This past weekend, I spent an incredibly rainy but enjoyable weekend in LA. As this was to be my first trip to LA, I really wanted to enjoy some of the tourist experiences of the Hollywood Walk of Fame to the Chinese and Dolby Theaters and Venice Beach.
Given that I am such a movie fanatic my friend Stacey also recommended we do a movie studio tour at Universal, which I really loved the idea of but couldn’t decide between the different tours. The VIP Experience is offered at $349, which I thought was a bit crazy but offered everything I wanted from this visit – a personal guided tour, a visit to a sounds stage, prop department, tours of famous movie and TV sets, plus front line access to all the park rides. How could we say no?
The start of the tour begins with breakfast while we waited for Tony, our tour guide for the day. Donning our VIP badges and hopping onto a bus we headed to our first stop of the set of Parenthood. This is not a show I watch but I have to say it is fascinating to see the house all set up with no roof in an enormous sound stage. Even seeing the minute details of prop set up from handwritten letters, photos and tin cans makes it amazing to see. I may have to watch an episode just to see the set in action.
We got to take a look at City Hall from the movie Back to the Future, Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives, The Bates Motel from the new and terrifying drama of the same name. The movie set of War of the Worlds and a bunch of other marvelous sets. I was absolutely into this, especially being able to get on and off the buses for photos and a bit of a closer look. Not something you can do on the (less expensive) other tours.
After our set tours, we were taken to the Prop Department. This was a great part of the day as you get to see props being tagged for different movies and TV shows. It might not sound that exciting but if you love shows like CSI and Criminal Minds like I do, it is such a cool experience to even see even a chair being held for the show. It also seems an Entourage movie is in the making as there was a brand new leather sofa being held for Turtle. What I would have absolutely loved from a tour like this would be a visit to the costume department.
The rain still coming down hard, we were ready for the Theme Park part of our tour but not before our tour bus drove into a 3D Imax theater for a scene from King Kong. This was absolutely awesome with the bus truly feeling and looking like it was being pushed over by King Kong himself. We were rocking all over the place.
I am a big fan of theme park rides so even with the relentless rain, I thoroughly enjoyed the many 3D experiences of great rides they have on offer. Two favorites are the Transformers 3D ride and The Revenge of the Mummy rollercoaster ride, which I had to do alone as Stacey doesn’t really like rollercoasters. I think she could have totally handled it.
The one thing I absolutely disliked but in a terrifyingly funny way was the Haunted House, which has real mummies and monsters jumping out to touch and chase you. I have never screamed so much in my life! It took about 30 minutes for my heart to stop pounding.
The VIP Experience Tour also includes an excellent buffet lunch, which gave us a little time to relax. You get a little goodie bag of VIP stuff, which included hand warmers. Who would have thought we would need them in LA! Our tour guide, Tony was incredibly knowledge and friendly and did a great job.
The whole experience is around 5-6 hours and is worth every expensive penny. Highly recommended!