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Trip Report - First time at USH

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  • [Hollywood] Trip Report - First time at USH

    Last week I took my first trip to USH. I knew going in this park was limited by its footprint, both being literally up the side of a hill and being actually within the real studio. So I knew to anticipate lots of motion simulators. I was a little leery of this because I often find them nauseating. I also know a lot of people find 3D attractions nauseating (or just have difficulty viewing the effect). If that's you, here's the rundown:
    The following attractions are motion simulators or involve motion simulation effects:
    Forbidden Journey
    The Simpsons Ride
    The Studio Tour (because King Kong 360 3D and Fast and Furious Supercharged, while listed as distinct attractions on USH's attractions page on their website, are attractions you experience during the studio tour, can't be done independently)
    Minion Mayhem
    Transformers
    Shrek 4D

    Here are the ride-attractions that do not involve motion simulation:
    Flight of the Hippogriff
    Super Silly Funland
    Jurassic Park

    And shows:
    Special Effects show
    Animal Actors
    Waterworld

    I can't comment on the Mummy because it was closed. Walking Dead, I believe is also just a walk-thru experience, but I missed that.

    So if 3D and/or motion simulators are not your thing, you probably will not enjoy your time at USH. The other thing I realized during this trip is how repetitive these attractions are. It's not just that the bulk of the park is motion simulators, and 3D, the plot and trajectory is very similar for all of them: first, whatever vehicle you're in goes on a rollercoasterish trajectory (in the case of the Simpsons ride, it literally involves a rollercoaster) but the others find some reason for that type of course as well, then you jump over some break in the track, or some gap or canyon, dodge some stuff, get sprayed with water, dangle off an edge, free fall down from a height, at some point a character says "we have to get you out of here", then you crash land, and it ends. Transformers and Forbidden Journey have a slight leg up on the others because those ride vehicles do actually physically move through different scenes, some of which involve physical effects. So those are hybrids, not straight motion simulators. Still, the list above in terms of what happens during the ride? Same deal.

    At the moment, the only things open in the Lower Lot are Jurassic Park and Transformers, and shops of course. It's a four escalator ride down, and if there were more to do in this park overall, I might not have bothered going down. That said, Jurassic Park was by far my favourite attraction. The line was listed as 15 minutes, but was actually a walk-on. For those who keep track of this sort of thing: it also has a single-rider line.

    I really enjoyed that the USH app allowed for sorting based on wait time as well as distance. That was very convenient throughout the day. It was also very helpful that it listed the specific opening times of individual attractions, as some did not open the same time as the park overall. However, this usefulness did not extend to non-attractions. The app also includes dining and shopping, but those do not indicate open hours, or openness at all. Being vegetarians, I had done extensive research on which locations had vegetarian options, and what those options were, but repeatedly found places closed when we got there during what should've been majorly popular lunch times. It wasn't a very busy day, and I'm guessing these were just closed due to being off-peak. Even without the vegetarian-factor, given that the app can provide live attraction wait-times and closures, I would've expected the app to indicate if certain restaurants and shops were not going to be open at all. I hope they enhance that in the future.

    We ended up sharing a HUGE donut from Lard Lad's in the Springfield area. It was good, and pretty reasonably priced at $5. Considering Disneyland just started offering donuts at the coffee cart, and those cost $5.75 last I checked, this was a good value. The Lard Lad's donut was easily split between three people, with each still getting about the same proportion of donut if you bought three normal-sized donuts at Dunkin' or the like.

    As expected, the theming in the Wizarding World was amazing and detailed. It's too bad there isn't more space for a Diagon Alley. This part of the park was the most engaging, and I say this not as someone especially enamoured with all things Potter. I just really appreciated the attention to detail. Since I didn't know if I'd be back to USH in the future, a goal of this trip was to do as much as possible, so we didn't spend as much "exploring" time in Hogsmeade, but if I were to go back, I'd definitely spend more time there.

    We did the Studio Tour and while some aspects of it were interesting, I felt like the structure of the attraction was constantly trying to divide my attention. There was content on screens within the tram vehicle, but also real stuff to look at outside the tram. On a number of occasions the driver would point out something to look at, but then switch to a video. In particular while driving down a very steep hill there were movie posters and years basically going through the history of various films filmed there (actually I'm not sure if these were all filmed at this location or just films from Universal. It was unclear.) but while we drove down the same hill there was a video playing. It felt very ADD to me. Do I look around at the studio I'm touring? or the videos on screen? The tour is an hour, which is a solid chunk of time for one attraction, but it's sort of three-in-one since the F&F and King Kong are folded into it. The segues for both were extremely clunky. For the most part Universal really owns that it is a studio and you're on a lot and everything there is movie-magic, so it was awkward when the transitions into these attractions used a tone of voice implying these things were happening, now, seconds after talking about production. There are many spots within the park where you have spectacular views of LA, so there's no magical bubble at all while at USH. You can the city, golf courses, the freeway, the rest of the Universal lot and parts of Warner Bros from various vantage points within the park.

    All in all this was definitely a one day park, and I'm glad I went. It was a different experience than Disneyland. They're clearly not trying to do the same thing. And I appreciated how the overarching theme of "this is where we make movies" did permeate throughout the park, even if at times they missed on tone. If any of the areas or attractions are your favourites, or if you're a super Potter fan that a few restaurants, shops and two attractions have appeal for you, or you love a motion simulator, or like seeing a lot of shows during your day, then this park is well worth your time. If you're looking for rollercoasters, or rides that immerse you in a story or travel any distance...maybe not so much.

  • #2
    My sentiments almost to a T.

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    • #3
      Thanks. We will be visiting the first time this spring and your report was very helpful.

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      • #4
        Thanks! One amendment, in case you didn't see the other thread about it: in the last week they've removed the 3D aspect of Forbidden Journey. It still has some motion-simulatorey components, since the film parts of the ride are exactly the same, but no more goggles or 3D effect. This may or may not decrease its nausea-potential.

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