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Wednesday, 26 September 2012: The day we had been waiting for all year
Woke up at 4.30am and couldn't get back to sleep, as my phone was sounding its low battery alarm. While I was up putting it on charge, I turned the TV on to the cartoon channel, which was playing the jazz radio station till 6am, so I couldn't hear any weird noises (that's the effect watching so many horror movies has had on me ), and just layed there. The time went surprisingly fast.
My alarm was set for 6am, but I ended up getting up earlier, as Kib was on super early shift and I wanted to say bye. Once he had gone, I got ready for the day Nest and I had been waiting all year for, and attached name tags to our luggage, secured the zipper tabs with locks, and gave Johnny our contact numbers for when we'd be away. I was tying some bright pink ribbon around my suitcase handles, when I heard Johnny, our driver for the day, bimp his horn. Apparently I was taking too long - he had places to go and people to see after dropping us at the airport.
Suitcases piled in the back of the car, off we set for the airport - a jollier carload of people you wouldn't have been able to find that morning. Random conversation topics brought on by the excitement of the trip, included:
· Johnny telling us how our young cousin, Laura, had screamed the place down when he had pretended to eat one of her Burger rings;
· I tried telling Johnny (as Nest already knew) that that morning, Louie had drawn a pelican. He said, "What?!", to which I repeated myself so loudly, the cyclist outside would've been able to hear (Louie is a cartoon about rabbit who draws pictures. The show has a really infectious theme tune, which Johnny can't stand me singing. As it was, that morning I was doing impressions from Pinocchio, and he told me to shut up );
· While Nest was txting a friend, his predictive txt wanted to write cheesebale instead of cheesecake. Since when has cheesebale been a more regularly occuring word than cheesecake?! Cheesebale doesn't even appear in my dictionary! ; and,
· At one stage, Johnny beeped his horn for fun, and a woman walking a dog turned around really quickly looking really guilty, as if she had been up to something.
As we drove along through peak hour traffic (it was 7.30am by this stage), I thought how lucky we were to be setting off on a wonderful adventure, while we passed people waiting at bus stops for transport to work or school, where they'd most likely have a pretty ordinary day.
Johnny dropped us off super fast at the airport, only stopping to help us unload our luggage, as he didn't want to be hurried on by the security guards on duty. I saw the look of mischevious delight in his face as he literally leant on his horn once in the safety of his car, before driving off (the horn echoed really loudly in the space we were in.)
Canberra Airport has changed so much since I first started travelling back in 1998. Even in the two years since I was last there, it was unrecognisable to me - it all used to be so nice and simple! It wasn't self-explanatory where to go on entering the building, so I had to ask. There was no line waiting in the direction we were pointed, which was good. Even better, was that none of our four suitcases (yes, four suitcases for just 19 days! When we went for six weeks last time, we only had three suitcases - go figure! ) were overweight, so we thankfully didn't attract any surprise excess baggage fees like last time. Luckily, I didn't have to pay any excess baggage fee on myself
Luggage taken care of, we set off in search of gate number two. No gate number had been printed on our boarding passes, so the staff member had written it on our boarding pass. Before going through Customs, we stopped off at the Currency Exchange for some Mexican pesos, but they had none in stock.
Thank goodness we had plenty of time till boarding, as we spent around twenty minutes looking for a non-existent gate! The staff member had mistakenly written two instead of twelve - I found this out when finally thinking to look at the information board. Nest and I got a window seat at our gate, where we sent txts to family and friends while waiting to board. One of my favourite songs from my youth was playing over the radio at the time - Rush by Big Audio Dynamite. This definitely added to the excitement of the moment. Nest had a chicken mayo sandwich for morning tea, but I was surprisingly not hungry. We looked quickly through a newsagent for puzzle mags and reading material, but decided not to make any purchases till Sydney.
We boarded our flight to Sydney at 9.30am. It was a bigger plane than we're used to for this kind of route (we're used to a really tiny one.) We were seated in the middle of the economy section. We had the row of three seats to ourselves, which enabled us to look out the window without feeling self conscious. Snacks were a large museli cookie, and a choice between juice or water. I stuck to just water, as I felt my stomach was on the verge of playing up due to all the excitement ahead. The flight was over before it had even started! We didn't plug into the inflight entertainment system, as it was just a news bulletin (haven't seen one of those in yonks! There was massive flooding in the North-East of England at the time), followed by a comedy set by Carl Baron. He looked crestfallen as we left the plane - it was as if we were leaving his show early because we didn't like it. The only thing I paid proper attention to in the news bulletin, was the weather section - we were both excited to see it was sunny and 26 degrees in LA!
It was a nice feeling being able to casually walk through Sydney Airport towards the international lounge - usually we're rushing and stressing out. The lounge wasn't crowded at all (another relief.) There was a show about pregnant teenagers on as entertainment?! Pretty soon, the outside doors were open and we were the first to get on the bus. The drive to the international terminal didn't take long at all.
Got through Customs, and stocked up on puzzle books, gossip magazines and snacks (a packet of strawberries and cream lollies, and some peppermint Tic Tacs) from the newsagents. Then we found a Currency Exchange that finally had some Mexican pesos in stock. I asked for 200 (meaning 200 pesos, as we weren't planning to do much shopping while in Mexico), but ended up paying AUS$200 for 2400 pesos?! I was so confused , and Nest thought that the outcome was hilarious!!
Afterwards, Nest spent ages in the bathroom, while I minded our hand luggage. I'm glad he took a long time, as that meant I got to have numerous goes in the massage chairs lining the corridor - what a brilliant idea to have them there!
Our gate was really crowded, so we waited in a vacant gate nearby with a view of the city, which included Sydney Tower, while eating some lunch we had picked up from a cafe we passed by. For lunch, we had delicious roast beef, swiss cheese, lettuce and semi sun-dried tomato rolls with water. We also picked up a packet of pretzels for an emergency savoury snack option on the plane. As we had been being served at the cafe, another infectious song came to my attention - I Like To Move It by Reel 2 Real. As we were eating, numerous messages were being played over the tannoy. We both started laughing when a passenger was being called for, and the staff member incorrectly pronounced it as Honeyarse. We knew that was incorrect, due to the same passenger being called a couple of times afterwards, but by a more appropriate sounding pronounciation.
We were excited and curious about our flight, as we'd be flying premium economy for the very first time. We were in the first group of people to board the plane, and certainly weren't disappointed with our seats - they were awesome compared to the general economy we've only previously flown. We had loads of legroom, were able to tilt our seats back to a sleepable position, and had thick padded blankies. Our comfort packs included the usual socks, eyemask, toothbrush and toothpaste. While the aircraft was boarding, Nest was treated to a glass of water, and I had champagne. We hurredly took photos and sent last minute txts to Kib, before it was time to go offline.
Nest and I were in a brilliant mood thanks to our awesome seats. As we taxied down the runway, we poured over the entertainment guide (there was so much I wanted to watch!), and wondered what would be for lunch (despite already having eaten.)
For a while, all I could do was lie back in my chair and relax, taking in the atmosphere. Soon, the writing that needed to be done, began to nag me, so I got to it before allowing myself to watch anything. The pre-lunch snacks were curried almonds and wasabi peas, which Nest got me to try and I didn't like. Only afterwards, did he tell me that they make your nose go crazy. To drink, I had a bacardi and Coke, and Nest had an apple juice. The stewardess spilt my drink all over Nest, but he happily laughed it off.
I was all set for yummy red wine braised beef cheeks with field mushrooms, pearl barley and steamed vegies with a side of baby cos, radicchio, and frisee with merlot vinaigrette, plus cheese and biscuits, but they had ran out by the time they got to me Nest had white cut poached chicken in chilli and ginger sauce, fragrant rice, and choy sum.
While waiting ages for an alternative meal to be found for me (I can't eat chicken), Nest and I had a mango and cream Weis bar. Couldn't believe it had instructions on how to open it, printed on the packet! Who needs those kinds of instructions?! You may be interested to know that "it was in 1959 that Les Weis combined sun-drenched Australian mangoes with a delicious strip of fresh cream to create the Weis Mango and Cream Bar. It has been an Australian favourite ever since."
For dinner, I ended up having a toasted baguette containing turkey and greyere cheese - it was so yummy. Beverage-wise, I thought it wise that I stuck to water for the time being, seeing as I had already had two magic drinks in the short time of being on the plane.
I tried watching Prometheus first up, which I had been really looking forward to, but ended up going to sleep big time. I stopped watching it and changed over to a classical music listening station. It was only 6.10pm Aussie time, so I don't understand why I was suddenly feeling so tired for. I watched most of Cars 2 after a while, to familiarise myself with the characters in preparation for visiting the new Cars Land in Disney's California Adventure Park.
Thank goodness Nest woke me up when the midnight snack came around - they were super yummy cheese and mushroom pizza subs! I couldn't eat mine fast enough - it tasted delicious, and the smell was mouth-watering! Even Nest loved them, and he usually detests mushrooms.
Snacked on pretzels and strawberries and cream lollies while watching Louis Theroux do a documentary on dementia in Phoenix (I found it really depressing), then cheered myself up watching the Mount Fuji episode of An Idiot Abroad, as well as the series follow-up episode. I actually started to drift off once again during the follow-up episode, but still entered into a four episode marathon of Mr Bean. I went to sleep to the laughter of the studio audience. The noise cancelling headphones in this class are excellent - you really notice the difference when you take them off.
I was woken from my lovely sleep to the announcement we'd be landing in LA in two hours (can't believe the flight only took 12.5 hours! I had originally been expecting 15 hours, then it went down to 13.5 hours, before actually being 12.5 hours), that breakfast would be served, followed by the filling in of customs forms. I didn't feel like breakfast, so just picked at a small muffin on Nest informing me it tasted like hotcakes, and had some water. Nest had muesli, a small muffin, and some fruit salad.
