10 December 2017

They’re saying on the weather reports each night here in California that the weather is much warmer than normal and will be for the next week or more. I wore extra tight jeans when we walked around Yosemite Valley and I ended up with a heat rash. Today I wore baggy jeans to Universal Studios and still ended up with a heat rash. In Winter. I’m probably burnt too. I’ve also learned that Los Angeles has hard water which explains the lack of froth in my shampoo and the dryness of my skin - it’s like being in Wagga with how itchy my skin has become. Love my skin!

Somebody quipped on Facebook in response to John’s photo of queues at Disneyland, that they must not have a ‘skip the line’ system for the rich and famous. I said, it was because I wasn’t with them that they had to queue. I wasn’t joking. I booked us the VIP Tour of Universal Studios, despite being neither rich, nor famous. It was such a pleasant way to do a theme park. It included breakfast and lunch in quiet places, great for the crowd shy like myself. The super tall Peter was our guide, making navigating through the crowds, when we did have to face them, rather easy. And yes, it included a ‘skip the line’ system, even after the VIP tour was over.

The best part of being a VIP though, was the bonus extras on the studio tour. We alighted from our ‘trolley’ of transport on a few occasions to have a closer look at some of the features of the backlot. It was fascinating to see just the bottom floor of four storeys of props. The pictured phone switch below featured in Changeling (Angelina Jolie). Apparently they had searched far and wide for a switchboard from the art deco period but failed to locate one, so built their own. According to our guide, it is valued at about $20,000 and is rented out for 20% of its worth on a weekly basis.

Before the props tour, we wandered along Wisteria Lane of Desperate Households fame, looking a little bland, because it was undressed. After the props visit, we wandered through a town square with a courthouse that featured in Back to the Future. This town square had some of its shopfronts prepped for Mindy Kaling’s new show, Champions. It was intriguing to see the massive difference a bit of paint and some extra props (plants, street lights, bicycle, bins, etc) made to a store exterior. 

The next amazing sneak peek was into a sound stage, actually, two huge sound stages combined, transformed into a Superstore, which is the name of another show, starring America Ferrera. I was going to say ‘another new show’, but they are in the middle of screening Series 3. I’d never heard of it. Must watch it now! We weren’t allowed to take pictures because the store was set-up for episodes yet to be aired. I must say, I’m a little chuffed, that of the shows currently being filmed at Universal, the two featured for us both star a woman.

The rest of the tour was basically rides interspersed with tidbits of information. It was like being Charlie at the Chocolate Factory though, as members of our tour dropped out at various points of the tour. Of the twelve who started with Peter as a guide, only five of us remained when the tour officially ended. Some people tipped Peter as they left, quite a bit actually. We didn’t. This VIP Tour was far from cheap so didn’t think we should stretch to tipping as well. I don’t think Peter minds, just viewing the tips he does receive as a bonus. Besides, we’re bloody Australians and everyone knows we don’t tip. Actually, we do, but just in restaurants and taxis. Not that we’ve been using taxis. We’ve been using Uber while in LA and felt unsure about tipping Uber drivers. I found this New York Times article, which didn’t make me lean one way or another so left it to John to decide. He tips.

After the tour ended, John and Griffin went on more rides and I walked home as the sun set.


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