Universal Studios Hollywood is one of the most popular theme parks in Los Angeles and has the largest film studio in Hollywood.
Visitors not only get a fascinating behind-the-scenes insight into the world of film, but are also entertained with numerous attractions.
The studios are located in the northwest of the city and can be reached either by car (parking $25) or by the now quite well-developed metro (red metro line to Universal City/Studio City). A single ride costs $1.75, a day pass costs $7.
If you get off at the metro station, you cross a pedestrian bridge to get to the free Universal Studios Shuttle, which takes you directly to the main entrance of the Studios. The shuttle runs every 10-15 minutes every day.
Tickets & opening hours
A normal day ticket for the studios is available from $109. A front of line ticket costs $169 to $259 and if you want something even more exclusive, you can book the VIP Experience, which is available from $349.
If you book tickets online in advance, you can sometimes save a few dollars, you don’t have to wait in line for tickets AND you get to enter the park 30-60 minutes earlier. This means you can walk quickly to the most popular attractions and experience them before the crowds arrive without having to queue.
With Get your Guide, you can easily book your tickets ahead of time and cancel them up to 24 hours upfront. You can find all ticket options here.
If you want to save a few dollars, you can also get a Go Los Angeles Pass. However, this only makes sense if you also want to visit other attractions in Los Angeles, such as Madame Tussauds Hollywood, Warner Brothers Studios or LEGOLAND California. You can find the various pass options and all the attractions included in the pass here.
Is a Front of Line ticket worth it? Most likely NOT. It’s a lot more expensive than the normal ticket and if you’re not in a huge hurry, it’s not worth the extra cost. It’s a different matter if you want to go to the park on a public holiday. I would advise against it anyway, as you have to be prepared for horrendous crowds, but if there is no other way, the pass could be worth it on such a day. For example, we were in the studios on a “normal” Friday in summer and had waiting times of about 10 – 30 minutes, which was absolutely relaxed and acceptable.
Opening hours vary depending on the season and public holidays. However, the park is usually open from 9/10 am until 6/7 pm. On weekends and public holidays, opening hours are extended until 10 p.m. in some cases. And don’t forget: With the Early Park Admission, which is noted in the small print, you can get in as early as 8/9 am!
Attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood
The studios basically consist of three areas: The Upper Lot, Lower Lot and Back Lot.
Most attractions, restaurants and stores can be found in the Upper Lot. One of the highlights is certainly The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
An absolute experience for all fans who have always wanted to stroll through the stores of Hogsmeade. At Honeydukes, sweet tooths like me get their money’s worth, at Three Brooms you can satisfy your muggle hunger and at Ollivanders you can be selected by a magic wand, although this is an attraction in itself and waiting times have to be accepted.
If you want to take it even further, you can also buy a complete Hogwarts uniform.
There are also two additional thrill rides in the Harry Potter world. One is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which is located in Hogwarts Castle. Thanks to 3D glasses, you get the feeling of flying through the air on a broom. It was really funny and put a smile on my face.
The other ride is Flight of the Hippogriff – a shallow roller coaster that didn’t generate much enthusiasm. Perhaps something more for children.
Springfield is also located in the Upper Lot.
The Simpsons Ride takes center stage here, but it is quite boring. If you’re hungry or thirsty, you can treat yourself to something at Moe’s Bar or get a huge donut at Lard Lad.
Good to know: If you want to save some money, you can bring water and snacks into the park.x Just don’t overdo it and don’t take a cool bag or anything like that with you. This is no longer permitted.
Other rides in the Upper Lot are the Shrek 4D ride and the 3D ride Despicable Me, which is based on the movie with the same name. We haven’t tried both, so I can’t say whether it’s worth it.
Shows at Universal Studios Hollywood
Another great entertainment offer in the Upper Lot are the different shows that run daily. Alongside the Special Effects Show, where stuntmen offer a glimpse into the tricks of film production, and Universal’s Animal Actors, a show where the animals are the stars, Waterworld is probably the most legendary show at Universal Studios. The show is based on the film of the same name and impresses with stunts, fire and surprisingly large explosions. At the entrance you will receive a map showing the performance times for the various shows.
Compared to the Upper Lot, the Lower Lot is much smaller. You get there via a system of several long escalators. The Jurassic Park Rafting Ride, the Transformers 3D ride and the Revenge of the Mummy ride, one of the few roller coasters in the park, are located in the Lower Lot.
Good to know: Some rides have lockers so that you can store your belongings free of charge using your fingerprint.
A particular highlight of the park is certainly the Back Lot – the site of the studios, which is still currently used for film productions. The 60-minute studio tour takes you on a streetcar ride while the live tour guide and comedian Jimmy Fallon give video explanations of the sets, the films shot there and the actors involved. A certain interest and background knowledge of film history is definitely an advantage in order to appreciate the insight behind the scenes and the explanations of the guides.
For example, the disaster scenery from War of the Worlds, the artificial lake from Jaws including the shark and large-scale city dummies and Wild West backdrops are impressive. On top of that, you are surprised by tidal waves, earthquakes and flames. Anyone hoping, like me, to see Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives live will be disappointed. Most of the backdrops have been dismantled, so the street is no longer really recognizable as Wisteria Lane.
During the tour, there are also two 3D rides during which you remain seated in the streetcar. On one occasion you are immersed in the world of King Kong and T-Rex and on another you find yourself in a fast-paced chase with bullet fire in the Fast & Furious Ride. Both rides are well done and provide great entertainment.
The last part of Universal Studios worth mentioning is the Universal Citywalk. This is a small admission-free area characterized by stores and restaurants. You can linger here for a while after visiting the park.
Conclusion: Is it worth it?
If you are prepared for what to expect and if you can take enough time, then definitely YES. This is a fantastic experience for movie fans. The Harry Potter World, the Studio Tour and the Waterworld Show are particularly outstanding.
However, if you’re expecting thrilling roller coasters that will make you break out in a cold sweat, you’re in the wrong place at Universal Studios Hollywood. The rides are almost exclusively 3D or 4D rides that specialize in films. That’s why it gets a bit boring after a few rides, as it’s basically the same idea and course over and over again.
Nevertheless, we wouldn’t have wanted to miss the experiences at Universal Studios.
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