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Photo TR: Jason's California Adventure

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^ Was actually in the helix finale where Revy took him out.




Loving this TR so far, amazing amount of pics! Glad you enjoyed all our NorCal parks, with the one understandable exception. Live 10 minutes from CGA's front gate, also drive by it everyday on my commute, haven't stepped foot in there in 8yrs. The other 3 I visit regularly and consider myself lucky to have such great parks close by.

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Ready for part 2 of SFMM? Of course you are! Enjoy!


And finally it was time to go... but we had to dodge stray bullets on the way out. Geez, Magic Mountain, who do you think you are, Six Flags America?


Up next: an unbelievable morning at Universal Studios Hollywood!


Because I was on it! And let me just take a moment to say that the crew working our Terminator: Salvation ERT were the friendliest, most amazing employees of any theme park we visited the entire trip! From yelling "Incoming!" every time a train passed over (and rattled) the station to the lightning fast (but effective) safety checks to helping encourage us to "Fill the train!" on just about every lap, they helped make this the most memorable ERT of the West Coast Trip. My only complaint about the whole experience--and this is minor--is that they didn't have the fire effect turned on (or if they did, I missed it).


If you squint, you can see the second-to-late escape train of the evening at the top of the lift hill. Why not the last escape train?


Matt was really excited to take the tunnel!


In a nutshell: Resistance personnel have discovered an abandoned "machine" factory at the former Magic Mountain theme park in which civilians are taking refuge. Unfortunately, these factories are never truly "abandoned," so the killing machines have discovered the civilians (us) and are moving in. The only way out is the escape train outside....


The theming was amazing, especially for a Six Flags park!


I'll be this one helped dig the tunnel we later took!


This place was crawling with abandoned vehicles.


Finally it was time for the best ERT of the trip!


We're back at Muscle Beach, apparently. It looks different from the first day we visited....


I had been waiting all day to get a good picture of the Grand Carousel lit up at night. Shortly after I took this photo, a woman came rushing up to me, assuming from my TPR lanyard that I was a park employee, frantic because she had lost her son. I helped her find a park security officer.


Outside, Mr. Six led a Dance Dance Revolution and karaoke challenge.


Let's not forget dessert: iced brownies and fruit!


And then they sent someone to make us balloon animals!


Singing moose (meese?) like this one serenaded us while we ate.


All-you-can-eat assorted pastas, salads and meatballs! A lot of people voted this the best meal of the trip.


I was especially pleased that our trip-included dinner that night was at Moosburger Lodge, a place I'd wanted to try during my short visit to Six Flags America earlier this year, but didn't due to lack of time.


"Slow And Nearly Dead Bumper-Like Automotive System That Eliminates Ride Space."


Wonder what the S.A.N.D. B.L.A.S.T.E.R.S. are?


...As I was getting ready to approach the Six Flags photo guy to have him take the for-purchase picture, another Six Flags employee came rushing over and said, "Do you want me to take your picture with your camera?" Which kind of mooted the point since I was only going to pose to use up the voucher... but later we found out they were turning on the cameras on Terminator: Salvation during our ERT, and our vounchers were still good for that, so it all worked out!


Anyway, the fact that this employee thought he was possibly saving me some money... well, how many parks are going to encourage their employees do that? If Six Flags goes bankrupt, I sure hope this place doesn't end up as part of the Cedar Fair chain.


OK, remember in part 1 of this TR when I gave an example of why SFMM employees are so awesome? Here's another one: Magic Mountain gave each of us a photo pass voucher for use on any ride with photos or any walk-around characters. I didn't really ride any rides with photos during the day, so after I took this photo, I was going to use my voucher to have my picture taken with Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern (which I wouldn't normally do except, you know, it was free)....


In the past I've complained that Marvin the Martain was featured only in five cartoons, yet he's one of the most popular characters at Six Flags parks. I'm willing to let that slide now that I've seen this Gossamer window display. He was in only three cartoons!


"Eh, what's up, Super Doc? I'm wearing a cape so I can look more like my hero, Piers!"


"Why aren't you shopping over at the Super Store? And why am I in front of a Roadrunner cartoon backdrop? And, um... why is Bugs Bunny wearing a cape?"


"Shoplifters of my shirts beware!"


Let's count the flags, shall we? What do you want to bet there are six?


Why is this photo here? Because I think it looks cool, and this is my TR. 'Nuff said.


These are the benefits of breathing oxygen instead of other random gasses. Make a note.


OK, I guess this is one of those "only in California" things....


A non-Dan-friendly one!


Now what kind of ride do you suppose this is?


"Eat your heart out, Country Bears!"


This place looked pretty cool. I understand it's used when big-name acts come to SFMM.


I'm not sure what this was, and it didn't seem to be open... but here you go!


Unique kiddie ride or mod '60s go-go cage? You decide!


"I did! I did tee a wide wike dat!"


"I tawt I taw a wide where you could be in a cage just wike me!"


Gee, Six Flags, that's welcoming....


"I say, I say, some of this stuff just doesn't make no good sense!"


Speaking of characters... this is one of those awesome things that was really cool in person, but doesn't translate well as a still image. Basically, this dude challenged Yosemite Sam to a dance-off... and Sam won!


OK, while this was kind of a neat little hideaway, I'm not really sure what it was supposed to be. My first guess was a character meeting spot, but the few Looney Tunes characters I saw were nowhere near this place.


Perhaps the mailbox will give us a clue....


I wonder who lives here.


Through the fence!


I smell a credit!


The wheels on the bus go... well, actually the entire bus goes 'round and 'round!



"I want to kees you and hug you and speen you...."


Except for the sign, this carousel had no theming linking it to the Looney Tunes. It was the only thing in this area with that distinction.


And what does a logging company have to do with monster trucks?



...or the Tasmanian Devil a logging company?


...Yosemite Sam an airport...


OK, so Yosemite Sam lived in the western mountains deserts, so it makes sense for him to have a waterfall in the Sierras. Foghorn Leghorn lived on a farm so a barnyard railway sort of works, and Sylvester often had to jump to catch a flying Tweety, so I can see a Frog Hopper. But how did Elmer Fudd end up with weather balloons...


Sufferin' succotash! Sylvester's got his own Frog Hopper!


AKA the Looney Tooter.



...or Foghorn Leghorn's Barnyard Railway?


While visiting beautiful Bugs Bunny World, why not take a moment to explore Yosemite Sam's Sierra Falls...


...and Looney Tunes Lodge.


Of course, Bugs Bunny World is home to such world-class venues as the Carrot Club Theater...


How looney!


There entrance to Bugs Bunny World is through one of the famous California plexiglasswoods.


(Continued below.)


One more thing that makes Magic Mountain so awesome: it has a petting zoo where you can pet goats and kids!


Oh, I'm sure I will Thomas. Especially since you and your friends are coming to my home Six Flags next year!


Hey, Robbie's father is here, too! Good thing Robbie got that restraining order before we reached Disneyland.


"'T' is for Tyler."


No. 2 potatoes! Hee hee hee!


Hello, random man. Would you like to join TPR? Our bus driver did.


Wait, if Percy's at this station, then that means the "credit" must actually be... Percy's evil twin! That explains a lot!


"Hi there, TPR! You can ride me... because I'm not a !@#$ like my friend Percy."


Why is this man sad that all rides are free today? Let's just say next time you buy a ticket here, you should count your change....


But enough of that. Let's find something we can ride.


"I think I can... I think I can... I think I can... keep all you coaster geeks from climbing aboard, that is! Ha ha!"


"Yeah, you know you want to ride me... but you can't!" peeped Percy.


First stop: the impossible credit!


I had to calm my nerves after that, so I took a tour of Thomas Town.


OMG! I sat on a bus for two weeks with a murderer! An apparently magnificent murderer!


The premise was that a random audience member is picked as a "volunteer" for a magic act that suddenly goes wrong, resulting in the injury of the magician's assistant. The audience volunteer is then one of three suspects in the attempted murder of the assistant, and... wait, is that blurry "volunteer" wearing a TPR T-shirt?


This show was pretty bad. Be that as it may, I sat through it three different times throughout the day because a) as Elissa promised us they would be, temperatures at SFMM were hotter than at any other park we visited; b) we were there for 14 hours; c) my injured foot was still bothering me a little (though thankfully, this was the last day it did); and d) this was absolutely the only place in the park that was air conditioned and offered seating without a mandatory meal purchase.


Best-themed bathroom exterior ever!


Bench: The Ride!


Let's begin part 2 with a coaster, shall we?

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^I'm not sure. I know there were three or four people on the platform. The only two who particularly stick out in my mind now (and I don't know their names) were a taller guy who seemed most into character, yelling "Incoming!" hurrying us into the trains before the "machines" came and reminding us to "take the tunnel" on the way out of the station; and an incredibly cute redhead. A couple of our guys tried--unsuccessfully--to talk her into riding with them!

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^I'm not sure. I know there were three or four people on the platform. The only two who particularly stick out in my mind now (and I don't know their names) were a taller guy who seemed most into character, yelling "Incoming!" hurrying us into the trains before the "machines" came and reminding us to "take the tunnel" on the way out of the station; and an incredibly cute redhead. A couple of our guys tried--unsuccessfully--to talk her into riding with them!


That redhead was cute! I think I have a picture of the crew 'somewhere' on one of my mem-cards.


Anyways, I look horrible as always on onride photos (diagonal in front of you) and you every thing you look at the picture, you'll have think of me

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"...they didn't have the fire effect turned on (or if they did, I missed it)." (printersdevil78)


Strange as it sounds, it is possible to miss it---I did on my first ride.


But if there is any possible chance of a brushfire in the area, the fire will be turned off (and at X2 as well).


Nice report, too.



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Day 6 was a day I had been looking forward to for awhile, despite having to get up at 5 a.m. to partake. Our mission: get to Universal Studios Hollywood by 7 a.m. for a two-hour, all-access backstage tour of Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride! We left an hour early thanks to unpredictable L.A. traffic. Thanks to the predominate lack of traffic, we made it with about 20 minutes to spare, which gave us time to look around the outside of the park a little. Join us, won't you?


Jeff, look out behind y-- Oh, never mind.


"Mock not the treasures of the ancient temple... or I keel you!"


They can call it "treasure" if they want, but I swear I've seen most of this stuff on a blanket at my local flea market....


"Oh, so that's what the eyes of Mara look like...."


You know, skeletons really do get a bad rap. Most of them are hard workers. Howerver, there are admittedly a few, like those up top, who just hang around all day....


Yep, this tour was cool, no *bones* about it!


"What are these intruders doing inside my temple? They will pay by riding this attraction with the lights on!"


Mind the ledge, please! Everybody mind the ledge!


These are the real thing! :)


These are test dummies.


We also got to see backstage work on one of the Studios' upcoming Halloween Horror Nights mazes. Unfortunately, this is all we got to see of that.


Oh, we will!


We were quickly ushered backstage, where we got in a little Q&A and saw this "temple guard" at the beginning of his periodic refurb.


..."Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride"!


For those who aren't familiar, the Starway is a series of escalators that takes visitors from the "upper lot" where the entryway is to the "lower lot" where there are about four attractions they couldn't squeeze into the "upper lot," one of which is...


TPR takeover of the Starway!


Finally, it was time to enter the park.


The best part is, his shirt says, "Come get lucky!"


My question is: How did the horse get up to the loft in the first place?


Granted, the studio has its casting down pat. This person was playing the part of a street cleaner.


From the movies picked for representation on the studio tour (more on that later), it's fairly clear that Universal hasn't really made a decent movie since "The Mummy." Apparently this is why: they hire woodpeckers as directors, for crying out loud!


Popcornopolis. Population: deliciousness!


We also got to explore the not-yet-opened storefronts of Universal Citywalk.


Our early arrival afforded a lot of us uncharacteristicly clear shots of the iconic globe.


And finally... this is what a rockslide looks like with the help of movie magic! And an old dark ride gag that most parks have removed from their offerings for being too dated and hokey....


That's a wrap for part one. Stay tuned for part two!


Ah, a glimmer of relevancy to films from the past decade... though Universal had to outsource to find it. This large tank and screen is where portions of Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies were filmed. (The tree was Keira Knightly's stunt double.)


"And some of you may recognize this cabin from the John Candy film 'The Great Outdoors.'" Honest, that's what the tour guide said. Never mind that the movie was a bomb when it was released *ahem* 21 years ago, and the No. 1 reaction of most people on the tram was, "Oh yeah, John Candy. I forgot about him. Didn't he die?"


This is where the tailies landed.


More carnage.


The most disturbing part is the half-burned Little Tykes toys in the front yard.


This (and Whoville) is new since my last visit: the plane crash set from Tom Cruise's "War of the Worlds."


So help me, Norman, if you stab us we're going to tell your mother!


Woah-ho, what's this?


See? All kinds of vacancies.


So what genius decided to build the Bates Motel right behind Whoville and thought they would actually get business? The interstate is where it's at, people!


This is what Who-Cars look like. Not to be confused with Who-Cares. Which is probably what you're saying about my Who-Cars photo right now.


Nest stop: Whoville, where the Grinch stole Christmas (and bought Thanksgiving for $24 worth of trinkets and beads).


No Wisteria Lane for us; they were too busy filming "Desparate Housewives" or some such nonsense. I want to know what happened to the houses from "The Munsters" and "Leave it to Beaver." Were they demolished, or are they somewhere in back of Wisteria Lane where we couldn't go that day?


Good thing that police boat's there to save us from sharks! Wait, what are all those bubbles in the water...?


For the record, I have no actual pictures of Jaws because when I tried to take one, he jumped out of the water and tried to splash my camera. Good thing I have quick reflexes, or this likely would have been the last picture I took on this trip. At least I ended up with only a wet sleeve and not a water-logged, non-functional camera.


Doesn't look like a megalodon to me....


Apparently they're still having problems with sharks on Amity Island, too. They've been trying to catch the dang thing for more than three decades. You'd think he'd have died of old age by now.


I've come to the conclusion that the reason gas prices have risen so much in the United States is that this oil tanker has exploded during the "Earthquake" portion of the Universal Studios Hollywood tour every five minutes daily for at least the past 20 years.


Another awesome street name. (For the record, they also had Bob Marley Street).



My, what a quaint generic European village!


