My 10th year of BotCon
(griffin's 2009 BotCon report)

(part 1)

Even though I didn't get to sleep until almost 4am (doing computer stuff and eating American cereals and snack foods), it was a fairly restless sleep (which was obvious with all that junk I had eaten) and ended up getting up at about 5.30am.
When the others woke up at 7am, we got ourselves ready and were out the front of the convention centre just on 8.45. The busses were there ready, but the convention organisers were 15 minutes late.
I was surprised to see 2 buses and so many people on the Wednesday tour. There were about 70 people, compared to about 25 on last year's Wednesday tour.

(Note to readers - my camera ran out of power after half an hour at the Studios, so most of the photos are not mine. I have noted which photos are mine - the rest were obtained from the website, that were taken of things that I would have taken photos of anyway - like the occasional BotCon photos I borrow that cover something I missed.)

(my photo)

It took about 50 minutes to get to Universal Studios, and after we got in through the main gate we had to wait about ten minutes before it officially opened for business (10am).

Outside the main entrance. (my photo)

Off to the right, there was a shopping/theatre precinct that was outside of the park itself. I didn't realise this until a few weeks later (despite it being on the map), so didn't actually go down there. (my photo)

Famous sign at the front of the park somewhere. (photo from flickr)

Map of the Park.  The Upper Lot is mostly rides and attractions. The Lower Lot has some additional attractions, but is mostly Studios and backlots. (my photo)

The crowd waiting patiently for the clock to hit 10am. (my photo)

The area near the entrance where we were waiting. (photos from flickr)

As soon as the park was officially openned the first thing Caroline wanted to do was get a photo of Emilie with someone dressed up as Spongebob Squarepants. (my photo)

So we wandered around the main part of the park for about 45 minutes to see what everything was like (a lot of the individual kiosks weren't even open yet). At least it was the middle of the week and not school holidays, so it wasn't very crowded at all.  Some of the attractions took 10-20 minutes in a queue, but had roped off areas to cover 10 times as many people - do the math, and the park wouldn't be much fun if you had to spend 1-2 hours queuing up at each attraction.

Prop cars from the Fast and Furious Movies. (my photo)

Blues Brothers car. (my photo)

Signage showing how their generic outdoor sets can be done up easily to look like a number of different periods or countries. (my photo)

Approaching the Terminator 2 attraction (yes, the second movie, which shows how long that attraction has been there for), and to the right was a themed water fountain 'soak zone'.

Behind the 'soak zone' was a lookout, looking down at the Universal Studios, Disney, and Warner Bros. (a clear day photo from flickr)

A not so clear day photo, with the lower lot at the bottom half of the photo. (my photo)

Looking down at the lower lot.  And looking down at the main backlot (being rebuilt from a fire about 6 months earlier). (photos from flickr)

And another photo of the rebuilding of their giant outdoor city sets.

More views from the lookout, showing the lower lot and the tour bus, and the Warner Bros Studios in the distance.

Marvel Merchandise store - even had the Marvel Transformers, but only the first wave, and not very cheap either (worked out to be close to what we pay in Australia). Second photo is of the Curious George themed kids play park.

Doc Brown's Chicken (possibly meant to be the character from Back to the Future).  And a Flintstones themed BBQ kiosk, which I really wanted to try, but ran out of time.

A shot of the actual barbeque out the back.

We then split up for a couple hours to let me do stuff a toddler wouldn't be able to, and let the others have some family time together.

I started off trying out the Simpsons ride, which really caught me off guard, as it was a lot more intense and jarring than I was expecting. It was like being strapped onto a rodeo bull, as it was a small 6 seater 'rollercoaster car' propped up on what I would imagine was a giant piston, that tossed the car around to correspond to the rollercoaster animation on the giant (Imax sized) screen in front. It felt like you were actually in the rollercoaster animation.
It was also one of three rides that had a water-spray feature that would spray water at you from the back of the seat in front, whenever there was something 'wet' on the screen.

The front of the Simpsons ride/attraction.

And to one side was the Simpsons Merchandise store, which just about had just about everything you could think of with the Simpsons brand slapped on it.  There were a couple of novelty food items in there though, which I bought - a giant donut, and softdrink in a 'Flaming Mo' can.

These photos show the waiting room inside the Simpsons ride/attraction.  Most of these themed attractions had a waiting room, with some sort of intro played out or narrated by someone real or something on a screen.  In this case, it was several Simpsons characters on three different TV screens (wasn't very entertaining though).

The novelty food items - Energydrinks in Buzz Beer cans and Flaming Mo cans, and Giant donuts.  By the time I went in to buy some at the end of the day, they were half price, so I bought 2.

A photo I took at the hotel when we got back, showing the size of the donut compared to the can (the donut got a bit squished though).

After the Simpsons ride, I headed down to the lower lot to do and see everything there before doing the Studio tour (which starts at the upper lot).

The first photo - Cool Zones were all over the Park, which is just water mist blown through really big fans.  It comes out icy cold though, so are very refreshing.
The second photo is of a prop used in the Apollo 13 movie, which was located at the top of the escalators to the lower lot.

Looking down at the lower lot from the escalator (it is actually 4 big escalators).

Getting closer...

At the half way point, looking down, and looking back up.

First thing I did at the lower lot was the Backdraft attraction/stage, with lots of fire and explosions. Since I was wearing a TFs t-shirt, one of the attendees running that stage told me that tthis was where the new Transformers ride was going to be next year (there were 2 announced last year, for LA and SE Asia). We started by going through some small demonstrations of the properties of fire.

And the finale was a big room that is torched several times a day...


Straight out of that (with great timing) I then went straight into the SPFX attraction, which had some demonstrations of simple movie visual affects, with some audience participation. From there I looked in a small display of movie memorabilia or Archive.  I then went straight into the Revenge of the Mummy Ride (which was finally an actual rollercoaster-type ride), which was almost as jarring as the Simpsons ride.

The last thing to do in the lower lot was the Jurassic park ride, which was a water-based ride, and I got soaked at the end of it.


Some of the dino props, with some 'spitting' water at you as you go past.  And the final plunge at the end, which got me drenched because I was sitting at the end of a row.

It was a little after 1pm by this stage, and I headed back to the upper lot for the Studios tour.


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