Once all that was sorted, there was only 45 minutes till landing. Couldn't concentrate on doing anything during that time. I couldn't believe I didn't read any of the mags I had picked up from the newsagents. At least I have something for the trip home (though the gossip will be greatly out of date by then!) Nest managed a bit of a puzzle, and watched Mel Gibson's brilliant Get the Gringo, followed by a whole lot of Family Guy and The Big Bang Theory.
As the landing time got closer and closer, I wasn't able to believe that we'd be on our most favourite Universal Studios ride before the day was up, and wondered if it would be like we never left it.
Our transfer from LAX to the Hilton Universal City Hotel was seamless. We were among the first to leave the plane, and took as many travelators to the first security checkpoint as we could (it conserves energy and gets you to places quicker.) We didn't have to wait for our luggage, as it was already going round and round on a baggage carousel reserved for premium economy and the higher classes. I held the trolleys while Nest hauled our cases off the belt. On through the last security checkpoint, we were finally free to leave the airport, first stopping for a bathroom break, get small denomination notes (the ATM was alarmed at first, and wouldn't stop beeping!), and urgent water purchases. And from this point onward, we were also on high alert for Twinkies
We lined up at the Super Shuttle stop, and one arrived for Universal in around ten minutes. The drive to Universal only took 25 minutes. It was weird - we had landed at 9.35am, and didn't catch the shuttle until 11.15am, but it didn't feel like we were at the airport for all that long.
It was a simply fabulous feeling driving up to the entrance of the Hilton, where we had absolutely loved our stay two years ago. We were three hours early in checking in, but they found a room of comparible value, that we could check into straight away. We were so relieved, and made our way to room 2066 up on the 20th floor (there are 24 floors all up, but no floor 13.) I was amused to read that the fire safety instructions on the back of our door said not to jump out the window in the event of a fire. Hello, we're on the 20th floor?! In the bathroom, there were really nice Peter Thomas Roth toiletries, such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, mouth wash, and cute little boxes containing a deluxe grooming kit (2 round cotton cleansing pads, 2 cotton swabs, 1 emery board, 1 dental floss applicator), a quick fix deluxe mending kit ("Must haves for quick mends on-the-go: four pre-threaded needles with black, brown, tan & white threads, 1 safety pin, 1 straight pin, 2 buttons [different sizes, both opaque white], 1 mini scissor"), a deluxe shower cap, a moisture infusion facial bar, and a big shower soap (which was in the shape of a shower head, which I thought was cool.) Unfortunately, the soap brought me out in a little lumpy rash on my arms, so I left the toiletries up to Nest after the first day.
As soon as we had settled in, we ordered lunch from room service. Nest had a 12 inch grilled beef and parmesan pizza - sliced beef tenderloin, olive oil, roasted garlic, shallots, parmesan and arugula. The meat in particular was delicious. I had beef and chicken satay sticks with super yummy spicy peanut sauce (I gave the chicken satay sticks to Nest), and spring rolls with a small dish of plum sauce, and a small dish of chilli 'n ginger sauce. The satay sticks came with an unusual pineapple, cucumber and onion salad, which neither of us ate. For drinks, Nest had a choccie milkshake, and I just had water.
Once we had showers (Nest went to sleep during mine), I tried to write while simultaneously looking at the awesome views until Nest woke up. I tutted at peoples' crooked parking down in the lot below (not that I'd be able to do any better at this point in time ), and noticed a guy walking with a cat umbrella (it came complete with cute little cat ears!), which would've really annoyed Johnny (he's not a cat person, while I love them to bits ) Also noticed a massive B on the Hollywood Hills, and wondered what the story was behind that. (On my return to Oz, while I couldn't find an exact story on that particular 'B', I did find out that hillside letters are common in the American West, and that there are up to 91 in California alone!)
We got walking to the park at 3.30pm. We felt a bit guilty about the late start, but we really needed a refreshing break. It was so fantastic being back in the park we both knew and love. It was also totally awesome seeing the props up for the Halloween Horror Nights around the place. We decided not to take any photos or buy any souvenir photos today, and just concentrate on experiencing the rides and taking it easy (instead of going crazy and stressing out about getting everything done. Though Nest did bring his small blue camera for emergency shots.) It was the hottest US day we had ever experienced, and my recently washed hair dried in no time at all. There were fans set up and going in the ride queues, and water misters at certain parts of the park - they were so refreshing and much appreciated - such a wonderful idea! It was also the most crowded we'd experienced the park, but everything we lined up for, was definitely well worth the wait.
As we made our way through the Upper Lot to get to our favourite ride in the Lower Lot, I detected the yummy sweet scent of churros, yet we only stopped to get a water from the Water World cart, as I was suddenly dying of thirst.
Naturally, we headed straight for our favourite ride, the Jurassic Park River Adventure. At 3.54pm, we boarded it for the first time in two years - we were both besides ourselves with excitement! As we were sitting in the boat waiting to set off, water mist drizzled over us, which was nice and refreshing. It was the same wonderful experience we knew and loved from years passed. The only differences I noticed, were some refreshing paint jobs, two new little green and purple dinosaurs to our left, the large hidden dinosaur to our right that springs up from under the water and sprays you had had a makeover, and the jeep no longer crashed down from the top of the building. Due to the hot weather, they must've upped the splashing, as we got soaked, but dried in no time. It mustn't have been enough splashing for some people though, as they were deliberately splashing each other with handfuls of water at the beginning of the ride. We immediately re-joined the end of the queue to ride again. This time, we had two little girls sitting in our row, and they were cowering next to me by the end of it!
Rode Revenge of the Mummy next. I knew I loved this ride, but I had forgotten how much until today. The ride seemed the same in every way, yet I felt perhaps it was a little faster than usual ... unless it's just old age, and anything quicker than a snail's pace, is 'fast'
We were going to ride Revenge of the Mummy again, but decided to go on the new Transformers 3D ride for the first time ever! Even though I know nothing about these characters or storylines, I found the ride really awesome. As we queued through the long windy headquarters setting, we loved how the acronym of the place was N.E.S.T., and were absolutely thrilled to find such t-shirts in the attached gift store! When we got to our ride vehicles, we boarded the simulator van, put on our 3D glasses, and helped Evac and Optimus Prime stop Megatron and the deceptatrons from stealing the allspark (I have no idea what I just wrote , but it made sense to Nest! ) I loved the sensation of going really fast, and the missile and heat effects were great too - when you do a lot of flinching during the ride like I did, you know the effects are realistic! I thought it was really clever how the designers fit such a big and realistic city panorama into such a small space.
We collected our belongings from our locker (had to pay $6, as we stayed over the one hour free period ... this time I didn't lock all our money and ID in the lockers like once before - DER! ), and went back to the Upper Lot to ride The Simpsons. We had to wait for so long, but it was so worth it. I really felt the effects of the motion this time round. While queuing for the ride, I loved how Lisa and Bart were going to Homer repetatively, "Are we there yet?", while they were standing in the middle of a queue going nowhere, and Homer suddenly explodes, "Yes, we are right where we want to be!"
Wandered around most of the shops afterwards, seeing what goodies were available (but still not finding any Twinkies.) I spied a few t-shirts (including some awesome Halloween Horror Night ones), and loved the "Bort" number plates in the Kwik-E-Mart, after seeing the video segment about them in the Simpsons Ride queue.
It was 6.30pm by this stage, and the park closed at 7pm, so we made our way back to the Lower Lot and rode Revenge of the Mummy until 7pm! We were allowed to ride four times in a row without getting off, which was just so awesome! We were so sad when we had to get off 'Spose it was for the best though, as my head was beginning to feel a little shaken up! (It was great how the queue was non-existent this time round.)
We were delighted to find the California Grill still open, as we had noticed they sold chilli cheese fries, and were busting for some. Unfortunately, they had sold out for the night, so they gave us cheese pizzas instead, which we ate on the way back to the hotel.
Once back at the hotel, we watched the new season of Survivor which hadn't yet begun in Australia, set in the Philippines (I think it was episode two.) Unfortunately, I fell asleep big time, even though it was only 8.30pm. On cross-checking Nest's journal to make sure I hadn't left anything out, right at this particular stage of the evening, he wrote he was "really bored" , but didn't want to change the channel in case I woke up (he wont let me watch Survivor at home )
Ordered a late dinner from room service, while watching Supernatural. It turned out to be the final episode that had just screened in Australia, which we had only recently watched. For dinner, Nest had stir fried chicken with noodles, beansprouts, green and red peppers, onions, carrots and soy sauce (it smelt incredibly irresistable! I so wished I could've had a plate of my own!), a diet Coke, and a slice of New York cheesecake with raspberry sauce. I had my favourite stir fried beef with broccoli, and a Coke. Our Mandarin cuisine came with green tea and soup of the day, which I guessed on an exploratory taste, to be chicken, mushroom and tofu.
After dinner, we continued to watch random TV while trying to write. Demetri Marin was funny - loved his story about how a neighbour's kid dressed up as a cat's tail for Halloween, and Demetri thought he was meant to be a pipecleaner! Also loved how his son went as Dr Coconut!
We also enjoyed some of the ads. Byron would've gotten a laugh out of the Bear Grylls one. It was for super effective deoderant for very active people - the more active you become, the more effective it works. To illustrated the point, Bear put a fat guy in a giant hamster wheel, threw him a salmon to hold, and then added a hungry brown bear. We also like some of the Direct TV ads - especially the one that goes, "If people see you wearing an eyepatch, they think you're tough. When people think you're tough, they want to know how tough. Then you wake up the next day in a ditch."
