Universal Studios Hollywood is one of the most popular attractions in Los Angeles County, spanning an impressive 415 acres and uniquely combining a working movie studio with an exhilarating theme park.
Visitors to Universal Studios Hollywood can explore the legendary film and television production facility’s behind-the-scenes while experiencing thrilling rides, captivating shows, and immersive attractions.
1. Experience Movie Magic On The World-Famous Studio Tour
One of the most unique things about the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park is that this site is also home to a fully-functioning production studio.
During the one-hour-long Studio Tour (also commonly referred to as The Backlot Tour), you will travel through different past various sound stages, and through movie sets.
Throughout this time you’ll experience a variety of attractions including;
- Bates Motel
- War of the Worlds – Plane Crash Wreckage
- Jupiter’s Claim
- Flash Flood Simulator
- Earthquake: The Big One!
- Wisteria Lane – From Desperate Housewives
- King Kong 360 3-D
- Fast & The Furious Supercharged
The World Famous Studio Tour is suitable for children of all heights and ages and is located in a dedicated lower lot area of Universal Studios Hollywood. It is accessible through a couple of escalators from Springfield (or a lift if you have a wheelchair, electric scooter or pushchair).
During quieter times at the park, you can wait as little as 10 or 20 minutes to board the tram that will take you around the backlot. However, during the busiest days at Universal Studios Hollywood such as holidays and weekends the standby wait time for this ride can be in excess of one hour.
For that reason, if you are visiting during peak times we’d recommend visiting this area of the park first since most other guests only get here at lunchtime which results in the highest wait times of the day.
2. Let The Wand Choose The Wizard At Ollivanders
Universal Studios Hollywood is home to the incredible Wizarding World of Harry Potter. An immersive-themed land which takes inspiration from both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.
One of the most popular experiences in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is Ollivander’s Wand Shop.
This unique and captivating show allows you to witness the magical moment when a wand selects its rightful owner. As you step into the dimly lit, wand-filled store, the skilled Wandkeeper will guide a lucky participant through the process of finding their perfect wand.
Sadly only one person (from a group of roughly 25 people) can be chosen for each performance. However, you are able to purchase a variety of Harry Potter inspired wands in the store after the show.
Personally, we recommend investing in an interactive wand which can be used to cast spells around the park.
3. Eat At Toadstool Cafe
Situated inside the new Super Nintendo World area of Universal Studios Hollywood is the incredible Toadstool Cafe. This is the best place to eat at Universal Studios Hollywood and offers an extensive range of American-Italian foods in a themed environment that combines quick-service and table-service elements.
Given its popularity, a reservation for Toadstool Cafe is required and can only be obtained once inside the Super Nintendo World area of the park. As such if you would like to dine at Toadstool Cafe during your visit to Universal Studios Hollywood then I’d recommend joining the waitlist as soon as you arrive at Super Nintendo World.
Alongside reservations for Toadstool Cafe, I’d also recommend making reservations for Super Nintendo World to guarantee entry into this area of the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park.
4. Breeze Past The Lines With An Express Pass
If you’re looking to enhance your visit to the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park then consider investing in a Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass.
An Express Pass is purchased in addition to your traditional theme park ticket and allows you to skip the line on the vast majority of rides inside the theme park.
This allows you to spend less time waiting in line, and more time exploring the theme park and everything it has to offer.
5. Get Lost In Revenge Of The Mummy – The Ride
Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride is one of the only traditional track-based rollercoasters at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park.
This dark ride is located in the Lower Lot of the theme park and is perfect for thrill-seeking families.
Board the ride vehicle and be propelled at speeds of up to 45mph in virtual darkness as you flee from Mummy’s revenge.
6. Take A Photo With A Universal Studios Character
Universal Studios Hollywood is home to a whole host of incredible characters that you can meet and take photos with.
The main meet-and-greet location within the park is situated opposite The Wizarding World of Harry Potter entrance, although you can often find characters wandering the park too.
Some of the characters we’ve had the pleasure of meeting at Universal Studios Hollywood include;
- King Julien from Madagascar
- Hello Kitty
- Shrek & Fiona
- Guy Diamond from Trolls
- The Minions & Gru
- Optimus Prime from Transformers
- Marilyn Monroe
7. Get Wet On Jurassic World – The Ride
The Jurassic World ride is the only water ride at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Located in the heart of the Lower Lot this ride features the latest technology in rollercoaster development making the immersive land and dinosaurs all the more realistic.
During this ride, you’ll get caught in the fray as an Indominus rex is confronted by her archrival, the Tyrannosaurus rex.
This epic battle will see you pummelling down an 84ft drop into a pool of water (as such, you will likely get wet).
8. Collect Coins & Stamps With Your Power-Up Band
Power-Up Bands are snap wristbands that can be used to interact with various different elements within Super Nintendo World and at home using Amiibo.
While the Power-Up Bands cost an additional $40 plus tax, we found them to be one of the best things we used our spending money on at Universal Studios Hollywood and explored Super Nintendo World for over two hours, collecting keys, points and stamps before going on to face Bowser Jr in the final battle.
Again, you don’t have to be a huge Super Nintendo fan to enjoy this element of the park as while the games are inspired by Super Nintendo they are still very generic.
9. Take A Photo In Front Of Hogwarts Castle
One of the most iconic elements of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is Hogwarts Castle which hosts the incredible ride; Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter then we highly recommend coming here early and grabbing a photo in front of the castle as it gets very busy later in the day. To further enhance your photo consider wearing a Hogwarts Robe or a Harry Potter inspired t-shirt.
10. Chat With Donkey
Situated next to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter entrance you’ll find the Donkey interactive experience.
Here you’ll have the opportunity to chat with Donkey from the hit film franchise Shrek and ask him anything you like.
The responses are often hilarious, so again, even if you’ve not seen the Shrek films it’s well worth stopping by.
11. Watch A Film
Just outside of the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, you’ll find Universal CityWalk.
This entertainment, shopping and dining district is home to the Universal Cinema AMC a state-of-the-art theatre with IMAX screens and comfortable seating.
If you’re looking for a way to relax after a hectic day at the parks then this is it!
12. Enter The World of Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem is a 3D motion simulator ride that is sure to be a hit with Minion lovin’ families.
This ride sees join Gru on an adventure to become a Minion. During this time you’ll take a trip through Gru’s laboratory, but of course, the journey doesn’t quite go to plan!
This ride sadly does have a height limit of 40″ (with a supervising companion) but it’s not a roller coaster, so you don’t go anywhere on a track, there are no heights and it’s not really that dark.
Therefore if you’re travelling with kids tall enough to ride, it’s likely that they will enjoy the experience.
13. Drink A Duff Beer & Eat A Krusty Burger
Krusty Burgers and Duff Beer are two of the most iconic food items in The Simpsons – and at Universal Studios Hollywood you have the chance to try both for yourself.
Springfield, home to The Simpsons has a Krusty Burger fast-food restaurant serving a range of delicious burgers and sides.
While across the road you’ll find the Duff Brewery Beer Garden serving an extensive range of alcoholic drinks including cocktails, wine and draft beers including that all-important Duff!
14. Help Protect The Allspark
Transformers: The Ride 3-D is an immersive thrill ride located within Universal’s Lower Lot.
This ride uses a combination of 3D media and flight simulation technology to take you into the middle of a war zone as you fight alongside Optimus Prime and try to survive as you protect the Allspark from the Decepticons.
15. Make Friends With Max, Duke, Gidget & Snowball
One of the latest additions to the Universal Studios Hollywood park is the Secret Life of Pets: Off The Leash ride.
As you wait for this ride you’ll do so inside the New York City apartments of the characters featured in the film which is sure to keep little kids entertained.
The ride itself sees you board a specially designed vehicle that looks like a pet carrier.
The ride itself is a trackless, motion-based attraction that takes you through various scenes and environments from the movies.
You’ll see all of your favourite characters, including Max, Duke, Snowball, and Gidget, as they help you in your journey to being adopted.
16. Go Indoor Skydiving With iFLY
iFLY Indoor Skydiving is an exhilarating experience located at Universal CityWalk, just steps away from Universal Studios Hollywood.
This unique venue offers thrill-seekers and adventure enthusiasts the chance to experience the sensation of free-fall skydiving without having to jump out of a plane.
iFLY uses powerful vertical wind tunnel technology to create a smooth column of air that allows participants to float effortlessly, simulating the adrenaline-pumping excitement of a real skydive.
17. Experience The Thrills Of The Simpsons Ride
Located inside Springfield, in Universal Hollywood’s Upper Lot is The Simpsons Ride.
This motion simulation ride sees you head out on a journey with The Simpsons to Krusty’s the Clown’s newest theme park Krustyland.
However, unlike Universal, Krusty hasn’t invested the time or money into the park and as a result, you’ll be experiencing some incredible high-speed twists and turns.
18. Eat At The Three Broomsticks
The Three Broomsticks is the premier restaurant located within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood.
This restaurant serves traditional British cuisine including; an English breakfast, shepherd’s pie as well as fish and chips and the iconic Butterbeer.
