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LA for everyone: theme parks

Thursday, September 3, 2009
It was hard to contain Natalie Gruzlewski when she knew she was going to Universal Studios and Disneyland in Los Angeles. Rightly so. They're just as much for grown-ups as they are for children.

Universal Studios

Universal Studios Hollywood is the world's largest movie studio and theme park. Studio trolley tours have been running since 1964 and are a popular attraction.

More than 125 million people have been taken behind-the-scenes of some of the most action-packed movies in history. Attractions based on Pirates of the Caribbean, Jaws and King Kong, ET and Jurassic Park are just a few visitors will enjoy.

Universal is very busy in the television world as well — some of the shows taped there include Desperate Housewives, Ghost Whisperer, Beverly Hills 90210 and Crossing Jordan.

Tours are constantly updated as new movies are released and one visit is never enough. The park has 19 movie screens, loads of rides, at least 14 major attractions and 24 restaurants.

If you are a fan of The Simpsons, you will love the new addition: The Simpsons Ride. Join Homer, Marge and the family in Krustyland in an unbelievably real simulator. You'll scream, laugh and feel as though you are flying, but you never leave the ground.

Waterworld Stunt Show is a must-see. They describe it as "a motion picture surging into life in a spectacular tidal wave of death-defying stunts, awesome explosions and an ocean of thrills" and it lives up to all of that. It's on three times a day during winter and six times a day in summer months.

The Revenge of the Mummy is a "psychological thrill" coaster and for those who can handle heart-pounding special effects and unexpected twists. It's a dark, indoor ride and goes from near standstill to 72km/h in just two seconds.

Disneyland Park

Opened in 1955 as "The Happiest Place on Earth", Disneyland Park is an evolving 34-hectare site for classic Disney storytelling with more than 60 attractions in seven themed lands.

It has everyone covered. There are adrenaline rides and roller-coasters for thrill seekers, more gentle attractions like the magical Small World for young children and everything in between. It really is all about family and the first visit is always a dream come true.

Finding Nemo is a huge attraction and exciting mounts as you submerge into the ocean trying to spot the lovable little clownfish.

Toy Story Mania opened last year at a cost of $80 million. The interactive game is very competitive. You are aboard spinning vehicles in virtual environments based on colonial midway games. You wear 3-D glasses and sit back-to-back with other people and get into plate smashing, dart and egg throwing, pie and ring tossing and shooting games.

Indiana Jones is a dark, adventurous ride in modified military vehicles. The journey goes back to 1935 as you discover ruins in the jungles of India's lost Delta. You enter the legendary Temple of the Forbidden Eye in search of rewards, but you need to be wary of the wrath of an ancient deity. The ride meanders through dimly lit caverns and eerie passageways with booby traps, but it isn't over-the-top scary.

The Main Street USA Parade has all the stars coming to life. Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy, Pluto, Snow White and Cinderella are happy to pose for pictures.

Just like everywhere, there are plenty of eating options. You can be sure you will never starve on a trip to Los Angeles, and whatever your fancy, you can bet it will be catered for. There are around 30 options from fine dining to a snack on the run.

Please be aware that not all rides and attractions are for all people. Those with a heart condition, who are prone to motion sickness or claustrophobia, should check the signs at the entry where warning signs are posted. Some rides have height requirements and they must be adhered to.


Universal Studios Hollywood entry is around $85 for adults and $70 for children.

Disneyland Park entry is around $250 and $215 for three-day hopper tickets.

Both parks have all sorts of offers and deals, so check their websites before you leave home for the best one to suit you. It may even be cheaper if you book online before you leave.

Air New Zealand flies daily to Los Angeles.

One-way fares from:

  • Sydney $1447
  • Melbourne $1429
  • Adelaide $1715
  • Perth $1729
  • Brisbane $1453

On sale until September 8, 2009, and for travel between January 26 and March 27, 2010.

Prices correct at September 3, 2009

For further information

Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476

Universal Studios Hollywood

100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City CA 91608-1085
United States
Ph: +1 818 622 3801


1313 Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim CA 92802
United States
Ph: +1 714 635 2300

Visas: Most Australians do not need a visa, providing they have a machine-readable passport with at least six months validity after the departure date, have a round-trip non-refundable ticket and do not intend to stay longer than 90 days. From January 2009, Australians need to complete a pre-travel authorisation at

Electricity: Electric current is 110V to 115v, 60Hz AC. Outlets take two-parallel, flat prongs. Australian visitors will need a US adapter and converter.

Time zone: The United States has nine standard time zones. California is GMT -7 hours.

Currency: The American dollar.

Telephone code: International dialling code is 0011 1

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