Visiting Universal Studios is an adventure in itself and lets face it, it can be a pricey one too. I have put together an ultimate universal studios Hollywood guide to save you some time on the day and money. If you like to make the most of your experience and get the most for your $$ then keep on reading.
If you like to plan ahead & travel smart, feel free to take a peek at my past postings – How to Travel Lightly and/or Top Travel Apps of 2022 to help you with your journey.
Step by Step Day Plan for Universal Studios Hollywood
Before You Arrive at the Park
Download the Universal Studios App. The app will help you not only plan your visit, but will provide you with the Universal Studios Map, List of attractions & restaurants and most importantly will keep you up to date on attraction wait times throughout the day. Make sure you reference the app during the day to stay on top of your schedule.
It’s no secret Universal Studios have partnered with multiple large corporations to bring you the best experience possible. One of these companies is – Coca Cola. Did you know that with thanks to this partnership you can taste unique coca cola products sold only at Universal? It’s called Coca Cola Secret Menu. In order to get “access” to this menu, you need to know which restaurants to go to and what to order exactly. To find out current offerings on the Coca Cola Secret Menu go to Universal Studios Website, Plan Your Visit, See What’s Happening Now.
If you are visiting LA as a tourist (well, who isn’t?) and as part of your travels you require car rental, Universal has you covered. Due to their partnership with Avis/Budget Car Rental, you could save up to 25% on your car rental fees as part of their deal. Go to Universal Studios Website and scroll to the very bottom, locate Corporate Partners Link and you will find full details there.
For Entry Ticket Discounts, the park offers the following: College Students, Youth and Military Discounts. Please contact their booking office directly for details.
One of their current offerings is 2:1, you will get a two day access ticket for the price of 1 day ticket. [This is an ongoing offer as of September 2022; please refer to their website for any recent changes]
At The Park
- The park gates open roughly 10-15 minutes before the rides actually start for the day. Be sure to arrive & be at the park 10-15 minutes early, as that will make the biggest difference in making the most of your day at Universal.
General Parking Charge is $30 for a full day. If you are also visiting the cinema at CityWalk you might be in a position to receive a parking discount & pay $5 only. Please present your parking ticket to the cinema employee for further details.
1.1. Take a walk through CityWalk. If you are an early bird, I strongly encourage you to take a walk through CityWalk Complex before entering the park. The access to CityWalk is free. When you arrive early in the morning, it will be a great opportunity for taking photos, as there won’t be many people around and you will have the time to look at the stores and restaurants.
Keep an eye out for the water fountain display in the center. In addition, if you see TV crews, it’s mostly because they film Access Hollywood there quite often.
Ok, now you have entered the Theme Park and what’s next? Here’s a step by step plan to make the most of all the rides with the least amount of time!
2. Harry Potter Land: This area of the park should be visited first. It is on the right hand side as you enter the park. Here you can jump on the rides first thing as they open. You can also take great pictures of Hogsmeade, The Hogwarts Express and the Castle.
Pro Tip: Do the rides first, then you can come back for snacks/food and shopping later. Butter Beer is a must to try, however extremely sweet, so if buying for children they will be wired for awhile.
Some additional unique things you can experience at the Harry Potter land: The acapella frog choir show, where students from each of the houses sing with their toads.
Secondly if you have a little one, they can experience the magic first hand. Buy a magic wand at Olivander’s and you will get directions on how to do magic in 15 different spots around the Harry Potter land.
3. Next you should head straight down to the bottom lot. There you will find the Transformers Ride, The Mummy and Jurassic Park. For Jurassic Park I strongly recommend you bring one of those plastic ponchos or a change of clothing. If you are visiting on an off season, and the weather is not super hot, you will be cold walking around as the ride is in the water and everyone is pretty much in the splash zone.
On the lower lot is also where you can find restrooms which are going to be quieter and a Tiki Bar where you can grab a drink/snack. At this stage you should check your Universal App and see what the wait time is for the Simpsons Ride. If it’s around 10-15 minutes, this means you can start making your way there and eat/drink on your way and while you wait in line.
Keep an eye out as the Simpsons Area also has the “detonation” of the Nuclear Power Plant, which is a cool thing to witness and happens occasionally.
4. Once you’re done at the Simpson’s Land, you should head for the famous Universal Studio Tour (Tram Ride). The tour takes approximately 45-60 minutes depending on other tours ahead of you.
Pro Tip: Make sure to use a restroom before heading for the tour.
5. Once you are done with the Studio Tour it is time to head to see one of the shows! There are number of shows on throughout the day, once again, consult your trusty app to check wait times.
While waiting for the show, you can go and do your shopping, walk around and take pictures and check out other areas of the park (time permitting).
Some other useful things you might not know about the Universal Studios:
- If you are visiting with little ones, make sure you keep an eye out for character sightings. You never know who will be visiting the park that day. For exact information, don’t hesitate to ask the employees on site.
- There is a Special Effects Show taking place at the park, however only at the weekends. If you are visiting on the weekend, make sure to check it out.
- Universal Studios offer multiple Seasonal Activities. Given the time of year, their current activities are Halloween Related and Holiday Related. Take a peek at their site for full details, here.
- If you are visiting with a larger group but you are the only one willing to go on a particular ride you can skip the line! Did you know that? It’s called Single Rider Line Pass. Reach out to park employee for full details.
- There is a Buy Now Pick Up Later option. You can shop around at your favorite stores and collect them at the gate at the end of the day. Reach out to employees on site for details.
Commonly Asked Questions:
- I am out of town. Is there WiFi at the Park?
Yes, there is a complimentary WiFi throughout the park for all the guests, as well as throughout the CityWalk Complex.
- I have dietary restrictions, can the park cater to it?
The park caters to Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegetarian and Vegan dietary requirements. For full details of participating restaurants click here.
- Are there lockers available?
Yes, there are various sizes of lockers available to store your belongings. Extra fees may apply (roughly $8-$15).
If you’ve read as far as here, well done you! For those who wish to visit Universal but can’t for whatever reason, I got you. Did you know Universal Studios provides at home activities for your little ones? No? Well now you do.
You can try new recipes, get creative with your little ones, color and even go on a scavenger hunt. Take a look at their Universal at Home Offerings for free here.
Last but definitely not least, thank you to my friend Tony for helping me out with creating this guide. It wouldn’t be what it is, without his expertise!
I pour my heart and soul to bring you the most in-depth, useful content, for free. If you found this article useful, I’d be grateful if you could share it, so it can help a wider audience. Thank You.
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