The last time I was here, the tour guide made reference to Charlton Heston's "The Ten Commandments" when we got to the "parting of the Red Sea" portion of the tour. Now the guides refer to Peter Jackson's "King Kong."




And just because I thought it was the coolest permanent set on the lot... more "Western Street" photos!


More film school students! Check out the actors in costume on the left.


Next we segued into Universal's "Western Street."


But seriously, this is the studio's "Mexican Village," where some film school students were shooting some footage. I want to say the tram driver said they were from a school for the arts in New York, though common sense would dictate that my memory is faulty and they probably were from USC or UCLA. Anyone remember?


This is where they keep all the Mexican stagehands at night when they aren't being used.


Next up was this oldie but goodie, the famous Universal flash flood... as seen in the film "Big Fat Liar" starring Frankie Muniz. Seriously, they even showed an HDTV clip on the tram. Universal, if "Big Fat Liar" is the best film you can offer as an example on your back lot tour (they used it in two other places on the tour, too), then maybe you should start making better movies. Or stick to cereal commercials. Or something.


OK, so thankfully, Elissa kind of warned us about this (she told us it was... odd, but she didn't tell us exactly what would happen). Basically, this started as a 15-second "The Fast and the Furious"-demonstration of how the studio can use KUKA arms to perform car stunts without injuring actors or stunt performers. Fine; it's informative, it's entertaining, it's something new to look at now that King Kong was fried like so many monkey burgers, and it deals with a film franchise from this decade, which isn't something that can be said about almost anything else on the Universal Studios Tour. But then, once the demo was over, we were treated to 30 seconds of the cars "hip-hop dancing" (and I swear I could almost hear the one on the left say, "Word to your mother"). WTF?


If we were at Jurassic Park, this would be our tour vehicle. And we would be inside a T-Rex.


They tried to hide this one from us! Unfortunately, the Hill Valley Courthouse was among those sets destroyed in last year's fire. Fortunately, I got to see it during my last Universal trip two decades ago.


Good to see they got all the manure out....


More BTTF goodness.


Anyone here like "Back to the Future"? (Photo stolen from my friend Alice, who let me stay at her house the night before I flew out for the WCT and who went on her own Californian vacation later that week, visiting many of the same sites we did only one day before or after. True story!)


...and Magnum, P.I.'s car! Side note No. 1: Hi, Larry! Side note No. 2: The only other time I've been to Universal Studios Hollywood was when I was 12, and they had K.I.T.T. from "Knight Rider" there. And I got to sit in him, and he talked to me. And it was relevant because "Knight Rider" was actually still on the air then.


...the Bluesmobile...


Next up: cars from famous movies and TV shows of 30 years ago, mostly because it's cheaper to just leave them there than to move them. Like the Death Mobile from "Animal House"...


Oh noes! That bridge looks rickety. Hope we don't have to cross it....


Due for Christmas 2010: "Mr. Potato Head: The Movie." Sad but true. Only not true.


OMG, it's actual Hollywood studio trailers!


Is this Universal's next big ride? Um, no. This "Festival Wheel" is actually a prop from an upcoming episode of "Heroes." OMG!


OMG, it's a real Hollywood studio commissary where all the big-time Hollywood movie stars eat! Hollywood!


OMG, it's a street named after "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" creator Jay Ward!


OMG, it's real Hollywood prop people doing real Hollywood prop things!


OMG, it's an open sound stage!


The tour driver actually gave a shout-out to TPR! Sort of. It went something like: "I'd like to welcome everyone to today's tour... in high defnition! You might notice some folks with lanyards on the tram today. They're our special guests from Theme Park Insider... er, Review."


Disney might not love you anymore, Whoopi, but we still do.


Back at the upper lot, it was time to partake of the world-famous Universal Studios Tour.


This church is being built in the lot's "international" section.


Construction continues following last year's studio backlot fire.


Can you find the points of interest in this shot?


...and a guide to the "other" points of interest that could be seen from its scenic overlook.


The Starway did have a few minor attractions of its own, including this "Apollo 13" screen-used prop photo op...


Since the lower lot didn't open for another hour, we took the Starway back to the upper lot for park opening. My favorite part of the Starway is that they actually printed signs to single out parents who don't think the rules apply to them or their demon offspring.



Granted, there was a little extra theming to keep guests entertained during their wait.


Good thing we got all that early ERT on "Mummy"! This is what the line looked like about 90 minutes later.


...but you can't buy this in there!


I mean, yeah, this is fun and everything...



After three rides with the lights on and one in "normal mode," our two hours with "Mummy" was up, and we had to resign ourselves to seeing some of the props the GP gets to see as they exit the ride.


This is what the station looks like from the control room.


What, you didn't believe me?


Fun fact: Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride's control center was the basis for Sector 7-G of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant on "The Simpsons."


Joey took us in here to show us his rack.


Then we went back to the station where we got to meet... Joey!


On the way back through we got a close-up look at one of the cars.


This is where the coaster switches to a backwards ride, AKA the scarab scene.


They have a chain-link fence around the indoor coasater so employees can bring their dogs to work. Really! (OK, not really....)


...and this one.


Most of the large special effects in this portion are made possible through painted flats like this one...


Next we got to explore the "coaster" part of the ride.

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^You and I think alike, Mike. While SCBB was my favorite park of the trip, everything from Universal on (with the exception of Knotts) was my favorite "stretch" of the trip, if that makes sense.


Enjoy part two!


And finally, on my way to the bus with minutes to spare, I grabbed this photo. I had hoped to get a "clear" shot, but there was a line of people to have their pictures taken here, so this is as close as I could get. But how lucky is it that I was able to get a picture of the Universal sign with Tony Shalhoub? (You have to think about it to get the joke, but once you do... yeah, it probably wasn't worth thinking that much about).


Time to leave Universal Studios and hit the road to... Scandia! Coming up next.


...and this list of shows and movies in production at the studio that day! IMDB has never heard of "Life with Allen" or "Junelope," but "Couples Retreat" is a forthcoming Vince Vaughn comedy, and "Cirque du Freak" apparently is a vampire movie scheduled for release just before Halloween this year.


...a random bust of Alfred Hitchcock...


On the way to the bus, I caught a couple things near the entrance that I missed while we were being shuttled in for our ERT earlier in the day, like this fountain...


...and then he eats his love interest! And then they sing about it. And then the show is over. I thought it was a riot, but I think I was the only TPRer who really enjoyed it.


Spoiler alert: Toward the end the crew accidentally injects the Creature (nicknamed "Gil"--ha ha)with growth hormone...


The swimming scenes were pretty cool. The actors wore harnesses that allowed them to "float" not only in front of the screen, but in some cases out over the audience... and their "swimming" motions were pretty convincing.


Shortly after this scene, the moving boat got stuck, and they had to make us wait while they fixed the "technical difficulties."


...and anyone know knows me knows my choice would always be the "Creature" show, if only because making a musical out of "Creature from the Black Lagoon" sounds so absurd (it was).


Roxanne said this was a good show. Unfortunately, due to showtimes, I had to choose between it and "Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical"...


