On arrival at the closest car park to the entrance of the park, Caroline’s car was taken for valet parking − included in the price − and within seconds she was making her way towards the main gate. A VIP Experience Host was ready to whisk her through to the dedicated check-in area − similar to checking in at a hotel − before she enjoyed light snacks and drinks for breakfast, then meeting her Guides for the day.
She boarded one of the park’s private trolleys that seats up to a maximum of between 15 and 24 people, so is much smaller than those used for the standard tours and the seating arrangement allows for great views no matter where you are. She took a photo of the world-famous ‘spinning globe’, which is almost obligatory and listened to the entertaining commentary from the Guides who, she says, clearly love their jobs − they have endless knowledge of all of the sets and are brimming with fun facts.
As you tour the movie sets you see things like the original ‘Bates Motel’ and being on the VIP Experience means that you can step off the trolley to have your picture taken with the famous backdrop. As Caroline visited during October she also saw the Halloween Horror Nights being set up, so there were some friendly zombies around who were clearly enjoying their stay! You’ll also enjoy a drive along Wisteria Lane, an address made famous by the ‘Desperate Housewives’ and Caroline says that it was interesting to hear about the other shows that have been filmed there that she didn’t know about.
There are so many interesting things to see along the way including famous vehicles such as the ‘Fast & Furious’ cars which was a real treat for Caroline. (Coming summer 2015, hold on tight for the Studio Tour’s all-new grand finale, 'Fast& Furious–Supercharged!' Ride along with the all-star cast from the hit movies on a high-speed chase that exceeds 120 miles per hour and catapults you into the high-stakes underworld of fast cars and international crime cartels.) You can even get involved in experiences including a flood or an earthquake where you can discover how the magic of the movies is created.
One of the main differences between the VIP Experience and the standard tour is that you are granted access to the prop warehouse − the biggest in the world − where you will soon recognise things such as the horse statues from the ‘Mummy Returns’ film and one very famous Extra Terrestrial. Some props also had tickets on to reserve them for well-known shows and forthcoming films. Caroline found herself getting more and more excited.
She particularly enjoyed exploring the square that was the set for the ‘Back To The Future’ movies and having pictures taken on the stairs to the Town Hall. She also noticed that the way the set looks now is quite familiar and was surprised to learn that it is used for a well-known series − she says she’ll leave you to find out for yourself when you visit. In the meantime, we’re keeping our eyes peeled! In fact, Caroline says that she’s only giving snippets of her highlights away to us as she doesn’t want to ruin all the surprises for you!
She saw so many fun things on her journey through the back lot and says that you may even catch a glimpse of a new film or television series being made, or perhaps step into the living room of one of your favourite shows in the sound studios.
Caroline can’t recommend the tour highly enough for anyone who enjoys films, saying that it’s a magical experience and you will enjoy every second of it. The experience is bound to be slightly different for everyone as you never quite know who may be there on the day you visit.
Once the movie studio tour is finished, it’s time for kids – big and small – to hit the rides! You’ll be taken straight to the site of the three most popular rides at Universal Studios, ‘Transformers’, ‘The Mummy Returns’ and ‘Jurassic Park’, before lunch – yes there is a reason for this! Another part of the VIP Experience that really impressed Caroline is that your wonderful Guide will escort you to each ride and look after your bags, leaving you free to have fun. The VIP Experience also includes unlimited front of ride access, meaning that you can use a private entrance to reach the beginning of the ride, so there is little to no queuing, which really helps to make the most of all your time.
Caroline says that the great thing about Universal Studios is that many of the rides are simulator based (rather than roller coasters), so there are 3D and 4D experiences suitable for all the family and even a self-confessed ‘big wimp’ like herself, who usually starts to feel slightly ill at the sight of a high speed roller coaster with drops, twists and turns! As it happens, Caroline actually went on every ride at Universal (some more than once) and absolutely loved every one of them.
Lunch in the private dining room is included in the VIP Experience and you are treated to a three-course international buffet-style meal which Caroline says was absolutely delicious. Hand-carved meats, the freshest of salads and mouthwatering desserts (and this is the reason why you do the ‘Mummy Returns’ ride beforehand!). After lunch your Guide will whisk you straight to the special effects show where the secrets about the magic of the big screen are revealed – Caroline found it very funny and incredibly enjoyable. She then had the option to stay for a private session for VIPs only, but chose to go to the ‘Waterworld Show’ instead. She took up her pre-reserved seat and enjoyed what she describes as a high octane, fast-paced show based on the hugely popular Waterworld theme, with jet-skis, high diving, fire, explosions and non-stop action – it should not be missed. You are sure to recognise a few of the actors too, as some are quite familiar faces from the big and little screen.
Afterwards, she left her Guide, who she really cannot praise highly enough for making the entire tour so special and maximising her time. There was time to re-visit her favourite rides and see any rides or shows she hadn’t already visited. Both ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Minion Mayhem’ are fantastic – in fact, Caroline couldn’t resist a second ride on Minion Mayhem! She couldn’t resist having her picture taken with a Minion either, much to the annoyance of her boyfriend and the children queuing up behind her who didn’t look overly impressed that she got to go before them!
She absolutely loved her day at Universal Studios Hollywood and says that this was largely down to the VIP Experience that allowed her to see things differently and have a more hands on experience. She says that there is no doubt that there would have been shows she missed if she didn’t have a Guide to show her around. Needless to say, Caroline encourages anyone who is thinking of going to Universal Studios Hollywood to book the VIP Experience.