*we visited as guests of Universal Studios Hollywood
Don’t come at me Disney fans, but I’m a Universal Studios gal! Movies and TV are my passion and there’s just nothing like being immersed in the world of your favourite movies. I love that the rides at Universal Studios are primarily immersive experiences, that make you feel like you are in the films, interacting with the characters. And there is NOTHING that beats the backlot tour and seeing real movie magic. So, if you are heading to Universal Studios Hollywood, I wanted to give you my top 5 tips to have a wonderful day.
5 Tips for the Ultimate Day at Universal Studios Hollywood
Tip 1 – Get the Express Pass
It is worth every cent to get the Express Pass. Yes, it’s a lot more expensive that just a general admission, but with it you can do the whole park in a day. Also, I’d say we waited no more than 10 minutes for 90% of the rides you can use the Express Pass on. It got a bit busier later in the night and I think the longest we waited was maybe our second go on the Simpsons ride, and that was about 20 minutes. Some of the wait times were up to 2 hours without the Express Pass! Fast entry meant a whole lot less whinging from the kids which meant a much more enjoyable day overall.
Tip 2 – Arrive at opening and start at Harry Potter or the lower level
So the Harry Potter area is the most popular and it’s where most people head to first. If it’s your number one destination arrive for opening and queue up for a ride immediately (wait to look at the shops until after the rides), because if you are fast enough you can get on a ride pretty fast without using your Express Pass, so then you get to do the ride again for a second time, using your pass. We did this with Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which was my very favourite ride! Also – make sure you go to Harry Potter world in the evening, as they project an amazing lightshow on Hogwarts every 30 minutes from 6pm.
If Harry Potter isn’t your focus, take the 5 minute trip to the lower level and get all those rides done super fact, before people trickle down there. Then you can go back again and use your Express Pass to do your favourites again. We love the Jurassic World ride and the Transformers one!
Tip 3 – Vary your meal times
Getting your lunch or dinner can be tricky, with long waits at peak times, as there is no online ordering options. So first you have to queue to order, then queue to get your food. It probably took us 45 minutes to get our lunch. So, if you can, eat lunch and dinner out of peak times, to reduce your waiting times.
Tip 4 – See the Shows
Universal Studios isn’t just about the rides, there are some fantastic shows that the whole family will love. There is one with animal performers, a pretty spectacular Waterworld show (yes, inspired by that 90’s Kevin Costner film!), Special FX and loads more. Our favourite was the animal performers, and then we came home and watched the new movie Dog Gone, with Rob Lowe, starring one of the dogs in the show!
Tip 5 – under no circumstances skip the Backlot Tour!
In my opinion the backlot tour is what sets Universal Studios Hollywood apart from any other theme park, including Universal Studios Florida or Malaysia. The rides are fun and all, but Universal Studios Hollywood sits in a real, working Hollywood movie studio. The Universal backlot is where so many popular movies and TV shows have been filmed and it’s the ultimate experience for any film buff. It’s a 60 minute tour through the sets and filming studios, plus you get to experience some movie magic of your own as they show you how they create things like fires, floods and earthquakes for films. You also get to participate in a virtual reality immersive experience with King Kong (amazing!) and The Fast and the Furious (which I wish they would retire – it feels dated and I’ve never enjoyed it). But it’s only 5 minutes of the tour and all the rest is amazing. I could do it over and over lol.
I hope that these tips help you have a fantastic day at Universal Studios Hollywood. It’s one of my favourite places to go in LA and I hope you love it as much as I do! Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.