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Universal Studios Hollywood Visitor Tips: Save Money and Maximize Your Experience

Universal Studios Hollywood Visitor Tips Springfield

The park offers great rides, tons of theming, and amazing views of the Hollywood Hills. It is a must do. What Universal Studios Hollywood visitor tips do you need to maximize your day?

What Universal Studios Hollywood Visitor Tips Do You Need to Plan Your Day?

1. Where is Universal Hollywood?

2. Check a Universal Hollywood Crowd Tracker

3. How Early Should You Get to Universal Studios Hollywood?

4. Can Universal Studios Hollywood Be Done in One Day?

5. Are There Any Discounts for Universal Studios Hollywood?

6. Download the App

7. There is Free Wi-Fi

8. Check the Weather

9. What Should You Bring?

10. Parking at Universal Hollywood

11. Make a Universal Hollywood Touring Plan

12. Is the Express Pass Universal Hollywood Worth it?

13. What Universal Studios Hollywood Rides Are Offered?

14. Utilize Child Switch

15. Check the Universal Hollywood Times for Shows

16. Choose the Right Universal Hollywood Dining Options

17. You Can Meet Unique Universal Hollywood Characters

18. Little Kids Should Hit the Splash Pad

19. Don’t Miss the Playground

20. Universal Hollywood COVID-19 Precautions

21. There is a Special Event During Halloween

22. You Can Buy a Universal Hollywood Interactive Wand

23. Universal Will Hold Your Souvenir

24. No Smoking Allowed

25. Is it Worth it with Little Kids?

26. Where Should You Stay?

27. Spend Some Time in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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Universal Studios Hollywood Visitor Tips

1. Universal Studios Hollywood Location

The park is located at 100 Universal City Plaza in Universal City, California. In addition to the theme park, Universal Hollywood CityWalk offers lots of dining and shopping options.

The airport near Universal Hollywood is LAX. You can reach it in about 45 minutes.

All of the typical Hollywood tourist attractions are located just a few minutes away.

How far is Universal Hollywood from Disneyland? You can reach it in about an hour.

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2. Check a Universal Hollywood Crowd Calendar

The park can get crowded. Check a crowd calendar for Universal Hollywood to pick the best time of year to visit. Generally speaking, when kids are in school, it will be less crowded.

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3. Arrive Early

Arriving early is one of the most important Universal Studios tips for first timers. You can knock out more rides first thing in the morning than you can the entire rest of the day. You spent a lot of money to get here. It would be a shame to get arrested for punching a line jumper.

What time should you arrive? At least 30 minutes early, and preferably more. Check the Universal Hollywood park hours and arrive as early as possible for the opening of the park.

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4. How Many Days Do You Need?

How many parks does Universal Hollywood have? It only has one. The Orlando property is much larger.

Can you visit Universal Hollywood in one day? You definitely can, particularly if you have the Universal Express front of the line pass or visit at an off time.

If you want to take your time and repeat attractions, consider adding a second day.

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5. Universal Studios Hollywood Tips and Tricks to Save

How much are Universal Hollywood tickets? They are expensive, but there are ways to save.

Pro Universal tip: The park sells discounted tickets to Universal Hollywood for guests under 48″ at the gate only. If you have short children, call ahead for the price to figure out the best deal for you.

Bonus pro Universal Hollywood tip: Kids ages two and under are free.

Extra bonus pro tip for Universal Hollywood: Unless you have a short person with you, purchase your Universal Hollywood tickets ahead of time. Do not wait until you get to the gate.

Direct Purchase Universal Hollywood Discount Tickets

Tickets for Universal Hollywood are generally cheaper online than at the gate. You can sometimes find a deal that includes a free day. Check the offerings at the time of your visit.

Universal Hollywood Packages

The park does not have its own hotels like its Orlando counterpart, but you can purchase a Universal Hollywood vacation package that includes an off property hotel stay and other tourist attractions. Do the math carefully here. You may be able to do better on your own.

Consider a Universal Hollywood Annual Pass

If you are planning to visit multiple times, do some math. Do annual Universal Hollywood passes make sense?

Universal Hollywood Military Discount

The park offers Universal Hollywood ticket deals for military personnel. You must purchase them from a military ticket office.

Discount Universal Hollywood Tickets Through Third Party Brokers

You can purchase Universal Studios Hollywood tickets for less through third party brokers like Undercover Tourist, Get Your Guide, Tiqets, or Viator.

AAA Discount Tickets for Universal Hollywood

You may be able to purchase discounted tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood through AAA.

