Universal Fun in Hollywood

Universal Studios got started waaay back in 1912, when filmmaker Carl Laemmle and partners founded the Universal Motion Picture Manufacturing Company.  Amazingly, the company is still in the movie and TV show making biz (as a subsidiary of NBC and, now, Comcast) – as well as a major player in the theme park business.  The home base for all of this is the Universal Studios Hollywood complex in Universal City, California.

Located in the hills just a few miles north of downtown Hollywood, Universal Studios Hollywood is both a working TV/film studio and a major tourist attraction.  The tourism side of the business started with studio tours and a dramatized version of those tours is still a popular reason for visiting.  (Show anybody a photo of a group of folks on a tram touring a studio “back lot” and they’ll probably say “Oh, yeah, that’s the Universal Studios tour.”)

Besides giving you the opportunity to go “behind the scenes” at “Wisteria Lane”, visit the “Bates Motel”, drop by the courthouse from “Back To The Future” or get attacked by “Jaws”, the Universal theme park includes the latest in high-tech thrills such as “King Kong 360 3D”, “Jurassic Park-The Ride”, the “Shrek 4D” movie experience and “The Simpsons” ride.

The latest addition to the Universal City complex is Universal CityWalk Hollywood.  This entertainment district is an outdoor mall built in the form of a city street, with a bunch of places to eat, lots of places to shop and a 19 screen movie house (including a full-size IMAX theater).  The “CityWalk” concept has worked out well enough for Universal that they’ve also built one next to their theme parks in Orlando and Japan.

When you’re visiting Los Angeles, you’re not likely to consider the possibility of walking to places of interest (it’s just not a walking kind of town), but there are actually a couple of hotels built adjacent to Universal Studios that you might consider.  The Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City is very conveniently located and gets generally good reviews, while the Sheraton Universal Hotel (beneficiary of a recent $30 million rehab) has been a place where you might spot a celebrity for many years.

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