I have an annual pass to Universal Studios Hollywood that Pomona bought us when some of us came to visit for Admitted Students Weekend, but I hadn’t found a good enough excuse to make the trek all the way over to Universal Studios until a week ago: My 19th birthday! So, this is the story of my day in Universal Studios:
Before I went, I remembered that my friend Jivika had told me last semester that she bought an annual pass to Universal Studios when she went with her aunt and uncle and that she and I should go together sometime, so naturally, I invited her to go with me the day after my birthday. Now, if you didn’t already know this, you should probably know that getting to and from Universal Studios during the weekend is hard. This is unfortunate, because even though the commute is relatively easy on a weekday, I have classes, so the only time I could go is during the weekend. The reason why the commute is so difficult during the weekends is that the Metrolink runs only once every couple of hours to and from LA. So, in order to go and come back at reasonable times, we had to take the 10:30 am train there and the 5:35 pm train back. Keep this in mind, because these details will come up as problems later.
The morning started off hectically because Jivika and I had decided to meet in front of Lyon, her dorm, at 10 am so we’d have enough time to comfortably amble over to the train station, get tickets, and get on the train. However, when I got to her dorm at a little past 10, she opened the door in a hurried frenzy, and still in her pajamas. She explained that she realized she had misplaced her pass, so she had to call her aunt and uncle to get them to e-mail it to her, and they were really hard to get through to, but she finally managed to get the pass e-mailed to her. Since all she had left to do was print the pass and change her clothes, I wasn’t worried nor upset. By the time we were ready to go though, it was 10:23. The train was coming in 7 minutes and not only did we have to get on the train by that time, but we had to have our tickets by then too. So, we ran. Luckily, Lyon is closer to the train station than I thought, so we were able to get the tickets and make it onto the train in time. All was well.
Fortunately though, the Metro Red Line, the second train we needed to take to get to the park, runs every 10 minutes, even on Sundays, so we didn’t have to worry about catching that train. Since I spent the morning in a frazzled hurry, I hadn’t had a chance to eat, so I debated over whether I should grab breakfast from the Starbucks at Union Station or the Starbucks at Universal City Walk. Jivika and I decided on Universal City Walk so we’d at least be in the vicinity of the park. When we arrived at the Universal City Walk train station, we realized that in order to get to the park, we’d have to walk up a hill. A steep hill. Well actually, we just thought we’d have to walk because we soon realized that there was a tram that could take us up to the park. Needless to say, we hopped on it.
After I got my breakfast from Starbucks, Jivika and I went straight to the entrance of the park. “We don’t have to wait in those long lines?” she asked. “Nope,” I replied, “Those are just for the squares who don’t already have annual passes.” Unfortunately, in order to get through the entrance, you needed the official ticket stub, which Jivika didn’t have, so she had to wait in the ticketing line to exchange her ticket print-out for a stub. Guess we ended up being one of those squares after all! After an extra 15-minute delay, we finally entered the park. We officially had 3 and a half hours before we had to leave, so we wasted no time.
We knew we didn’t have time to do everything, so we decided to be practical about our day: We would choose our favorite attractions and try to fit in as many new things as possible. Neither of us had seen the Blues Brothers Show, and since the show was scheduled to start 10 minutes after we arrived, we did that first. Even though I’ve never watched the Blues Brothers and therefore could not fully appreciate the reference, I still found the show enjoyable. Then, we watched Waterworld. I haven’t seen that movie either, so I couldn’t fully appreciate that show either, but you really don’t need to have seen the movie to appreciate the amazing stunts (the cheesy dialogue, however, is another story). After the shows, we made our way down to the Revenge of the Mummy ride, which I think is the most thrilling ride at the park. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the wait for the ride was 10 minutes, so we decided to go on it twice. After that, Jivika convinced me to go on the Jurassic Park ride even though I was terrified of getting wet (it was freezing that day!). Every time we passed a spitting dinosaur, I ducked and tried to keep myself from getting wet but, alas, you can’t completely escape getting wet on that ride. Having said that, though, I sat in the middle of the cart, so I didn’t get too wet. We went on the Transformers ride next, which was better than I remembered–the graphics are really good. We saved the best for last and finally went on the studio tour, my favorite attraction. If there’s one thing Universal Studios Hollywood has over the Orlando one, it’s the Studio Tour.
On our way back, we decided not to wait for the tram because we were in a rush to get back to the train station, so we ran downhill. It wasn’t fun, but hey, I’m sure running uphill would’ve been worse. We caught a train in 2 minutes and were whisked away to Union Station. At Union Station, we panicked to find the correct Metrolink platform, and sprinted when we found it. We realized that the tickets we had bought in the morning were one-way tickets, so we needed to buy new ones. What we didn’t realize sooner was that the tickets weren’t being sold on its platform though; they were only sold in the main lobby of the train! So, with less than 10 minutes to spare, we dashed to the ticket machines in the main lobby. We had a little trouble buying the ticket because Jivika only had a $10 bill and you needed $8 in exact change; I only had $6 in cash (I was buying my ticket with my debit card). A man came by and offered to help with some dollar coins. I didn’t know what was going on, but Jivika took 5 of his dollar coins and put them in the machine. I still had no idea what was going on, but the man turned to me and said, “You have a $5 bill, right?” I gave him my $5 bill and realized that he actually didn’t help us at all–he just wanted to get rid of his coins in return for bills! Jivika and I resolved our issue by getting my money out of the machine and just paying with my debit card; she could pay me back later. So, with both of our tickets finally in hand, we ran back to the platform and made it in time for the train. When we were on the train, she handed me her $10 bill and I realized that since I now had change for my $5 bill, I could actually give her change! I guess that guy did help after all.
And thus, we made it back to school and lived Happily Ever After (and by that, I mean we made it in time for dinner, because I was starving!)