In August of 2015, the TP&T team hopped on a plane and flew out for an incredible adventure in California. The visit included visiting several of Southern California’s incredible list of theme parks and learning about the history of the Walt Disney Company. In our visit, we went to The Jim Henson Company, Walt Disney Studios, Imagineering, various Hollywood attractions, and the Disneyland resort as part of the Adventures by Disney Backstage Magic tour. After the five-day tour, we continued our journey as we visited Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios, and Six Flags Magic Mountain before returning home. In this article and several other articles full of photos, we invite you to join us in TP&T’s California Adventure! So sit back, relax, and get ready to journey into the Wonderful World of the entertainment industry!
For those of you first reading this series, welcome! I strongly recommend reading some of the previous articles. Links are below!
Part 1 – Hollywood – We visit several Hollywood destinations as our Backstage Magic tour begins! Enjoy photos and information from Disney Studios and our fantastic visit to Imagineering. You can find the article here!
Part 2 – An Evening in Disneyland – In this trip report, we journeyed through endless traffic on the Los Angeles highways and wound up at the happiest place on earth, Disneyland! This article will take you within the gates of the original theme park as we spend a very exciting evening in the park. You can find the article here!
Part 3 – A Day in the Happiest Place on Earth – With this photo update, you follow us into the original theme park as we venture through a park filled with hidden finds and awesome attractions. Oh yeah, we also went into the Dream Suite (and I have pics)! You can read the trip report here!
Part 4 – Disney California Adventure – We walk up to Disneyland, and for some reason choose to walk through the gate on the right. All of a sudden, we’re in Disney California Adventure. Here’s the link!
Part 5 -The Berry Farm – We visit a theme park full of historic attractions and modern thrills known as Knott’s Berry Farm! Here’s the link!
BONUS – I’ve got a Fantasmic! video up on the YouTube Channel! You can view the video here!
A long, long, time ago (September, I think), in a place not so far away (probably at my desk instead of where I am sitting at this time), I began to write about our trip to California last August. Today, finally, I am concluding the series of posts with part six of “TP&T’s California Adventure.” Unlike books turned into films, which split the final part into two movies, we are combining the final two parts into one Trip Report!!! That’s right, you get to tour TWO parks in one trip report! Those two parks are some of the finest out there. One is just a movie studio with a theme park at it, and the other has a tiny collection of 19 coasters.
Now, let’s get into things! After our visit to Knott’s Berry Farm, it was time for a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood. We left the Sheraton Universal City early in order to avoid being in the heat for too long and the crowds at the park. Previously, we had purchased the park’s front of the line pass. These passes are good to skip the line on each attraction at the park once. Upon arrival, this was definitely worth it. It may have been over 100 degrees outside, but most rides had lines very early in the day.
On the walk up to the park, you get a view of how creative they are in terms of space usage. The blue building atop the parking garage is that of Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem.
After the short walk, we arrived! Here’s the world famous globe that sits in front of the park!
And shortly afterward we were within the park!
The park was already relatively crowded when we entered. Luckily, we had the park’s form of express pass. Essentially, it allows you to skip to the front of each line once throughout the day.
At the time, there was a good amount of construction going on within the park. Towards the left, there was construction going on for a new retail and dining building. This was the most obvious construction going on within the park, although there was also a lot of construction going on for Hogsmeade at the time.
Besides the construction, the main entryway area was a very nice portion of the park.
In the Sheraton, we were given the advice to start with Minion Mayhem. So, to start, we took a left turn into the British themed section of Universal Studios Hollywood.
The facades of the land were very pleasing aesthetically.
The facades in front of Minion Mayhem looked just like those in the movie itself.
The ride itself was great, although there are some who will disagree with me on that opinion, and Super Silly Fun Land was a very nice companion to the ride.
Once again, it was very similar to the Super Silly Fun Land in the movie itself. It is a nice addition for families in a thrill heavy park.
After our quick Minion Mayhem ride, we decided it was time to check out the attractions on the lower lot. Through France we went!
Oh yeah, the Wizard Invasion looked great along the way there!
It may have been huge and visible, but Potter was off on its own on the side of the park. This is why I wouldn’t call it so obstructive.
To get to the lower lot, it was necessary to pass through Springfield.
As a HUGE Simpsons fan, I couldn’t wait to explore Springfield, but first, it was necessary to do some other great rides!
It was hard to resist one of my favorite simulators out there, but the best ride at USH was calling for us…
And that ride was the STARWAY!!! That’s right, the most exciting escalator on earth!!!
The golf course visible from the Starway seems like something Universal would want to purchase. That’s a lot of land over there that could easily become soundstages, which would allow them to put rides in the locations of some existing soundstages.
It kind of felt strange being able to see so much from the inside of the park, although it was a nice view!
It’s a blurry pic, but I could see the hotel from there!
