Nerdventures: Universal Studios Hollywood

Though most of my and Peder’s geeky shenanigans take place via a screen or tabletop, sometimes we get to engage in some nerdiness in the real world — or at least, some sort of altered version of it. A little over a week ago, we got the chance to do just that at Universal Studios in LA!

It was the first phase of our summer trip to visit Peder’s sister and her husband in LA, and was a successful adventure by all accounts. I’d been to the Universal Studios in Florida about six years back, so I knew more or less what to expect, but after the ridiculously good time I had at the other park, I was beyond excited to experience it all again!

An authentic (and tasty!) English breakfast at the Three Broomsticks

We started off our day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, because obviously — and it was every bit as glorious as I remembered. It’s my favorite part of the park for more reasons than just the obvious. Beyond the unmitigated joy that jumping into one of my favorite book-worlds brings me, I couldn’t help noticing again just how well thought-out everything was, and the sheer amount of detail they put into everything. The other areas of the park are all really nicely done as well, and are spot-on in terms of atmospherics, but there’s just something extra-immersive about HP World — you feel like you really have stepped out of LA and through a dimension door to Hogsmeade. So many things about it should be corny, but somehow it all just works.

From the sounds of a house elf industriously moving around furniture (and evidently disturbing monsters in the process??) in the Three Broomsticks, to Neville’s dancing Mimbulus mimbletonia in a shop window, to the moving paintings that have no right to be as convincing as they are, to the true wonderment that is Ollivander’s, to Moaning Myrtle’s voice in the bathrooms, everywhere you turn there are more wonderfully rendered details from the world of Harry Potter. This would all be cool enough on its own, but add to that the Hogwarts ride that makes you feel like you are inside actual Hogwarts, and you have one happy geek. It’s the kind of thing that makes me wish there was a park for every story I love (LOTR Land, anyone??).

The iconic Moe’s!

YAAAASS

As cool as HP World was, we eventually had to leave to seek other adventures! We got spit on by countless dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park area (and really just everywhere, to be honest…the amount of spit effects on the Universal rides is a little out of hand but also kind of fantastic); we were chased by some truly convincing zombies in the Walking Dead experience (which mainly amounted to me screaming a lot and Peder being vastly amused by this fact); had a Squishee and ate at Cletus’ Chicken Shack in Simpsons Land; geeked out on the studio tour (and were nearly attacked by Norman Bates); were briefly turned into minions in Gru’s lab; witnessed a Live Sea War(!!) stunt show based on Waterworld (of all things…); and had all sorts of other adventures in between.

Waterworld: like Mad Max, but with water!

Overall, it was a very memorable, very enjoyable, and very exhausting day, and I was so glad we got the chance to do it. Aside from one foggily remembered trip to Disneyland when I was four, all of my theme park experiences have happened in my adult life, and thus far, I think I’ve gotten every bit as much fun out of them as I imagine I might have as a kid. And in some respects, probably more — I’m a lot better at standing in long lines, walking for miles all day long, and being patient until it’s time to eat again than I was as a little kid (well, less so on that last one, maybe), which means that I spend less time feeling peevish and more time enjoying myself and taking in my over-the-top surroundings. And since I tend to be a pretty childi-…I mean, childlike person in general, I’m able to have an unironic, unembarrassed good time, which makes it all the more worth it.

Have you had a chance to visit Universal Studios or another park full of nerdy venues? What’s your favorite memory from your visit? If not, which one is at the top of your list to check out?

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