Anyway, there wasn't really enough time between the end of church and the dinner to justify putting on our PJs, so now Oreo is sitting on Athena's lap and covering her black dress in white fur. There's probably some black fur in there, too, since he's black and white and all, but it's the white that really stands out. We're sorry, Oreo! We honestly thought we'd be spending the whole afternoon at home today!
But now we have some time before the dinner, so let's see if I can finish up our vacation report.
Okay, so we were about to go on the Universal Studios Tour! Oooohhhhhh! Aurora had to leave the rest of us to take her position as tour guide, and her husband went to get us some glasses for the 3-D part of the tour. There were only five of us with Aurora gone, but the lady gave him six pairs anyway. We guessed it was for luck or something. We took our seats in the recommended third car and off we went!
First, we drove through the actual studio part of the studios, and Aurora pointed out all the big sound stages that we couldn't go in because they were Filming Stuff. Like, real stuff that people watch. Like CSI and Bones and all that. She also pointed out Alfred Hitchcock's... office? I think it was his office. And told us some neat trivia about his cameo in the movie that takes place on a raft in the middle of the ocean.
After showing us the... the place... they have this place that's set up to look like city streets to film movies in, so when they're actually filming a movie, they have the... person in charge of that stuff (production designer? set dresser? Aurora would roll her eyes so hard at me for this whole entry) come in and change all the buildings so they belong to the right city and time period. On Wednesday, they were dressed up to look like... the movie... that they were filming there... Man, I fail at this. I'm sure I'd recognize the title if I heard it. I think it had "looking for" or "searching for" in it, but I could be totally wrong.
Anyway, after we saw that place, we went to a scaaaaary sound stage that had a destroyed tram car outside of it! Like a giant monkey had smashed it or something! Ooooohhhh noooooo!!! So we braved the danger and went inside! and Aurora put up a little movie on the tram screens that was Peter Jackson! telling us something about King Kong. See, part of the Universal Studios got completely burned down about a year or so ago, and they had to rebuild everything! Including a part of the King Kong set that they used to show everybody. So to make it all up to us, Mr. Jackson made a super fancy 3-D special effects movie for all of the tourists to enjoy! Tadah!
When the tram got into position, suddenly! we were in this prehistoric-type jungly place! It was so pretty and all 3-D and on screens all around us, so we could have just stared at it for a while, because it was like we were really there. But we didn't have time to stare at it! because there were dinosaurs! Oh no! It was okay, because most of the time, the big dinosaurs were distracted eating the little dinosaurs, but then all the little dinosaurs were gone and uh-oh! the dinosaurs spotted us! Aaaaahhhh!
But look! There's King Kong! He came and fought with the dinosaurs! I don't know if he meant to save us, or if it was just an added bonus of him fighting the dinosaurs. Maybe if we see his movie someday we'll understand. And he threw one dinosaur right over the tram! It was just like in the Jungle Cruise, when the tour guide tells us, "Don't worry; we're only fifteen feet away. He'll jump right over us." And they sprayed water and scents to make it more realistic, but we think that the dinosaur saliva should have smelled more meaty and less ammonia-y. And the tram fell! Into a ravine or something! It was intense, and it was amazing.
And then we went on with the tour. We saw some cars do a dance on hydraulic lift thingies, and we saw animatronic dinosaurs that broke out of their cages that were supposed to be all scary but they looked kind of herbivorous to me, and we saw the real life set of the destroyed city that Tom Cruise hid out in in War of the Worlds, and we saw the real life Wisteria Lane that they use to film Desperate Housewives, and we saw Norman Bates carry a body out of his motel (good thing that guy's insane, or he probably would have come after us, and those trams do not move quickly), and we saw Jaws eat a scuba diver, and... come to think of it (going way back to the King Kong thing), they used to advertise the King Kong segment a lot when we were little. It was in the commercials for Universal Studios, and it was like this big thing, like King Kong was kind of the Universal Studios mascot, so we guess it was kind of a big deal that they lost that.
Anyway, the reason we were remembering it is that we were thinking of the Jaws part, because the last time we went on this tour was waaaaaay back when we were five years old, and we were terrified of everything, but the Jaws part was one of the few parts that we didn't close our eyes during (we did close our eyes for the King Kong thing; they had a Star Trek thing, too, and all I remember is hearing the lasers go off). We thought it was really cool, because they combined the Jaws part with the Ten Commandments part, so we went to Amityville? Amity Beach? Amity... whatever it is where Jaws shows up, and the tour guide showed us how they did the effect in the movie where Moses parted the waters! So we went through the water! It was so cool! And then Jaws jumped up right next to the tram and suddenly it wasn't cool anymore.
But there were a couple of other things that were just the way we remembered them. There's one part where they show us how they make it look like it's raining, and then the tour guide pretends that they're having technical difficulties and can't shut the water off, which is a bit of a concern, because they sometimes get flash FLOODS! Oooohhhh nooooo!! Flood!!! Aaaaahhhhh!! It was really pretty awesome, but only because we knew it was fake. If you want to see what it looks like, they show that exact part of the tour (only with people running around it) in the movie Big Fat Liar with Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes.
The other part involved another big fat lie on the part of the tour guide, where there's this sound stage that they were filming in until just before the holidays, and they weren't going to start back up again until the new year, so they've graciously decided to let us see the set in the meantime. They even built a tram track right through the sound stage! They're so thoughtful. So we went inside, and it was this subway station thingie, and Aurora was giving her spiel about how there are actually two sets in this building with one on top of the other, and suddenly the ground shook! Well, you know, it's LA; we get earthquakes there. But then it shook again! And it shook really hard! And there were wires giving off sparks, and something caught on fire, and oh no! the ceiling caved in! and that's a big oil truck! And it's coming right at the fire, which is like right next to the tram! Oooohhhh nooooooo!! And then the flooding started! Aaaaahhhhhhhh! With the electric wires going crazy! Gyaaaaaaahhhh!!!
