Anaheim - Monday, August 26, 1996

OK, I must admit, the previous day I just wrote starting about an hour ago. Last night I was pretty much bushed and went straight to bed, now it is about three o'clock in the morning and I am just starting on today. I don't know how far I will get so bear with me.

After my trip to Edmonton, I heard about a place right here in Anaheim where LaserDiscs, one of my more expensive hobbies, are sold in abundance. So, this was my first stop, it turns out that they claim to be the largest store in the world for LDs and it was no doubt. I found a few disks less than 30% of the cost I would pay in Canada, well worth the exchange rate.

It took a bit of time to find the place but the roads around here are predictable and straight and don't normally change names, unlike Manitoba.

After doing a bit of shopping, and spending far more than I should have (how am I going to get it across the border I would like to know – I can see the dollar signs in the eyes of the customs inspectors right now) I continued north past Los Angeles to Hollywood to visit Universal City and to hopefully get some back-lot pictures.

After paying too much for parking we were shuffled to this large mail before actually getting to UC itself. It was quite impressive though there seemed to be little of any substance there (tourist through away mostly). The cost of the park was fairly high but included all attractions so I was happy enough. The first thing I did was to go on the Tram Tour of the back-lots and to get some pictures of some of the things going on back there for Ken, my brother in law. We were lucky enough to see some filming currently being done where there was a lot of fake snow around, funny to see people dressed in fur coats in the 26 degree Celsius weather. One of my favourite actresses, Angela Lansbury was there filming (in the fake snow). I was quite surprised to see the amount they did let you see there, there were a lot of doors open where you could look inside, and real actors and other film people just walking around as the tour went on. There were a lot of pieces of sets lying around which was quite interesting. I did get a fair amount of unusual shots down back alleys and in construction areas which I thought that Ken may enjoy.

Universal Studios

One of the things which I noted with this attraction and many of the others at UC was that they used light mist sprayed over the line to cool people off, after all, the line ups were about 30 minutes long. This I saw was being done at the Olympics this summer, at the Coke machines. It is an interesting and effective way of dealing with the problem, a lot cheaper than air conditioning.

The tram tour had the typical tourist stuff, Jaws attacking the boat and the like but was good nonetheless.

After that, I took in the Waterworld show which was disappointing in that they would have commercialized it so much, the film itself is pretty off-beat and did not do well in the theatres as it was a very “rebellious” movie and most would not be attracted to that type of theme. It was a very stylistic movie and the attraction captured that.

After Waterworld I went off to ride the Jurassic Park ride. The interesting thing about UC is that there are actually two parts to the lot, as it is built on the side of a hill (OK, mountain), so you have to take this set of four escalators down the side of the hill to go down about 200 feet. Quite impressive.

While waiting for Jurassic Park, I noted with amusement that the ride stopped for about half an hour for a normal “computer maintenance/check”. This made the wait about an hour before the ride started. The amusement came because of one theme from the movie was that the computer systems do not come back on-line (they fail), and this was being played out at the ride also. I want to take a moment at this time to discuss the Jurassic Park phenomenon in America (Canada AND the US). I find it interesting to note that both the book and movie are both very much a satire of the desire that humans seem to have to take advantage and abuse technology for their own ends, “See what happens?”. The story implies that this ultimately leads to disaster. So, in effect, the “Jurassic Park” merchandising shown in the movie is a bit of irony, in that this “perfect” thing becomes a thing of destruction. However, the American culture ignores this negative aspect and markets it anyway. I find it amusing that they see the effects beyond the meaning of the story and moral. I find the merchandise an “anti-movie” element rather than a memento. This did not, however, prevent me from buying a “I Survived the Jurassic Park Water Ride” t-shirt.

The ride itself was quite pleasant though the effects were not as good as I would have liked, the animatronics were good enough. The drop at the end is the best (if you don't know, the world's tallest water drop).

Universal Studios - Bottom Section (Jurassic Park is on the left)

From there, I proceeded to the “BackDraft” exhibit (based on the movie of the same name) which was quite interesting, with a fair amount about fire safety which I thought was a good and appropriate touch. The final room in that display was VERY good it that they basically blew it up with a lot of fire, the heat was quite intense and the smell of propane was everywhere.

I also attended the Cinemania exhibit which told how they do some of the special effects, not too bad. Not anything I did not already know but fun. The E.T. ride was simply that: a ride, enjoyable. Some of the video shown in the lines is almost better than the ride, on E.T. they were showing clips not placed in the final movie and interviewing a VERY young Steven Spielberg. The Jurassic Park ride had a few “Jurassic Park” shorts (describing the safety equipment in the back of the boats we were using “Flashlight, matches, food rations, and a 2000 volt stun gun).

After going back up the escalators, I went on the Back to the Future ride which was pretty good. I get motion sickness sometimes on those simulator rides and this one for sure… Part of the problem could have been that I did not have anything to eat, I find that when I am busy I don't bother with eating, it is secondary.

After that, I attempted to find a shop there that had any decent merchandise, like movies, scripts, photos, etc. but there was nothing there.

After leaving, on the way back to the car I found the Hard Rock Café so I picked up the normal stuff I pick up for my sister, I think that she may have a drawer in her room with all the stuff I get for her. It is now a habit to pick something up for her wherever I go, she seems to be happy with it and I think it is kind of fun to go looking for it wherever I am (Paris was REALLY tough).

It was still pretty early (only 8:30) so I decided to proceed to Mann's Chinese theatre on Hollywood Avenue. The reason I wanted to go there it because it is a very famous landmark and has cinematic history behind it with all of the hands in the concrete outside, never mind the stars on the sidewalks. Much to my delight, they were simply playing regular movies so I attended the 10: 15 show of The Island of Dr. Moreau, the movie was not that bad but the venue was incredible, the ceiling was unbelievable, decorated up. I can probably safely say that the theatre was the biggest and best theatre I have ever been in, the screen must have been more than two stories high and the sound system shook the whole theatre. I can't imagine watching Star Wars there…

It was really interesting to see all of the stars hand and footprints in the concrete, amazingly I think I only did not recognize 4 or 5 names out of about 100. Seeing Cecil B. Demille, the Marx Brothers, Julie Andrews, the guys (all of them) from Star Trek, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, etc. really made you realize that these people dirtying their hands are people too. Yes, I walked on them.

⇒ Continue to Anaheim - Tuesday, August 27, 1996