19. Meet Some Awe-Inspiring Dinosaurs
Situated in the Jurassic Park area of Universal Studios Hollywood down in the Lower Lot is the Raptor Encounter.
This performance takes place multiple times a day and see’s you come face-to-face with a dinosaur.
Those travelling with dinosaur enthusiasts may also want to check out the DinoPlay area which is located just past the entrance to Jurassic World – The Ride.
20. Escape To An Epic Adventure With WaterWorld
The WaterWorld show at Universal Studios Hollywood is inspired by the 1995 science fiction film of the same name.
This thrilling, stunt-filled extravaganza is set in a post-apocalyptic world where Earth is completely submerged in water, and the remaining survivors are in search of the mythical Dryland.
Set in a custom-built outdoor arena with a massive pool, the WaterWorld show features an array of impressive stunts, pyrotechnics, and special effects that you won’t want to miss.
21. Upgrade To The VIP Experience
The VIP Experience at Universal Studios Hollywood is an exclusive guided tour that provides an unparalleled visit to the theme park.
This experience offers a variety of benefits including;
- Priority access to all rides
- Guided tour
- Exclusive backlot access
- Gourmet lunch
With just 18 guests per tour, spaces are limited. As such we highly recommend booking in advance.
22. Get Wet At Super Silly Fun Land
Just behind Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem is Super Silly Fun Land which is home to the most incredible splash park.
If you’re visiting the theme park with young kids during the summer months then be sure to pack a change of clothes are they are definitely going to want to spend some time here.
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Printable Packing List
Our comprehensive Universal Hollywood packing list can be both customised and printed for your convenience.
23. Enjoy A World Famous Voodoo Donut
Situated at Universal Studios CityWalk is the world-famous Voodoo Donut.
This iconic doughnut store provides an extensive range of uniquely delicious doughnuts for you to choose from and is the perfect treat to take home after a long day at the parks.
24. Dine At The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen
After a long wait, the incredible Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen has recently opened its doors at Universal Studios Hollywood CityWalk.
Despite its name, this amazing restaurant serves both savoury and sweet delights that are sure to impress.
During our most recent visit to Universal Studios Hollywood, we were sadly unable to get a table here.
As such, we’d highly recommend making a reservation in advance if you’d like to visit during your upcoming trip.
25. Experience The Legendary Master Po
The Dreamworks Theatre featuring Kung Fu Panda is a multi-sensory attraction experience featuring a 180-degree screen and 360-degree surround sound as well as special effects, such as water, wind, and scent which make the experience feel even more realistic.
During the short film showing you’ll be transported to the world of Kung Fu Panda, where you’ll follow Po and his friends as they battle villains to protect their home.
26. Buy All The Merch From Animation Studio Store
The Animation Studio Store is the largest merchandise store within Universal Studios Hollywood.
This store sells a wide variety of merchandise featuring all of your favourite Universal characters.
Whether you’re looking for a retro Universal Studios Hollywood t-shirt or a cool Super Mario jacket, you’ll find it all here!
27. Savor Mexican Street Food
Cocina Mexicana is the perfect place to dine on authentic and flavorful Mexican cuisine.
The menu here features; tacos, burritos, nachos, and salads, all made with fresh, high-quality ingredients.
Each meal is completely customisable, allowing you to choose from a variety of proteins and an assortment of traditional Mexican sides.
28. Eat A Lard Lad Donut
The gigantic Lard Lad Donuts are a Universal Studios icon and can be purchased from Lard Lad or multiple stores within Springfield.
These doughnuts are seriously bigger than my head, therefore you’ll likely either want someone to share it with or the ability to take it back home / to the hotel with you.
29. Experience Halloween Horror Nights
Halloween Horror Nights is a seasonal event held at Universal Studios Hollywood which usually takes place a number of times between mid-September through early November.
This highly anticipated and immersive experience transforms the theme park into a nightmarish landscape filled with terrifying haunted houses, scare zones, and live entertainment, making it the ultimate Halloween celebration for horror fans and thrill-seekers alike.
Tickets for Halloween Horror Nights need to be purchased in addition to general park admission tickets, but in our opinion are well worthwhile.
30. Discover DinoPlay For Kids
Located in the Lower Lot of the park you’ll find the newly refurbished DinoPlay area.
This interactive space gives kids the chance to excavate giant dinosaur fossils, explore a full-size T. rex skull, dinosaur eggs and more.
31. Upgrade To An Annual Pass
If you don’t want your day of magic at the park to end, then consider upgrading your Universal Studios Hollywood park ticket to an annual pass.
Different annual pass levels are available depending on your requirements, with upgrades taking just a couple of minutes at the Box Office Front of Line.
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.