Rainbow’s End vs Universal Studios Hollywood (in the same week)

Recently I had the opportunity to visit both Rainbow’s End, an amusement park in Auckland, New Zealand and Universal Studios in LA in the same week.

Rainbow’s End

Being unemployed we were able to visit the Rainbow’s End amusement park on a Tuesday afternoon when the place was so abandoned it reminded me of this blog. Being a weekday during the school term the park was operating on a timetable and only a few rides were open at a time. But there was hardly anyone there, with a bit of planning we got to go on everything we wanted to, we never had to queue and we kept seeing the same park visitors and staff everywhere.

Arriving after 3pm meant we saved $5 and paid only $44 as an adult instead of $49.

Roller Coasters at Rainbow’s End

We did the Log Flume first as it was about to close and actually got quite wet. The Corkscrew Coaster was the one ride I remembered from my previous visit aged 11 so was a bit hesitant about getting on it feeling if it was still in service 15 years later it was less than likely to be entirely safe! It was fun though – not as long or as many loops as roller coasters in Australia, a beginners roller coaster you could safely put your child on.

I had never done a tower drop-style ride before so I was a bit nervous heading up the Fearfall tower. At the top I just enjoyed the view and did not think about the fact I had no idea when it was going to drop. It was a lot of fun though – I love the exhilaration and feeling of falling.

The Power Surge was perhaps my favourite – you are strapped in and spun upside down and in all directions. On the other hand The Goldrush wasn’t very memorable. The last ride we went on was The Invader – a UFO themed ride where you face outwards and are spun around as well as up and down an undulating ramp. We stayed on and rode it a second time in a row which was perhaps not the wisest idea – you do need a break between sessions to not feel sick.


We got 4 (5 in Kyle’s case) laps instead of the usual two on the Family Carts (which go quite fast and are perhaps not well named!). Both the Bumper Boats and Dodgems are perhaps due for replacing as they looked very dilapidated. You always get a mix of idiots who want to crash and families trying to stay safe.


We saw Journey to the Centre of the Earth in 3D. I felt a bit sick leaving the cinema which was definitely due to my eyes struggling to focus on the 3D aspects rather than the motion of the chairs. The movements were not entirely well matched to the storyline and there was a fall which lacked an impact motion when the people in the movie hit the floor of a cave.

The worst part was that no one said a word when the movie finished – you could have heard a pin drop. Everyone was speechless owing to how underwhelming the experience was.

Universal Studios

Entry to Universal Studios was $77US each but they currently have a deal on where if you pay for one day you get the rest of 2012 free. A much hyped Transformers ride opens in May this year.

We went on a Friday when waiting times are lesser than at weekends.


We saw Shrek in 4D and Terminator 2 (overacted). The seats don’t move as much as at Rainbows End and both are very obviously much higher budgeted attractions.

Rides at Universal Studios

The Jurrasic Park ride was a fun water roller coaster with lots of dinosaurs – a similar idea to The Big Splash in Rotorua but much bigger. The Mummy Returns was a short roller coaster ride, much of which was in the dark which adds to the thrill as you can’t see ahead what angle you’re going to be thrown on next.

We queued for over an hour to go on the Simpsons ride, the result of which was short and disappointing – a virtual roller coaster ride through a Krustyland theme park.

The Universal Studios Studio Tour

The main attraction at Universal Studios is the studio tour. The line moved pretty fast so we only waited half an hour before jumping on a buggy. The Desperate Housewives set was a bit talked up – in reality it was only about 3 Wisteria Lane house exteriors we drove past and we didn’t see any stars though they were supposedly filming.

The Peter Jackson created King Kong in 3D experience was definitely the highlight of the tour. All the theme park style sections use water in some form to excite passengers and sitting on the side of the bus I was pretty sick of getting wet by the end of the thing.


For the prices, time spent waiting and length of rides at Universal Studios the place is not all it is cracked up to be. Give me a quiet period at Rainbows end any day.