Travel Diary | LA | Universal Studios Hollywood
5th November 2019
On our third full day in LA we went to Universal Studios Hollywood.
Now, we almost didn’t go to Universal Studios Hollywood because someone I follow on Instagram had been recently and said it wasn’t worth it because there was nothing to do and it was mostly for children. However, I’m glad we did go because it was one of my favourite days of the whole trip.
We booked our tickets in advanced from Attraction Tickets Direct; the same company we used for our Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood tickets. The tickets were £86 each which I think is a little cheaper than buying them from the park, and it also means that you don’t have to queue up to buy tickets once you get there.
Fun fact, this wasn’t actually my first time at a Universal park. I’ve also visited PortAventura which was owned by Universal back when I visited it like 20 years ago!
Anyway, we took the free shuttle trolley from our hotel (The Garland in LA – highly recommend it!) and we got dropped off right by the entrance. We were there for the rope drop and our first ride of the day was The Mummy. Indoor dark coasters are my favourite type of theme park ride so I knew I was going to love this one, but I didn’t really know anything else about the ride. It was so so good and the launch took me completely by surprise as my ride photo (which I didn’t buy) highlighted!
We wanted to do the Transformers ride next but it wasn’t open yet, so the next ride of the day was The Simpsons Ride. This was a simulator ride, and normally simulators give me motion sickness, but I was fine on this one. I laughed the whole way through it.
We then explored Springfield and bumped into Homer outside the Kwik-E-Mart. I’m a massive fan of The Simpsons and I thought this area of the park was themed very well.
Next up was the Studio Tour which the park is particularly famous for. Apparently the Studio Tour was there before the rest of the theme park was built.
Essentially, you sit in a tram and go on a tour of the working Universal Studios lot, but it also includes some special segments including a simulated car chase with the Fast & Furious cast and a simulated earthquake inside an underground train station. The ride lasts around 60 minutes so it’s well worth doing and it’s a good way to rest your legs!
The theme park is built on the side of a hill so there’s sort of two levels to it, and these levels are called the upper lot and the lower lot. The views from the upper lot are absolutely incredible.
Finally, the Transformers ride opened, so we headed back down to the lower lot to do this. It’s a 3D dark ride and it was a lot of fun.
Then it was time for a show and the first one we watched was the Special Effects Show where they demonstrate how special effects are created for movies.
For lunch, we stopped at Krusty Burger and we were pleasantly surprised to find that they had a vegetarian option for Tyrone. The service was really quick and the portions were really generous. I’d definitely recommend it!
After lunch, we headed into Hogsmeade to check out all the Harry Potter theming. I have to be honest and say I’m not the biggest Harry Potter fan; I just never got into it when I was younger. But I was really impressed by the theming of this area. You feel like you are in a completely different theme park.
We rode Flight of the Hippogriff which was far too short and not worth queuing more than like 15 minutes for, and then we went on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey which is a ride inside Hogwarts.
I didn’t know anything about this ride but it seemed popular so we gave it a go. Even if you aren’t planning on going on the ride you can still walk through the queue and exit before the ride because it’s well worth walking through to see the theming. As I say, I’m not a big Harry Potter fan but I thought it was amazing!
The ride itself was incredible and not what I was expecting at all. You basically sit in an “enchanted” bench and fly all over Hogwarts. It’s so immersive and the technology behind it is mindblowing. You’re essentially attached to robotic arms that fling you around. So so much fun! We loved it so much that we managed to squeeze in a second ride at the end of the day.
The last show of the day for us was Universal’s Animal Actors show which showcased some of the famous animals used in films and TV shows. Any excuse to look at cute dogs!
We were at the park when it opened and we left just as it was closing, and I feel like we managed to do everything we wanted to do. Yes, it’s not the biggest theme park in the world, nor does it have any particularly “big” rides, but we both still loved it and had so much fun! I don’t like going to a theme park and leaving feeling like I haven’t achieved everything I’d set out to do, so I feel like Universal Studios Hollywood is the perfect size park to do in one day.
Once we left the park we headed into CityWalk which is right next to the park. It’s full of restaurants and shops and it even has it’s own Universal cinema. It reminded me of a bigger version of Disney Village at Disneyland Paris.
I’d heard good things about Blaze Pizza so we ended up going there for dinner before we caught the trolley back to the hotel. Blaze is a bit like Subway but instead of making a sandwich you make a pizza. We both really enjoyed it and can’t wait to find another Blaze next time we are in the States.
I’m so glad I didn’t listen to that person who said Universal Studios Hollywood wasn’t worth visiting because, as I say, we loved it and we made so many great memories there. It was our first trip to a theme park together in the 10 years we’ve been together, and I can’t wait to go to another one in the near future. I just love feeling like a kid again!
And in terms of comparing it to the Warner Bros. Studios Tour? I don’t think you can really compare the two. One’s a theme park with working film studios inside it, and the other is just a working film studio where you get a much more in-depth at the behind the scenes of how films are made.
Personally, I’d recommend doing both if you can afford to. And if you can’t afford to do both? Well, if you love films, do the Warner Bro. Studio Tour, but if you prefer a theme park, do Universal Studios.
Other posts in this series:
- Travel Diary | LA | Walk of Fame, Santa Monica and Venice Beach
- Travel Diary | LA | Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood