Thank you to Universal Studios Hollywood™ for supplying complimentary tickets in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. This article contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you when you use our link(s).
Universal Studios Hollywood™ is one of the most popular theme parks in California. It is Universal Orlando Resort’s sister theme park located in Universal City, California, opening in 1964 as a theme park. But it opened in 1912 as a movie studio.
It’s a place for people to come and have an amazing time, whether it be with their children or friends, a California vacation plan usually includes a trip to Universal Studios California.
There are so many different things you can do while visiting, such as ride on The Simpsons Ride™, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,™ or go on Jurassic World – The Ride , but how do you know what the best rides are without experiencing them first hand?
Should you go on the world famous Studio Tour? Is it worth it?
Do you have to wear a mask at Universal Studios Hollywood?™
What can you bring inside Universal Studios Hollywood?™
Does Universal Studios Hollywood have Single Rider lines?
Also, we weren’t sure how busy it would be after reopening due to Covid-19 and were a little nervous. But it was not overwhelmingly busy and they follow the CDC guidelines. We felt safe navigating the theme park, with sanitizers available everywhere and team members wearing masks or face coverings.
Our family was able to get through every ride we wanted and didn’t miss anything with the Universal Express Pass.
This is just one of my tips for navigating the theme park.
But of course we all want Universal Studio Hollywood Secrets and the top tips, don’t we? It’s always important to research a little before planning a vacation, whether it’s your first time or you visit annually.
It’s also good to know what to look out for. We were just passing through The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ when we came upon this below!
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to get an insider tip from someone who has just been there.
Always be on guard. You might get a character sighting too!
Or a in prompt dance show by the cleaning people, ha!
So, rather than just show up in chaos, come prepared with the answers to questions many people have when visiting Universal Hollywood Studios!
Here are your Top 11 Questions for Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood™.
Table of contents
- What time should I get to Universal Studios Hollywood?™
- Can I bring snacks to Universal Studios?
- Is one day at Universal Studios Hollywood™ enough?
- What is the best food in Universal Studios Hollywood?™
- How Much Does it Cost to Get into Universal Studios Hollywood?™
- Where Should We Go First? Lower Lot or Upper Lot?
- What Do I Pack for Universal?
- Is Universal CityWalk™ Free?
- What Rides Should I Ride First?
- What is the Studio Tour?
- What are the Safety Guidelines?
What time should I get to Universal Studios Hollywood?™
Some people might say that the best time to go is when the park opens. But I consider that one of their peak times. Although we wanted to get there right when it opened at 9am, realistically we knew it would be around 10am, by the time we drove from Hotel Lulu, Anaheim and got the kids ready.
The park entrance was not crowded. It actually was perfect because we eased into it with some rides and then had lunch. It took just a few minutes to go through the entrance of Hollywood Studios.
MomJunky Traveling Tips
*Front Gate Parking will get you there quicker but is about $24 more. It just took us a few minutes to do regular parking in the parking garage.
*Download App Here
*Get your tickets online to save time (and money).
Can I bring snacks to Universal Studios?
A lot of people want to know what they can bring into Universal Studios because they have small children that need to be fed. Yes! You can bring snacks from outside the gates into Universal Studios parks. You may bring water (2 litres) and small snacks, but no food (like a four course meal, lol) other than baby formula or oatmeal.
I don’t think you would get in trouble for bringing a lot of water (not a case, lol) since it’s so hot. We had a backpack and at least 2 bottles for each person in our family. We still had to purchase water.
MomJunky Travel Tip
Whenever we have road trips, we take a MunchPak Box with us, filled with fun snacks from around the world.
Is one day at Universal Studios Hollywood™ enough?
That depends on you. If you stay close to the park, two days may be good, but from my experience, one day was enough. If you are on a time crunch, you will be looking for the best things to do at ar Universal Studios Hollywood.™
We were able to hit all the rides we wanted and some of them twice! We also used the Universal Express Pass which helped us on shorter wait times, getting us through the lines faster.
You can also take advantage of the single rider lines or the “child switch” program. And no, the child switch program doesn’t mean you can switch your kids for better ones, lol, like my husband asked.
A lot of people ask when is best day to visit Universal Studios Hollywood. I think Monday-Wednesday are better prices for tickets and to avoid larger crowds. I don’t like going on the weekends.
What is the best food in Universal Studios Hollywood?™
Lets face it, theme parks do not have good reputations when it comes to food and the quality of food.
But here is plenty of good food for the whole family at Universal Studios Hollywood™. A lot of people want to know if there’s any good food at Universal Studios Hollywood?™
Some of the best restaurants are Universal Studios Hollywood Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck, and Despicable Delights. You can also check out Springfield U.S.A’s Krusty Burger and Luigi’s Pizza for standard American food, Mexican food at Cocina Mexicana.
