happiest vacation on earth | day 3

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Remember that time I went to Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Sea World with my mom last summer? Well, here’s the third day of that vacation. Because I still haven’t finished posting those photos. It’s 1000% for me to be able to track where I’ve been and what I’ve done and to remember experiences as fully as possible.

So here’s Day 3 of that adventure 🙂

We planned ahead of time to spend our third day in the L.A. area at Universal Studios. We purchased the SoCal City Pass which allowed you a 3-day Park Hopper ticket to Disneyland, a day at Universal Studios, and a day at Sea World in San Diego. Since we had driven down we figured we could just drive from our hotel in Anaheim back up to Universal Studios instead of stay a night in L.A. Originally we didn’t plan on using that third day at Disneyland but we ended up going back, just because we had time to. I’ll get to that later.

The drive was about an hour, with full L.A. traffic. It wasn’t an unpleasant drive or anything though so idk, not a big deal. We left in the morning at around 10 so we got to Universal at around 11.

You sort of don’t see anything form the freeway, aside from the hotels and parking garages and a few signs so it was sort of an anti-climactic drive. I will say that their parking situation is really organized though.

The first thing on our list was to eat and sort of map out the day. I didn’t know what rides were still there or not, so I sort of had the whole idea (and my mom did too) that we’d do the Water World show, the Jurassic Park ride, the E.T. ride, the Back Draft show, the Back To The Future ride and all of those classics because for us they were classics. Guess what? Of that list, only the Water World show and the Jurassic Park ride are still at Universal. It was sort of a bummer but it opened up the afternoon for us to sort of explore stuff and experience it regardless because we were there.

Universal is set up so similarly to Disneyland in that there are just different sections of the park that pertain to interests and/or themes. The entrance was all that glam sort of Hollywood thing with fake sets and a lot of stores and a fun reflection of that iconic Hollywood dream. Walking through the gate, there were immediately characters to meet with (Box Trolls was just about to come out in theaters so they were walking around). The last time I was at Universal I was like 7 so I had a few flashbacks of where we were but it was neat to experience that area again as an adult.

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We ended up sort of browsing that first entrance level, since the park splits down into a few different sections via escalator, and eat in the fake Italy set at a little deli. The Water World show was about to begin in like 30 minutes so that was the first thing we decided to go down to.

I’m going to preface the rest of this post with, “It was really, really hot that day.”

Seriously though it was super hot. It was 11:30 and about 80 degrees with no wind. Which made it perfectly O.K. for us to go to the Water World Show.

Also we were both shocked that the Water World Show was still a thing. Like, as a movie it was really not all that successful when it came out and that was like 20 years ago. It’s a cool show though and definitely unique. It’s clear purpose though was that it’s a water show. Also the set is set up exactly as I remembered it when I was little.

We sat near the front over to the side. I forgot that the performers in that show take their jobs real serious. They own those characters. They heckle the crowd. They go full on and ask kids if they have gills. The whole shebang. It’s cute. And funny considering 95% of the people in attendance have no idea what movie the show they’re about to watch is based off of. Also it’s funny that yes, there are splash zone seats, but they mean basically nothing because the giant pool you sit in front of has jet skis going for the whole 20 mins you’re in there. Everybody gets wet. It was SO nice though because it was hot.

The show was actually exactly as I had remembered it. And honestly it was like my second favorite thing when I was little, after the Jurassic Park ride. It was definitely a nice nostalgic note to start on.

After the Water World show we figured since we were completely wet, and I mean completely sopping wet from head to toe, we’d just go to the Jurassic Park ride because “why not”.

The walk down is cool because you can see the rest of the park as well as the lots that had projects going on at the time. Like we saw CSI being filmed so that was cool. Also a genius part of Universal is that they have little misting areas so that kids stay cool. More parks should have that, especially when it’s that hot.

The walk down to the second level with the Jurassic Park ride was 10 minutes. By the time we walked down my clothes (I was wearing a Target sun dress) were completely dry (and wrinkle free!). I basically steam pressed the wrinkles out and dried off in 10 minutes. It was a little crazy.

The wait for the ride, since we wanted to sit together, was about 30 minutes which wasn’t that bad. And again, the ride was exactly as I had remembered it. Well for the most part. There were some automated dinos that didn’t squirt water anymore. But again, it was fun for my mom and I to do it again after so many years and basically have the exact same experience.

