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


WEDNESDAY 27th MAY (UNIVERSAL STUDIOS)
(part 2)

When I returned to the Upper Lot, and headed for the Studios Tour, I saw Ian and family having lunch at the Flintstones Themed BBQ kiosk.
I told them what I was off to do, and they were keen to join me, but due to their youngen preventing them from going into many attractions, they had to decide on which one of them would miss out.
This time it was Ian who stayed behind to look after Emilie, and Caroline joined me on the Tour (the queue was a 40 minute wait - and this was a quiet day...).

The start of the Tour, and shuttle-buses.
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The tourguide predictably tried to be just as surprised as us about certian things on the tour, as if stuff was happening for the first time.
It was still mildly entertaining...

Making the descent to the Studio Backlot below. And one of the giant soundstages when we got down there.
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Along the row of temporary residences/offices, Hasbro actually currently has an office on site for on-hand laising with the movie studios for their TV/Movie projects.  And down the road from there was a line-up of a number of vehicles used in famous movies, like the Mummy.
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Back to the Future Vehicles, including the DeLorean.
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And a bigger shot of it, because of its cult status to some... or just to Ian (Caroline mentioned that if he were on the tour, he'd probably jump out of the bus just to touch it).

A special effects bridge that has the appearance of collapsing, but comes together again for the next tourbus.
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Some Jurassic Park props...
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...and one that escaped from the cage, spraying 'poison' at the people on the tour-bus.

Up next was a Fast & Furious themed demonstration of weapons testing (or, the special affects to look like a weapons test).
We start by entering through a gate, that the tourguide says is 'just a shortcut for today'. Once inside, wesee two 'riced' cars and a warning goes off that a weapons test is about to begin. The bus just happens to stall at that moment...
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...as the 'guns' go off (the noise and effects to look like bullets are hitting the ground around the cars.  Then something is hit and ignited...
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...erupting into a fireball and huge explosion, that tosses the cars right at us in the bus.
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Spinning wildly in the air with noise, smoke and flames, the faint of heart may not see the giant hydrolic arms under the cars until after they are almost on top of us.
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As we drove off, and the smoke cleared, we get to see how fake these cars really are.

The next special effect is the flooding of a small central or south american village.  I'd remembered this one from TV as well so knew what was going to happen.  Unfortunatly, the tourguide played up the whole flooding as something unexpected and threatening to us.
First we park near a village backlot, and the guide starts talking about what sort of movies would use this sort of set. Just then, it starts to 'rain' from the sprinklers, and a wall of water suddenly appears.
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As the flood hits the village, it starts pouring through the buildings as well.
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Flooding the entire street, all the way down to where we were parked.
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But with a wall and drain between us and the water, it didn't hit us.
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Instead, it just drained away to be pumped back up to the top of the hill for the next tour group.

Next we drove through some western themed sets.
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More sets, with some that are double sided, to save space when just needing different store fronts for different movies or scenes.
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And more sets that look like they are hundreds of years old.
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A Spanish/Mexican looking courtyard.

Driving on, we drove past a lake that has been used in heaps of movies. Ahead though, the road lead into the lake.  I thought at first that it was just a shallow covering of water, but while we were stopped, we saw that narrow section of the lake drain (the road was actually about a meter underwater), like a parting of the Red Sea.
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This draining feature allows fim-makers to do water shots at surface level, without having to use waterproof equipment.  As an example, they had a miniture set for the recent King Kong movie on one side, to demonstrate this 'getting down to surface level' perspective.
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Some close-ups of the boat and miniture set, and the edge of the retaining wall that sits just under the surface of the lake, with pumps removing the water from the trench faster than it fills up, exposing the submerged road for us to drive over.
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More close-ups of the model boat from the movie.
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And more shots of the miniture boat and set, complete with mist affect.
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Onto an adjoining lake was the Amity boat harbour, from the movie Jaws.  Our tour just drove through without anything special happening, but looking at other people's photos, it looks like the actual Shark lunges at the tourbus.
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This is what we would have seen on the day if Jaws was working.
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Another interesting special affects demonstration I vaguely remember seeing ages ago on TV was the Subway Earthquake.  And as usual, our tourguide was trying to act as surprised as us when it started happening.
We drove into this underground tunnel that looked like an ordinary subway/train station.
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But then things started to rumble and shake. Stuff started cracking and collapsing. The Train arrives as the earthquake starts, derailing and jack-knifing around a pillar. As the ceiling collapsed, a tanker trailer slides in from the street above.
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More pillars are destroyed, as they stop the truck from sliding right ontop of us. Behind it you can see the city street (set).
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Then came the water from the other side, flowing down the stairs and flooding he entire station (from a burst water main).
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Like with the earlier flooded village set, the only thing preventing us from being drowned was the drainage trench next to the roadway.  But it was certainly frightning to get a feeling of being trapped underground during an earthquake,

Out of that special effects display, we drove a little way before turning onto what looked like a suburban street.  A few people seemed to recognise it, but since I've never watched the TV show 'Desperate Housewives', I didn't know it was their outdoor set until the guide mentioned it as being Wysteria Lane.

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More pics of the street.
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And nearby, was another outdoor set for another TV show (which I didn't recognise).  It was called 'Whoville', based on the Dr Suess world.

Next was the Bates Motel, and the mother's house behind it.
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And for a bit of fun, a person playing the role of Norman Bates, charges at us with a knife, as if we've just caught him stashing a body in the back of his car.
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Yeah, that's really scary....