Got to bed at 2.10am, as we kept on being distracted by the TV while trying to write, even though the shows were ones we normally wouldn't be interested in, such as a documentary on how there are only three power grids in America.
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Thursday, 27 September 2012: Where did the day go?
Slept undisrupted the entire night - that hasn't happened for ages! Thank goodness Nest woke me up at 10.15am, as I was dreaming about work. People were asking how I was, and I was telling them that I had just come back from holiday. Who dreams about work whilst on holiday?! I'm glad Nest work me up so I wouldn't sleep anymore of the day away whilst in such a fantastic place, but my eyes were still so tired (lack of sleep/jetlag/not wearing sunnies when I usually would), and I had massive bags under them. Had a shower to wake me up, then waited for Nest to finish his journal entry.
Got going to the park at about 1.20pm. It seemed hotter than yesterday! Made the effort to take some photos before the day got away from us completely. I was particularly interested in the Halloween Horror Night props while it was daylight hours, therefore 'safe'.
On the way to the Lower Lot (guess where we were going? ), we stopped off at Ben and Jerry's for a churro sundae each.
Rode Jurassic Park River Adventure twice . It was awesome getting wet, as it was such a hot day. I just wish we could've gotten soaked. On one of our runs, Dora the Explorer was waiting and waving to us from the viewing platform. Wished we could've taken a photo for Johnny (he can't stand Dora, so naturally we buy him gifts and tell him stuff in relation to her )
I was busting for a drink, and Nest was busting for a snack, so we went to Jurassic Cafe for lunch. Even though it was almost 2pm by this stage, the place was packed (at least we knew the food would be freshly cooked) and virutally all the tables were taken. We started off at a sunny outside table. It was so hot, that the second I noticed a shady table become vacant, Nest and I shot over to it. Nest had a cheeseburger with fries and water. I had the Panda Express Chinese dish of fried rice, chow mein noodles, beef 'n broccoli, and chilli deep fried chicken (the latter of which I gave to Nest.) It was great eating yummy food in the cool shade to the instrumental soundtrack of Jurassic Park.
Had a quick look at the general souvenir store where the fantastic Revenge of the Mummy store used to be, then met Nest in the nearby games arcade after going to the bathroom. Nest won me a Rio blue bird soft toy done in the style of an Angry Bird, from the skill tester. Nest tried so hard to win an iPod shuffle from the disco machine, but couldn't quite get the drop magnet in the exact position, but came so close on so many occasions.
Rode Jurassic Park River Adventure two more times. Nest was sat next to a little old lady with grey hair, in the back row. We thought it was awesome she came on the ride, and wondered if she had her eyes closed behind her glasses.
It was almost 4.15pm by this stage, so we collected our bags from the lockers, and headed back up to the Upper Lot to catch the last studio tram tour for the day (the park was closing early at 6pm.) I was so relieved to see that the misters were flowing over the queuing area to make waiting that little bit more comfortable.
The route had changed somewhat (mainly streetscapes), and was now co-hosted by Jimmy Fallon instead of Whoopi Goldberg. Still got to see old faves, such as Jaws and the town of Amity/Cabot Cove. Also loved being reminded of the awesomeness of King Kong 3D. Old faves we didn't get to see this time, were Whoville and the Bates Motel, as they were canvassed off because of the Halloween Horror Nights. Nest and I were so excited when we caught glimpses of the props that couldn't quite be hidden. As predicted before our holiday, the crash site from War of the Worlds was also set up for the Halloween Horror Nights.
We also drove past the working set of Parenthood, and had to be quiet. There were funny Jimmy Fallon clips during this period (such as a staring competition), but I think most of us were too distracted trying to see something happening on set, to notice them. Afterwards, it clicked that we didn't go up Wisteria Lane. Nest thought he heard that part of it was being used for Parenthood. Also drove past a street full of crew, but our host didn't refer to them.
There was a part about Michael J. Fox broadcast on the tram TVs, that stuck in my mind over everything else. When he would be on set a lot for the Back to the Future movies and heard a tram go by, he would race out and take photos of it - I thought that must've been great for the visitors who experienced it.
At one stage during the tour, the tram couldn't manage going up a steep hill, probably due to all the attached vehicles being filled to capacity ... I suppose the hot weather wasn't helping the engine, either. Luckily for us, in a couple of minutes a tow truck arrived and helped us up the hill, allowing us to continue on with the tour.
Jimmy Fallon was great as co-host. Towards the end of the tour, he played guitar and sang a song called Tramtastic. I had the tune stuck in my head for the rest of the day:
Have a tramtastic day
Have a tramtastic night
Watch your step as you get off the tram
And everything will be alright
Then he got all the Dads to sing it, then all the Mums, "And then Jaws", which was met with complete silence. (If you ever see the accompanying clip, perhaps then you'll find this as funny as me )
It was 5.20pm once the tour finished. We quickly went around some shops to buy some t-shirts. Nest bought two N.E.S.T. shirts from the Transformers store, and one Walking Dead t-shirt from another store. I bough a Halloween Horror Night t-shirt and a blue and silver black Universal Studios t-shirt. After buying the N.E.S.T. ones from the Transformers store, we managed to fit in one ride of Revenge of the Mummy (I was so sad there were no repeat rides this time - the operators were different except for one.) During our ride, there was a Mexican guy screaming "Arriba!" and laughing maniacally - it made our ride experience that little bit more enjoyable and hilarious . When we got back, it was 6pm and time to leave. There was one guy waiting in the child swap area who was still allowed to go through though - as we saw him go off into the darkness on his own. I wondered if he would bother screaming, and if so, would he be self concious about it, and stop to buy the souvenir photo afterwards?
We wandered all around City Walk afterwards. I was surprised that there wasn't anything in the main Universal Studios store that I desperately wanted to buy like back in 2010. The next store we called into, was Hot Topic. It was so awesome, and chock full of Halloween goodies such as costumes, clothes, and nail polish in skull-shaped bottles. Made a mental note to go back and buy a black t-shirt displaying a portrait of a giant white cat wearing black-rimmed glasses. (Thinking back, I don't know why I didn't buy it at the time - perhaps it was because the store had been crowded, or I was still coming to terms with being allowed to spend money after spending so long saving in preparation for the trip.)
We spent ages in the It's Sugar store. There was just so much to look at and buy in there! After much agonising over what to buy, I came out with two cupcake air fresheners (one for Byron's car, and one for Johnny's car), a smiley face ice cube tray for Johnny (he often wishes we had ice cubes at home ... I don't know what happened to the penguin and dolphin shaped ice cube trays I bought a while back), a juvenile-humoured magnet for the fridge, saying "You're never too old to laugh at farts", and some giant fried egg shape lollies for Nest and I to share. We knew quite well we'd be coming back to this store.
Searched for a hoodie for Kib, but couldn't find one that was just right, so resolved to return for another look another day. Plus I was feeling overwhelmed at all the choices of so many fantastic items suddenly available to me, that I could no longer think straight. We returned to the hotel to watch TV, write our journals, and have dinner. There was a message waiting on our phone from Johnny - all he said was duck duck duck goose While I was going through my pockets and sorting out crumpled change, I found a dollar bill with a stamp on it, saying "Please enter this bill at www.WheresGeorge.com". I tucked it away in a special part of my wallet, to follow up on my return to Australia. (On entering my bill once back home, I got a report back, saying where that particular dollar bill had been before-hand. Unfortunately, there was only one other entry, which was made in August 2010. My bill had started its travels at the Ikenohana Japanese Restaurant in Oregon. I came across a section of the website which listed the top ten most travelled bills, and was really interested in seeing all the places the notes had passed through, the circumstances people had come across them, and the condition the notes were in. The most travelled note has fifteen entries, but going by the last activity logged, I don't think it's in circulation anymore.)
For dinner, Nest had Korean filet beef BBQ soft tacos with Korean style miso sauce and thinly sliced ginger. The tacos were wrapped in pretend newspaper, which I thought was cute; grilled chicken breast paillard (thinly pounded chicken breast, baby arugula, white truffle oil, and garlic mashed potato ... the latter of which he had to closely guard from me, as I simply adore mashed potato); and, a chocolate delight dessert. I was going to have spicy braised beef with noodles, but as I had something similar for lunch, and I suddenly started craving cheese and fries, I went with the Studio Burger instead (ground beef, Vermont cheddar, fried onions, and horseradish sauce) with a side of fries.
On TV that night, quite a few shows distracted us from getting our writing done:
Pawn Stars: Rick bought what he thought to be a 1st edition book signed by Shoeless Joe Jackson for US$13,000, and the signature turned out to be a fake! Nest and I thought it was funny how his son and Chumley were stirring him big-time about it, while his Dad was absolutely furious.
Chopped: This show was very distracting, as it was so interesting. I don't know if it was a one-off, or a series, but it was about four chefs who had to make it through cooking three dishes, to be deemed the winner and receive a cash prize to further their already impressive careers (most of them already owned their own establishments, but wanted to take things to the next level.) The reason Nest and I found this show so interesting, was because the chefs were all given the same ingredients to cook with, but had to come up with different ideas to each other, to stand out to the judges. We loved it how there was a difficult ingredient each course that they had to use, and that ingredient ended up being a bag of candy each time! After each course, one of the chefs was evicted (for want of a better word.) Nest and I were extremely disappointed that the chef we wanted to win, made it to the final course, but didn't win like we strongly believe he deserved to. I'm sure he'll do extremely well by himself, without the aid of the prize.
Some kind of cake show was on next. Cakes I remember featuring in the episode, were:
· Red dragon: A bride wanted the people to make a flying red dragon cake based on a model she had made at school;
· Obstacle course: A cake was modelled on the obstacle course a group of firemen had to run; and,
· Globe of the world: A globe of the world, featuring many different national flags, was made for a conference.