You can also eat on the go by grabbing hot or cold items for Grab hot or cold items from the Studio Café in the Lower Lot and the Palace Café in the Upper Lot.
There are also plenty of stands or carts all around with pre-packaged goods to purchase as well such as candy apples, churros, pretzels etc.
While at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,™ we discovered more than the adventures of Harry Potter!™
We found the most amazing food at Three Broomsticks™ in Hogsmeade for a meal. This rustic tavern is the place to go for good food, friendly conversation and of course—a Butterbeer™. The cosy snow-capped inn is where Harry Potter had his first taste of the sweet wizarding drink and has been.
Inside the restaurant, visitors will find cast iron chandeliers, weathered wood beams and balconies brimming with curious bric-a-brac.
It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner for the whole family. Check out the menu HERE.
It has delicious British fare including ‘The Great Feast’, Fish & Chips and Shepherd’s Pie, and Banger’s and Mash. Fresh vegetables can also be found on the menu.
We had the Great Feast which was divine! It serves four but could easily serve 6. We had food left over. The first course is a fresh garden salad tossed with their signature vinaigrette dressing.
The main course is a combination of herb roast chicken & spare ribs, corn on the cob, fresh vegetables, and roast potatoes. This came to $69.99 and was well worth it!
Don’t forget to order Butterbeer!
*note – Sami, a team member was extremely helpful, giving us napkins and wipes. She also hunted down ice for me as my knee was hurting from hitting it up against a ride
This was an amazing meal! Next time we go back I definitely want to try Costa Rican-Inspired Food at Jurassic Café in the Lower Lot.
MomJunky Travel Tip
*Check out their Dietary Food Guide.
How Much Does it Cost to Get into Universal Studios Hollywood?™
You can purchase theme park tickets for Universal Studios Hollywood™ tickets online or when you get there. The online exclusive prices are the way to go and save the most money.
They offer one day tickets or annual season passes.
Prices for general admission depends on the season and the day. Universal Studios Hollywood™ one-day admission ticket costs between $109 and $139 per adult . All visitors ten years-old and above must purchase the adult ticket. For children tickets are anywhere from $103 and $123 per child when purchased in advance.
Express gives you Universal Studios Hollywood™ front of the line access to most rides and attractions. It is more expensive but well worth it, especially if you are with the family. It runs from $179 – $279.
The shorter wait time makes all the difference when you are with kids. The Universal Express Tickets also keep you from standing around longer in the crowds. We were always moving.
The Vip Experience Ticket includes complimentary valet parking, 1-Day Park admission and unlimited (per day) express access to each ride, attraction, and seated show. You get an expert guided tour, including the backlot.
Snacks and refreshments and an exclusive VIP gourmet meal are also included.
Annual Season Passes
There are three options for Annual Passes:
- The Gold Season pass which is $249 (good for 12 months)
- Silver Season Pass (good for 12 months) which is $189 and the
- California Neighbor Pass which is $159 (good for 9 months).
MomJunky Traveling Tip
*Children 2 years or younger enter free!
*Prices are always cheaper on Sunday through Thursday nights as well as opposed to weekend nights.
*California Residents receive discounts on tickets
Where Should We Go First? Lower Lot or Upper Lot?
Navigating Universal Studios Hollywood™ is really easy and you can use the app to do it also. Download HERE.
Universal Studios Hollywood™ is located within a real working movie studio. I find it so exciting to be able to see how some of my favorite movies were made, and possibly get a sneak peak of shows and movies being filmed in the back lot.
There is the Upper lot and Lower lot which are very easy to get to.
The upper lot is where many family-friendly attractions are located, DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda including Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (and the adjacent Super Silly Fun Land), The Simpsons Ride, Wizarding World, and the park’s newest attraction, Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash.
The lower lot, Universal Studios Hollywood’s™ historic back lot, is home to Universal Orlando Resort’s newest thrill ride- Fast & Furious: Supercharged.
It is the smaller of the two lots. There are three thrill rides at this section of the park that each have height restrictions; Jurassic World: The Ride – a water adventure ride that takes guests through the events of Jurassic World, Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride and Transformers: The Ride 3D.
What Do I Pack for Universal?
Make sure to bring a lightweight backpack. I love the LeSportsac Voyager, they are so light weight! You will need a lightweight bucket hat, sweatshirt, sunblock (I get a face stick for the kids and use theirs), sunglasses and water. I always carry Neosporin and band aids, Tylenol, wipes and sanitizer. Many of these items are available there also. There are plenty of gift shops to shop at and find some of these items. I just like to have them on hand and be prepared.
- Bucket Hat
- Bucket Hat for Kids
- Santinizer Wipes
- Clorox Wipes (travel)
Is Universal CityWalk™ Free?
Yes, Universal CityWalk™ is free to Universal Studios Hollywood™ guests. If you are visiting Universal for one day, I would recommend going to Universal CityWalk™ afterwards as it is open until 9pm and Universal Studios closes at 7pm.