And then the shaking stopped and everything magically went back to the way it was. Whew. And I remembered seeing that waaaaay back when we were five years old. Dad was a tour guide back then, but he was riding with us instead of giving a tour. Also back then, the movie Tremors was kind of a thing, so I think they brought it up in reference to that, and of course they also mentioned the movie that it was actually from, which is called... The Big One? I don't remember. But it had Charlton Heston.
Toward the end of the tour, we drove by Whoville, and all the Whos were celebrating Christmas with the Grinch. Aurora says normally they do a little dance, but since it was a rainy day, they just waved, because it's a little too slippery to dance safely. I really liked that the Grinch was still a goodguy in this version, because when we started Twitter, Disney Pictures started doing this thing to advertise their new Christmas Carol movie, where they had Scrooge come on and be all bitter and sabotaging people and stuff. And I was like, "First of all, Scrooge hated Christmas, but he had better things to do with his time than go around destroying Christmas displays. And second of all, Scrooge has mended his ways! It's not like he goes back to hating Christmas every year. My goodness."
So I was happy to see them portraying the Grinch as someone who has made a substantial change in his life. And after we waved to the Whos, Aurora explained how the Grinch was going to go back to his home at the top of the mountain to get all the gifts and return them to the Whos. And we were going to go meet him there! But that's strange... why are there all these keep out signs? Hm. Well, that's okay, our driver knows a different route; we'll get there. So we finally got to the top of the mountain (I think it took ...two? minutes?) and the Grinch was there and he was like, "It's about time! We have to hurry and return these presents!" And he warned us to BE QUIET! because the slightest noise could cause an avalanche.
So we drove very carefully through the tunnel, but the Grinch is still having a difficult time adjusting to being a goodguy, and he yelled (not on purpose; I guess he just has anger management issues) and there you go, the ground started falling underneath us. (Only it really just spun around while they tilted the track from side to side. It didn't feel like falling so much as... tilting from side to side. But the walls were spinning, so it definitely felt like something was off. They had this effect when we were five, too, but without the Grinch. Normally the tour guide would make a big deal about not making a sound, expecting one of the smart aleck kids in the audience to do something stupid, but if not, they would sneeze or something. Or so Dad told us.) Anyway. Oooohhhh nooooooo! Avalanche!
And then the Grinch's dog Max took over and drove us all to safety, thus saving Christmas! And the rain had started up again right as we exited the tunnel, so it was like we were greeted by snow. Only wet. And then the tram ride was over.
After the big starvation ordeal on Tuesday, Mom and her mother-in-law were not about to let us go without food again, so now it was time for lunch. This was a little tricky, because there was a Pizza Hut express right on the way out of the park, and we would have loved nothing more but to eat there, but it had already been decided that we would eat at Tonyroma's, which was okay, too, because we didn't want people getting on our case for being so plebeian. Also, there was no indoor food seating in the park, which was bothering some people who were "cold" and "wet." But before we left, we passed by a stand selling Thing 1 and Thing 2 t-shirts! And Mom thought it would be neat to get them for us, and we thought it would be neat to have them, so we let Mom buy them for us with Aurora's employee discount! And then Aurora presented them to us as a Christmas present, because they had left their original Christmas present (a non-existent (according to Warner Bros.) Harry Potter 7 poster, advertising the movie as being in 3-D) at home.
Fortunately for us, Tonyroma's had chicken tenders. What a relief. And they were yummy, too. Unfortunately for Mom's mother-in-law, who insisted on footing the bill, everything else was insanely expensive. So we're not only glad that they had something we would eat all of, but also that it was reasonably priced. We would have hated to have ordered a $25 something and then not eaten most of it.
After lunch, people decided it was too cold and wet to go back to the park, a decision aided by Aurora's husband's encouragement that Mom's mother-in-law see The King's Speech. Aurora's husband works at a fancy movie theater, as you may or may not recall from our birthday Disneyland trip report (that's also how he got the non-existent movie poster). So the plan was to go see The King's Speech! And off we went! But when we got there, the movie was sold out! Awww! Even worse, Tangled was also sold out, so even though that was the party's second choice (unaided by us, I assure you), we couldn't see that, either.
We were looking at seeing a movie and then driving home, so we didn't want to wait an hour or so for another movie, and the only thing playing Right Now was another movie we'd never heard of, How Do You Know?. It was cute and entertaining.
After the movie, we gave Aurora and her husband the Christmas presents we got them, and then it was back to Fresno! On the way back, to make sure we stayed fed, we picked up some snacks at a gas station when Mom stopped to fill up. They had pizza Pringles!! Oh, pizza Pringles, how we have missed you! We also got some TGI Friday's Tato Skins. Keebler used to make fantastic Tato Skin chips, but they're gone now. But the TGI Friday's ones taste pretty much the same, so I guess it works out. And then we were foolish enough to each eat an entire (snack-size) bag before we got home, mostly because they were sitting there in our laps, and what else were we supposed to do with them?
We made it back home just before nine-thirty, and discovered that our cats had not been fed in the whole two days we were gone! Oh no!! Fortunately, it was only two days, and they hadn't resorted to eating each other. Or if they did, neither of them was successful. And thus ended our brief but eventful vacation in Los Angeles.
Today I'm thankful for getting to eat pizza Pringles again, having a good time at Universal Studios, Tonyroma's having chicken tenders on their menu, the super awesome King Kong movie on the studio tour, and having a ride to the fireside tonight. Oh! and Mom being kind enough to buy us Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts.