In the world of make believe
Ever since I was a child growing up in Cebu, I have always been dazzled by carnivals, circuses, and the world of make believe. I remember that every time a magic show came to town, I would badger my parents no end until they got tickets for my siblings and me.
The moment I had a stable career and could travel anywhere I wanted, I right away included visits to Disneyland, Universal Studios, Sea World and other theme parks. I don’t know how many times I’ve been to Disneyland and Universal Studios, but every so often, when there is a slack in my US scheduled itinerary, I find a way to visit either of these theme parks again, especially when I read about their new rides, because the thought of trying them out myself tickles my fancy.
Not too long ago, I was again at Universal Studios in Hollywood with my sons and younger sister. I always get thrilled at the possibility of bumping into my favorite movie stars because this facility is not just a theme park. It is also a film studio. In fact, the tram tour takes visitors to the different studio lots where popular movies and television shows are being filmed.
Tagged as “The Entertainment Capital of L.A.”, this first and original Universal Studios in Hollywood is one of the oldest and is the most famous film studio in the world. Originally, the studio offered only tours to the different sets for movies and television shows. But, in the mid-60s, the tour started to include visits to dressing rooms, staged events and exciting movie-oriented rides.
Currently, there are dozens of thrilling rides available to the young ones…and the young once. For those of you who are now planning your summer escapade to the nearest Universal Studio lot, here are some of the exciting rides I have tried: Jurassic Park, where you ride on a raft through dinosaur exhibits and all of a sudden, things go wrong as dinosaurs come alive and run after the raft, with the ride ending in a breathtaking (literally!) 84-foot plunge.
The Revenge of the Mummy is a two-minute indoor roller coaster that immediately accelerates to 45 miles per hour, going forward and backwards in such a short time, giving you a lot of shrieking reasons! Transformers is a 3D dark ride where the rider has to protect himself from Megatron and his evil friends, as the car speeds along the streets of Chicago and hovers beautifully over its skyscrapers.
Then there’s Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey where you speed through the classrooms of Hogwarts, then fly above the castle grounds as you join Harry Potter and his friends on a thrilling adventure.
I also enjoyed Despicable Me, a 3D Motion Simulator where riders are transformed into minions navigating an exciting obstacle course, as Gru’s daughters give him a present to celebrate their adoption anniversary. This is similar to The Simpsons Ride, also a motion simulator where you are with The Simpsons who visit Krustyland to try out the new roller-coaster but Sideshow Bob tries to sabotage the ride, and that’s when everything becomes exciting and fun!
Of course, there are also staged shows like Waterworld, the concept of which was taken from the movie of the same title, and the show features an actual fight between jet skis and boats, including a crash of a plane, further enhanced by pyrotechnics and violent stunt fights.
And those who love pets will certainly enjoy the Animal Actors Show where a variety of animals show their cute stunts and tricks to an appreciative audience.
There are many other attractions—live performances, shows, and interactive displays—that make the US$129 two-day pass worth every single cent.
I guess the child in me will never disappear, as I continue to be dazzled by things that might be and could have been, in the world of make believe. No wonder, to this day, I still get starry-eyed when I sing:
“…No matter how you heart is beating
If you keep on believing
The dream that you wish will come true.”
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