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National park tips: To look down on Yosemite Valley, go here first

2. Universal Studios

The Universal Studios people would like you to believe they're in Hollywood, but you have a map, so you know better. Like the Disney and Warner Bros. studios, they're in the Valley. If you go whole hog at Universal, you'll pay about as much here as you will for Disneyland: $74 an adult and $66-$74 a kid. (By the way, if you live in Southern California, that $74 ticket gets you in free for the rest of 2011, except for 12 blackout days.) For that you get a 45-minute tram tour of the studios, along with a passel of theme-park rides and attractions. Arrive before temperatures rise and lines lengthen, do the studio tram ride first, and try to imagine these hills in 1915. That's when founder Carl Laemmle started charging gawkers 25 cents a day to watch moviemaking on the site of an old chicken ranch. Pictured: New York Street backlot
Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles Times
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