If we'd had a little more time in the park, I might have opted to tour the "Universal House of Horrors," which Robb described as a year-round haunted maze. In the end, I'm kind of glad I did other things instead. I mean, this could have gone either way--Universal owns the rights to Frankenstein, Count Dracula and the Wolfman (all of whom would willingly kill at a moment's notice)... but it often lumps them in with the Phantom of the Opera (man who lives in a basement and wears half a mask and plays the organ), Hunchback of Notre Dame (short guy who rings bells) and the Incredible Shrinking Man (shorter guy who fends off spiders with needles). In other words, its "horror" lineup is half "scared to death" and half "WTF?"


"Grrr! Hulk shill for Universal, but now Hulk owned by Disneyl This confuse Hulk, make Hulk angry. Don't make me angry, Mr. Iger. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry!"


At Universal Orlando, Marvel gets an entire island. At Universal Hollywood, Marvel gets a storefront.


Unlike SpongeBob, whose sole tie to the park seemed to be the Nickelodeon store in front of which he posed, Curious George actually has an attraction--nay, an entire mini-land--at Universal.


No George! That's a baby, not a banana!


The ladies love SpongeBob (whose tongue moved when he laughed--really)!


Theme a bunch of crappy, overpriced carnival games on a movie absolutely nobody went to see? Sounds like a winner to me!


I seriously thought about grabbing lunch here instead of Doc Brown's Fried Chicken not only because of the awesome themeing, but because they served ribs. But the ribs were $17 for a half rack, and after my Bennegan's experience earlier in the trip, I wasn't prepared to gamble that kind of money on potentially bad ribs.


"Hey, I didn't name the place! They just hire me to carry around this big hamburger all day."


OK, so this is where Universal really failed. There has never been a movie, Universal or otherwise, that has featured a restaurant called "Mel's Diner." There was a TV show, "Alice," that did, but it didn't look like this, and clearly that's not what they're going for. They're obviously trying to recreate Mel's Drive-In from "American Graffiti," and this isn't it. More importantly, however, with a diner you can't turn out part of the lights during Halloween Horror Nights and have it spell "D I E-IN." And without that, why even have Halloween Horror Nights, really?


Another Bluesmobile.


Jolly, jolly, jolly!


When in fact, just on the other side of the buildings, is London.


What a lovely view. One would almost think we were in Paris...


I snapped this photo of Donkey's waffle cart on the way in, but it wasn't until I was uploading it for this TR that I realized just how hillarious it really is. See the black-and-yellow checkerboard pattern? The whole thing is a takeoff on Waffle House! Besides the odd waffle toppings (earwax, eyeballs, cud, etc.), choices include a variety of bugs: smothered, covered, chunked or splattered!


A 4-D movie takes place in here. No photos, unfortunately.


For those who don't know the story, here's a quick primer.


No tunnels in the "Shrek" ride, either, but at least it's somewhat entertaining.


Universal has its own "Terminator" attraction. Unfortunately, there are no tunnels to take.


And the Oscar goes to... a theme park museum! This one is the "Best Picture" award for "The Sting."


I thought this was pretty cool.


Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" desk.


"Coraline" models.


Model of Doc Brown's train from "Back to the Future Part III."


Delorean model from "Back to the Future Part III."


Maquettes from "Jurassic Park."


Concept art for Dracula's castle.


Concept art for Jaws.




Norman Bates' jacket from "Psycho" (and a dress from some movie about Shakespeare or Jane Austen or something else Universal Studios made that no one except theatre nuts, high school English teachers and my girlfriend actually paid money to see).


Props from "The Mummy" (with a couple from "Jurassic Park" thrown in for good measure).


Props from "Apollo 13."


Space suit from "Apollo 13."


Props from "All Quiet on the Western Front."


Except this is no regular theme park museum. It's a museum of props from movies... Hollywood movies! Here we have some costumes from the film "Milk." It's a thought-provoking film about the first openly gay elected official in San Francisco... so obviously it didn't come to my local theater, where "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America" played on five screens for four months (I'm exaggerating... but only slightly).


Theme park museum! Theme park museum! Pardon me while I indulge....


...and then things catch on fire. And then the "ride" is over. Oh, and when you see a fire truck... get out of the way. They're not going to the movies.


Here's the basic gist of the attraction: You walk into a warehouse and things start exploding...


After JP, a lot of the group went off to Panda Express for lunch. Meanwhile, I headed over to Backdraft and ran into Roxanne, so we saw the show together.


My suggestion: Reserve one out of every so many boats for people who don't want to get wet, and turn the cannons off just for that boat. I think they'd be surprised how many people would wait specifically for that boat. Sometime in the past decade or so, some theme park guru decided everyone likes to get wet on every ride--log flumes, 4-D rides... even some coasters! That person should be tied to a rapids raft and sent through 30 circuits. And then shot.


This would be why log flumes are the devil! Even though the drop itself doesn't get riders wet, they install water cannons at the bottom of the drop for that very purpose!


The climactic finale takes place in this unassuming building as you try to escape from the dinos.


Lots of guys like this on the ride. Seriously, this is probably the best-themed non-Disney ride I've ever ridden, which is why I rode it... even though it was a log flume (log flumes are the devil).


Before heading back down to the lower lot to ride Jurassic Park (what, no "The Ride"?), a few of us ran into Robb and Elissa, who gave us a group VIP voucher, courtesy of Joey, so we didn't have to stand in line for most of the attractions. We didn't really need it for this, as it was only a one-boat wait.


But seriously, for those who have never been on one, that's more or less how these trips work: "Everyone on the bus at 6 a.m. because we have an exclusive backstage tour of "Mummy" to get to, followed by a half hour of lights-on ERT, followed by some brief lights-off ERT. Here's your meal voucher so you don't have to pay for lunch. Oh yeah, by the way, here's a bonus VIP pass so you don't have to wait in line with the GP. Now go have fun, but don't forget to be back at the bus by 3 p.m.; we still have two more parks and a pizza buffet to hit today!"


The chicken was pretty good and fell within the $10 meal voucher we received at the beginning of the day. My only complaint is that although the "assistant" helping people navigate the touch-screen ordering process told me the combos came with drinks, it turned out they didn't. I still had $1.50 left on my voucher that I could have put toward a drink instead of wasting (no change on the meal vouchers, apparently).


No clue how this picture fits into that concept. But hey, I've been there!


The premise is that Doc Brown went back in time and served his chicken to famous people at historical events throughout history, so today it's a traditional delicacy sought after by everyone from commoners to kings.


Doc Brown may no longer own the Institute of Future Technology at Universal... but for some reason he's opened up a fried chicken stand there!


I see London, I see France, I see Lisa's underpants! (Also note that Bart has the correct four-finger composition.)


"Oooh, you guys are almost as good as the B-Sharps!" (They actually were really good.)


Wait, why does Homer have five fingers in this picture? I call incontinuity! Also, see the sign for that Mexican restaurant way in the background? I totally just missed getting a picture of Zorro swinging from its roof later in the day. <--Fail.


Krusty Logs!


You know, when Matt Groening was growing up in Oregon, I bet he never, ever, ever once dreamed he'd create an empire that ultimately would merit its own ride/section at Universal Studios. I don't care who you are; that's got to be pretty cool.


Worst. Fake store display. Ever. (Not really; it just seemed like the appropriate thing to say.)


They actually had Duff and Flaming Moes (energy drinks) for sale.


