Life is actually getting more and more exciting. I feel like I’m on a magic carpet ride and soaring through better and better days. This week the children are home from school. We’ve spent some quality time together. I realize that a lot of the excitement has come at a cost, a financial one that is, but it just proves that disposable income truly is worth working for.
Today we went to Universal Studios. Naturally, while planning the trip over there, I thought about the last time I had been there. I thought it was when I was 11 and my best friend Becky and I were chaperoning some French friends of the family. The funny thing is that when I was actually on the lot today I remembered that I had been there several times after that. It wasn’t at the park, though, it was on the backlot. There were the auditions, of course, plenty of those, and then there was the commercial for the Canadian hamburger restaurant. I drove an old Pontiac in the shoot. It had a push button transmission and all I had to do all day was drive the car forward and back it up. I drove it up and down that phony street about a million times. The trams would go by and stop so the tourists could take pictures of us. I remember how silly it was to think driving a car a few feet up and down a phony street was glamourous enough to warrant a photo. It was right up there with wanting to be the actress in the commercial. Who would want to take big sexy bites of a truly disgusting gluey and cold hamburger before spewing it into a bucket repeatedly?
My experience today was entirely different from all of those memories. Today I was a tourist and a mother enjoying the park with fresh eyes. Practically everything has changed there. Yes, Jaws still launches out of the water towards the tram and there’s the Bates Motel but other than that things have changed around there.
All the changes, as far as I can tell, are positive. I always enjoyed my visits there and nostalgia was a threat to full enjoyment at the park today but the new park won for fun hands-down-no-contest. There’s a very prominent sense of humor around that place juxtaposed against an enduring love of monsters and all things horror. I laughed so hard I wept not once but twice today. My throat is raw from all the involuntary screaming. I’d describe the experience as a down right good time.
However, I don’t want to leave out the details of the finances necessary to fund this fun-filled day. It cost a whopping $237 just to get into the park. That’s the cost of one mom, one 10-year old and one 8-year old. If Robert and the baby had come it would’ve well over $300 just to walk in. A child’s admission ticket, in case you are wondering, is $74. That’s not a typo, it really cost $74 for a child. It’s shocking. Absurd. Unbelievable. Inconceivable, even. How can it cost $237 just for a mom and two kids to visit the park which is only open for 8 hours? That’s $10 per person per hour. That doesn’t include food. How about a $7 hot dog? Or a $3 cup of horrible powdered coffee? I know the sets and stunts are fake but couldn’t the coffee be real?
So I guess I give the admission fee a Jaws sized thumbs down but the park a Jurassic sized thumbs up. For the price of gold you can enjoy the Entertainment Capitol of L.A. I wonder who made sure they can’t claim themselves to be the Entertainment Capitol of the World. Whoever it is, I should be grateful. Can you imagine how much the admission price would be then?
P.S. Jay Leno was on the lot doing interviews while we were there. It was right when the park first opened and a very small crowd had collected. I really wanted to jump in on the opportunity but the kids weren’t interested at all. Why would they care about a guy who’s on TV in the middle of the night? I thought Jay Leno was solid proof of their “working studio” promise, but for the kids, King Kong was WAY more impressive.