Universal has unveiled a new ride for its famous back lot tour – well, same tram, but updated screens / visuals and audio – and Moviehole was, er, invited along for the ride!
The ride takes visitors around the stages used for the studios’ (and other studios) films since Universal was founded (Now as you’ll recall, a fire swept through and destroyed much of the back lot, but it is being rebuilt to be bigger, better and easier to shoot in).
At the “town square” (which just reopened after succumbing to the fire) where scenes from ”Back To The Future” and ”The Ghost Whisperer” are filmed, a parade erupted with a marching band, Universal film characters and balloons exploding from the main buildings. On the tram ride itself, the tour is hosted by lively guides, with a good sense of humor, as well as a video including Whoopi Goldberg and Conan O’Brien.
“This is the first time since the fires that guests will be able to experience the backlot street sets of Universal Studios,” Universal Studios Hollywood President Larry Kurzweil said at the ceremony. “They’re really just seeing the beginning with the Courthouse Square reopening. It’s like chapters unfolding in a book. Each chapter unveils a new story.”
I’ve a confession to make, I never experienced the tram tour prior to the update, but I am told that the rides and surprises included on the tour have, overall, been improved. Newly added to the tour : Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds”, an opportunity to check out Wisteria Lane from ABC’s hit series “Desperate Housewives”, Norman Bates himself (!), an upgrade to the “King Kong” attraction and a visit to Skull Island, and ‘Bruce 2.0’!
It is a fun ride for kids and adults alike – a good start to what Universal probably hopes is a long day spent at their theme park, City Walk and IMAX theater.
Definitely worth the ride – from the film clips of Universal’s films to information about the studio’s history to the good laugh you’ll probably get along the way.
It’s no Disneyland (I’m a sucker for guys with big ears!), but for a studio tour, Universal’s Tram Tour gets 4 1/2 Stars. Wicked good fun!