated tram ride cruises past the Bates Motel from the classic movie Psycho and riders are greeted by a knife-wielding Norman Bates; and then travels to the set of Jaws for an up-close look at the mechanical monster from the 1975 thriller.

a scene along The Studio Tour tram ride
The Studio Tour tram ride is a trip through some of Hollywood's best movies
and TV shows

The Studio Tour also features a journey into Skull Island and a an encounter with King Kong 360 3-D, the world’s largest 3-D ride experience. Created by film producer Peter Jackson, this adventure begins when the tram enters a darkened soundstage and guests are caught on a bridge, in the middle of a mega-fight between a menacing 35-ft-tall T-Rex and massive King Kong. We got so close to the action we could feel the breath of the monsters and water as it flew from their bodies. To create this attraction, the studio literally surrounds the tram with two 187-ft-wide by 40-ft-high curved screens, representing the equivalent of 16 movie theatre screens.

tour to Skull Isand features a fight between King Kong and T-Rex
The tram also takes guests to Skull Island for an encounter with King Kong and the world’s largest 3-D ride experience (picture courtesy of Universal Studios)

To celebrate 50 years, the park is adding an all-new grand finale – Fast & Furious – Supercharged! On this adrenaline rush, which begins this summer, guests will ride along with the cast from the hit movies on an exhilarating, 120-mph high-speed chase into the high-stakes underworld of fast cars and international crime cartels. The attraction will of course boast the most high-tech, advanced special effects, including 3D-HD imagery projected onto expansive 360-degree screens.

After the studio tour we headed to Krustyland and the boarded The Simpsons ride. With show characters Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie by our side we rode through a kaleidoscope, carnival-like midway off a giant roller coaster and through a lake with boats and a killer whale.

You never know what or who you will encounter at Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios is located at 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608. The Studio Tour is included with all theme park admission. For more information "Front of the Line" tickets or general admission, current pricing, specials and hours, visit:

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Let Greg know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for Harry Potter at Universal Studios

Going to Universal Studios Hollywood to see the Harry Potter "land" is on my bucket list!!

-- Nancy, Hawaii

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Feedback for A Spring Escape to Maui And Hotel Wailea

I leave here April 21 for Maui and can hardly wait. It'll be my 15th trip, more or less and I love it, and your pictures.

-- Ellie – Port Ludlow, WA

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Hi Greg,

It's not a forest of banyan trees in Lahaina by the harbor. It's one huge tree, about 140 years old. It's an important landmark of Lahaina, and one of our favorite views.We always stay at the Pioneer Inn, overlooking the harbor and the banyan tree. Every evening thousands of mynah birds fly into the tree, chattering and fluttering until they settle down for the night. Otherwise, great article.

-- Virginia – Northridge, CA

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Feedback for Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

Very nice story, Greg.

-- Maris Somerville – Los Angeles, CA

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