Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Hooray For Hollywood...

Los Angeles probably springs to mind Glitz and Glamour (well, it did to me before I visited), but like many of it's residents, even Hollywood has to do some serious acting; what the media doesn't show is the vast amounts (and I'm talking 20+ on each block) of homeless people, the filthy streets and gentle smell of warm piss filling the air, not quite the image depicted in the movies and television! 

I can honestly say that I don't get what all the fuss is about, now that I've been, I'm disgusted by the sheer amount of money in the area and yet just down the road from your favourite celebrity's house is poverty. How can there be such a divide? It's really quite immoral. 

Of course, it didn't stop me from relishing in my love for Harry Potter and holding hands with the cast (did I mention that Emma Watson's hand is exactly the same size as my own?!) and yes it was exciting to take a tour to see the house where Michael Jackson died, Lady Gaga's new humble abode being fumigated and Sylvester Stalone hanging out near Rodeo Drive, in fact, I love to be nosy like that, but in may ways it has really disappointed me to know what LA is truly like behind the scenes. 

One thing that was certainly no disappointment was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios; I've never felt so much in my element before. What felt like a world away from the streets of LA, picture Hogsmeade, just like you would in the movie, with snow covered buildings and a magical sense in the air, place yourself in the entrance, add in tingling goosebumps (yes, really) and a huge smile and you can be me for the day! 

First stop is a photo op with the Hogwarts Express Conductor (mine was called Tom and he's either really aced the British Accent or is indeed British himself - authentic huh?!) we had a little photo in front of the Hogwarts Express and then off I went to check out all of the extremely detailed, magical and cutesy shops lining the street. 

There were so many that I had to come back to those later, I couldn't wait to be inside the castle any longer; Hogwarts is home to the Forbidden Journey ride where even the queue was magical; with moving and talking paintings, objects from the movies and holograms of some of your favourite characters, it is everything you'd expect it to be. When it was finally our time to get on the ride, I can safely say, I've never smiled so much in my life; the whole ride was spent showing my pearly whites (unless of course I was being chased by a dragon, spiders or the dementors, in which case I screamed!) there is no other word, it just simply was MAGICAL! I'm really not going to give the game away by telling you too much, in case you ever go yourself, but I felt like I was actually there - the best simulator ride I've ever experienced! We went on again at the tail end of the day and although I knew what was coming, it was still just as magical. The other ride, The Flight of the Hippogriff, was a little disappointing as rides go, but I guess they do need to have some more tame rides for kids and I did get a great view of the whole of LA from it. Also, I believe that's what the argument between Orlando or Hollywood is, Hollywood offers better in technology and Orlando in quantity - I'm already planning my visit to Orlando, don't you worry!  

I could have spent all day indulging myself in all things Harry Potter but there was the rest of Universal on offer, so I wasn't going to miss out on that! Mostly consisting of other simulator rides, live shows and a studio tour, it was everything I love about American 'movie based' theme parks. 

One of my fondest memories was the Jurassic Park water ride; I often fear water rides the most over all others (in my head I might fall out and drown) and just before the 84ft drop(!) I started to chicken out but of course, it was too late - I screamed the raft down as we plummeted to the bottom, where the tidal wave of water fell down on me like a curtain! Me being open mouthed from all the screaming, gulped in a whole lot of water and was completely drenched -   it happened to be one of the best and funniest experiences, especially as it was such a dad and daughter moment, where I gripped to his arms for support! My adrenaline levels were high and I was ready for anything else the park had to throw at me. We managed to complete all rides in the park, bar one (a little annoying that we missed it!) and each was just as entertaining as the last, with its own little story to tell. 

Unfortunately, due to her heart condition the rides were a no go for my mum but I honestly didn't consider that to be a problem, as aside from the rides, were the live shows; The Special Effects Show, Waterworld and Universal's Animal Actors. 

Let's talk about the latter... 

Often when we picture actors, we don't think about the animals who put on a show for us too. From Dogs to Cats, Guinea Pigs to Rats, Owls and even Chickens, we saw some of the cutest and most clever actors in that show; it was funny, insightful and just so goddamn adorable. Another time for my pearly whites to show and another time for me to be in awe of all things performing arts. (plus the animals had all featured on the big screen, so that was pretty cool!) 

Talking of those from the big screen, cue the appearance of stunt men and actors alike from Brooklyn Nine Nine, The Walking Dead and Step Brothers in the Waterworld live show; thank god we weren't sitting in the soak zone seats, because with sprays from the jet skies, high dives and swamp boats, the audience in those seats were guaranteed to get wet (and if the spraying wasn't enough, the cast were happy to throw a bucket of water or two over your head!) Again, incredibly put together, utterly entertaining and jaw dropping in amazement. 

For me, I find all things behind the scenes incredibly interesting, I could sit and watch DVD footage of it all day but to see it live, with real stunt men, sets, props and special effects was just to another level. Admittedly I've seen some of the things before, from previous park visits to Orlando but now that I'm older and more interested, there was something just so magical about it this time around. I was and still am in awe of how movies are made and to be this close to it all was just incredible for me. If I could be a part of it myself, I would but I don't think I have what it takes to set myself on fire, like in the Special Effects Show or to dive into pool, blazing with flames whilst maintaining the whole act, like in Waterworld or even to come close to designing some of the amazing sets, as shown on the Studio Tour. I guess I could work in the Harry Potter section of the park, as a cute English girl though... *stops daydreaming and reverts back to blog post* but for now, just to experience the live action first hand was something I'll never forget.

If I could have spent the whole 6 days of my trip to California in Universal (maybe a trip to Disney too!) I would have happily obliged but there were 5 other days of sight seeing and I can't wait to fill you in on these too. I'm going to close this post off here though, as I feel like you have a lot to take in. I doubt I can paint the picture to you as well as it all felt in real life but maybe this will excite some of you to go too or maybe you've already been and can relate to this post too, if so, let me know in the comments, your favourite part of your time in Universal, Hollywood. 

Until next time...

Lots of love, hugs, kisses & special wishes 
From Katy