Unlike the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida or the nearby Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood is a relatively small theme park.
As such you often only need one day at Universal Studios Hollywood and should be able to go on every ride and see all the attractions during that single day.
However, upgrades to two-day park tickets are often available for an additional $40 – $60. As such if you have spare time during your trip, are travelling during the height of the peak season or travelling with little ones who may need extra time, then allocating two days to the park may be worthwhile.
When it comes to spending one day at Universal Studios Hollywood, planning and preparation is the key to ensuring that your day is as successful as possible.
Things To Do Before Your Trip Universal Studios Hollywood
A successful day at Universal Studios Hollywood begins at home with the correct planning and preparation.
Plan When You Are Going To Visit
Depending on your personal circumstances you may already have a set time in which you can visit Los Angeles and subsequently the Universal Studios theme park. However, if you have some flexibility it’s worth considering the best time to go to Universal Studios Hollywood based on crowd levels, themed decor, the weather etc. and planning your trip around that.
If you are fixed on only being able to visit Universal Studios Hollywood during the peak season (Christmas, New Year, Halloween, Thanksgiving etc.) then it’s worth considering ways in which you’re able to maximise the time you have in the park. This can include;
- Staying in a nearby hotel so you don’t have to waste time travelling to the park
- Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood for two days instead of just one
- Purchasing a Universal Express Pass
Buy Your Theme Park Tickets
The first hour when Universal Studios Hollywood opens is the most valuable as it’s the quietest the park is likely to be all day. As such the last thing you want to be doing is waiting in line to purchase your park tickets. Instead, it’s both quicker and easier to purchase your park ticket in advance.
If you’re based in the UK I recommend buying your Universal Studios Hollywood park tickets from AttractionTix. They have the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.
If you’re based in the US or Canada I recommend Klook for your Universal Studios Hollywood tickets. They have the most competitive prices and a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.
Stay In A Nearby Hotel
To avoid having to leave your hotel hours prior to Universal Studios Hollywood, or arriving stressed thanks to the notoriously bad LA traffic, we recommend spending the night in one of the many nearby hotels.
There is a vast number of hotels within walking distance of Universal Studios Hollywood. Alternatively, many hotels also offer a complimentary shuttle to the park which can help you save a lot of money since the cost of general parking at Universal Studios Hollywood is currently $35 a day.
Decide If You’re Investing In A Universal Express Pass
With a Universal Express pass, you’re able to skip the standby line for the vast majority of rides and attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood which can save you on average 70% compared to the standard wait time (in our experience).
However, a Universal Express pass isn’t always necessary to see everything Universal Studios Hollywood has to offer in a single day, especially during the off-season. That being said, much like Universal Studios Hollywood theme park tickets, Universal Express passes are sold on a dynamic pricing model.
You can purchase a Universal Express pass when you arrive at Universal Studios Hollywood. However, you’ll want to do this as early as possible to maximise its value, which again takes away from your vital hour inside the park.
This means that Universal Express passes are typically cheaper during the off-season (when it’s likely the passes won’t save you as much time) and more expensive during the peak season (when you’re most likely to benefit).
Thankfully, however, the number of attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood compared to the Universal Orlando Resort, means that the Universal Express Pass sold at Universal Studios Hollywood is significantly cheaper.
Research The Rides & Attractions
Once your ticket and accommodation are all sorted, we recommend taking the list of rides and attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood and doing two things;
- Ensuring that everyone meets the height requirement for the rides
- Ordering the rides based on which ones you would most like to experience
Doing this allows you to know ahead of time whether there’s going to be any disappointment on the day when a little one can’t go on a ride because they aren’t tall enough and also allows you to plan for a worst-case scenario if the park is crowded or you experience bad weather.
Just because a ride is number one on your ‘most like to experience’ list doesn’t always mean you should go to that ride first. Instead, you’ll want to combine that list with the average wait times / popularity of rides.
Download The Universal Studios Hollywood Mobile App
There are several informational boards around Universal Studios Hollywood that share the latest show times and current wait times for rides. However, you can have all of this information at your fingertips with the Universal Studios Hollywood mobile application.
The mobile app is available for both iOS and Android and while it will require internet access Universal Hollywood has complimentary Wi-Fi available throughout the park.
Hints & Tips For A Successful Day At Universal Studios Hollywood
There are a couple of other hints and tips we’ve found help to make a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood an even better experience. Not all of these may be suitable for everyone, but they are worth knowing nevertheless;
Get Breakfast Before You Arrive At The Park
One of the most common mistakes we see people making when visiting the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park is arriving at the park early, and heading for breakfast instead of to a ride or attraction.
The first hour after the park opens is the quietest you’ll likely experience it all day. It’s the best chance you have of waiting in a 10 minute like for The World Famous Studio Tour or Flight of the Hippogriff instead of 30 or even 45 minutes later in the day. As such this can be the difference between going on 8 rides within the park or all 12.
Therefore we highly recommend you have breakfast before you arrive at the theme park and bringing snacks with you to keep you going throughout those key morning hours.
Arrive At Parking & Security One Hour Before The Park Opens
We always aim to arrive one hour prior to the park’s scheduled opening to give ourselves plenty of time to get parked and head through security.
In most cases, you’ll be able to have your tickets scanned and head through the turnstiles half an hour before the park is scheduled to open. Staff members then hold guests on Main Universal Way between the Hello Kitty Store and Starbucks until the park’s official opening time.
Head Straight To Super Nintendo World
The most popular area of Universal Studios Hollywood is the newly opened Super Nintendo World. However, this area of the park also happens to be the furthest area from the entrance of the park.
To get to Super Nintendo World from the main entrance you’ll want to head straight, past the entrance to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter on your right and then follow the street to the right into Springfield.
If you have a wheelchair or a pushchair then you’ll be advised by staff as to where you can get the complimentary tram down to the Lower Lot instead.
From there keep walking towards The Simpsons Ride before turning left to the escalators down to the Lower Lot.
Once you get down to the Lower Lot you’ll want to take a right off the escalators and walk towards Transformers: The Ride 3D. Just as you reach the ride’s entrance take a left and you’ll see the warp pipe into Super Nintendo World.
Entry into Super Nintendo World is limited based on the capacity of the land. If you cannot arrive at Universal Studios Hollywood for the park’s opening, I recommend getting a reservation for Super Nintendo World.
Inside Super Nintendo World you’ll find;
- 1 Ride
- 2 Meet & Greet Locations
- 1 Store
- 1 Restaurant
- 5 Mini-Games (Super Nintendo World Power Up Band required)
If you would like to eat inside Super Nintendo World, then you’ll want to make reservations for Toadstool Cafe as soon as you arrive at the land using the QR code. This way you can begin virtually waiting in line for a table. While you wait, I recommend heading to Mario Kart: Bowsers Challenge.
Mario Kart: Bowsers Challenge is the only ride inside Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood, and often has wait times in the region of 3 hours during peak times. Although you can use the single rider line to go on this ride solo which in my experience cut the wait time down by over 80%.
Should you get confirmation that a table is available for you at Toadstool Cafe while waiting in line for Mario Kart: Bowsers Challenge then I recommend heading to the restaurant once you’ve been on the ride and speaking to a member of staff to explain. In my experience they’ll then usually let you enter the restaurant and join the queue as normal, even if you’re a little late.
Then Explore The Lower Lot
Once you’ve finished inside Super Nintendo World, you’ll exit this land into the Lower Lot of Universal Studios Hollywood. Here you’ll find;
- Transformers: The Ride 3D
- Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride
- Jurassic Park: The Ride
Here you can also interact with dinosaurs during the Raptor Encounter (located just to the right of the escalators back to the Upper Lot of the park) and meet Transformers including BumbleBee.