That's all the photos we were allowed in the ride itself... so let's take a quick stroll around Springfield! Items in the windows here included "Much Ado About Stuffing."


You know, if they closed every now and then for routine maintenance, the Screamatorium wouldn't have to be down for these lengthy refurbs....


I'm not sure which I like better: fried sugar or donut rinds.


Sadly, Krusty also apparently owns my bank.


Obviously, Krusty has bought bottled water in California.


To all who enter this happy place... bring your wallets!


Welcome to Krustyland!


Despite its having replaced "Back to the Future: The Ride," I was really looking forward to "The Simpsons Ride."


Boy, you can see the Hollywood sign a lot better at Universal Studios than you can in Hollywood!

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^Thanks! It's not often I get called "aweseome" and "interesting" all in the same day!


After USH we motored down to Ontario, Calif., where we stopped at Scandia Family Fun Center. Now, Scandia wasn't the largest park we visited (in fact, at just 12 acres it probably was one of the two smallest), and we stayed only 45 minutes--long enough for a quick credit run--but the place was fun! Look at the photos if you don't believe me.


OK, so as we were walking back out to the bus, I noticed this ticket game. Big Mike might have "Find the Duckie"... but Scandia has "Punch the Duckie!"


Next stop: John's Incredible Pizza (and it really was)!


OMG, Scandinavian statue boobs!



And two really nice-looking miniature golf courses.


The park also had batting cages...


But wait, let's take a closer look at that photo. I think Roxy's face says it all!


Going down...


Looking to the left apparently makes this coaster less painful... but not by much!


It's true! Even if you stick your arms out and the coaster doesn't rip them off, the ride op will take you behind the snack bar and lop them off with a chainsaw. It's park policy.


This is the other end. And here's another fun fact for you: I'll bet there aren't six bolts total holding this coaster together between this end and the one you just saw.


This is the one end of the appropriately named Scandia Screamer. The palm trees make it look a lot prettier than it should be.


But wait, there's another credit! And this one comes with a fun fact.


Emotions ranged from "This is the Best. Ride. Evar!" to "I wonder how much therapy I'm going to need to feel 'normal' again now that I've sunk this low for a credit."


Natalie was pretty confused. A kiddie coaster where you don't have to steal a kid? And everyone gets the credit? What kind of crazy, topsy-turvy park is this? She put on a brave face... but we could tell she wanted to cry.


Two thumbs up for the Little Dipper--especially after it got up the lift hill! The ride op had a little fun at our expense and would power down the ride just as the train was about to crest over the first hill for each new batch of TPR riders, leading some to believe we had broken the ride....


Go, whores, go!


But this is what we were really here for anyway: the Little Dipper.


Aww, we missed the 140-foot thrill ride.


...and Lapland Landslide.


...Denmark Railway...


...Hagar's Truck Co. (which, according to the "license plates" on the trucks, is based in New Jersey)...


...Olga's Tilt-A-Whirl...


...er, I mean Nordic Spaceship...




...Skagarrak Zoo (which apparently includes dragons)...


...Thor's Hammer...


...Copenhagen Carousel...


...Viking Ship...


...Norway Flyers...


But out back is a well-maintained yard full of lightly themed rides including the Oslo Fire Department...


...and well-themed but dirty carpet.


At first glance, this place just looks like a big arcade with a lot of ticket machines...


What, no booze? Guess Piers and Jenn will be staying on the bus.... Wait, no parking lot parties either? Well that just sucks.


This is a very rare picture. It's not every day a tour bus shows up at Scandia!

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Natalie was pretty confused. A kiddie coaster where you don't have to steal a kid? And everyone gets the credit? What kind of crazy, topsy-turvy park is this? She put on a brave face... but we could tell she wanted to cry.


Ugh, I cringe just remembering the experience. A credit you don't have to work for is hardly a credit at all, and it's ne'er as sweet. I only forgave Scandia because it's themed to min fädernesland.

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Well, you're going to get called awesome and interesting for the second time in a day because it's true--that's what your TRs are! I love your captions; they range from being informative to making me laugh and I love how thoroughly you've covered each park so far.


Looking forward to more!



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^Hey, a new record! Thanks, Megan!


Our final stop of Day 6 before getting to our next hotel was John's Incredible Pizza. What makes John's so incredible? Well, it could be the pizza, which was indeed very tasty. But more on point, they had a credit--a credit so rare, even the Alveys didn't have it before this little adventure (or maybe they just told us that to make us feel better about ourselves).


This was the culmination of a very, very good day. The end of Day Six also marked the halfway point of the trip... and it only got better from there!


In case you didn't read the intro, our next stop was John's Incredible Pizza.


After dinner we spent a few minutes in the arcade... which also had a "Punch the Duckie" machine! What is with Californians that they enjoy abusing rubber ducks so much?


Anyway, thus ended our marathon Day Six, which lasted nearly 16 hours from the time we hit breakfast to the time we checked into our second-to-last hotel of the trip. Next up: Sea World!


Know what the funny thing is? The mini-doughnuts, good as they were, are the least tasty thing in this picture! The cinnamon roll was surprisingly great and the cookie... let's just say I managed to down about five of them before our short time at Incredible John's was through!


They had an in-house automated fried doughnut machine. Just like the one they have in Heaven.


A rare picture of Piers at the bar! This was for my "Piers and Alcohol" square on Elissa Bingo.


Here's my first plate. I started off with a slice of nacho cheese pizza and a slice of John's famous peanut butter pizza, both of which were surprisingly good, as was the breadstick. However, for whatever reason, no pizza there was as good as the minestrone soup. That and the peanut butter pizza were the only things here I had seconds of (until dessert).


Plain pasta for Elissa! Also... bingo square!


Josh got all his food in one trip so he wouldn't have to get back up... for three days!


However, nothing beat the TPR party room!


There were lots of themed areas to sit. Toon Time Theatre, for example, showed Hanna-Barbera cartoons on a big screen.




Of course, this was the *other* reason we were there.


...and a Frog Hopper.


...which was more of these odd (but fun) bumper cars that many West Coast parks seem to be getting...


...the Boogie Bump...


Other rides included a specially named Tornado...


"Aw crap!"


"Oh no, coaster entusiasts! Please don't let them try to ride me, please don't let them try to ride me...."


This is what most of us were *really* here for.


Wherever TPR shows up is always party central!

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Our first stop of Day 7 was Sea World! Sea World has lots of fish, but none for eating, so no food pictures this time. Enjoy!


And finally, this apparently is where they recycle Shamu into plastic bottles. Enjoy that Pepsi, kids!


Next stop: Belmont Park... and the Flowrider!


I didn't feel right about posting a picture of the sign without posting a picture of a manatee. This photo serves that purpose.


"Be gentle."


This is what the jaws of a megalodon look like. If you see a megalodon... get out of the way. It's not going to the movies.


Aw, the frickin' laser beam fell off his head!


Our time at the park was running out, but I made sure I got to see what may have been the most Dave-approved attraction of the entire trip!


...but mostly fish.


I like fish.


...and a turtle...


The aquarium had fish...


I tried to de-confuse myself with a quick walk through the aquarium where the fish spit flies. Or something like that.


Then the same Zorb guy from before somehow got into another Zorb on top of the castle and rolled it into the ocean. Then the announcer told us the show was over.