Universal Hollywood Groupon

You may be able to find discount tickets to Universal Hollywood on Groupon. This is not always your best option. Be sure to do the math.

Discounted Universal Hollywood Tickets with a Multiple Attraction Pass

If you are visiting multiple tourist attractions in the area, a pass through Go City may make sense for you.

Visit at an Off Time for Universal Hollywood Deals

Universal Hollywood prices vary by the day. You will get a better Universal Studios Hollywood deal at off peak times.

Note: Hours for Universal Hollywood will likely be shorter at off peak times.

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6. Is There an App for Universal Studios Hollywood?

There is a Universal Hollywood app, and it is a must have. It gives you a park map and ride wait times.

Note: There are no paper maps at the Universal Hollywood theme park. The app is the only way to figure out where you are trying to go.

Universal Studios Hollywood pro tip: The app will drain your cell phone battery. Don’t forget a portable cell phone charger.

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7. There is Free Wi-Fi

The park has free Wi-Fi.

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8. Check the Weather

Universal Hollywood weather is generally comfortable, but it is not always perfect. Check the weather before you go so you know what to expect.

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9. Tips and Tricks for Universal Studios Hollywood Day Bag Packing

The park gets crowded. Pushing through masses of people holding a bunch of junk you don’t need will make you homicidal. Further, some of the Universal Hollywood rides require you to put your belongings into a locker. If you can’t cram them into a small free one, you’re going to have to pay for a big one.

If you plan to bring food, don’t. Universal’s outside food policy only allows you to bring in bottled water, small snacks, and food for people with special dietary needs.

If you don’t have a stroller, don’t overpack. What should I bring to Universal Studios Hollywood?

A. A poncho

B. A hat or sunglasses

C. Nausea medication (No, really, bring this.)

D. Headache medication

E. A refillable water bottle

F. Sunscreen

G. A portable phone charger

Pro tip for visiting Universal Studios Hollywood: Check out our free packing list for Universal Hollywood.

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10. Universal Hollywood Parking Cost

How much is Universal Hollywood parking? It starts at $30 per day and goes up to $70 per day if you want a really good spot.

Pro tip for visiting Universal Hollywood: After 5:00 p.m., you can park in the general lot for $10 and preferred lot for $20.

Bonus pro tip: Hotels near Universal Studios Hollywood offer free shuttles. Check with your hotel to see what is available.

Extra bonus pro tip: As of the time of this writing, you can park for $5 if you also see a movie at CityWalk. If Universal Hollywood hours are short on the day of your visit and you are interested in adding a movie, you can save a lot on parking.

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11. Decide How to Visit Universal Studios Hollywood with a Touring Plan

The best Universal Hollywood itinerary for you depends upon your priorities. No matter what, arrive prior to park opening and eat at off times.

When deciding how to do Universal Studios Hollywood, consider your priorities. If your family cares most about rides, try heading to Jurassic World, The Simpsons Ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, or Transformers first. Lines will be shortest first thing in the morning.

If your family is more interested in exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter before the mobs descend, head there first.

Save Universal Hollywood shows, shopping, and less popular indoor attractions with air conditioning for the afternoon.

Pro tip: Check out the Universal Hollywood map before you go to familiarize yourself with where things are located.

Bonus Universal Studios Hollywood tip to maximize your time: The park employees will not kick you out of a line if you are in it before the park closes. If you get in line one minute before closing time, you will be allowed to ride.

Extra bonus pro tip: If you don’t care if you sit with your party, single rider lines will have substantially shorter Universal Hollywood wait times.

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12. Universal Hollywood Front of Line Passes

Universal Orlando offers hotel packages that include Universal Express Unlimited passes for all guests. There is no such deal to be had in Hollywood. You must purchase it separately.

What is Universal Express Hollywood? It is a Universal Hollywood fast pass that allows you to enter each ride, attraction, and show one time without waiting in line.

It Universal Hollywood Express pass worth it? That depends. It comes with a substantial upcharge, but it may be worth it to you if you don’t go very often and want to maximize your time. Consult a crowd calendar when making your decision.

If you are willing to drop a boatload of money to skip the lines as much as you want, a Universal Hollywood VIP Tour with a private guide is the way to go.

Pro tip: You can pick and choose when you purchase the Universal Hollywood Express pass. You do not have to purchase it for every day of your trip.

Extra bonus pro tip: If you don’t care if you sit with your party, consider skipping Universal Express and using the the single rider lines at Universal Hollywood for free.

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13. What Rides Are at Universal Hollywood?

