Turning 50
Universal Studios tram tour began in 1964
If you can believe it, the Universal Studios tram tour 1 turns 50 years old this summer -- a ride that now is synonymous with the Hollywood studio scene and emblematic of California tourism.

Universal Studios honchos back then wanted to have an attraction with world-wide appeal that would futher the name and image of MCA/Universal. The idea was to use a lot of existing resources such as studio technical crafts people, art directors, studio props and special effects to make an overwhelming impression on studio visitors.

It was important that the new studio tour not interfere with production at the studio, that it create a positive image for the studio with its guests, and that the tour offer value to the comsumer. Some of the people brought in to do the tour actually had just been involved in putting the Century 21 World's Fair together in Seattle. Massive amounts of dirt removed and grounds were cleared to build the tour center and create parking on the Universal property.

The first experimental tram had a six-cylinder engine and the seats facing out from each side, making it difficult to see anything on the other side. After a few dry runs, the tram was revised to its present configuration of front-facing seats and the trams were equipped with V-8 engines because of the difficulty navigating the hills with the smaller engine.

When the tour opened in June 1964, the new tram was futuristic looking and that really was no surprise since it had been designed by the people who designed Disneyland. The tour started with three three-car GlamorTrams, which cost $30,000 each and carried 67 visitors.

For a look at what the Universal tour looks like today, please visit Universal Studios Tour.
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