A bunch of local boaters drifted up to get a free seat for this high-quality show.


After that someone got caught in a net suspended 50 feet over the water.


Then they tricked some guy into a Zorb and pushed in the water, and the Green Goblin bumped him around for a few minutes.


First some blue people climbed poles.


At the beginning of the show, an announcer informed us that an ancient mythical race had waited thousands of years for its leader to emerge. And then he did, so now they're celebrating, and we're all invited. That was the only narration until the very end. Having said that, this show was very, very... strange.


Since I didn't get to see Cirque du Soleil with the TPR Vegas add-on, I supposed this would be the next best thing.


Green, yellow, red, yellow, green. Oh, Simon!


Hi, little dude!


Holy crap, it is!


Is this where we go for "Turtle Talk with Crush"?


Starfish come in many colors. Just like people. And Popsicles.


Is it just me, or is that starfish making an inappropriate gesture?


...which I didn't ride. But hey, you can stay nice and dry and still get a decent picture, right?


...and the rapids...


...and the otters...


After the Shamu show, I stopped off to see the dolphins...


...and then do a backflip.


...splash a bunch of people (we call this the "Sham Slam")...


The show was called "Believe." By watching it I learned that if I believe in myself, a killer whale will jump out of the water...


"I'm kind of the world!"


Turns out Sea World always keeps a backup Shamu handy, just in case the first one gets damaged. Smart thinking, Sea World!


"Now don't lie to me, Shamu. You haven't been flossing daily like we discussed, have you?"


There's Jambu! I mean... Shamu!


I invited approximately 2,000 of my closest friends to come see the show with me. No sense in letting all that whale go to waste, after all.


You can't say you've been to Sea World until you see Shamu. I mean, you can, I guess. But you'd be lying. And lying hurts your soul.


Da-dum... da-dum... da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum....


Stingrays, I guess. That was about the only thing here.


Next stop: Forbidden Reef. What makes this reef so forbidden?


Two if by air and one if by sea!


...and the other side of the Skyride, which more or less was just a base to spin you around and take you back to the park. No disembarking here!


...and beaches...


...and part of San Diego...


On the Skyride I got to see a marina...


Hmm... that whale looks somewhat familiar....


Next up on our express ticket: the Skyride!


Behold my winning picture in TPDave's pirate photo contest! I won a plastic faucet of green slime!


Oh no! They got wet and multiplied! Wait... flamingos are cute and harmless unless you feed them after midnight, right? Oh. Well, moving on then.


"Row faster, men! We'll outrun those flamingos yet!"


But still worth including in the TR. Because, you know, it's kind of pretty.


What did we discover? Mostly that the Garden of Discovery is pretty boring.


Quick! Let's take refuge in the Garden of Discovery!


"This is for my cousin, Pepe, who is now a yard ornament in Florida. I will avenge you, Pepe!"


The flamingos are invading! Run for your lives!


"Stupid sea lions. I keel you!"


"If you throw us some fish, we'll play 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' with our noses on some horns for you!"


...until you dangle some raw fish their way.


Seals and sea lions look so majestic...


What could be better than peanut butter and chocolate? Jumping fountains and Grover!


Even so, there's still a gender gap on Sesame Street. How come Elmo gets to float in a protective bubble atop his ride, but Abby Cadabby has to stand open to the elements? I call Muppet inequality!


"I was the first female Muppet to have her own balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Take that, Miss Piggy!"


Abby's Sea Star Spin did make sense to me, though I can't exactly explain why. I guess I assume she's using her magic the same way Elmo uses his imagination.


"Elmo stole John Travolta's bubble! Just try to tickle Elmo in here, punks!"


...though I'm not 100 percent on why Elmo is a fish or why the Elmo Fish were dressed as non-fish animals, either.


There was a loooooong line later in the day for Elmo's Flying Fish...


I don't really understand why Oscar has "Rockin' Eels"... but here they are!


Is it just me, or is this boat a little horny?


The funny thing is, more kids today probably know who the "Sesame Street" characters are than Snoopy, Garfield and probably about half a dozen othe park-licensed franchises combined.


"...and a sailboat full of beer! And this showcase can be yours if the price... is... right!"


That's way more than six flags....


I mean, I've heard of Turtle Wax... but Clydesdale Polish?


Man, he polished that thing so much that the Anheuser-Busch logos came up through the paint again!


This is a clydesdale with a bunch of summer camp kids. Any questions?


This is a clydesdale.


Aw, come on. I mean, it wasn't the best exhibit at the park, but it didn't bite....


Nothing says "Busch park" like clydesdales and free beer. Er... clydesdales, anyway.


I didn't get a picture of the sign below that said, "Please refrain from feeding me Froot Loops." Mostly because it didn't exist. But how cool would it be if it had!


Sea World cares for all types of animals. Even 2-D ones.


Puffin always knew he was different. "Just wait until I save Christmas," he said. "Then they'll all see!"


Why can they swim like that? Because they're highly specialized!


Why so formal, penguins?


He's got the blue-box blues.


So do highly specialized birds ride the highly short bus?


"You know, I think I like real snow better than painted concrete...."


No collar=not a Dharma polar bear.


Prima donna American whales!


During last year's TPR trip I got to pet a beluga whale at Marineland in Ontario, Canada. This year I got to see one behind three feet of glass at Sea World San Diego.


Wild Arctic is part simulator, part animal exhibit. Since simulators don't make for good photos, here's one of the helicopter the simulator was supposed to be simulating-ing-ing.


This attraction is brought to you by Ford. Because if there's one place you want to be driving a Festiva, it's in the Wild Arctic.


The park's lone credit, Journey to Atlantis, wasn't quite open yet, so we found other ways to pass the time. Props to Sea World, by the way, for giving us all ponchos to wear so we didn't have to get wet on this ride and for later giving us all Shamu keychains. Because we're Shamu keychain kind of people.


And finally we rotate back around to the entry plaza where we see... absolutely nothing!


Something big lives here. It rhymes with "Famoo."


Dolphins live here, too!


We'll be seeing more of you later, Sesame Street Bay of Play!


Dolphins live here!


Robb and Elissa, being the awesome human beings they are, got us all express passes for every ride at the park. Seriously. Like all four of them! Most of us made our way to the Skytower first.


Our awesome bus driver, Larry, lives near Sea World. Since he joined TPR, we gave him the morning off to relax at home and rode to the park in the Shamumobile instead. It's roomier than it looks.


Who here knew the Sea World logo was supposed to represent fins? Anybody? Anybody?

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From Sea World it was a short drive to Belmont Park. Now, some people will tell you that our afternoon/evening at Belmont Park was the best day in TPR history. I don't necessarily agree... though it definitely was a fun time!


What could make this even better? Glow sticks, of course! Bas was kind enough to supply several for each of us, and they looked awesome going through the tunnel!


Thus ended another 16-hour TPR day. Next stop: Legoland!


...night ERT on Giant Dipper!


Ty, Robby and Josh got in one more flat ride before...


Even the... wait, what? The "kayaks in an indoor pool" attraction? How did we miss this earlier?


Even the Speedway looked somehow different... despite its being a covered, lighted attraction even in the day.


The park's attractions look very nice lit up at night.