Also the Jurassic Park ride guarantees that every single person on the ride gets completely, sopping wet (again). We requested to sit in the front because we figured we’d only ride it once, but we saw some of the people who were sitting in the middle and back after we got off the ride and they were soaked head to toe as well. Fun times 🙂

After the ride we looked through the little souvenir shop because I wanted some sort of Jurassic Park souvenir. They didn’t have much so I bought a keychain. That’s the one thing about Universal – get better at your classic souvenirs. Maybe it’s gotten better with Jurassic World coming out but man, I wanted a Jurassic Park backpack (for convenience but also for funsies) and they didn’t have anything.

We stopped for Dip n’ Dots and dried off (more steam pressed and mega quickly drying clothes!) and then headed towards the Mummy Returns ride. That two had about a 25 min wait but it wasn’t too bad. Especially because a lot of it is inside. The ride had some glitches when we finally went in, so they offered to let us ride again with a secret password. It was an indoor roller coaster so really we were ok. It was sort of “meh” and well our hair was dry after that ride so we decided to move on.

The next thing we did was go to the Studio Tour. The line was 60 minutes and essentially only going to get longer from there. And it was actually a full 60 minute wait so we just bit the bullet and went down.

They did make the wait a little better by having it sort of constantly moving and having a lot of billboards and infographics to look at so that was a plus. The actual tour was also again nostalgically almost the same. They took us through the lot (past some of the CSI props which was cool). There were some things being filmed so we had to go around them. There’s this whole 3D King Kong thing you drive through which actually was very cool to see. And then you go through sets like the Desperate Housewives set, and you drive past cars that were used in different movies. The Jaws and Bates Motel sets are still there. The plane crash set is still fully intact. For tourists it’s absolutely one of the cooler things to see. It was for us sort of relaxing to sit for a solid 45 minutes.

Now here’s the thing – we walked around the rest of the park but nothing really appealed to us so we decided to go eat (it was around 3 by that time) and then settled on really that there was nothing else of interest. We’re not that into Minions and that section of the park was mostly a little kid water park sort of deal anyways so we just skipped it. We’re also not super Simpsons fans so we didn’t explore that whole set up that much either. It really left very little for us to do. So we ate, and decided to go on Jurassic Park one more time, only this time doing the single rider entry and again getting to sit in the front. Single Rider is like the best invention. There are people that inevitably don’t understand you sit where you sit and not with your friends. But for the people that get it, it’s the quickest line, and you almost always get to sit in front if you ask.

We got our final dino fix in and left to go back to Anaheim.

Since we had another day at Disney available, we utilized that third day to watch the fireworks. We saw a little bit of the fireworks the first night but from a distance and over to the side.

We actually figured out that we could drive to DownTown Disney, eat, get our parking validated for 6 hours, and take the monorail into Tomorrowland. That’s what we figured out was the best way to go if we go again soon (which guess what, we’re going again in August!). We ate at the Napoli to-go section which was ok. Not the best food but the quickest option for parking validation.

We got dropped off straight next to Tomorrowland and walked around to figure out what to do. We didn’t need to go back to California Adventure because we’d done everything the day before in that section. We, however, didn’t get to do It’s A Small World, and we had time to spare, and the line was short, so we got to fit that in as well. It was totally different from when I last saw it. It’s very glittery now. Way less creepy 😀

We got out of It’s A Small World and walked straight to main street and found a spot for the fireworks right in front of the castle. It was essentially all good timing that day because we got in everything we didn’t have time for the other two days or just missed. It felt like a good end to Disneyland, especially because we were leaving in the morning for San Diego.

Was Universal everything I wanted? Not 100%, but I still got in the 2 things I was looking most forward to, and then it made room for us to fully use our Disney passes, so it ended up all being for the better.

It certainly helped me decide to go back again this August 🙂 Disney is a fun and almost guaranteed successful vacation. Close enough and easy enough where if things get lost, or forgotten, they’re replaceable, but also you see something new almost every time you go. I’m pretty excited to go back down.

Here are the photos from the day!

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Entrance to Universal Studios, Hollywood

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Part of the regional settings they’ve painted in

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Box Trolls!

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Marilyn drove by while we waited in line for Water World

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Water World set

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One of the Water World actors

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Part of the view from the escalators leading to the second section

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mid-level photo ops

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Suchomimus!

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Isla Nublar decor

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Dippin’ Dots!

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Outside of the Mummy Returns ride

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CSI props!

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On the way out of Universal. 

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Sunset at Downtown Disney

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