Seinfeld: It was excellent finishing the night off with a bit of Jerry . Epsiodes shown, were Schindler's List/Executive Raincoats.
I got to bed at 3.19am after finally finishing my journal entry, as I got extremely distracted by a paid presentation on some kind of coffee machine, hosted by Jennie Garth. I'm not even a coffee drinker, so I have no idea why I was so transfixed for!
I'm so excited to see that you've started this TR! My kids and I finally made it to Universal Studios late last year and have gone a few more times since with a 5 visit pass we were able to purchase locally. It was my kids' first time, and the first time for me after about a 15 year absence! I had read your prior TR's about your fabulous visits and was so excited about seeing everything for myself! It certainly didn't disappointed. In fact, I even stayed at that same Hilton for one of our visits!
I can't wait to read more about your fabulous vacation! Keep it coming! And don't forget to finish your other TR!
Huge Disney Fan...Always Have Been...Always Will Be!
Disneyland 60th Anniversary Celebration TR here!
2013 WDW trip here!
2011 trip to Hawaii here!
I'm so excited to see that you've started this TR! My kids and I finally made it to Universal Studios late last year and have gone a few more times since with a 5 visit pass we were able to purchase locally. It was my kids' first time, and the first time for me after about a 15 year absence! I had read your prior TR's about your fabulous visits and was so excited about seeing everything for myself! It certainly didn't disappointed. In fact, I even stayed at that same Hilton for one of our visits!
I can't wait to read more about your fabulous vacation! Keep it coming! And don't forget to finish your other TR!
Thanks for your great feedback and shared experiences! I'm thrilled to hear my previous posts about Universal added excitement to your recent visits there, and that your family loved the place so much, that you bought return tickets And how awesome is the Hilton!?
I've got my next three posts ready ... kind of . I'm having trouble censoring my two posts about the Halloween Horror Nights and having the entries still read smoothly, as it wasn't exactly a family-friendly event , and this is a family-friendly board . My third completed post, about the first day of our cruise, is good to go, and I can't wait to share it!
One of my New Year's resolutions for 2013, is to finish my 2010 trip report! I wont allow myself to go on anymore trips until it's done From memory, I believe I'm up to the day where we did the Keys to the Kingdom tour, then the following entry is lunch at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre followed by a night time Christmas tour, then the entry after that, is all about the Gifts of a Lifetime event surprise I organised for Nest, which I'm particularly looking forward to writing about and sharing. I can't remember what comes after these three days, so thank goodness I took notes at the time! I do know that once I finish the WDW section, I've still got Universal Orlando and Disneyland to go ... somebody's going to be busy at the computer next year
Bye for now (I hope to be back with at least my first Halloween Horror Night entry before breaking for Christmas.)
As this is a family-orientated community, I've censored the following entry, as the Halloween Horror Nights weren't for young children or the faint of heart. What I've left, still may conjure up scary images though. Also, as photography was banned in the mazes, there aren't many photos accompanying this entry. With the ones I have chosen, I hope they're ok for everyone (beware if you have an aversion to clowns of any description )
Friday, 28 September 2012: VIP Halloween Horror Night
One of the days I was most excited about this holiday, was finally here - the day of our VIP Halloween Horror Night! Having said that though, we found it extremely difficult to get going. Nest managed to get going before me (usually it's the other way round!) I gave myself a goal of getting out of the shower by 12 noon, and made it with nine minutes to spare!
Before leaving our hotel for lunch, we popped down to the Business Centre for me to do a quick spot of internet banking. Nest used the opportunity to show me a funny ice cream cartoon on YouTube. Then we went to the concierge desk to reserve ourselves a stretch limo to take us to the cruise terminal on Sunday. Nest and I were surprised at how cheap it was - only $66/hour! I was expecting something outrageous and unaffordable! I was so happy and excited on getting this sorted, as it had begun to really play on my mind. The lady who helped us, said that her son used to work on the Disney Wonder as Captain Jack Sparrow, and recently helped out on the brand new Disney Dream. He seemed very well-travelled, having been to the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Panama Canal, and Alaska.
We went to the Saddle Ranch Chop House for lunch. As we were approaching it, Nest was handed a 20% off card by a staff member outside - bonus! We sat in a booth in a sheltered, but open-air section of the establishment. I liked it how we were served glasses of iced water on being seated without even having to ask for it, which was topped up throughout our meal. While waiting for our meal, we were given a basket of warm scones and corn muffins with some kind of flavoured butter (my guess was garlic and chilli.) I think the corn muffins had green chilli in them. At first I thought it may have been peas, but they had packed some heat. For lunch, we both had turkey burgers with a side of fries and glasses of Mountain Dew - also topped up throughout our meal. The platters our meals were served on, were huge. I couldn't polish mine off, but Nest could. Throughout lunch, I could hear a pair of middle-aged men at the booth to our right, talking unnecessarily loudly about prostrate exams and needing to get one! Why talk so loudly about such a subject in public?! In an effort to block them out, I looked up to the TV screens, and saw an ad for mens pocket catheters!! There was no escape! No wonder I couldn't finish my lunch
After lunch at the Saddle Ranch Chop House, we went shopping at Universal City Walk. First stop was Hot Topic, where Nest and I bought ourselves those white fluffy cat t-shirts on black background, wearing black-rimmed glasses. We planned to wear them on our journey home, so that when Johnny picked us up, he would get annoyed at our choice of attire (he's not a cat person.) I also picked myself up some exciting nail polishes in those skull shaped bottles. Major Rager was a glow-in-the-dark nail polish which I thought would be awesome to wear to the Halloween Horror Night that night, and the other bottle was Beautiful Revenge - fine red glitter in clear varnish, which I thought would go great over my solid black nail polish for the Disney Halloween parties. Unfortunately, when we got the shopping back to the hotel, I discovered that the Hip Cat t-shirts weren't XXL as marked (they were much smaller), and that the nail polishes were unusable, as the receipt shouted in capitals, "***Products with this symbol contain chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer ... [etc.]" I was so disappointed, as I had been looking forward to doing my nails. I'm still going to keep them though, as I love the bottles. (Throughout our holiday, I noticed signs both at the entrance to Universal and Downtown Disney (and on receipts for Disney pins), saying that the places themselves "contain chemicals to the State of California to cause cancer ... [etc.]" It seemed to be just a general sign that was everywhere, perhaps to cover whoever was responsible for those areas, in case someone tried to sue them on the grounds mentioned in the sign. I could've used the nail polishes after all
Next store was the Los Angeles Sock Market, where I spent probably more than I should've, on novelty socks!! LOL! There were so many great socks in there, that I could've bought a lot more than I did. I bought a long pair of red socks saying "Bacon", for one of my bros, and a whole lot of cat socks and knee highs for myself. You can never have too many socks (particularly socks featuring cats), especially as they disappear so easily when being washed.
Nest and I then spent over an hour in It's Sugar, spending a surprising amount on candy and other joke novelties, for our families, friends, and ourselves. Among some of the items Nest bought, were:
· A public toilet survival kit in a tin;
· A bottle of "Cleaner Than Poop" hand sanitizer. On the back of the bottle, are general instructions for use, but I loved the sentence, "Use extra if you actually see poop";
· Bacon flavoured toothpaste: "Makes your breath bacon fresh!"
Among some of the items I bought, were:
· Bacon flavoured toothpaste;
· Bandaids in the shape of strips of bacon;
· A tin of bacon flavoured toothpicks;
· A tin of Uncle Oinker's savoury bacon mints;
· A tin of macaroni and cheese bandaids;
· Two Liquid Courage brand flasks for two of my bros back home. The flasks are purple, with the saying, "Alcohol - because no great story ever started with someone eating a salad";
· A plush white "labbit" (ie. rabbit) with moustache. The tag attached to labbit, tells you how to take care of him: "Keep Labbit dry - he hates baths. Don't overfeed Labbit - he will only get lazy and chubby. Don't let Labbit watch too much television. Keep Labbit away from the stove or the fireplace - his fur is enough to keep him warm. Pet Labbit every day so he doesn't get lonely and run away to join the circus";
· World's largest underpants: 100 inch waist!; and
· A dashboard zombie: brain-hungry, lurching zombie action!
The last shop we went to, was the Hard Rock Cafe to get the combined jacket/hoody for Kib I had seen the night before and needed time to think about.
We were going to go straight to the park afterwards, but as we had amassed more bags than expected, we decided to drop them back at the hotel. It was such a boiling hot day (the back of my t-shirt was so wet!), that we decided to have a bit of a breather before we got going again.
By the time we got going again, there was only about an hour of general park admission time left till closing. Nest had worn his new Sketchers shoes on this occasion, because I thought you had to wear enclosed shoes for the event for some reason The shoes ended up being so uncomfortable for him, and even before we got to the foot bridge connecting the Hilton to Universal City Walk, he was getting cramps in his feet and his right shoe was rubbing on the back of his heel We came to a conditions of entry sign for the event once across the footbridge, and couldn't see anything written about not being able to wear thongs, so we decided to go to the nearby Billabong store and find some there (we didn't want to have to back-track to the hotel.) Nest chose the biggest pair they had, but they weren't all that comfortable because they were a bit too small ... but felt better than the Sketchers, so just made do for the rest of the night.
On our approach to the park, crowds had gathered in organised lines ready for that night's Halloween Horror Night, and we couldn't see where we could enter. Luckily we found someone to ask, who pointed us in the right direction. On finally entering the park, we suddenly realised we only had half an hour of park time left, as the rides were closing half an hour early to prepare for that night's Halloween Horror Night. Due to the surprising crowds still in the park at that late stage, it took us 15 minutes to get to the Lower Lot.