It was nighttime by the time we left the arcade.


The golf course exited into an arcade... where for just 250 tickets you could have yourself a pair of furry handcuffs!


"Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus II: Megalodon's Revenge"


Um... are we back at Universal?


We were all having a good time when suddenly... this rock skull came out of nowhere and ate Wes and Bas! Ahhhhh!


Laser putt!


We all had fun playing with our balls.


"We wants the redhead... but we'll settle for the blonde!"


That day's wristband color was a very appropriate choice!


Blacklight mini golf, that is!


After awhile some of us ventured back into the park proper to try our hand at mini golf.


This is where we separate the men from the boys.


We spent a lot of time after dinner hanging out and having a "few" drinks.


It was all Mexican food... and it was really, really good! A lot of people named this their favorite meal of the trip.


After working up an appetite on the Flowrider, it was time for... buf-fay!


Imagine this scene going on for about 10 minutes straight, and you pretty much have a general idea how that went!


After awhile, they let us (and by "us" I mean "them" because this sure wasn't for a water-phobe like me!) try it standing up.


Wes totally plans to become a pro at this so next time the airline loses his luggage, he can just surf back to Canada and pick it up!


OMG, Roxy's here! This just became a party!




"Crap... are my trunks still on?"


Come on, Neil! Don't be cheeeken!


Drat, if only there had been a Flowrider segment on "Wipeout"... er, for Elissa's evil twin, I mean!


...and we had two hours of ERT on it!


...and this would be the other! It's called the "Flowrider"...


They call this place the "Wavehouse" for a couple reasons. This is one of them...


Oooh, a bird! Let's follow it back to the Wavehouse.


The giant ice cream cone seemed too good to pass up! Besides, I hadn't eaten since breakfast because I had been saving myself for Jack in the Box.


On the "roadwalk" was this ice cream stand, which was also part of Belmont.


These lifeguard trucks on the beach reminded me of "Baywatch." And this picture reminds me that I forgot to mention in my Venice Beach photos that that beach was the one used in the actual filming of "Baywatch."


And then there was the beach itself.


All the beaches near me have boardwalks. A lot of the California beaches, on the other hand, seem to prefer this odd sort of "roadwalk."


Let's have a look, shall we?


Our deck also incuded its own private entrance to Mission Beach.


The deal included all-you-can-drink lemonade and $2 margaritas the entire time we were there, plus free beer and wine with dinner. There are definitely worse ways to spend a Wednesday!


Back on park property, we got our own private deck in this complex. It was like a beach party... that lasted for eight hours!


And... hmm. Kind of reminds me of vintage Big Mike Road Show!


While we're still off park property, I'd like to take a moment and share with you my one major disappointment of the trip (granted, as "major" disappointments go, it was pretty minor). When I was mapping out my pre-trip activities in California, my one regret was that I was going to have to skip Jack in the Box to squeeze in all the other attractions I wanted to see. Unfortunately, we don't have those in my neck of the woods, but the few times I've tried their food, it's been amazing (for fast food, anyway).


Before we got to Belmont, Robb announced that there was a Jack in the Box right across the street from the park! At this point I was thinking, "Wow, is there anything TPR can't do?" Well, apparently there is. Upon searching, I learned that the Jack in the Box had been replaced by a Mexican restaurant. Adding insult to injury, I later learned there was a Jack in the Box just down the street from our Carlsbad hotel of which I could have partaken the evening before had I known it existed. Actually, you know, maybe that's why I don't remember this day as fondly as some of the others--I just needed a Jumbo Jack fix!


There's also a castle...


Where I come from, the parks have pine trees, not palm trees.


So long as we're outside the park, let's take a look at what else is around. Belmont is right across the street from Mission Bay Park.


I mean, if so, the claim might have some merit. I mean, this place also has one of the original Giant Dipper cars....


Would Jeff Johnson count this as a credit?


Can you imagine riding in this? It's hard to believe they were still using this style of car in 1976.


"The coaster had its share of ups and downs...."


So I guess this would be the "Little Dipper"...?


The Giant Dipper is so cool, it even has its own museum!


Throw your hands in the air like you just don't care!




...and over!


Going up...


The station house is pretty classic.


This coaster wasn't quite as nice as its cousin to the north in Santa Cruz, but being a woodie enthusiast, I still really enjoyed it.


Giant Dipper... through the trees!


But this is the real reason we came here!


Of course, there were a few up-charge attractions, too, like the Magical Mystery Mirror Maze.


...and Beach Blaster.


...Vertical Plunge...


...Thunder Boats...




...which were more of these things...


...Krazy Kars...


...Speedway bumper cars...




...Crazy Submarine...


Other rides included the Liberty Carousel...


As you can see from this map, Belmont's coaster accounts for one full third of the park.


From Sea World to Belmont in 20 minutes. That's better than Domino's!

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Belmont was easily the best day of the trip! Oh and I mean best day of any TPR trip I've been on!


Let's recap:


- Credit

- Beach

- TPR Party Deck!!

- Flow Rider

- $2 margaritas prior to open bar (and they were somewhat strong)

- UNLIMITED BEER AND WINE! They literally came by every 5 to 10 minutes and put like 20 cans of fresh beer on the table.

- Playing "Never Have I Ever" drunk with other TPR members.

- UNLIMITED BEER AND WINE (Yes it deserves to be twice)

- Riding a coaster seriously buzzed!

- Glowsticks!!

- Krazy Kars (Seriously, best idea ever at night!) We stayed on for about 30 minutes I believe.

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^Thanks, Brian! I had to Google the 1968 Olympics to make sure that was a compliment... and I'm 80 percent sure it was!


The first part of Day 8 took us to Legoland. Now, I already declared Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk my favorite part of the trip... but Legoland was a close, close, close second, and second only because of repeatability. I could definitely see myself going back to SCBB if I'm out that way again, whereas Legoland was more of a one-time thing... but what a time it was!


I'll let the pictures and captions tell the story. It definitely was one of those "Only TPR could pull this off" kind of days!


So thank you, Renate, for doing so much to make our visit to Legoland so memorable! And there's still more to come! Stay tuned for part two.


About midway through the "private tour," my excitement began turning into anxiousness. Theme Park Review Trip Rule No. 2 is "Do not approach park staff and ask for special treatment," and though we didn't ask for it, I was afraid this bordered on that. Once we left the factory tour I called Robb... and he was elated!


Turns out Robb was in a meeting with Renate about two and a half years ago when he got the call that he needed to leave Legoland and get back home because KidTums was about to be born! This time around, Renate actually got to meet KidTums... and Mike and I were able to hand over the many bags of souvenir blocks, buttons and magazines to Robb to take back to the bus instead of hauling them around by ourselves. Bonus!


For the record, this is the total free swag we received from Legoland. If anyone would like to purchase any of it... tough.


This, for the record, is a "Renate original." If my apartment ever catches fire, this is the fourth thing I'm saving, right after my park-used Disneyland Band bass drum head, WDI security pass issued during the construction of the original Tower of Terror and "Who Wants to Be a Millionare" jacket I won at Disney-MGM Studios.


And it wasn't over yet! Renate then started squirting Lego goo from the machine, vowing to make each of us a "Renate original."


