This week, Photos in Wonderland is zipping down to Studio City, CA, for a look around Universal Studios Hollywood. I personally love this park (oddly laid out though it may be) and can find just as much enjoyment from seeking out the details and ambiance as at Disneyland. So let’s take a look around, shall we? There are many quirky details and historical tidbits to be found. Here are some of my favorite moments.

This looks like a relaxing spot, doesn’t it? I wonder why there is a shark fin on that billboard, though. Odd.

Oh, that might explain it. Lucky they caught that big shark before we head out on open water! For some reason, tourists were lining up to stick their heads inside this nasty creature. Can’t imagine why: the smell would be horrible.

One area Universal definitely had Disneyland beat at current time was attraction-specific merchandise items. Disney really does need to step up their game and offer more items designed for more than just children across all price ranges.

Got a hankering for giant turkey legs or slabs of ribs? The Flintstones food stand will fill all hunger levels, even prehistoric ones.

A small street of Western facades lies on the upper lot, but no sign of the now-replaced Western Stunt Show I remember from visits in the 80’s/early 90’s.

The Court of Miracles set, where several Universal Monster movies were filmed over the years.

Inside the Universal history museum (lower level near Transformers), I came across this display from one of my favorite films of recent release: the delightfully dark and fun Coraline.

Not too far away, a famous filmmaker had left his mark outside one of the park’s signature attractions, and one well worth riding for me regardless of the obligatory soaking received at the end.

Lots of ‘delightful’ options over at this (thankfully fake) Shrek-themed food stand. Donkey holds meet-and-greets from the service window throughout the day, though I’m a little sad (only a little) that I can’t order an Au Grotten serving of bugs alongside a refreshing grog enhanced with swamp water.

Over at Krustyland/the new SImpsons ride experience, a lot of clever sideshow and amusement park posters line the waiting area. I do miss the Institute of Future Technology, but a rather brilliant animated pre-show featuring the one and only Doc. Brown aptly pays tribute to what was once on this location.

This poster homage to one of my favorite Universal films can be found in the European styled backlot section near the Terminator 3D theater.

Little gags abound at Jurassic Park. Now, come on guys, popcorn prices aren’t that high. No need to fight over it.

A re-creation of a scene from James Whale’s classic Bride of Frankenstein, found inside the Universal House of Horrors walk-through. Not quite Horror Nights level goodness, but whets the appetite for any HHN fan visiting at least a little.

And last but not least, something every visitor should watch before leaving the park: Waterworld. The movie on which it was based may still be resoundingly awful and dull, but the show is always a blast to watch and a massive crowd-favorite. Hope you like getting wet as much as the cast does!
Thanks for spending some time with us here at Photos in Wonderland, these were some of my favorite aspects of Universal Hollywood, what are yours?!

  • jcruise86

    THANK YOU for that excellent photo essay, Rustin Peece!

    If any of you are taking a year or two off from Disneyland,
    I’d recommend getting Universal Hollywood passes for Costco (They were recently 5 visits for $59, and may only be used by one person.) Although two visits a year would be more than enough for me, we do have a lot of fun here. The food in this park is disappointing, so I recommend walking out of the park to the adjacent City Walk shopping dining area for lunch and dinner. My favorite restaurant there: Karl Strauss.

    We can’t wait for the Harry Potter area, but I wish they’d build it more quickly and try to surpass the land in Orlando.

    • Timekeeper

      Well, at my most recent visit, I had dinner at Mel’s Drive In and I ordered the Grill Chicken sandwich with fries and a chocolate shake. The sandwich was ok, but the fries were actually good, especially with Ranch sauce. The chocolate shake was nothing to scream about; but two other people in my family ordered the ‘Optimus Prime’ Rib Burger and they actually enjoyed it, and they also enjoyed the “Browkie”, a chocolate brownie with a chocolate chip center and I had a little bit and that actually was better than the chocolate shake I had.


  • Algernon

    Universal Studios is great. My favorite spot is the lower lot by the Jurassic Park ride, with the big waterfall and the music. Waterfalls are natural negative ion generators. They make people feel good.

    • jcruise86

      It’s not bad looking area, but do you REALLY like the music? It’s a short loop of the Jurassic Park theme for people getting off the ride played too loudly, over and over, in my opinion. Maybe they’ve improved it.

  • Eagleman

    THANK YOU….I enjoy Photos In Wonderland… Universal Studios !

  • Crazee4mm

    Any word on when we can start seeing some Harry Potter movement? Have any dates (or timelines) been mentioned? Love going to USH but it really does not hold crowds well. It can seem awfully crowded BUT in the off-season it is very intimate and exciting. I have been going almost weekly just so that I can ride Transformers a few times (single rider) before venturing off to the Universal Citywalk Cinemas a couple of hours later. Still, it’s a great park that needs a larger footprint to absorb the crowds. A lot of Universal employees told me that the reason the crowds have exploded this summer (over previous summers, Transformers not withstanding) is that Disneyland is now too expensive and many of the disinfranchised “guests” are now venturing off to parks other than Disney. I spoke with a Guest Relations employee at Knott’s and she tells me the exact same thing. Disney’s prices were just too high to take the family anymore.

  • MickeyMaxx

    Thank you, Rustin! I’m so enjoying your photo features!

  • BogLurch

    I’m a recent defector from the Disney AP program and am loving the switch so far. My memories of USH previously are almost entirely pre-‘ride expansion’, before BTTF etc. and the difference is between a ‘studio’ trying to find an identity and a theme park (with studio attached) currently coming into it’s own.

    • Just wait. Once Harry Potter opens, it will be a whole new theme park world in Southern California.