By then, even with using the single riders line (Nest opted to take some photos from the viewing point), I only managed to fit one ride of Jurassic Park River Adventure in! Oh well, better than nothing!
We slowly made our way (we wouldn't have been able to be quick even if we wanted to) back up to the Upper Lot, in the hope of getting some chilli cheese fries from the California Grill. Unfortunately they had already closed their doors, so we went and tried our luck in Universal City Walk instead.
We found what we were looking for, at Jody Maroni's Sausage Kingdom. Nest lined up to get us iced waters and a portion of regular chilli cheese fries each, while I prepared myself to pounce on the first table that became available. It was an enjoyable snack. I was glad I hadn't opted for a large portion, as when I saw someone else with one, they looked huge - I wouldn't have been able to finish one of those off myself!
After a stop at the restrooms with the longest queue I've ever experienced, we went to check in for our VIP Halloween Horror Night experience. Earlier on in the day when I had asked where the general entrance had moved to, I also asked where the VIP Halloween Horror Night check-in was, as it wasn't as obvious as the black and yellow general admission signs. It turned out to be right next to the temporary general entrance. Looking from our hotel window as I catch up on this entry, I can now see the sign as plain as day.
Our queue was nowhere near as long as the general admission ones, and we were seen to almost immediately after going through bag check and being wanded over with a hand-held metal detector. As we waited those few seconds, I asked the staff member in charge of directing us to the next available window, if she had been to this year's Halloween Horror Nights, and if so, which maze was the scariest. She thought the Alice Cooper Goes to Hell 3D maze was the scariest, because it was in 3D and had things popping right out at you unexpectedly, and that the creepiest was the Italian one, La Llorona. Later on, I would agree with the latter opinion, but not the former (somehow, I don't think she ventured into the Silent Hill or Texas Chainsaw mazes, but more on that later ...)
At the check-in window, we handed over our tickets, and were given a VIP pass each (a nice shiny card on a lanyard featuring a Walking Dead zombie, pics of the three other main mazes down the side, our tour time written in silver marker, and the date punched out), plus yellow wrist bands saying we were over 21 so we could have a total of two magic drinks each at the VIP Lounge. It also had a barcode on it for us to get into the 'A' line for the rides and attractions. Decked out in lanyards and wristbands, we picked up an event map, and entered into the exciting madness of our first ever Halloween Horror Night.
The energy inside was amazing! Super loud heavy metal music was playing (Nest recognised one of the songs as being Hell by Disturbed), and a strong light rotated the Universal Halloween Horror Nights logo over surfaces. Directly inside the gate, was a fog machine working overtime.
By the time you worked your way through it, you found yourself at the entrance to the Clownz scarezone, which was flanked by two scantily clad female clown cage dancers, where it was move yourself or be targeted by evil looking clowns wielding chainsaws! I found out the hard way, that if it looked as if you were trying to avoid the clowns, they'd make a beeline directly towards you. Other times, they'd come up silently behind you, and make you jump out of your skin by revving their chainsaw or making that weird Predator sound in your ear.
As Nest and I had an early VIP Tour slot (7.15pm), we waited outside Guest Services to the background sounds of revving chainsaws immediately followed by screams, and the occasional sight of a particular red-wigged clown wearing blood-stained white coveralls, mingling with people who were trying to mind their own business.
Spot the two monsters!
More monster spotting while waiting for VIP Tour
Close to the time of our tour, a staff member appeared and took Nest and I out the back where our tour group was (we had been wondering where everyone else was! ) We introduced ourselves to our tour guide, got our names marked off the list, and then got on an oversized open-air tram. On the normal tram tours, the window seats are always the most sought-after. This time round though, I much rather preferred to avoid them due to not knowing was to expect (I was imagining monsters jumping out at us), but Nest made me sit at one.
As we were driven around the backlot, we were told how twelve people had passed away on the backlot since the opening of Universal Studios, with corresponding pictures of varying vintages, of the victims when they were alive. I'm not sure whether this was true or not, due to the style of which the information was being delivered, but we were told to watch out for them none-the-less during our tour
We drove past Soundstage 28, which is supposedly haunted. A stage hand was killed in there while Phantom of the Opera was being filmed. He was holding onto a handbrake for some prop, the handbrake broke, and the prop fell on him. As a result, the lights turn on and off by themselves, and doors open and close by themselves. To give this story more meaning, it would've been awesome if we could've gone inside the soundstage, especially as we were told it's still set up as Phantom of the Opera. And whether the haunted stories were real or not, it would've been cool (but corny) if some lights and doors were rigged to go on and off, open and closed, while we were in there.
As we drove on in the dark, I noticed a lot of people working in the writers' bungalows, which I thought was exciting, as all the other times we've been past them, they've appeared empty and unoccupied. I suppose that's because most writers have their best ideas and are most productive at night. I noticed that Alfred Hitchcock's bungalow was shrouded in darkness and unoccupied though. (At the time of typing this up, I just thought how awesome it would be if Universal would set Hitchcock's bungalow up to how he had it when he worked there, and granted access to it as part of the general VIP tours at least.)
After a while of spooky stories, we arrived at Skull Island and got to experience King Kong 3D. As it was night when we entered the attraction, it made the whole experience feel that little bit more real, which was cool. After Skull Island, we travelled onto the Mexican village renowned for its flash flooding. All was still and quiet when we arrived, and I half-expected some brain-hungry zombies to come swarming out of the darkness and surround the tram, but they didn't. As we came to a stop, we were told the tale of La Llarona (not suitable for this board ) As if on queue, we were then caught in a flash flood, with the sound effects of a woman sobbing, surrounding us.
Relieved to have survived the flood unharmed and unattacked, we drove on for a short distance, and were dropped off on the other side of the Mexican village, where we met a Site Supervisor who was to take us on a Lantern Light Tour of Jaws Lake. At the time of booking the VIP Halloween Horror Night Tour, I didn't know what to expect, as hardly any details were provided (I just knew I wanted to go on it with Nest regardless) - as a result, I was so excited at this revelation - it was great to be getting off and being able to walk in an area of the backlot we hadn't walked in before, especially at night. Immediately after my initial excitement, followed a wave of trepidation as I reminded myself we were right in the middle of a Halloween Horror Night, and that monsters may be waiting to jump out at us at any moment, especially as we were now on foot.
Steeling myself for any scare possibility that came to mind, I gingerly made my way forward in the darkness attached to Nest's arm, as the only light we had was from the lantern held by the Site Supervisor. Gravel crunching underfoot, I strained to see monster movement through the darkness, while simultaneously listening to tales of woe from the Site Supervisor up ahead. I almost fell over myself to get away from the side of the path I was on, when the Site Supervisor swung his lantern to illuminate a hole in the side of a dilapidated building, saying that a crazy racoon resided there I half expected one to come shooting out on cue, as did most of the tour group when they joined me on the right-hand side of the path.
Hoping the racoon wouldn't come racing up behind us, foaming at the mouth from rabies, we continued on our walk to Jaws Lake. I was massively excited to suddenly find myself in the Main Street of Cabot Cove, and tried to take a quick photo to preserve the moment, but it unfortunately didn't turn out due to lack of light (coupled with my inability to use the camera on anything but the automatic setting), and there wasn't any time to make it work. My ability to hold the camera still soon disappeared anyway, when the Site Supervisor began regularly stopping to check the insides of buildings to make sure everything was ok.
While you can't see much, Nest's shot of Cabot Cove's Main Street turned out much better than mine!
Stopping by the boardwalk at Jaws Lake, the Site Supervisor told us a story about how a woman diver passed away during the filming of Jaws, by getting pinned under some equipment right at the spot we were standing over. All her boyfriend, who also worked on set, could find of her, was her locket left abandoned on the boardwalk above where the accident occurred. As he was telling us this story, there were bubbles rising from the bottom of the lake, as if her spirit was still under there. I jumped out of my skin from a sudden clattering sound occurring right behind me , which turned out to be Nest knocking over the lantern from fright at the sudden appearance of the bubbles in the lake
As we walked passed the Lighthouse Motel, I thought I saw someone run from one room to another from out the corner of my eye When I turned to look properly, all I could see was a door swinging slightly And on this scare, the Site Supervisor informed us that he wasn't going any further, and that we were on our own to walk up the path lit only by moonlight, to our awaiting tram. My blood pressure at an all time high (why did the Site Supervisor had to go and mention mountain lions for?! ), we made it to the tram without incident.
The tram drove a short distance, dropping us off at the beginning of the Terror Tram trail featuring zombies from the Walking Dead TV series. There was no rush at all to get off the tram, as waiting for us, we could see half-a-dozen blood-spattered chainsaw-wielding policemen turned zombies. There was absolutely no way of avoiding them, so you had to literally run through them, screaming, just to get it over and done with
Expressions of the crowd just as you've passed the police zombies
The beginning of the Terror Tram trail was at Whoville - now there's a culture clash if I ever saw one, but I suppose no place on earth is safe once the zombie apocalypse arrives Once safely past the policemen, we came to a big white van with corpses hanging out the windows. Out the front, was a victim trying to escape the clutches of a walker. Occasionally the victim would reach out lighting fast to people who walked by that little bit too closely, trying to grab them, giving them a good scare in the process.
Immediately around the corner from Whoville, was the Bates Motel. There were corpses everywhere you looked, with walkers storming up and down the patios, and in and out of the hotel rooms. Occasionally they would venture into the crowds, sending people scattering for any semblance of safety, generally none of which was to be found - you just had to keep on running until they gave up! (And since when has a zombie ever given up?!) Other times, they would join the crowds without being noticed, and it wasn't until someone looked at them twice, or became separated from the main part of the crowd, did the zombie choose to act.
