Tips for visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood is an exciting and magical theme park in the heart of Los Angeles, California. 

The park brings the magic of filmmaking to life by combining theme park rides and shows with the classic Hollywood movie experience. 

Whether you’re a movie lover or thrill-seeker, Universal Studios has something for everyone with multiple attractions, shows, and rides to experience. 

To make the most of your time at Universal Studios, it’s essential to have a plan in place. 

In this guide, we provide some helpful Universal Studios Hollywood tips and tricks to ensure you have a memorable and enjoyable visit to this Californian theme park.  

1. Purchase your tickets beforehand

Purchase your tickets beforehand
Image: Tripsavvy.com

Getting your Universal Studios Hollywood tickets in advance will save time and money. 

Consider purchasing a Universal Express ticket, which includes admission and one-time Universal Express access to each ride, show, and attraction,

This helps you skip the lines to attractions and get priority seating for performances.

2. Choose the best days to visit

Plan your trip to Universal Studios in California on a weekday to avoid crowds, preferably early in the morning.  

The shortest wait times are in the fall, winter and spring. 

One of the best tips for Universal Studios Hollywood is to avoid the days close to holidays, particularly summer holidays in Los Angeles.

Check out our guide to the best times to visit Universal Studios Hollywood.

3. Arrive before the park opens

You will be among the first visitors inside the park if you come before it opens, allowing you to enjoy the rides with the shortest waits of the day.

Arrive 30 minutes before the opening hours for parking, getting through security, and passing the metal detectors.

Make sure to have a hearty breakfast before heading to the park; you’ll need the energy

Most guests park in distant lots with a 10 to 15-minute walk through Universal CityWalk to reach security. 

Upgrading to Preferred parking puts you closer to the park exit, while Front Gate parking saves time but costs more. 

Check out the Car Parking page for more Universal Studios Hollywood parking tips.

4. Bring your water or buy souvenir cups

You’ll save money and time waiting in lines by bringing your water.

The park permits water bottles (up to two liters), baby food, tiny snacks, fruits, and vegetables. 

You can bring anything needed for particular dietary and medical needs as well.

Note: For Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Studios Hollywood does not permit the entry of water bottles and outside food.

5. Try to spot some celebrities

Early in the morning, the world-famous talk show, “Access Hollywood,” occasionally records just within security in front of the Universal Globe.

There are filming signs everywhere, and you might spot a celebrity if you are lucky.

6. Hit the lower lot early in the day.

The Lower Lot at Universal Studios Hollywood is usually quiet with short lines at park opening. 

Make the most of the time and ride popular attractions like Jurassic World: The Ride and Transformers: The Ride.

However, it might open an hour later during quieter times, so check the opening hours.

7. Schedule your Studio tour carefully

It is best to go for the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood in the late morning, early afternoon, or early evening.

There are long lines for other attractions, and the weather is warming up, so your legs can rest for an hour.

With experiences and iconic movie backdrops like King Kong 3D, Bates Motel and Wisteria Lane, the Studio Tour is a must-do and you might even catch filming in action.

8. Plan your trip to the Wizarding World and Super Nintendo World

You can plan your day at Universal Studios Hollywood according to the lands you want to visit the most, like Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Super Nintendo World.

Visit the rides—Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge and Flight of the Hippogriff— first thing in the morning or later in the evening for smaller queues.

You can also opt for early park access to visit these areas for an hour before the park opens. Go back to Hogsmeade or Nintendo World for lunch/dinner and shopping.

Later when the park opens, enjoy other rides with short wait times (such as those in the Lower Lot). 

9. Make time for shows

Make sure to catch the shows at Universal Studios Hollywood. They’re the highlight of the theme park experience. 

Check out WaterWorld for stunning action sequences on air, water and land and the Special Effects show for behind the scenes look into movie making. 

Show timing varies daily, so look for the schedule on the official app on the day of your visit.

10. Choose smaller backpacks

Carrying a large bag through the park can become cumbersome, so opt for a small drawstring backpack. 

Pack only necessary items like water, phone, charger, zip-lock baggies, wallet, sunglasses, chapstick, keys, and snacks. 

You can put your belongings at free lockers near rides. Make sure to check it after leaving the ride, so nothing gets left behind. 

Bring a backup charger for convenience, especially useful with the Universal Studios Hollywood app.

11. Eat lunch when it’s not as busy

If you eat outside of the busiest lunch hours, you’ll save the most time at Universal Studios Hollywood. 

You can enjoy a themed experience at The Three Broomsticks, a typical American fare in Springfield or a chilled glass at Duff Brewery beer garden. 

Use mobile ordering for convenience.

There are no reservations or table-service restaurants in the park so head to CityWalk nearby for a sit-down meal. 

12. Try all children activities 

Universal Hollywood is a theme park for kids of all ages. Children under two enter for free. 

Bring your children for fun at kids play areas like Dino Play and Super Silly Fun Land. 

Don’t forget swimsuits; even toddlers can enjoy the Wet Zone at ‘Super Silly Fun Land’ with over 80 water play features.

You can also rent single or double strollers for tired little ones.

13. Use Single Rider lines and Child Switch

Universal Hollywood offers two great options to save time at lines.

You can opt for the Single Rider lines if you don’t mind riding alone. These lines are shorter than normal ones and can save you time and energy for other park activities.  

Child switch is an option for parents with children who can’t or won’t ride. 

It offers the chance for one parent to stay with the child while the other parent/members of the group ride(s) the attraction. 

The parent that stayed behind can then ride the attraction when their partner/group returns without waiting in line again. 

14. Cut back on time on the StarWay

The elevators between the Upper and Lower Lot are pretty long and may take up to 10 minutes to travel in each direction (or more during peak times).

You can avoid multiple journeys as much as possible by visiting the attractions at the Lower Lot all at once.

15. Save your souvenir shopping for last

The gift stores on the route to the park exit also sell many products you may purchase throughout the park (including Wizarding World souvenirs and candies). 

You can avoid carrying bags around the park by shopping in a less crowded store with shorter lines just before leaving.

16. Don’t miss CityWalk 

Make sure to visit Universal CityWalk. If you hurried past it to enter Universal Studios Hollywood early, take the opportunity to explore on your way out after the park closes. 

Enjoy various dining options, nightlife, a movie theater, a walk-through water fountain, and exciting entertainment.

17. Stay nearby

Consider staying at nearby hotels like Universal Sheraton, Garland or Hilton Universal City. 

They’re a 10-15 minute walk uphill to the park, but there’s a free shuttle running daily  available if you prefer. 

Staying nearby allows for early arrival without battling LA traffic. The free shuttle runs daily, picking up every 10-15 minutes.

18. Get the Universal Studios Hollywood app

If you are wondering how to plan Universal Studios Hollywood, your finest tool in the park for swiftly finding upcoming events is the Universal Studios Hollywood app.

It also helps check wait times and find restaurants (and menus) or shops. 

19. Invest in the VIP experience

You can take advantage of a six- to eight-hour private, guided park tour with the Universal Studios Hollywood VIP Experience ticket.

In addition to unlimited priority access to all the rides and shows, the Unlimited Universal Express ticket also includes 

  • Exclusive backlot access
  • Valet parking 
  • A guide to help you find the best seats
  • Light snacks and beverages in the private VIP lounge 
  • A gourmet meal in the exclusive VIP dining room.

Featured Image: Universalyouthprograms.com

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