There is also a number of food stands here perfect for grabbing a drink or snack including the Super Nintendo World Popcorn Cart and Studio Café.
Use Single Rider Lines
Single-rider lines are the fastest way to get on a ride without having a Universal Express Pass. However, they also mean splitting up your party.
As a result, the single-rider line isn’t for everyone, and depending on how long the standby line is, riding solo may not always be a worthwhile trade-off. The following rides at Universal Studios Hollywood have a single-rider line;
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Flight of the Hippogriff
- Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride
- Transformers: The Ride 3D
- Jurassic World: The Ride
- Mario Kart: Bowsers Challenge
Use Child Switch
If you’re visiting Universal Studios Hollywood with children then make sure you’re aware of the Child Switch service. Child Switch is designed for rides that adults or older kids want to go that other shorter members of the party can not ride.
This means that an adult can wait with the younger members of the party in the attraction’s Child Switch room while the rest of the party goes on the ride. Once the rest of the party returns you can switch – allowing all eligible guests to go on the ride without waiting in line twice.
If you’re visiting on a Friday or over the weekend then you’ll typically find that Universal Hollywood is open late (8pm and 9pm instead of 6pm). However, people generally leave the park to head back to their accommodation between 4pm and 6pm.
Subsequently, the average wait times for rides tend to drop between 20% to 30% when compared to the peak times of the day. If you don’t have an Express Pass then this is the perfect time to go on some of the more popular rides within the park that you might not have already had the chance to experience.
Wherever possible we recommend you only bring a small bag or a fanny pack to Universal Studios Hollywood.
While you will still be required to put these inside a locker during selected rides it’s generally significantly easier and less time-consuming to do so. Bringing just a small bag also allows you to comfortably and easily move through the parks.
Plan Your Universal Studios Outfit In Advance
What you wear to Universal Studios Hollywood is going to vary dramatically depending on the time of year you visit the park. If you’re visiting in summer then you’ll likely want to wear shorts and a T-shirt, paired with a sunhat and sunglasses. However, in the winter months, a light jacket or even a raincoat may be the better choice.
Either way, it’s important to decide what you’re going to wear to Universal Studios Hollywood in advance as it’s going to save you a lot of time and hassle. Personally, we do this in two stages; firstly, we’ll decide what we’re going to wear when packing for our trip to Los Angeles, then the night before our planned visit to the park we’ll lay everything out according to the weather anticipated for the day.
Free Universal Hollywood
Printable Packing List
Our comprehensive Universal Hollywood packing list can be both customised and printed for your convenience.
Universal Hollywood Travel Planning Guide
🎟️ Where To Buy Tickets for Universal Hollywood?
If you’re based in the US or Canada, I recommend Klook for your Universal Hollywood tickets.
Klook consistently has the most competitive prices. There’s also a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.
Meanwhile, if you’re based in the United Kingdom. Then I recommend buying your Universal Hollywood theme park tickets from AttractionTix.
I personally use AttractionTix when purchasing theme park tickets. That’s because AttractionTix consistently has the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.
🏥 Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Visit to Universal Hollywood?
If you’re travelling to Universal Hollywood for vacation, then travel insurance is recommended. Basic travel insurance coverage with Safety Wing averages between $5 – $10 per day and offers peace of mind.
However, if a trip to Universal Hollywood isn’t part of a vacation. For example, you live locally. Then travel insurance isn’t likely to be necessary.
🚘 Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Visit to Universal Hollywood?
You don’t need to rent a car to visit Universal Hollywood, as the theme park has Uber / Lyft pick-up and drop-off points.
However, if a trip to Universal Hollywood only makes up a portion of your vacation, then you may want to rent a car. I personally use Discover Cars to find the best car rental for all of my trips to Los Angeles.
🏨 Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Hollywood?
When visiting Universal Hollywood, I recommend staying at Loews Hollywood. From this hotel, you can take an Uber or Lyft to Universal Hollywood in under 15 minutes.