The best ride at USH almost felt never-ending!
Eventually, we got a view of Jurassic Park!!!
Based on all of the Diagon Alley and Secret Life of Pets rumors, this could be a completely different view in the future!
With no line, right at the bottom of the long escalator journey, we had the chance to take a picture with a Velociraptor! Although I’ve heard the Orlando version is better, the Raptor Encounter was a fun little meet and greet in Hollywood.
First up in the lower lot was Revenge of the Mummy! Although it was quite a short ride, the dark ride scene and effects were quite cool. The roller coaster section wasn’t bad either. I was very surprised (and still am to an extent) to hear that the park was considering removing the relatively new coaster soon.
The next stop for us was Transformers. The last time we were at Universal Orlando (well, before riding this, as of publishing this I have ridden the Orlando version), this was still under construction. Although I’ve heard plenty of people complain about the screens on these rides, I found it to be an exciting and fun experience. I may or may not have spent a bit too much time looking for the elevator scene while on the ride! 😉
It may have been early in the day, but it was already VERY hot in Universal City. We hopped on Jurassic Park and got a quick soaking. Although we’ve been to Universal Orlando a few times before, this was my first time on Jurassic Park. It was a fun experience, and I thought overall the animatronics and scenes looked good.
After Jurassic Park, it was time to ride a modern overlay of a classic Universal attraction. Although some disagree, I think the Simpsons Ride is a fantastic attraction. I have never experienced the motion sickness some describe on the ride, and I find it to be a fun attraction themed to a fun property!
Springfield is a fantastic theme park land. It’s as if you stepped straight into The Simpsons. There are dozens of facades and buildings straight out of the show, it is a fantastic addition to the growing park!
Since it was lunchtime, we decided to head into one of Springfield’s many fantastic quick service dining locations. We grabbed some delicious chicken from Cletus’s and ate it in Moe’s! Although the chicken was great, I was not a fan of the Flaming Moe. The taste itself was good, but there was an excessive amount of carbonation in the orange soda due to the dry ice at the bottom of the cup.
The Seven Duffs were a nice touch! They made me want to visit a classic Simpsons theme park known as Duff Gardens!
This is probably the best named Ice Cream Parlor on Earth!
After lunch, we decided to walk around and play some games. The park offers a card to play several of its midway games in Springfield and in the Minion area. On the walk between the two, I got a couple of shots of Hogsmeade!
I see the Hogwarts Express!
The final attraction we came to the park to experience was the Studio Tour. Sorry Shrek 4D! On the way down there, you can get a fantastic view of the Hogwarts Castle!
This spot in the park was another where construction was prevalent. You get a view of the backstage areas behind Hogwarts going down to the trams.
I see a Mack Rides coaster hiding in the trees!
The studio tour had a VERY long line, but to be fair, the line is probably very good based on a comparison to attraction length. I couldn’t imagine waiting that long in the California sun, and then riding the Studio Tour. I was thirsty enough not having to wait in the line beforehand.
Although we weren’t able to view any production going on in the back lot, the Studio Tour was a fun attraction overall. The tram driver was very good, and Jimmy Fallon’s presence in the attraction added some extra comedy into it. Some stops on the tour were very fun while others were rather lackluster. In my opinion, the worst two were probably Fast & Furious: Supercharged and King Kong 360. Although they are the two newest stops along the tour, the screen-based attractions didn’t match up to the other stops. Seeing everyone’s favorite shark was fun, and my personal favorite stop was the Earthquake scene. Not only was it cool to see several effects in the ride, but the water in the scene was somewhat relieving after so much time in the heat. After the Studio Tour, there really was not much left to do at the park. We didn’t really have any urge to do WaterWorld, and nobody likes Shrek 4D, so we went back to the hotel.
The next morning, it was time for us to visit the final park in our California trip, Six Flags Magic Mountain. It got up to 102 degrees while we were at Universal, and it was forecasted to be even warmer at Magic Mountain. Still, we woke up early and went to the park with more roller coasters than any other.
Just as we entered the parking lot, we were greeted by several of Six Flags Magic Mountain’s coasters! I took plenty of shots of Twisted Colossus, but I’ll show a few of those later as the parking lot is really the only place to get shots of the coaster.
X2 is an impressive sight when entering the park! It increased my excitement for our day at SFMM!
Conveniently, we visited the theme park with the most coasters on a fantastic holiday, National Roller Coaster Day (Presented by Outback of course)! The event advertised ERT on Twisted Colossus and Scream, but unfortunately, upon entry, we were prevented from entering the new Screampunk district by park security. Clearly, there was miscommunication, because they sent us back towards Full Throttle, which at the time was not operating. Eventually, the park cleared things up with security, but neither Twisted Colossus nor Scream were open for us. Instead, they opened Full Throttle to a very large herd of people, which spoiled the ERT. The confusion was annoying, but at least the park tried to make things better.
Overall, I enjoyed Full Throttle. The launches were fun, and the highlight was the top hat over the loop, but I have the one complaint that it is too short of a ride.
The ride gets extremely exciting…
And then comes the brake run.
My other personal favorite moment on the ride was the hang time on the loop. It feels like you hang upside-down much longer than you do on the average coaster.
After Full Throttle, we decided to make our way around the rest of the park. The first stop was Goliath, which had some decent theming in the queue (although it was kind of interesting based on the ride’s theme).
Goliath had an extremely long queue. I understand that the ride can get some incredibly long lines, but after riding, I don’t understand why. Goliath was my least favorite ride of the day at SFMM. It probably didn’t help that I was already a little bit dehydrated, but the helix and beyond on this attraction were not fun due to massive grey-outs (and I love I-305 for the record). Parts of it were simply too insane in my opinion. I just didn’t like Goliath.
Superman looks great up above Magic Mountain
I love how the Goliath queue is so long that there are vending machines in it.
Our next stop was Twisted Colossus! The ride was running two trains the morning we visited, but unfortunately, this pretty much means that you will not duel.
Although we did not duel, Twisted Colossus was a fantastic ride. There was airtime everywhere and then there was a certain highlight…
And that highlight was the Top Gun Stall! This inversion is so fun, you hang out of your seat longer than on any coaster I’ve ever experienced. It is now my favorite inversion.
After Twisted Colossus, it was time to ride Scream! With the new paint job it received earlier in the year, the ride looked fantastic! Scream looked great, and was also a great ride!
After leaving the Screampunk district, which was a pretty nice themed land, especially for Six Flags, it was time for the DC Comics attractions! To start, I had to see if the legend of Green Lantern was true. Everyone had always told me that Green Lantern was the worst attraction out there, yet I still decided to ride. While waiting in the station, a guy on the ride screamed something similar to this: “Do not ride this f****** ride. This is the worst f****** piece of s*** I’ve ever done.” Yet, I still rode. And once I rode, I absolutely agreed with those opinions… NOT. Green Lantern was an okay ride. I did not smash my head on landing, and the flash pass prevented the restraints from smashing into a certain body part. The restraints couldn’t push down much because the flash pass in my pocket stopped them from doing so. Probably because of this reason, Green Lantern was an alright coaster in my opinion!
Next up after Green Lantern was Batman: The Ride. Although the attraction itself was fun, the 106-degree weather burned my skin while riding.
Up above the DC Comics area was Riddler’s Revenge. Although people say it is a fantastic ride, I didn’t have enough trust in standup coasters to go on it. Also, unfortunately, by then members of our group were not feeling too well in the heat. Knowing we didn’t have much longer in the park, we went for some relief in the Full Throttle Sports Bar, which was a great theme park restaurant, where we chose what other attractions to ride. Among those attractions were Superman, Tatsu, X2, and one more ride on Twisted Colossus. Unfortunately, this list excluded the classic Arrow Suspended Coaster, Ninja.
Next, we climbed the hill and nearly passed out from heat exhaustion to ride Superman: Escape From Krypton. Although the ride is fun, it really is not that good. I personally think it would be better facing forwards rather than backwards.
On top of the mountain you get a fantastic view of Full Throttle’s dive loop!
Following Superman, it was time for Tatsu. Tatsu was a fantastic ride, but personally, I would call it the second best flying coaster after Manta. I will say though, it does a fantastic job at giving you a flying sensation. It has an advantage at that being on top of a hill.
After Tatsu, we walked around to X2. I walked up the queue, after having paid extra for a flash pass on the attraction, and as I entered the station they announced the ride had broken down. I was sad that I couldn’t ride X2, but luckily I had the chance to ride Twisted Colossus one last time before we left. The first half of this final ride, we were not dueling. As we went up the second lift hill, we came to a crawl. Suddenly, I noticed another car speeding towards us. We reached the crest of the lift hill right as they caught up to one of the middle cars. We came so close to dueling, but unfortunately, the ride came just short. It was nice to see the park had brought out a third train during the course of the day and was trying to get the ride to duel though.
Six Flags Magic Mountain was overall a fun park. They certainly have a lot of fun coasters, but there were some issues still such as the National Roller Coaster Day miscommunication. Unfortunately, the heat got to us before we could fully experience the park. Nevertheless, we still had a fun visit to the park.
The next day, it was time for us to go home from our awesome California trip. Virgin America was fantastic as always, and so were all of the California theme parks.
What do you think of Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain? Let us know in the comments and be sure to follow Theme Parks and Travels on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more information! You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel! Don’t forget to give our west coast correspondent, Michael, a follow on Twitter and Instagram! You can also subscribe to us on Apple News by searching “Theme Parks and Travels” in the app!