If you were lucky enough to survive the Bates Motel without being 'turned', you then had to walk up a hill along a remote trail lined with bushes on both sides. It was so awesome walking this part of the backlot at night, with nothing but moonlight to guide us. It was also awesome how off in the distance up ahead of us, we could hear the roar of zombies immediately followed by people screaming. It really added to the atmosphere of the event. The weather this night couldn't have been more perfect either - it was really hot, despite the late hour, and the moon was full.
The trail we were walking along, eventually opened up to reveal a small camping ground inhabited by walkers preoccupied with feeding at the particular time Nest and I walked through, thank goodness. Having said that though, occasionally walkers would jump out from the bushes lining the trail when you would least expect it, just like I was worried would happen! Other times when you walked by certain sections of bush, you could hear growling coming from them. Whether it was just sound effects on that occasion, or an actual walker, we didn't hang around to find out.
Eventually, the Psycho house came into view. It was lit up a bright light blue, and looked so awesome. There was an optional trail leading up to it, which you could walk if you wanted your photo taken in front of the house. As I've always wanted the opportunity to visit the Psycho house, we took this opportunity without hesitating. We were a little nervous on realising we had to interact with Norman Bates himself, but we dealt with it. Norman was surprisingly easy to talk to, and he tried convincing us to stay at the hotel, but I said that we already had accommodation sorted for the night. He said all the rooms were vacant and it wouldn't be a problem, to which I should've said, "I don't think your mother would like guests in the house", but I didn't think of that until we left. (You could see her looking down disapprovingly from a rocking chair at an upstairs window.) We had our photo taken with him, but as we were standing on the steps, and the photo was taken from below, it looks as if Nest and I are deliberately seeing how far we could stick our tummies out, so that's one photo I'm very reluctant to share with anyone
We rejoined the Walking Dead trail after our run-in with the infamous Norman Bates, and soon found ourselves in the middle of the larger than life War of the Worlds set, which was awesome after uncountable times of just having driven past it. The set was scattered with corpses throughout, including in parts of the wrecked jumbo jet. We passed cages containing walkers trying to get out, and an uninfected girl trying to keep one in as it had no lock on it. And of course, countless zombies waited to surprise us from behind trees and corners.
All of a sudden, we emerged from this war zone into the safety of the tram departure area. Thankfully, all the blood-spattered chainsaw-wielding policemen turned zombies were down at the tram arrival area, allowing us to catch our breath and relax. Back on board the VIP tram, we were very surprised to be informed that the VIP tour was over , and that we were now being driven back to the park drop-off area, where we'd be left to our own devices for the rest of the night. We had been expecting a lot more for the price paid, especially when you compare it to the daytime VIP Tour, which goes for at least five hours. As we drove along to the park drop-off area, we were shown a fifteen minute trailer for the upcoming third season of the Walking Dead. Once we had reached our destination, those of us who wanted to stay on and watch the rest of the trailer, could, but eventually another staff member came and told us we had to get off.
As we slowly made our way through the overly crowded tram queuing area and towards the escalators which would take us back up to the park, a loud metal bashing sound unexpectedly erupted to our right, immediately followed by a walker crazily spinning himself into the queue of us walking by! The part of the crowd this effected, surged somewhat, but didn't disseminate, as there was simply nowhere to go - all you could do was scream and wiggle as he ploughed his way through the terrified crowd! It was totally unexpected to have this scare occur in the middle of the exit queue, so ten out of ten for the Universal staff member who came up with that idea!
Our goal on leaving the Terror Tram, was to go to the VIP Lounge for dinner. Once again, we had to ask for directions, as there wasn't enough light to successfully read the map by, and all the crowds and props made the park setout different to what we were used to, especially as it was dark. The staff member we asked, didn't seem all that sure either, though tried to be as helpful as he could. Eventually, he gave us the landmark closest to the VIP Lounge, which was the entrance to the Alice Cooper maze. We knew the location as we could see it from our hotel room, so off we went, now confident in the direction we were taking.
Our confidence diminished somewhat, on realising to get to the VIP Lounge, we first had to make our way through the Witches scarezone It was so thick with fog, you could barely see a few steps in front of you. It was easy, however, to see the witches as they suddenly appeared in front of you, furiously shaking a tambourine and simultaneously causing your heart to suddenly feel as if it was in your mouth from the shock!
We were excited on arriving at the VIP Lounge, to discover that it was the fantastic Jardin de Paris, where we had dined at back in 2010 during our daytime VIP Tour. In case there was another witch or some other monster of sorts on the welcoming committee, we gingerly made our way through the black curtained doorway, but instead, were greeted by a fantastic buffet. The buffet stretched right to the entrance of the dining room, which had been decorated with red fairly lights lining the ceiling, and white chunky candles adorning the tables. Plates loaded (mine not so much as usual, as I had pretty much lost my appetite from all the scares and excitement of the night), we made our way into the dimly lit dining room, and found a vacant table in the corner to sit at.
Before I made a start on my meal, I went to get us some drinks. The line was so long and not moving all that quickly, which I found frustrating. I had originally been planning to get us some refreshing Sprite, but on hearing a staff member say if we were only after water, that we could leave the line and get it from him straight away, I took that option instead. It was a tad disappointing, but I was worried if I had taken any longer, Nest would've been done with eating by the time I got back, where-as I had yet to start.
Back at the dining table, I picked my way through some corn dog nuggets (one of my favourite American specialties that we don't have in Australia), a variety of cubed cheeses, a seasoned cob of corn, and some sliced honeydew melon. I had gotten a small dinner roll with roast beef also, but couldn't fit that in. Nest got his value for money, and feasted on a small dinner roll with roast beef, a seasoned cob of corn, a variety of cubed cheeses, fried chicken tenders, cheese filled pasta in tomato sauce, fries, and macaroni cheese with chicken. There was so much yummy food to choose from, and I'm glad Nest had the kind of appetite to make the most of it ... with the exception of dessert. He had eaten so many mains, that he suddenly found himself with no room for dessert
During dinner, we witnessed a guy at the table next to us, return from the buffet with a mountain of brownies. When his friends looked at him questionably, he said, "$20 down, $120 to go", which we took to mean he mustn't have had a high opinion of the VIP Tour either, and was determined to get his monies worth some other way.
After dinner, it was time for some major excitement in the form of the five horror mazes - I seriously couldn't wait! On the weeks leading up to the trip, I had been watching the teaser videos slowly released by Universal, and still being non-the-wiser afterwards, only just more excited, as I had never experienced anything like this before. Soon, all my questions would be answered, my curiosity satisfied and myself most likely scared half to death!
The first maze we experienced, was Alice Cooper Goes to Hell (3D), as it was the nearest. It was when we entered the queue through our special 'A' line, and got to walk all the way to the maze's entrance without stopping or having to wait, all the while very conscious of the extremely long 'normal' queue line next to us, stretching way back and seemingly not moving at all, did we begin to appreciate what our VIP passes could do for us, and the time and angst they'd save us when it came to experiencing the mazes. By the end of the night, I wouldn't hesitate at all in saying they were well worth the money I paid for them.
Before entering the maze, we were given 3D glasses, which were black with red blood spatter, to wear inside. Just in front of the maze's entrance, was a booth manned by a skeleton dressed as Alice Cooper. Above the maze's entrance itself, was a crude representation of the devil. As you passed through his mouth, you found yourself in the narrow corridors of hell. They were fluorescent orange (presumably to represent fire), and were lined with framed 3D artwork surely only the artist himself could appreciate.
The entrance hallways of hell lead us to a room marked purgatory. Purgatory in this instance, was a doctor's waiting room full of people who had been waiting so long, they had turned into skeletons. Having waited for what seemed like forever in doctor's and hospital waiting rooms myself, I could appreciated this interpretation. I have a faint recollection from the teaser video, of the designers (which included Alice Cooper himself) laughing about this idea.
This maze was based on the seven deadly sins of gluttony, wrath, pride, sloth, lust, envy and vanity, with rooms designed to reflect each one, and all featuring an Alice Cooper look-alike, who interacted with the actors in the rooms, while still finding time to occasionally jump out and scare the people walking through. Rooms that stuck in my mind the most, were:
· Gluttony: This room looked as if it belonged to a hoarder, as it was packed floor to ceiling with belongings, such as Christmas decorations and multiple copies of the same panda soft toys, for example. At the other end of the room, was a morbidly obese person (he reminded me of Jabba the Hutt) sitting at a table eating a bigger portion of spaghetti bolognaise than I've ever dared to tackle, despite loving the stuff.
· Lust: Not surprisingly, this smaller room featured a dancer wearing nothing much, who tried to get the attention of virtually each male who passed through.
· Vanity: This was illustrated by a woman getting plastic surgery by Dr Cooper. I don't think the surgery was going too well, judging from the patient's reactions mid-procedure.
I also remember a nursery featuring baby demons in cradles, mobiles hanging from the ceiling overhead, and shelves of toys, but I can't place it with any of the seven deadly sins. Another room had a short forest of hands, but I'm hard pressed to match that with any of the themed rooms we walked through, either. Dang my inability to keep my journal up-to-date at this early part of the trip!
Hell wasn't the firey inferno we were expecting - it was a frozen winter wonderland (without the wonder), with people frozen solid to the walls of ice. I walked passed one who looked so unreal, that my curiosity almost made me prod him. Thank goodness I didn't, as after we had passed him, he jumped out at the people behind us! Again, I was so relieved I hadn't touched him, but still felt embarrassed none-the-less, as I had looked really closely at his face, and he hadn't flinched an inch!
