Los Angeles

Universal Studios Hollywood guide

As passionate movie and series lovers, we have been dreaming of visiting Universal Studios Hollywood for years! This iconic theme park is heaven for film enthusiasts, offering an immersive and unforgettable experience like no other. To get the most out of your day, it is important to plan your day well. We’re happy to share our ultimate Universal Studios Hollywood guide with all our tips and tricks!

Before your actual visit

Buy tickets in advance

First things first: your tickets! Buy your tickets in advance and try to schedule your visit on a weekday. Weekdays are less crowded and the tickets are cheaper. Win-win! We visited the park in early June on a Friday. It was not too crowded, in the afternoon it started to get crowded but nothing compared to the weekend crowds! If you’re visiting Universal Studios Hollywood during summertime, we really recommend buying the Universal Express ticket. It’s a bit more expensive, but at least this way you won’t lose too much time queuing!

Download the official Universal Studios Hollywood app

The Universal Studios Hollywood app is such a lifesaver! You can see the actual wait times and even set an alarm for when the waiting time decreases. There is a map that shows all the rides, shows, dining, and shopping options. Even the restrooms are indicated. With this app you’ll never get lost and you can see all the menus of the restaurants in advance!

The day of your visit

Arrive early

Universal Studios Hollywood

Depending on the parking lot where you parked your car, we recommend arriving at least half an hour to an hour in advance. We were parked in the general parking lot (€ 27), from this parking lot you still have to walk through the City Walk before you get to the actual entrance. If you choose the general parking like we did, be sure to arrive an hour in advance. By the time you parked your car and walked through the City Walk, half an hour will have passed. Since the park opens about half an hour before official opening time, it is recommended to be at least half an hour in advance at the entrance itself! If you choose Front Gate Parking, half an hour in advance is sufficient.

Bring some water and snacks

Since it can get very crowded at Universal Studios Hollywood, you don’t want to waste your time buying drinks or snacks. In addition, it is also fairly expensive in the park itself, so bring plenty of your own water and snacks! That way you can eat something while waiting for an attraction and not waste time.

On a sidetone, we noticed that the prices of soda can differ between the Upper and Lower lot, and even between worlds itself! If you do plan on buying soda for example, it is worth browsing the different shops in some worlds to score yourself the best deal. A bottle of Diet Coke in Super Nintendo World was € 5, compared to € 4,50 at a hot dog stand between the Upper and Lower Lot. Every penny counts!

Start your day at the Upper Lot

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

We started our day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and managed to do all three attractions in less than an hour! One of the many advantages of arriving before actual opening time. 😉 The ultimate star was without doubt Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which was honestly the most mindblowing ride we’ve ever been on. An experience like no other!

Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter really sets the tone for the rest of the day. Literally everything you see there is Harry Potter themed (even the toilets!). Music everywhere, Hogwarts in the background, and butterbeer in abundance – what more could you want? Even non-Potter heads will have a great time here, even if it’s just to get a quick bite at The Three Broomsticks!

Universal Studios Hollywood Guide: Springfield

Next to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter you can find Springfield, the home of the Simpsons. Be sure to do The Simpsons Ride as well before heading to the Lower Lot. Waiting times for The Simpsons Ride only increase during the day so the earlier, the better!

Head to the Lower Lot

Once you’re done exploring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it’s time to head to the Lower Lot. Here you will find attractions from Jurassic World, Revenge of the Mummy, Transformers and, of course, Super Nintendo World! There are two ways to get down, by stairs or by escalator. We definitely recommend taking the stairs! Literally no one took the stairs, by the time we got down we had passed at least 100 people. You will be rewarded for not being lazy. 😉 Admittedly, we ran our lungs out, but even at a regular pace you’ll pass most of the people on the escalators.

Be patient at Super Nintendo World

Super Nintendo World

Since Super Nintendo World only opened this year, the place is immensely crowded. Be prepared for lots of crowds and long queues! When we arrived at Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, the wait time was already 130 minutes. Fortunately, the actual wait lasted “only” an hour and a half. We can give away in advance that the wait is definitely worth it. This is the only interactive attraction where you imagine yourself in a video game!

When we visited, we had a 2-day ticket so we are able to compare weekdays with weekends since we visited on a Friday and a Sunday. We do have to say that if you are visiting the Mario Kart attraction during the weekend and you don’t wish to wait for hours and hours: buy the Early Access ticket. The skip the line tickets do not apply to Bowser’s Challenge, so the only way to reduce wait times is to arrive early and head straight to the Super Nintendo World. On the Friday we went, wait times for Mario Kart never exceeded 180 minutes, but on a Sunday the wait time at 9 AM was already 240 minutes!

Bonus tip
A bonus tip to reduce the time you’ll have to wait, is to take the Single rider’s queue. You won’t be able to sit next to your loved ones, but wait time gets cut in half easily by doing so!

Get ready to get wet at Jurassic World

A second attraction worth mentioning is Jurassic World – The Ride. Even if you have not seen the movies or you’re not a fan, the attraction is really impressive! Unlike the other attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood, this is more of a quiet attraction that allows you to sit and look around. This does not mean that you will not occasionally scare. 😂 The attraction ends in the water, depending on where you sit you may or may not get wet! Since this is the only “real” ride that involves water (apart from the Super Silly Fun Land playground, that is), we really recommend this one to switch things up, especially on a hot summer day!

Do not miss out on the Studio Tour

Universal Studios Hollywood Guide: Studio Tour

Besides the thrilling rides and attractions, the iconic Studio Tour is a MUST during your visit. The tour took us behind the scenes of some of the most famous movies and series of all time. You’ll get to see famous sets, props and lots of cool surprises along the way. From classics as Jaws and Fast and Furious to more recent movies as NOPE (Jordan Peele’s latest horror movie), no doubt one of your favorites will be featured! The Studio Tour truly immersed us in the magic of filmmaking, it was an experience like no other! What we loved the most was that we saw firsthand how creative they are with sets, surroundings and locations.

Make sure to catch the WaterWorld show

WaterWorld

What surprised us the most at Universal was the WaterWorld show, and we do not say that lightly. Never in a thousand years could we have expected how thrilling, amazing and captivating this show was. We’re not going to give too much away yet so you can experience everything for yourself but you’ll be blown away! The fact that this immersive water show is running for almost 30 years now speaks volumes to its quality. The stunts, mesmerizing special effects, and an awesome storyline kept us on the edge of our seats the whole time!

Things you need to try at Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood Guide: things you need to try

As soon as you enter Springfield, you’ll see huge pink doughnuts everywhere. You can buy them at Lard Lad Doughnuts and it is one of the things you just need to try! A donut costs about € 9 and can easily be shared by 2-3 people. If the queue in front of Lard Lad is too long, you can also buy the same doughnuts at the KWIK-E-MART in front of the The Simpsons Ride entrance which is usually less busy. Right across from Lad Lard Doughnuts, you can order a Duff Beer (Lite) as well, with the option of ordering it in the famous Duff souvenir cup. Another classic you need to try is the famous butterbeer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Legend has it you can order it with a shot of whiskey at one of the pubs. 😉

These tips and tricks allowed us to get the most out of our visit to Universal Studios Hollywood. It really was a unique and magical experience! One day is certainly enough to do your favorite attractions, provided you plan everything well and arrive early. Our visit exceeded our highest dreams and expectations, it was a dream coming true and we can’t wait to visit the other Universal Studios locations!

Where to stay near Universal Studios Hollywood

Looking for more things to do in LA? Make sure to read our selection of free activities to do in LA!

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