Yesterday we headed out to Universal Studios Hollywood to cover the Jurassic World 5k (we promise, one of these times we'll actually run the race) and of course stayed after a bit to do a park update.
Lots of activity at the park as they prepare for the Holidays and Grinchmas, as well as Secret Life of Pets and Super Nintendo World.
Let's head in!!
Written by Gregg Condon
Jurassic World 5k
Something truly magical about heading into a theme park before it even opens.
It was in the low 50's and perfect at the start of the race. It got up to the 90's later in the day. Winter in SoCal!!
They used the digital boards to help the runners which was awesome.
And of course, no theme park race would be complete without characters!!
Lots of runners heading down to the lower lot. Be sure to check out our highlight video too.
Some were going for a fast time, others were just enjoying the park and course.
I'm sure people were flying down this hill!!
We moved over to the finish
The kids race medals
Congrats runners!! We didn't hear that the T-Rex caught any of you, so that's good.
Let's head into the park and check out what's going on.
Now that HHN is over, the park has quickly switched to Holiday mode.
Lots of awesome Holiday merch
A collection of shirts, hoodies, characters and more.
It snowed at the park apparently.
Always love the Minion tree
They're getting ready for Grinchmas
Taken before the park opened as we were headed to the finish of the 5k, but totally loved this pic.
Even the Wizarding World is celebrating the holidays
Secret Life of Pets is coming along quite nicely
The amount of detail on the building is impressive
Super Nintendo Land is growing each and every time we visit the park
Impressive, most impressive.
The decorations are also all around CityWalk
Tony Roma's is closed, NBC Sports Grill/Brew is coming.
Cool new (to us at least) mugs at Voodoo Doughnuts
And even some Universal Running doughnuts
King Kong wishes you a GrrrGrrr Grrrrrrmas.
We'll be back in a few weeks for Grinchmas!! Hope you enjoyed the update!!
The other night we were invited out to Universal CityWalk at Universal Studios Hollywood to try some yummy food from two of their newest restaurants, Vivo and Antojitos. And while we aren't a "food blog" we definitely like food. Having more options available either before or after visiting the park (or even before heading down to Hollywood to see a show at Pantages) is always a good thing.
As such, we're going to approach this as a "theme park blog who likes to eat food" vs just as a "food blog". We'll let them do their thing. =)
Written by Gregg Condon
After checking in, our first stop was Vivo Italian Kitchen
As soon as we headed in we were greeted with wine, pasta and some nice looking dessert displays. We quickly made the decision to have "dinner" samples at each restaurant and then come back to Vivo to end our night with dessert.
All of this was amazing, and shout out to the diners photo-bombing us. Didn't even notice this at the time.
Ricotta Cheesecake. Wow!!!
Mini Chocolate Vasi. I don't know what a Vasi is, but I know what chocolate is. And I know good chocolate something when I taste it.
The restaurants mixologist was on-site to make some yummy drinks. We had the Old Fashioned and a Strawberry Rye (not pictured). Both were amazing.
Some of the amazing food on the menu.
We got to try the Sausage Ragu, it was to die for.
Oh yeah, some of what the restaurant actually looks like. =)
Our dessert sample with coffee of course. It was all fantastic.
After stuffing our faces at Vivo, it was time to head over to Antojitos. This has always been a favorite of our readers in Florida so we were excited to see one coming here. And it didn't disappoint.
Lots of amazing drinks. Seeing that it was a Tuesday night, and the Old Fashioned at Vivo was super good, didn't take more than a few sips here. But we WILL be back.
Made a mental note that I NEED the Mexican Mule on our return visit.
Let's get to the food
I LOVE spicy food. Like, love, love it. This had a tremendous kick. And I loved it. I think I had 3 or 4 of these mini tacos. But be warned. You'll need something to wash it down with. =)
I'm probably the farthest thing from a Vegan that there is, well, maybe not the farthest. But this Vegan Chorizo was all kinds of amazing. Definitely am going to add some of this "Impossible" stuff to our shopping list to try it out.
Had no idea that they could make Chicharrones out of chicken. Says the Guero.
I'm getting hungry again
As somebody who is not a fan of tomatoes (but can eat non-chunky salsa) I love that they have guacamole with additives other than tomatoes. The Pomegranate seed one was amazing.
Being born and raised in Southern California and having some of the best Mexican food within miles of our house for most of our lives we are VERY particular when it comes to Salsa.
We are very happy to report the Salsa at Antojitos is amazing.
The salsa roja (on the left side of the plate) was our favorite.
So what's the final verdict?
We really loved the food at both places, and for very different reasons. For us, Antojitos is definitely the more "casual" of the two places, as such, we will be more likely to eat there more in the future.
On the other hand, for a special occasion (birthday, anniversary, etc) I could definitely see us choosing Vivo.
And on the third hand, we totally talked about having dinner at Antojitos and then dessert at Vivo. =)
Thanks again to Universal Studios Hollywood for inviting us out. We had an amazing time.
Now about getting Antojitos to open for Breakfast after the Running Universal Events. I bet they'd make some amazing Chilaquiles.