In no way was this maze the scariest of the night like the staff member at the VIP entrance had had us believe - it was more a bit of harmless fun, probably most appreciated by teenagers. I personally got a few starts from Alice look-alikes occasionally jumping out at me, but at no time did I experience a feeling of dread like I was about to experience in some of the other mazes. Not even the 3D effects were all that obvious or flinch-inducing. The glasses just helped you view the effects (quite often painted with fluorescent paint) more clearly (I checked this by taking them off for a few seconds at one point.)
From there, we caught the starway to the Lower Lot. If we thought it was crowded during the day, then we had another thing coming this evening! It was absolute madness in that the escalators were packed to capacity - we had never seen anything like it at Universal! Once we got off the starway once in the Lower Lot, we could hardly move, as it was absolutely packed down there as well. Personal space a thing of the past, we squeezed our way over to a refreshment stand to grab a blue Powerade each, before squeezing our way over to the Texas Chainsaw maze.
Having seen all the Texas Chainsaw movies, I was really curious about experiencing the maze. I was also the most apprehensive about this maze, as I had more than just an idea of what to expect. Our 'A' line took us up the stairs to the left of the Jurassic Park store, past the Tree Top Cafe (which we had never seen before this night!), and along a really long staff only path, until soon, the facade of the Hewitt family farmhouse came into view. On entering, I was simultaneously impressed and in disbelief when the sight that met my eyes, was the sight that met my eyes on watching the original movie. Straight ahead and to the right, was the brown staircase leading upstairs, and to the left of that, was the red entrance featuring animal skulls, to Leatherface's 'work' (ahem) room. To hurry people along, to our immediate right, a blinding floodlight would suddenly glare on, and Leatherface would come menacingly charging out from a previously darkened sheeted hidey hole, chainsaw revving, sending us shooting to our immediate left. (Another factor hurrying us along, was the distinct odour of poop.)
We found ourselves in the well-known dining room scene next, with Grandad sitting at the end of the table near the door we came in. From the movies, I knew to give him a wide berth, pulling Nest with me, but other people were not as knowledgeable and got swiped at. Up the other end of the table, was a new 'guest' tied to a chair, and being taunted by Leatherface's brother. The table itself, was littered with bones, and there was a crude lampshade made up from the skin of two faces. It was while we were half-way up the table, that we felt more floodlights glare on behind us, followed by the sound of a running chainsaw. And what do we do? Instead of running directly out of the room without stopping to look, we turn around first (as if we didn't know what was going on!!), and saw Leatherface larger than life, heading straight for us in his blood-stained butcher's apron, chainsaw held high.
Naturally, one of the rooms we went through, was Leatherface's work room. He was actually working on a 'task' with his trusty chainsaw as we shot through as fast as the line ahead would let us, with water squirting out of the wounds to represent blood spatter. A row of meat hooks was on the back wall, and a waist high freezer was in the corner with a previous assignment sticking out of it.
The doorway of each room we went through, was shielded with objects such as heavy strips of carpet, faux pelts, huge cuts of meat covered in a gross sticky substance to represent blood, so we couldn't get advanced warning of what was in the next room and clog up the doorway thinking of ways to avoid what was ahead. Leatherface didn't alway appear in every single room - that would be too predictable. On repeat visits, he was always appearing in different places to keep you on your toes.
At one stage, we found ourselves exiting the house out the back, and approaching a gas station store, also family-owned, depending on which movie version you look at. Nest said he saw a man standing in the shadows to the side, holding a shovel. I can't recall what happened after entering the gas station store - the man with the shovel must've got me, as I didn't see him like Nest did, to avoid him in the first place The last thing I do remember, was thinking how similar the gas station store looked to the movie, appreciating the extra creepy feel about it due to the night atmosphere and dim lighting, and then suddenly remembering to keep my wits about me, in case the crazy lady owner, bent sheriff, or Leatherface himself was inside.
We went to the Silent Hill maze next, seeing as it was down in the Lower Lot also. Despite the small size of the Lower Lot, we couldn't find the queue for Silent Hill, and ended up having to ask - it was a sharp left as you got off the starway ... I never knew there was space back there. I suppose that's because it's blocked off during normal hours. Anyway, I didn't know what to expect from Silent Hill, as I hadn't previously seen the movie (I saw it once back from our trip after loving the maze, and it's absolutely awesome ... that Sean Bean is in it, just happens to be a bonus ) Ever since arriving down in the Lower Lot, there was this constant evacuation siren going on and off. We didn't realise at the time, that it was in relation to Silent Hill, and that it meant that the darkness (containing monsters of all sorts) was approaching, and to hide ... preferably in a church, as nowhere else was safe. Also, a Silent Hill logo light swirled over the building housing the drop to Jurassic Park River Adventure.
Like with Texas Chainsaw, the Silent Hill queue was massive, and remained that way for the entire night. Going by the queue time boards, they were the most popular mazes, and wait times stretched to over two hours each. The mazes were so awesome that they were worth waiting that long to experience, but at the same time, it must've been really hard for the people without access to the 'A' line. At least there was a portable snack cart at the halfway mark, where people were able to buy themselves refreshments and light-up souvenirs to help pass the time.
It was a long walk to the maze entrance, but at least it was a long continuous walk When we were waiting a few seconds for our VIP pass barcodes to be entered into the handheld checking thing, a massive feeling of foreboding came over me. The entrance to the maze was inky black and crowded with fragrant pine trees and a weathered ''Welcome to Silent Hill" sign. Also, this was where the evacuation siren was the loudest.
Forcing myself to go through the entrance against my better judgement, I found myself on a narrow path in-between mesh fences and surrounded by smokey darkness, my only comfort being that at least I was behind Nest. To our right, an armless human figure totally cocooned in bandages, somehow bumbled along behind the fence in the same direction we were travelling. He was just one solid shape, and reminded me of a vertical caterpillar?! Universal's version was creepy, but when I watched the movie, their version was freaky, as they somehow still managed to make the character threatening, even though he had nothing to 'get' you with.
This maze had really high ceilings, and we were soon to find out why - tall characters on stilts, known as Red Pyramid (due to their headwear), would appear from seemingly out of nowhere in blinding flashes of light and surrounded by fog, swinging cinderblock clubs They had very muscular torsos, and apart from their pyramid headwear, wore nothing but a long apron like garment. It certainly was a startling sight to behold!
We walked through a vacant classroom featuring all but one student, and then had the unfortunate experience of walking through the school bathroom. It was revoltingly filthy, and smelt like it had never been cleaned. In one of the stalls was a character I later learned to be the janitor. From watching the movie, I learnt that when he came to life at the onset of the darkness, he would crawl around the bathroom, spreading the walls with poop, hence why it smelt so revolting in there.
Another room we had to walk through, was really small and crowded with undead nurses holding knives. Like in the movie, you had to carefully walk through the crowd of them without causing a disturbance of any kind, otherwise they would come to life in frightening halting movements, waving their knives about. As we weren't in the actual movie, different rules applied, and more often than not, at least one of them would come to life and almost make you wet yourself from fright! I don't know what it was about them, but I found them to be quite frightening - perhaps it was the sheer number of them in such a confined space. From repeat visits, if you somehow managed to make it through this room without being scared half to death, a nurse in a fly-screen caged section of the room, would rush rabidly at you. She didn't have a bandaged face like the others, and you could see that her mouth and nose area had been rotted away. This particular nurse made me jump out of my skin during both visits that night!
Other characters we had to avoid during our visit to Silent Hill, were the gas-masked soldiers also wearing helmets, goggles and heavy coats - they had a real intenseness to them, a characteristic made even more apparent in the movie. It was a relief to find ourselves in a pine forest at the end of such an intense visit - human sized rabbits sat as still as statues on benches, and there was an overwhelming smell of sweet candy - such a welcoming odour after the disgustingness of the bathroom! I found out a split second later that the rabbits were anything but innocent, when one of them shot up and came hopping towards a person ahead of us in the line. I then noticed that the rabbits had bloodstains on their fur ... or perhaps they had just over-indulged in red cordial? On watching the movie, I never did find out the relevance of the rabbits. Perhaps the answer is in one of the three computer games?
After the intenseness of the last two mazes, Nest and I put our belongings in a locker, and went and hit the rides of the Lower Lot, wondering if any of them somehow had things added to them for the Halloween Horror Nights, especially as they had closed half-an-hour early than the regular park time. Using our cut to the front lines, first we rode Revenge of the Mummy, followed by Transformers, but no little extras had been added. We came to the conclusion that the Lower Lot had closed half an hour early, to prepare the maze queuing areas.
Before going on Jurassic Park River Adventure, we stopped off at the store to get a yellow poncho for Nest so he wouldn't get soaked too badly and catch a cold. The ride was awesome at night, especially with the fog effects at the beginning (they're always there, even during the daytime, but they're more effective at night.) Everything appeared the same as we sailed along, until we were hoisted up the ramp into the water processing plant towards the end. Inside, there were strobe lights flashing, making the dinosaurs' movements more apparent, and Welcome to the Jungle by Guns 'N Roses was playing sooooooo loudly, it was painful. Having said that though, these two extras were totally unexpected and made the ride all the more awesome, and of course the drop at the end was fantastic, with the strobe lights making the t-rex look as if he was getting closer to us than he actually was. Much to Nest's relief, he only got a little wet due to sitting at the back, so we went on it again ... and this time got absolutely soaked, due to sitting at the front. Instead of buying a souvenir photo at the end, we bought a souvenir towel, so that we could continue on enjoying all that the Halloween Horror Night had to offer - we still had three more mazes in the Upper Lot to experience. Before we ventured back up to the Upper Lot, we revisited the Texas Chainsaw and Silent Hill mazes first to scare ourselves silly all over again.