...then she invited each of us to take a Lego block fresh off the line! We didn't want to make fools out of ourselves in front of Renate, but at this point I--and I'm pretty sure Mike, as well--was so excited that I could have gotten down on the floor, started running in circles and made the Curly Howard "woop-woop-woop" noise!


...then she demonstrated how the blocks are molded...


Next she took us behind the machines to show us the "inner workings" of Lego manufacturing. First we got to handle the plastic bits that are melted down for the blocks...


...and this shelf of figures made by Factory Tour guests (check out Mario).


...like this wall of "retired" pieces from the park...


Renate is in charge of decorating the factory tour (she said her daughter was responsible for many of the park's larger statues) so once we were done counting she took us on a private tour, pointing out various pieces we missed our first time through...


Every time we got one type counted out, she would go behind another door and come out with another box full of completely different souvenir blocks for us to count!


She asked how many were on the tour so she could send us back with souvenir blocks for everyone. When we told her there were 46 of us, she immediately put us to work counting out and stacking blocks!


When we told her "Theme Park Review," her eyes got wide. She directed our attention to a business card on her bulletin board: "I know him!"


...because that's when we met Renate! And now it's story time.


As we passed the non-working machine, Renate came rushing out from behind a door and asked us to give her a moment to get the machine started because it wouldn't be a full tour unless we saw it in action. While she was starting it up, she asked us where we were from. I told her I was from Maryland, and Mike was from England. She replied, "England? We need to get you something special for coming all the way from England! Follow me!" Then she took us into an office and gave us each a commemorative "Factory Tour" block and a copy of "Brickmaster" magazine, which we both thought was very generous.


She asked us how we came to Legoland from our two very different venues, and we told her we were with a group on a two-week tour of California. Then she asked the $64,000 question: "What tour company?"


I'm not sure which machine on the self-guided "factory tour" wasn't turned on, but for the sake of argument, let's say it was this one. And that's when the day got *really* good...


I'm even more sure this is what the finished blocks look like.


I'm pretty sure this is what all Lego employees look like.


Actually, we heard it was forced out after accountants discovered they could hire two new molds at the same cost of keeping this one around.


This is what Lego blocks look like before they look like Lego blocks.


They only go beyond Dallas when J.R. Ewing says they can.


And now you know.


We reported them to security. This guy said he'd take care of it.


Line cutters! Where do these kids think they are, Knott's Berry Farm?


Next we decided to take a tour of the Lego factory, which is kind of like Hershey's Great American Chocolate Tour, only without chocolate... or singing cows.


I always thought carbonite was black.


Bear hole!


And sadly, none of the villagers came. They didn't really like Peter that much anyway.


The pharaoh is sad because we can see up his skirt.


He's totally about to get a "hands" penalty. Also... they didn't have TV cameras in ancient Egypt! Someone in research was seriously asleep at the wheel on that one!


Even the torches were made of Legos!


"My only regret is that I lived my life on a diet of plain pasta and skinned hot dogs."


Congratulations! You're the next American Idol!


Hello, adventurers! I like your Lego neckerchiefs!


Mike said this place was a must-see.


Look out below! This lady "accidentally" missed her flowers while watering... and check out the flowers! They look just like "Lego" flowers... if that makes any sense.


This park has awesome theming! Check out the cat and the birds on the ledge.


Legoland's grounds crew takes a break.


No. 253 on the list of "Things You Will Never Ever See at Disneyland."


The designers at Legoland have a pretty twisted sense of humor.


Yeah, I know people like this....


OMG, Legoland added a TPR monument just for us!


Sounds like my kind of place!


More pirates! I don't know why, but I really like the design of the turkey.


This is the most awesome idea ever! They set up little Lego play tables in the lines of most of the rides so kids could keep themselves occupied--all within eyeshot of their parents--and then rejoin their parents as they got closer to the ride. More parks need to adopt this (along with free sodas and sunscreen like Holiday World offers).


Better not fall in!


Too bad I already wasted my Simon joke in the Sea World section of this TR....


Skipper School also looked like fun. Unfortuantely, we didn't have time to hit everything, and if we had to skip a few things, this seemed like one to start with.


Splash Battle looked pretty neat... but you can pretty much count me out of anything with the word "Splash" in the name!


Hang in there!


I stuck with Mike Moody for most of the day. Already familiar with the similar Lego parks in Europe, he gave me a guided tour starting with the pirates area.


Best restroom signs ever!


This was part of the park's miniature golf course, which we didn't get the opportunity to play, unfortunately (plenty of time for mini golf later in the day).


Of course, it was much cooler with people riding and water shooting up!



Aquazone was pretty cool.


Early entry allowed some people-free ride shots, too.


Hey hey, it's a monkey!




So where's the Chargers statue?


E=MC Hammer.


If Evel Knievel was made of Legos, he so would have had one of these.


Who's the builder who built Bob?


Add Legoland to the growing number of parks on this trip with a Thomas!


You know, if they had Bionicle when Luke was growing up, he probably could have just made his own replacement hand....




Even the pressed penny machines were Lego-themed!


The early entry for ERT also afforded a lot of people-free shots of some of the park's many statues. Remind you of anyone?


Or not.


"Don't worry, foxes! The guard will protect you!"


"If anybody's down there, can you send my false teeth back up?"


Guilty of spreading swine flu!


It's good to see Shrek finally found a profession that will allow him to support his wife and their many ogre babies.


The Dragon is part dark ride, part coaster... and no photography (at least not on my part). So instead, here are some Lego figures from the park's Medieval section... which is more or less just an extension of the dark ride portion of Dragon anyway.


So what could be better than ERT? Bonus ERT! Immediately after park opening, our park guide led us to The Dragon so we could be the first guests of the day to ride!


It's just like one of those repeating pictures!


"Is this a bad time to tell you I have to pee?"


They had discontinued the use of water jets on the ride by the time of our visit. Otherwise, this could have been twice as wild!


Guess which setting was most popular!


Riders can pick their own intensity setting on the ride from 1 (mild) to 5 (may cause minor brain damage).


"Oh crap!"


"Hey, this isn't so bad...."


Ready to go, guys?


Mr. Dragon says, "Follow me for robocoaster ERT at Knight's Tournament."


It's a wild mouse... and it's awesome! (Everything at Legoland gets a minimum rating of "awesome.")


For some reason, I really sucked at photographing this ride... so here's all you get of the station area.


Look out! A Cobra agent!


Oh, right... more ERT!


Wait, why is everyone leaving so soon?


Kerry is all ready to shoot her some Lego pharaohs!


And then they offered us a ride on something neither SFDK or Universal had: Pharaoh's Revenge!


They also heard we got to see a lot of intricate Egyptian decor during our backstage "Mummy" tour at Universal Studios... so they matched that as well!


Legoland heard Six Flags Discovery Kingdom brought out a camel for us... so they did the same!


Hooray for ERT!


Right next door to the entrance to Legoland was Sea Life Aquarium, which I didn't visit because a) there was too much to see and do at Legoland as it was, b) it was an upcharge, and c) after Sea World the day before, I'd had just about enough of fish to last me a couple years.


Hello, Mr. Lego Man. You can put your arms down now. We come in peace.


I suspected we'd be going to Legoland on Day 8. Mostly because we saw several videos about it on the bus the evening before. And it was on the agenda.

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