From there, we drove through a set they used for the recent 'War of the Worlds' movie.  The Studios wouldn't have the room to keep all their sets intact and on display for tourists, but this was one that was so big and realistic, it will probably be a permanent feature there now.  Basically, the Studios bought a real, full-size 747 aircraft, and tore it up to simulate an actual crash within a suburban street.

Complete with smoke (from smoke machines), and...
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... humming engines (as if the crash only just happened).
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We then drove past a cabin that has been used in a lot of movies as a generic forest cabin. And it was near a giant blue-screen, which they can fill at the base with water, and film lake or ocean scenes.
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Next was a short drive through a tunnel that appeared to rotate around us (can't recall the reason why though).
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To wrap up the tour, we drove past the construction site (rebuilding all the city sets that were burnt down a few months before).
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The tour bus then proceeded back up to the starting point, taking about 45 minutes in total (it was now 2.30pm).
Finding Ian and Emilie, we headed off to the Waterworld show, which was only on twice a day, and was about to start (3pm).
Just like the movie, it was a lavish, expensive production, involving dozens of performers, heaps of stunts and aquatic vehicles, and lots of explosions and other special effects.
It ended up being a 25 minute sequel to the movie, revolving around an Atoll being attacked by the Smokers, and fought off by the main character (Mariner).

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The set before the show started.  There were parts of the amphitheatre that was marked as 'wet zones', which the performers would aim to wet or splash with their vehicles or hoses.  Even before the show started, the warm up performers were spraying parts of the stands (and people) with water.

Lots of action and acrobatics.
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Fire, explosions, boats and jetskis.
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And as the climactic finish approached...
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...the big finale was a spectacular arrival and landing of a waterboat inside the Atoll...
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...crashing into the the side with the audience (probably scared the pants off them, seeing it coming straight at them). It would take a bit of precision launching of the plane-prop to have it just make it over the set wall and land where it did.
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Coming out of that show, we made our way towards the Shrek 4D pavillion, and it was just about to start (3.30pm).  Since it wasn't a ride, or anything too scary, Ian's whole family were able to go in.
The outer room photo below) just had some of the Shrek characters talking about the evil King Farquaad who has come back as a ghost to get his revenge. The animation is done in 3-D (we were all given 3-D glasses when entering), and the seats we sat in would move or vibrate according to the events of the story. Plus, the seat in front had a water squirter, that would spurt water at you when something like the Gingerbread man spitting happened.  Apparently this animation clip was released on DVD some time ago, as a 3-D movie, and came with 3-D glasses.

Outside of the Shrek pavillion/show, looked to be another Shrek themed prop (first photo), but judging by the second photo I found, it may have been some sort of additional performance by someone in a Donkey suit (which I didn't see occur that day).
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From the Shrek show, we saw that the next scheduled show was at the Terminator pavillion (4.10pm). We went over to it, and as with the other shows, there was an outer room intro, before being led into the main auditorium for the show.  The show itself was a very well choreographed performance between real people, and a giant screen of 3-D filmed scenes/locations (we were given 3-D glasses for this show as well).  The basic story a Terminator taking John to the future, to see what it is like, and attempt to end the threat by taking on Skynet. (my photo)

In the gift shop at the exit to the show, they actually had some Transformers toys for sale (I guess it made sense to have them in a robot-themed show's shop).
The last thing I did for the day (at about 4.45) was the House of Horrors (while Ian's family went off to do some other things).  It was actually more impressive on the outside, as you walk through a maze of corridors and props, only to have staff jump out at you from shadows to try to scare you.  It pays to follow behind a group of people, who 'set off' the scare tactics of the staff.
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It was a little past 5pm when I was done with that, and after finding the others, I was wanting to do the Simpsons ride again.  We headed back over to that side of the park, but by the time we got there and saw that the queue was estimated as being about 20minutes (most attractions had electronic signs saying how long the wait would be), we decided that there just wasn't enough time to do it.
After all, we were told at the start of the day that we could do anything we wanted, as long as we were back at the bus by 6pm... or else we would be left behind.
Heading back to the bus, we had about 15 minutes left before we departed for the hotel.

Below, are some photos I found of the retail/theatre precinct outside of the main park, which I didn't get to check out, but wanted to include some pics here to let me know what I missed, and maybe remind myself to check it out next time.
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The bus got us back to the hotel by about 6.30pm, so we had about 3 hours before we could pick up our pre-registration materials.

Not feeling like going out anywhere, we had dinner at the restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel. Ian and Caroline didn't have a problem with their meals, but mine was terrible... I wasn't happy.

Just before 9.30 Ian and I went over to the convention centre to pick up our stuff, only to find just about everyone else already lined up, as if they would miss out if they were last in line.
Oustide.

Inside.

And the pick-up table.

It ended up taking us an hour and a half to get our stuff.  Just as I was at the table to get my stuff, the head of FunPub (Brian) played a promo video for the convention, which I missed, and would have to wait until the friday to see.

The stuff I got was the full convention set (both boxed set and loose set for others).
(photos of the toys in the display case)
Kup, Landshark, Scourge (at the back), Thunderclash, Flak (the box shown behind them had flaps that opened up to reveal the premise of the Elite Guard.

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And the bonus attendee toy, Leozak. Plus the convention guide/comic, and the box the regular set (above) comes packed in.

The Biocards.

And Certificate of authenticity.

Below, on the right is the convention guide/comic, Wings of Honour.  The other two comics were both part-printings of issue one of the TF2 movie adaptation, with different exclusive covers - the left one was a Kmart edition (with special offers inside) which was being given out at the Hasbro booth, while the one in the centre was the IDW BotCon edition that they were selling at their booth.

We were back to the room by 11pm, and I was asleep by midnight (too tired to stay awake).


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griffin @ otca.com.au

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