While Universal Studios’ tram tour is technically a theme park attraction—which means you’ll have to stomach the hefty price of admission—it manages to combine the look of a living, working studio with entertaining theme park polish. The tour, which mixes live narration and pre-recorded Jimmy Fallon bits, weaves through the Hollywood Hills against the stunning backdrop of the Valley below. Most of your time is spent carting through diverse backlot sets of New York, a mutt of European villages, the Old West and familiar movie landmarks—most impressively the 747 crash site from War of the Worlds. The majority of live filming is securely tucked away, but Universal compensates with preplanned encounters that mimic special effects: a wet and fiery earthquake simulation, a sudden flash flood and that delightfully rubbery, toothy grin on the face of Bruce—a.k.a. Jaws. While the 3-D motion simulation that replaced the iconically campy (and burned down) King Kong section is a welcome technical upgrade, the tunnel lacks the same immersion and charm of the original—hopefully the similarly staged Fast & Furious: Supercharged (slated for 2016) will perfect the formula.
For fans of: Psycho, Desperate Housewives, King Kong, all things Steven Spielberg
You won’t find anywhere else: Rubber sharks, CGI gorillas and plenty of pyro.
Tip: Sit away from the edges of the tram—particularly the right side during the earthquake scene—lest you come away with soaked socks.
Price: $95-$115 park admission