Though Universal Studios Hollywood is smaller in size compared to Universal Studios Orlando, it still manages to pack in plenty of action and thrills for anyone looking to visit.
You can visit Universal Studios Hollywood in one day with some preparation, we suggest;
- Choosing rides in advance
- Booking park tickets in advance
- Buying express passes – so you can skip to the front of the line
- Using single rider lines – if an express pass isn’t within your budget
We decided to put together this helpful guide with tips on how you can save time, save money and make the most of your time at the park so you can have a fantastic fun-filled day.
Table of Contents
1. Pick The Right Day
While you might not have much flexibility in the time of year you go due to school and work you can be pickier on the day of the week you go.
Choosing a certain day can result in the crowds being smaller and so the queues and lines shorter.
As many can guess the busiest times to visit are when children are out of school for the holidays in summer. The crowds are smaller and queues are shorter in Autumn, Winter and Spring.
Days that lie around holidays such as the 4th of July, Memorial Day, Christmas Day, can often be crowded weekends or weeks with many families spending time in another state with their family or wanting to mark the occasion somewhere special.
Typically weekdays are quieter than weekends due to more people working and being at school.
Weekdays are probably the best time to go as you can get more time within the park, arrive early, stay late and have fewer people to contend with in line for the rides.
You can still achieve an amazing day at the parks during the weekend or in the peak holiday seasons using some of the following tips below.
2. Know The Park Layout
Something we didn’t do on our first visit to Universal Studios Hollywood was studying the map. We only had one day at the park and honestly got lost too many times, which took a chunk out of our day.
If you are only spending one day at the park and have never been before you might want to download a map from the Universal Studios Hollywood website and plan a route.
That way you can be sure that you are heading in the direction you want and get to the rides you want to do.
Knowing a route of the park will also get you into a good rhythm of knowing where toilets are, food trucks and restaurants are and water fountains.
I always like to make a mental memory of where these things are for when we need them as they can often be disguised or hidden in the crowds.
This is extremely useful if you are visiting the park with children and need to have access to the toilets as a moments notice.
3. Plan What Rides You Want To Do
While we don’t solely go to Universal Studios Hollywood for the rides we do like to look at which ones we want to go on. Especially if there are any shows or rides that you haven’t had a chance to get on before or that are different from those at Universal Studios Orlando.
You can highlight or make a list of the ones you really want to go on, then those you would like to and then finally those you would go on but don’t mind missing.
That way you can prioritise what you see and do first so you can be happy with what you have seen and done if you run out of time.
If you are going with children and infants you might want to make a list of rides that they are eligible for. Check the heights of your children against the requirements online so that when you are in the park you know at a first glance whether or not it is a ride your children can go on.
Make a list on a piece of paper or your phone (just in case you lose the paper) and keep it to hand when you’re in the park.
This doesn’t mean the adults have to miss out on the rides but don’t queue twice, only queue once together in the normal line and use child swap.
That way you are only queuing once and making the most of your time at Universal Studios Hollywood.
4. Get Express Passes
We love using express passes when we go to any of the Universal Studios parks, they are extremely handy and can get you to the front of each ride line.
You can only get on the ride once using the express pass but if your mission is to get on all the rides before your one day is up this is a perfect way to do it.
If you are part of a group and only feel you need 1 or 2 passes as not everyone will use them each time, you can do this. This is a great way of saving money but still achieving a great time while at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The express passes can be bought prior to your visit, at the ticket desk upon arrival or when you enter the park. They often have a stand that sells express pass as you first enter.
5. Arrive Early
If you are looking to save a little money and not buy express passes for your one day at Universal Studios Hollywood, there are other ways in which you can still see all the park.
One of those is arriving early, we would suggest arriving before the park is open (just enough time before, not hours before).
Essentially you want to be there for the gates opening so you can get into the park as soon as it opens and have a nice long full day there. If you arrive a little later in the morning you could face a lot of traffic and a long queue to get in, this will also happen in peak season so be prepared.
If you wish to arrive early and beat those mid-morning risers we also suggest getting there 30 minutes prior to allow you to park (if you are choosing to drive) or get an uber and get to the drop off point. You will also want to allow some time to be able to get through security and ticket check.
6. Stay Late
Universal Studios Hollywood looks dazzling at night, with all the lights of the rides and fun colours glowing in the dark, so it is no surprise that staying later in the day can be a brilliant way of spending a day at Universal Studios Hollywood.
There will be a significant decrease in people within the park after a certain hour, usually around 6-7 and onwards as people leave for dinner and those with smaller children head back to their hotel to get children to bed.
If you are happy to stay late and still feel the excitement of the rides running through you, you can keep going until closing. This is a wonderful way of rounding up your day at Universal Studios Hollywood and you might even get to get on some of the rides you previously missed.
Depending on the time of year and the weather, the park may stay open later or close earlier. You can check the opening times on the website or ask one of the members of staff as you arrive.
7. Book Your Tickets In Advance
We had to buy our tickets at the gate the very first time we went to Universal Studios Hollywood and it, unfortunately, took some time to get through. Luckily we turned up rather early and so we didn’t miss too much of the parks opening hours but it was a pain.
during our second visit, we got our tickets in advance so we could just collect them from customer services (you may get yours posted to you, but we didn’t have time so decided to collect them). This cut down a significant amount of time and meant we could spend more time in the park and on rides.
8. Use Single Rider Lines
If you are heading to the park as a group or family and find that only one or two people are looking to go on a ride you can utilise single rider lines.
These are lines that are created for the solo person to go on a ride and can also fill up a seat that would have been empty otherwise.
We loved using single rider as it was much quicker for us to get on the rides and still do everything else we wanted to do at the park. This is ideal if you aren’t bothered by the pictures that some of the rides have or if you aren’t too bothered about sitting together, as long as you get on the ride.
This can be such a time saver especially on some of the rides with much longer wait times and that are harder to get on usually.
There are certain rides that won’t have single rider lines so you might want to take note of those in advance so you can plan your route and which rides are worth waiting for.
9. Check The Board For Show Times
Something we never utilised on our first visit but was something we paid closer attention to on our second visit was the shows and attractions board. A digital board showing the shows and the times they were on, duration etc.
During our first visit, we didn’t seem to realise that it would be so helpful. During our second visit to Universal Studios Hollywood, we wanted to go to the Kung Fu Panda show and so we spent some time planning our route and what we were going to do around the showtimes on the board.
If you are looking to go to all the shows this is a great asset to your trip. The board constantly updates with the new times and wait times for each show so as you pass you can check the current times for each show.
We also managed to see that the Lower Lot – The Studio Tour was very quiet and so managed to walk down there and spent very little time waiting.
10. Pick A Restaurant Before Arriving
As the crowds can start to swell and make the park feel impossible to navigate, the last thing you want to have to do is wait a long time for your food.
We found we chose to eat at the wrong time one year we visited and it meant we spent more of our time trying to find a place to sit than actually enjoying our lunch.
Look at the map before your trip and choose somewhere to eat or a couple of places, do no matter where you are in the park you know where you are going to eat and what you are going to eat.
An even better tip is to eat just before the lunchtime rush, if you aren’t hungry that is fair enough. If you are in a larger party though this may be advisable as you may struggle for seating for everyone at the height of lunchtime. That are larger groups may find it easier to break up into smaller chunks and find seating that way.
This may not always be the case within the park and there are some small areas that are less crowded and maybe quieter during the off-season but it is something worth keeping in mind.
11. Skip CityWalk
To get to the gate of Universal Studios Hollywood and into the park, you are required to walk through CityWalk. While this is great on the way back to the car, it isn’t as great on your walk-in.
The walk can be very distracting and can often pull you into the shops before you have even got to the park. We have done it so many times. While this might be okay to do on your way home, in fact, we enjoy it after a busy day at the park we often avoid it on our way in.
When you first arrive head straight to the park and pretty much ignore that CityWalk is there, if not you can spend precious time looking around the shops that you can do later once the park is shut or once you have done everything you want to do.
If you arrive early enough the majority of CityWalk will still be closed, making it much easier to avoid and so you can’t get distracted and can get straight over and into the Universal Studios Hollywood.
Once you have finished at the park, it is a perfect time to go and explore the cool shops and even grab something to eat from one of the cool restaurants.