The last place that I am going to write in my LA Travelogue is Universal City. Yes, in Los Angeles, there is not only the Universal Studios Hollywood, they practically have an entire city surrounding this theme park.
You could drive here if you want to, but the parking rates here are five times the rates in other places, like Hollywood Boulevard for instance. So the most cost efficient way is to take the Metro (Red Line) to the Universal City/Studio City station. It is actually just one station apart from Hollywood/Highland, but the distance is a few kilometers away, so don’t think about walking.
From the Metro station, you basically just have to get across a cross-junction and arrive here.
Universal City is located on top of a small hill, and they have free shuttle services to ferry visitors to and from this bus station at the foot of the hill.
It is actually not that far from the bottom to the top of the hill. The distance is less than 400 meters I reckon. The bus comes every 15 minutes. If you do not want to wait, you can choose to walk if you want to. I personally wouldn’t recommend it though. Short distance, but uphill all the way. I would recommend you to take the bus up, and walk down when you are leaving.
It is a bit like Genting Highlands in a way, whereby you will come across a Chinese temple mid-hill.
Anyway, so… you get to the top, and you will be dropped off here.
First things first, gotta do what a tourist gotta do. Time to take some photos with some of the landmarks to prove that I have been here before. The thing is, you are not the only tourist here. Well, if you are very patient and very aggressive at the same time (such contradiction), you will be able to hog the landmarks for a clean photo shoot. I am neither of those things, so I stood quite far from them and tolerated other people appearing in my photos.
Most people come here to visit the theme park. After all, Universal Studios Hollywood is the original theme park, the biggest, with most attractions. Everywhere else in the world is just a lousier copy. I guess it is more or less like Disneyland LA.
Thing is, coming to Universal City and loitering around is free of charge. To enter the theme park though, the ticket costs upwards of US$ 90. I think it is a 2 days pass, but heck, I only have a few hours here, and paying 90 dollars for a few hours of access seems a bit too much for me. After all, it seems that the queue alone to actually get INSIDE the theme park would already take an hour or more.
So, this was as far as I got in terms of entering Universal Studios Hollywood. Spent a few minutes watching people paying and queuing. And then I moved on…
Well, they call this place the Universal City, but it is more like a mini city. There is the Universal Studios theme park, and then there are a few pedestrian streets right next to this theme park, full of shops and restaurants. There is also a cinema and an IMAX theater here.
I don’t know what to write about shops and more shops, so I guess I’ll flood you with some photos for now…
I love how they designed and built this mini city. The place is properly crowded, but there are also a lot of open spaces, so you don’t feel too suffocated walking around.
Okay, more photos. There are a few spots around this mini city where you can go full tourist mode without inducing weird stares from other visitors.
On one of my visits here, I learned something rather interesting. I saw a lady who dressed up like a princess lingering around the shops with a group of not so flamboyant, but equally well dressed bunch of people surrounding her.
I thought she was a bride or something, and they were having a pre-wedding photo shoot here or something. So they were in the same shop as me (more like I went into the same shop to get a closer look) and when they left, I asked one of the staff what was all that about.
The staff told me it was NOT a wedding. That princess was having her 15th birthday celebration and she was throwing a party for her friends here. Apparently, in the US, birthdays are a big deal for teenagers aged 15 to 21. In fact, their parents would make normally it a point to celebrate it with them in some ways. One of my work counterparts told me sometime later, it is fine for a parent to miss Thanksgiving dinner or even Christmas dinner, but it is absolutely NOT fine to miss his daughter’s birthdays. If he did that she would never forgive him for the rest of her life.
I guess I should not consider the US as a potential migration place, or if I do, I have to think thrice before having a kid there…
And I’m going to end this post with my most favorite photos from this place. I walked through an open space where there were water shooting out and a lot of kids were enjoying themselves running around and getting wet. They were fascinated with the shooting water, and I was fascinated watching them getting fascinated. I think I spent more than 30 minutes there toddlers watching. Crap, it sounds creepier than it actually is.
I got some permissions from the parents standing nearby, and I took some photos…
Lovely… And I shall end this post in such loveliness…
And this is all I have on Los Angeles. Admittedly, they are less interesting compared to my posts on San Francisco. I don’t think this city is less exciting though. I think it is more due to where I was staying. In SF, I was staying in the middle of all tourist actions. In LA, I was staying far from the actions, and had to travel into town for anything. I got tired before I even started sightseeing. I guess that affected the level of fun that I had…