What to do with a couple days in the LA area? Everything!
First up, Universal Studios. E- and I realized it has probably been 15 years since we visited Universal Studios-What?!?
The best thing we did was get there before opening. We walked onto the Jurassic Park ride and The Mummy (twice) when later those lines were 40-60 minutes.
The Simpsons ride is a hoot-though it helps if you are a fan. The gift shop is pretty awesome as well. I really really wanted to buy the Homer doughnut but I won't be seeing the folks who would help me eat it for about a week. Next time! Near by is a plaza for viewing the valley.
Perhaps the best ride was the Horror House. This is a good old-fashioned Haunted House. I didn't really realize that, which is why I thought it sounded fun...luckily for me the five teens in front of us were there to freak out for me. There are live performers who will not touch you (say the signs) but come awful close. Holy cow if we did not have the screamers in front of us I would have been the one freaking out-yikes!
E- would say that the best ride of the day was the 'stairs' ride. So! Universal is on two levels with the biggest roller coasters on the lower level. There are 3 loooong escalators to get up and down. The longest up escalator? Broken! So there are the employees, handing you water bottles and cheering you on, like in a race. I bet the repair guy is feeling the pressure!
Again you get some good views at the top of the stairs.
The Studio Tour is what everyone is there for and it is better than I remember it. You see actual working studios, sets and the worlds largest green screen. There are at least four places where the tour turns into a 'ride'.
About to visit King Kong's island
They had to buy a plane ($60K) and ship it ($200K) in order to have it busted up for a disaster set.
My only negative comment is that they are clearly not interested in packing the trolleys completely full and optimizing space. I get that it would be more work for not much payoff...but we waited 90 minutes and the line was just getting longer. Even saving folks 10 minutes would be nice! But that is probably just me and my love of operational efficiency!
The day after Universal Studios we went to the Museum of Jurassic Technology and they could not be more different. Photography is not allowed, so you should check out the web site. I suspect many people who wander in here accidentally hate it or are confused.
I personally loved the exhibits on Athanasius Kircher (operational bell wheel) and the International String Association (instructional cats-cradle video) and the film, The Language of Birds (we were the only ones to see the entire film, 10 other folks came and went throughout the ~20 minutes). E- particularly enjoyed Lives of Perfect Creatures Dogs of the Soviet Space Program, which I notice has a Viewmaster disk I may need to purchase.
The next day I knew we needed to visit a beach, any beach. It was still quite gray, so we didn't sit in the sun, but we totally got the beach experience. We visited Manhattan Beach, home of beach volleyball. No really! Later this week is a tournament where they will cram in 50,000 people. The volleyball nets are always up on the beach and even on this relatively uncrowded day they were busy.
There is a great pier to walk on
Out at sea are a couple of large ships
From the pier you can see the surfers. Today there was this one standup paddleboarder picking his way among the surfers-pretty interesting. I wonder if it is easier or harder than regular surfing, seems like it might be easier-you can start in a calm water situation....maybe someday...maybe
We also got to see the beach groomer-the zamboni of the beach
The beach trip ended on a nice note-our parking meter had just run out of time and we were about to get a ticket, but since we had just returned the cop gave us a warning-thanks Manhattan Beach!