The Halloween Season is officially here. On the west coast we're starting off with Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood. Over the weekend we enjoyed two evenings at the event, the first during media/fan preview night and the second on Sunday night using our Frequent Fear Passes.
We'll start off with saying that in our opinion, this is a VERY strong year for the event. One of the main reasons is that it seems they've actually learned how to have fun. More on that below. Let's get to it.
Written by Gregg Condon
Our media night started right at park opening as we made our way all the way from the entry plaza to the backlot.
On Sunday we used our Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood Survival Guide utilizing early entry and no express passes with some success. Make sure you check it out prior to heading to the event.
We stopped by the Universal Store to check out some of the amazing merchandise. They've really upgraded their merchandise game this year.
Slideshow of some of the awesome merchandise
The amount of mazes available for Early Entry is kind of insane, and is all of them except 2 (and Walking Dead)
Quickly pointed out that Ghostbusters is not on this, but still some amazing artwork.
Let's go to the mall!!! Today!!!
Scoops Ahoy, wouldn't mind if this was a permanent addition
These Universal Monster murals by Tristan Eaton are seriously amazing. We love, love, love them so much.
So let's get on with our maze reviews. We'll preface with this ... we think that overall this is one of the best line-up's of mazes in HHN Hollywood history, if not the best ever. There is a great mix of horror, comedy, pop culture, IP's and great scenery.
We'd been considering getting the frequent fear for years and are very glad this is the year we finally did.
Let's head into the mazes!!
We are huge fans of the show, in fact, after Season 3 we re-watched all 3 seasons again. And even enjoyed Season 2 (that this maze is based off of) more than the first time. So we were pretty excited about this maze.
Unfortunately the maze didn't really translate from screen to maze.
The maze suffered from a lot of duplication of scares, with Demigorgon's, Demidogs at pretty much every turn surrounded by a lot of black walls.
The maze started off strong however.
One of our biggest concerns was the scene depicted in the artwork for the maze not being included in the maze itself. Not sure if the budget was smaller this year due to all of the other IP and extra mazes.
We're very much hoping this one improves over the next few weeks as it's a great IP, a popular IP and we'd love to see it back in the years to come. But with it being a very strong year, something has to be last, and sadly it's this one.
House of 1000 Corpses
House of 1000 Corpses sufferers from being compared to the amazing 3D maze that was at HHN previously, and it's really not fair. Because this maze is great fun.
The talent in here is fantastic and really understands the source material.
Curse of Pandora's Box
The first of the original mazes for 2019 this maze has some amazing scenes, amazing talent and a great score. Also, probably our favorite opening scene of any maze at the event.
Lots of props from last years Universal Monsters and House of Horrors in here, which we absolutely don't have an issue with. Just a fun maze that has a high repeat factor.
I'll be honest, I didn't really find Us, the movie, to be scary. Disturbing, absolutely. Interesting story, for sure. Amazing directing and acting, without a doubt!!
The maze however, probably had the most amount of "scares" and creepiness. We absolutely loved this. Not only did it tell the story of the film, not only did it capture without flaw the feel of the film, but the talent really seemed to enjoy bringing these characters to life. It was just great.
Frankenstein meets the Wolfman
A continuation of last years amazing Universal Monsters maze, this one definitely takes a more Gothic feel than last years maze, but is still just as great on the characters, talent, scenes and scares.
The music definitely sets this one apart and is just such a part of the legacy of these two characters.
Holidayz in Hell
Our absolute favorite scare zone at this event last year, and maybe one of our favorite of the entire year, this year it was brought to life as a maze. And it didn't disappoint AT ALL.
So much so, somebody (me) forgot to hit record when we got in the maze, so sadly no video. But seriously, check this one out. The line has been very manageable during our first two visits. Not to be missed.
I'm a HUGE fan of the original two Creepshow movies, they were kind of my first foray into horror when I was growing up. So I had really high expectations for this maze. And I absolutely LOVED it.
It really is kind of a love letter to the films with a bit from the upcoming series thrown in. And if the walk-through is any indication, the new series will definitely capture the look and feel of the source material. Can't wait to see the show and go through this maze again.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Remember when I said at the beginning that Universal finally figured out how to have "fun" with their mazes? Well they did. It's no coincidence that our top two mazes of this year are based on 80's horror comedy movies (and one pure comedy if we're being honest).
Are you going to get huge scares in this maze? Probably not. But you're going to have fun. And the talent in the maze knows it. You always know when the scare-actors at any event know they've got a good time going on, and it definitely shows in this one.
That leaves our absolute favorite maze of Halloween Horror Nights 2019. And that's Ghostbusters. To say that we were all looking forward to this maze would be an understatement. And that's usually when a maze doesn't live up to expectations. That's not the case with this one at all.
This maze isn't exactly a literal retelling of the film, and has some typical HHN effects, but it has so much more than that. It has a lot of dedicated talent, some really cool effects and again, just a lot of fun.
Well that wraps it up for this HHN Hollywood update. Since we have Frequent Fear so we'll be back a few more times including one night for the amazing Chainsaw Chaseout.
Be sure to share your thoughts on the event below. We'd love to hear what your rankings are.