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Universal Studios

Universal Studios Grown-Up Tour

A stroll through Universal Studios will make you feel as if you've covered 3,000 miles in just a few hours. Hollywood is just a short walk from New York City; San Francisco a stone's throw from the fictional Middle America of Springfield. The genius here is in the details, so take your time and notice the secondhand items in the windows of New York shops, for instance, or the cable-car tracks running through San Francisco.

South Side

Upon entering, don't head straight to Production Central; instead, turn right—onto Rodeo Drive. In a few steps you're in the heart of Hollywood. Although you'll probably drop into attractions such as Terminator 2: 3-D and Universal Orlando's Horror Make-Up Show, you can also have a soda at Schwab's or a hot dog at Mel's. Not even folks in the real Hollywood can do this. Notice the lovely Garden of Allah bungalows that look as if they were actually moved from Tinseltown.

Next stop: Springfield. Although The Simpsons Ride is a thrill, so is the amazing pop art that sets the stage for it. The facade is decorated like a carnival, with games of chance bordering the towering face of Krusty the Clown. Watch for the kiosk that sells Squishees ("America's favorite icy goo").

North Side

San Francisco comes into view with cobblestone streets, redbrick buildings, and a waterfront inspired by Fisherman's Wharf.

New York captures nearly every borough. There are narrow alleys, fire escapes, a Chinese laundry, pawnshops, and secondhand stores. Round a corner and you'll see the Guggenheim Museum, newspaper offices, Italian restaurants, and Irish pubs. It's an amazing assemblage of styles, with clever signage, props, and effects.

Production Central takes you into the world of soundstages, movies, and TV shows. Look for the posters for the movies and albums being released by the stars of Shrek and other witty details.

At Universal Studios, the fun isn't just about the rides.