Back in the Upper Lot, we went on the Simpson's Ride (no scary Halloween extras), then got some refreshments. Nest opted for a chocolate covered vanilla Hagen Daaz ice cream, and I got a frozen lemonade cup. Refreshments in hand, we then set off in search of the remaining mazes we had yet to experience. La Llorona was the first maze we came across, and it used the Shrek 3D queuing system as its queuing area (Shrek 3D was closed that night for this reason.) The staff member I had been talking to earlier that evening, was totally right in that this maze was the creepiest of the lot ... creepy, weird, and verging on sick - not the kind of horror I find entertaining.
If you can't relax on exiting a maze, then where can you relax? I resumed eating my frozen lemonade cup on exiting La Llarona, when a scary monster jumped out at me from behind the covered black fences to my right, making a growling noise! I couldn't tell you what kind of monster it was though, as I was genuinely started and too busy screaming while running after Nest, to take any notice. Nest walks faster than me cos he's taller, and there was such a shocked look on his face when he turned around on hearing me scream
We spent ages looking for the Walking Dead maze, during which time Nest got another blue Powerade, and I got a bottle of water. We weren't leaving the park until we found it, as it was one of the headliners we were looking forward to. We came across it eventually, and entered through the 'A' line, which we were particularly grateful for this time, as there was a scary clown terrorising the people in the normal line.
Directly outside the entrance to the maze, was the mesh fenced off area of the hospital's loading dock. Covering the ground, were piles of countless filled body bags and excess bodies wrapped in blood-stained white sheets. If you listened carefully, you could hear the buzz of blowflies. As we walked the perimeter of the fence, we came to an opening, where there was an abandoned ambulance. Sitting in the back, was a walker gnawing on a meal. When he spotted us walking by, he sprang up and ventured near, growling threateningly and bashing some drums of fuel. It was as if he was guarding his territory (something I've never known a zombie to do before), and he seemed to give up and return to his meal once he realised we weren't interested in taking it from him.
We entered the hospital and walked down its littered corridors, with wires hanging down from the ceiling (how do ceilings in horror movies always end up in this state?! I know on this occasion, it was probably from the Army's gunfire, who were sent to clear out the place at the beginning of the catastrophe.) A pair of double doors at the end were locked shut with chains, but was heaving under the pressure of zombies trying to get through from the other side, their fingers wriggling desperately through the gap down the centre. Luckily, we didn't need to go that way, and were able to turn right instead. We found ourselves on an empty city street, abandoned excepted for a tank and a family sedan that had crashed nearby, walkers gathering around these obstacles. A lone walker suddenly appeared on the walkway nearby, sending us rushing more than we already were, passed a sign that said, "Welcome to Atlanta", and into a house were you would presume to find a reprieve. Wrong! There was one survivor inside, but he seems to be living on borrowed time, as a walker shot out from a room opposite and headed straight in his direction - lets just say us visitors weren't the only ones screaming at that moment!
Running out the backdoor, we found ourselves on the edge of a dark foreboding forest. Those of you who have seen the show, know what happens in the forest, hence why I was extremely on edge (being in the same small room as a hungry zombie, hadn't helped matters, either.) I'm pretty sure my eyes were opened wider than usual in an attempt to see any oncoming threats better, but that didn't help - I may as well as have had my eyes closed for that matter, as I couldn't miraculously seen any better in the complete darkness than usual. Naturally, tiny bits of the forest were slightly aglow, so that you couldn't help but notice certain things, such as the makeshift tin can alarm, which just happened to go off as I looked at it, signalling that walkers were in the vicinity - just great. Further on, were gnawed on remains, and a walker who had hung himself in a tree before turning, and was flapping about in desperation, trying to get down and feed (those of you adept in zombie survival guidelines, know that you can't kill a zombie by simply hanging him.) We came across the super gross fat well-dwelling zombie, lying on the ground groaning and wiggling about. As we were at the well by that stage, meant that the barn couldn't be too far away. On seeing what was inside, how on earth were we meant to escape through it unscathed, unless we got down and crawled on our hands and knees (which I don't think would've been appreciated, as it would've slowed down the people behind us who were in a hurry to escape also.) The part we had to walk down was quite narrow, making it impossible to make it by the stalls of hungry zombies without being got at.
Even though I knew it was all pretend, it was quite a relief to make it out of there. It wasn't until we got out, did I realise I hadn't noticed the shopping centre scene. On having watched the teaser videos released by Universal, I was excited to see that this scene had been planned for inclusion in the maze. I was confused at this point - surely we couldn't have been in such a hurry, to have totally not noticed it. On saying this to Nest, we immediately went in for round two, determined to keep a better eye out. This second visit revealed for certain, that the maze featured no shopping centre, which I was a little disappointed in. Perhaps the video I had seen, was for the Universal Orlando version? I just thought they both would've been the same, that's all. Having said that, I still enjoyed the Walking Dead maze, and liked it how we were able to recognise landmark scenes from the TV series.
The last maze we were to experience that night, was the Universal Monsters Re-Mixed. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out to be just the normal House of Horrors with a real DJ inside Dr Frankenstein's lab, mixing up club music (apologies for my lame description - I used to know the correct terminology, but it escapes me now.) This maze wasn't as terrifying as the headliner ones - it was more a lot of fun, but there were still many frights to be had.
At the entrance to the maze, were posters and props from select horror movies produced by Universal Studios. As we entered the maze itself, my arms started flailing about my head, as I could feel something crawling over it. Nest was experiencing the same thing, and it turned out to be single lengths of long invisible thread hanging down here and there where they knew people would walk into it eventually (if they had had a whole curtain up, it would've been obvious, therefore loosing the creepy effect.)
Along our travels, we went through a hall of mirrors, with one of the mirrors being a hidden door where a monster jumps out from. Then there's the walkway going through a rotating tube painted with flaming monsters, which eventually makes you feel as if you're the one spinning around, and not the walls themselves. It's not until you get to the other side after having leant heavily on the guide rail so you don't physically fall over, as that's how strong the illusion is, do your eyes finally adjust back to that of a sober person, and have you see that it's actually the walls, and not you, who are spinning.
Further on, we walked over a raised platform which looks over Dr Frankenstein's laboratory below. We could see all the areas to avoid, which then followed with the realisation that there was no way of avoiding them after all. We saw the DJ in his little enclosed area, with Frankenstein's monster next to him. The bride of Frankenstein was nearby, dancing in a caged platform. When we were in the lab ourselves, Frankenstein reached through the bars of the DJs area, trying to grab people as they walked by. There were other lesser-known monsters getting about, terrorising people, and other female monsters dancing and enjoying the music.
The graveyard is one area in this House of Horrors that I'm always on fuller alert than usual, as I'll never forget the time I was shocked to the core on being jumped at by a werewolf who had been lying in wait behind a tombstone, on my first visit way back in 2007, as being attacked by a dog is one of my all time fears, after an incident when I was a little girl. I believe the last room we walked through, was the toy room prominently featuring a variety of Chucky toys. There is also a small statured person dressed up as a lifelike Chucky doll featured in the movie series, who has began to take me unawares starting from my visits back in 2010. (I can't remember him being there in 2007.) I knew he had to be there this time, but he still gave me a start!
Like with La Llarona, I mistakenly thought I'd be finally able to relax on exiting the House of Horrors, but had forgotten that it led directly out into the Clownz scarezone, and was immediately chased by a chainsaw-wielding clown! It was almost 2am by that stage, which was when the Halloween Horror Night ended, so we decided to return to the hotel. Once back in our room, Nest began to set his camera up to take photos of the park entrance lit up with orange and green lights for Halloween, but just as he was getting the lens focused, they were turned off! We were both so disappointed, and made a point of planning to photograph them the following evening. He still took some shots anyway, seeing as he had gone to the trouble of setting up. It was funny how the strobe lights outside Alice Cooper's maze were still going though - I suppose they had to stay open in that instance, until all the people who had been queuing for hours, had made their way through the maze.
We were massively tired by this stage, our feet aching from having walked so much, and not all that hungry, so we called it a night without bothering to order room service I was so happy on finally having experienced a Universal Studios Halloween Horror Night - we had had such an awesome time, and found it to be so worthwhile. Even though there wasn't much extra to the VIP tour, the price we paid ended up being worth it in the end, as we got to use the express lines to all the attractions as many times as we wanted. When the queues for the mazes in particular, were over two hours each, it was totally worth it! Halloween is now competing with Christmas, as my favourite time of year to visit the States!
Next entry: 'Front of Line' Halloween Horror Night
Little Brother & Big Sister
Cruising the Pacific Coast on the Disney Wonder
Last edited by Big Sister; 01-01-2013 at 08:55 PM..
Yay, so glad I found this! I don't know how I missed that you had started writing this. Great report so far. I can tell by what you've shown that I would NOT want to go to Universal Halloween Horror Night (or whatever it's called). MNSSHP is more my speed.
BTW, I'm not sure if you ever found the Twinkies that you were looking for, but sadly, since then, the manufacturer has gone out of business .
Yay, so glad I found this! I don't know how I missed that you had started writing this. Great report so far.
BTW, I'm not sure if you ever found the Twinkies that you were looking for, but sadly, since then, the manufacturer has gone out of business .
Yes, we found the Twinkies in a 7-Eleven while looking for a particular museum while in San Francisco. Both Nest and I were very sad to hear the manufacturer has gone out of business. Good job we bought all the store had in stock, while we had the opportunity then Looks like we'll have to find ourselves another favourite American snack not available in Australia. Any suggestions?
Little Brother & Big Sister
Cruising the Pacific Coast on the Disney Wonder
Last edited by Big Sister; 01-07-2013 at 08:09 PM..