MomJunky Travel Tip
Enjoy Exclusive CityWalk Discounts with Your Annual or Season Pass!
What Rides Should I Ride First?
Everybody wants the perfect itinerary when it comes to visiting Universal. However, people have different needs. We all have our ideas of what the best rides are. I will say that the Studio Tour is a must!
Leave a couple hours open for the Studio Tour. You will need time to plan (whether you get Universal Fast Passes or not) and the tour takes about an hour.
Single rider lines are back! – just go to the download app and check to see which rides are available to get ahead going on the rides alone. This is great when you want to break away from the family.
For the rides, I will speak about our own experience, having two boys under the age of 9 years-old. These were our favorites:
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem is a crazy ride that starts in Gru’s home and quickly whisks riders to a supervillain laboratory where things don’t go as planned before ending with an interactive Minion-themed dance party. The laughs keep coming even after the ride is over.
The Simpsons Ride™
The Simpsons Ride™ was our favorite ride, by far. All ages will love this ride, which has sound effects and motion that are all based on the TV show. As someone who is afraid of roller coasters, this virtual reality roller coaster does the trick. I laughed and yelled the whole way through. It was fantastic.
The Secret Life of Pets : Off the Leash
Ride Universal Studio’s newest attraction, The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!
This is a great family ride. Meet Max, Duke, Gidget and Snowball. Join them for a journey through New York City as you get ready to meet your new home.
Jurassic World – The Ride
Jurassic World – The Ride is the next evolution of Jurassic Park. Experience this new, immersive land and see an Indominus rex up close as it stalks you through the jungle.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™ is located in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you can interact with the arch nemesis of Hogwarts™: Lord Voldemort and experience scenes from your favorite Harry Potter movies.
Come face to face with famous creatures from the Harry Potter™ world. You and your family will love it!
Note -There are mixed reviews on which is better, Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade. I guess that means we need to check out Universal Studios Orlando.
DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda
My 7 year-old loved Kung Fu Panda, he did the ride twice. It’s a great multi-sensory attraction using state-of-the-art visual effects and cutting-edge technology, perfect for younger kids.
Revenge of The Mummy: The Ride
This ride uses augmented-reality technology to create a thrilling new experience. Riders board “The Scorpion Jumper” as they are whisked away on their terrifying adventure through an ancient Egyptian tomb where they’ll encounter some of Hollywood’s most famous monsters.
TRANSFORMERS™: The Ride-3D
TRANSFORMERS™: The Ride-3D combines physical sets and state-of-the-art technology to create the most immersive, innovative thrill ride on earth. Guests explore an ancient world as they battle their way through intense enemy fire in search of the lost artifacts before it’s too late.
I did not take my 7 year-old on this ride, however, my 9 year-old loved it so much, he went twice.
What is the Studio Tour?
The world-famous studio tour -the original Studio Tour is like a walk through movie history with attractions such as King Kong 360 3-D, Jaws, and Bates Hotel from Psycho.
I loved the wreckage of the Boeing 747 from Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds.
Now, the grand finale of the Studio Tour is Fast & Furious – Supercharged! and it was AMAZING. Fast & Furious – Supercharged! is action packed, jaw dropping , heart pounding, high speed adventure that includes everything from a Vin Diesel look-alike to the 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback driven by Dom in Universal Pictures’ film series.
The Universal Express Pass is worth every penny for this ride!
*Note: The Studio Tour and King Kong 360 are not recommended for pregnant women or people.
What are the Safety Guidelines?
So many people ask “Do you have to wear a mask?”
Things are constantly changing with this pandemic. When we went in July, there were no mask requirements although many people wore them.
Three 3 days later, Orange County issued a mask requirement. It depends on the CDC guidelines and what is going on in the specific county. If numbers go up, assume there will be a mask requirement. Take a face covering with you just in case.
These are the latest updates
- In accordance with State of California recommendations, face coverings should be worn by guests who have not been fully vaccinated. All guests, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear face coverings indoors.
- We encourage all guests to keep a safe distance between travel parties
- We remain focused on maintaining the highest cleanliness and sanitation standards
- Guests should review and comply with all travel requirements including State Travel Advisories and Local Travel Advisories
Halloween Horror Nights 2021
Don’t forget Halloween Horror Nights 2021! It is Universal Studios Hollywood’s™ famous Halloween event. The annual Halloween event at Universal Studios Hollywood™ has been scaring guests for over 20 years. The theme park is the only one in the Los Angeles area that offers a “true” “Halloween” attraction and this year will be no exception.
We had an awesome day and came home feeling invigorated. The team members at Universal Studios Hollywood™ were helpful and courteous. We can’t wait to go back!
Heading to Universal Studios Orlando? Check out 5 Of The Best Reasons To Visit Universal Orlando Resort For Christmas and 13 Don’t Miss Experiences for Harry Potter Fans At The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter.