Top tips for Universal Studios Hollywood

12th November 2019

In my last Travel Diary post, I shared what we got up to when we visited Universal Studios Hollywood during our trip to Los Angeles.

Today I wanted to share a separate post with lots of tips and tricks for you just in case you’re planning a visit because I know just how overwhelming visiting theme parks can be!

Go out of season on a weekday

If it’s possible, try to visit the park when it’s less busy. Don’t go during the summer holidays or on a public/bank holiday, and try to avoid the weekends too.

We visited on a Monday at the start of October and it wasn’t that busy at all. The maximum we had to queue for any ride was 40 minutes.

If you don’t have any other option than to go at the busier times, consider buying an Express pass in order to skip the queues. For us, it wouldn’t have been worth the extra money, but it might be for you.

Buy your tickets in advance

I would highly recommend buying your tickets in advance. Firstly, you might find the tickets are cheaper and secondly, it means you don’t have to queue up to buy tickets as well as queuing to get into the park.

I bought our tickets from Attraction Tickets Direct while I was still in the UK which meant I didn’t have to pay any transaction fees that you normally have when you purchase something abroad. It also meant I could print my tickets at home and just turn up at the gate on the day.

Get there for rope drop

If you want to avoid the queues and the make the most of the time you have in the park, get there early for “rope drop” when they allow you to actually enter the park and get on the rides.

As soon as you’re in, head to the rides that are a priority for you or that you know have long queue times (The Simpsons Ride, Jurrasic World and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey are some of the longest at the time of writing this) and beat the queues. You might even be able to walk on to some of the rides like we did with The Mummy.

Purchase a refillable cup

In the park can purchase a refillable cup which you can then keep refilling with fountain drinks (Coca Cola, Fanta, Sprite, water, etc) all day long for no extra cost.

I think it cost around $16 initially, but when you consider that one bottle of Coca Cola will cost you around $5 it works out pretty good value for money, especially if you’re sharing it between two of you! And of course, you get to keep the cup at the end of the day which is a really nice souvenir. Here’s a picture of me with our cup:

Download the official app

There is a free app called Universal Studios Hollywood that I recommend you download before you get to the park. This app has a map that will help you get around the park, a list of all the showtimes, and it also has the estimated queue times for each ride to help you plan out your day.

Create a plan of action

I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to theme parks so I always know what rides I want to go on before I visit and I have a rough idea of the average waiting times for these rides. So before going to Universal Studios we created a rough plan of action in order to get the rides with the longest queue times over and done with straight away.

For example, the two main rides I wanted to do were The Mummy and the Simpsons Ride. So as soon as we were let into the park we headed straight for the Mummy where we literally walked on to the ride. And then immediately after we did the Simpsons Ride where the wait time was around 20 minutes (which is normally like 90 minutes!).

Avoid spending too much time on the escalators

Universal Studios Hollywood is built on the side of the hill and is split into the lower lot, which is at the bottom of the hill, and the upper lot, which is at the top. The two are connected by a series of escalators that seem to go on for miles and miles.

It can take a while to get from the upper lot to the lower lot, and you probably won’t want to keep going up and down throughout the day. So I recommend trying to factor this into your plan of action and maybe do all of the rides and activities in the lower lot in one go so you don’t have to head back down there multiple times.

Be aware of the Studio Tour closing time

The Studio Tour tends to close earlier than the rest of the rides in the park so it’s worth being aware of this if you plan on doing this ride later in the day. You can check out the closing time for this ride via the app.

Check out the shows

Universal Studios isn’t all about the rides! There are some amazing shows that are included in the price of your ticket that I highly recommend you check out.

We watched the Special Effect Show and Animal Actors, but there’s also a show called WaterWorld that is supposed to be incredible. Some of the shows are inside too which means they’re a perfect way to get out of the sun for half and hour.

Have you been to Universal Studios Hollywood? Do you have any tips or advice to share?

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