The park is broken into the Upper and Lower Lots. You move between the two on a giant Universal Hollywood escalator that essentially takes you up and down the side of a mountain.

Both lots contain multiple, heavily themed sections.

Are Universal Studios Hollywood rides scary? Some are. Be sure you know what to expect before waiting in a long line with a young child.

Note: Some rides require you to put your belongings in a free Universal Studios Hollywood locker to ride. You need to be able to cram your stuff into a small one. The big ones are not free.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem Ride Universal Hollywood

Despicable Me Universal Hollywood is a motion simulator wherein you become a Minion and travel through Gru’s laboratory. There is a cute pre-show during which a member of the audience’s personal hygiene is called into question.

Note: You might not feel great at the end of the ride if you are sensitive to motion.

Location: Upper Lot

Universal Studios Hollywood ride requirement: 40″ to ride with a supervising companion, 48″ to ride alone

Flight of the Hippogriff Universal Hollywood

Flight of the Hippogriff is one of the Harry Potter rides at Universal Hollywood. It is a teeny, tiny roller coaster. It is not worth a substantial wait, but it is a good filler ride.

Universal Hollywood location: Upper Lot

Height requirement for Universal Hollywood ride: 39″ to ride with a supervising companion, 48″ to ride alone

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Universal Hollywood

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is one of the best rides ever. This Universal Studios Hollywood queue is indoors, air conditioned, and packed with a ton of theming.

During the ride itself, you sit in a car with your feet hanging down. You are lifted well above ground level and tossed and turned gently between screens with motion simulation. You are turned almost upside down at one point.

Note: If you get sick easily, this one may be tough for you.

Note: This ride is dark with some scary elements. It will likely be too much for young children.

Location: Upper Lot

Height requirement: 48″

Jurassic World Ride Universal Hollywood

The Universal Hollywood Jurassic World ride is a boat tour through escaped dinosaurs that are trying to eat you. It ends with a near death encounter with a Tyrannosaurus rex and a steep drop.

Note: This ride may be too scary for small children.

Pro tip: You will get wet on this Universal Hollywood water ride. Bring a poncho.

Location: Universal Hollywood Lower Lot

Height requirement: 42″ to ride with a supervising companion, 48″ to ride alone

Revenge of the Mummy Universal Hollywood

Revenge of the Mummy is a dark Universal Hollywood roller coaster with some scary elements. It goes both forward and backward, but not upside down.

Note: This Universal Hollywood Lower Lot ride may be scary for young children.

Location: Lower Lot

Height requirement: 48″

The Secret Life of Pets Ride Universal Hollywood

The Universal Hollywood Secret Life of Pets ride is a must do, even if you’re not a child. The indoor, air conditioned queue takes you through various apartments from the movie. The queue alone is worth a walk.

The ride itself is a slow moving ride through various scenes from the movie with a ton of animatronics and detail. If you enjoy Disney’s dark rides, this one is for you.

Location: Upper Lot

Height requirement: 34″ to ride with a supervising companion, 48″ to ride alone

Silly Swirly Fun Ride

Silly Swirly Fun Ride is one of the few Universal Studios Hollywood kid rides. It is basically a ride in a circle in the Despicable Me-themed section of the park. While the ride is not that exciting, it comes with an amazing view.

Location: Upper Lot

Universal Hollywood ride height requirement: 48″ to ride alone

The Simpsons Ride Universal Hollywood

Barf City The Simpsons Universal Hollywood is the mother of all motion simulators. You are certain to feel sick at the end if you are sensitive. Prepare yourself.

Location: Upper Lot

Universal Hollywood height requirement: 40″ to ride with a supervising companion, 48″ to ride alone

Transformers Ride Universal Hollywood

Transformers Universal Hollywood is a flight simulation experience. As an added bonus, employees yell at you in line while in character. You may have a hard time with it if you are prone to motion sickness.

Location: Lower Lot

Universal Hollywood height restrictions: 40″ to ride with a supervising companion, 48″ to ride alone

The World Famous Universal Hollywood Studio Tour

This Universal Hollywood backlot tour is a commitment, clocking in at almost an hour, but it is worth it. During this tram ride, a guide takes you through actual movie lots.

Two Universal Studios Hollywood 3D rides are also incorporated into this longer tour. These are the Fast and the Furious and King Kong 360 rides that you can also find in the Orlando parks.

There are several surprises and landmarks you will recognize from movies along the way. Back to the Future fans will be especially pleased.

One of the best tips for Universal Studios Hollywood is not to miss this tour.

Pro tip: There are no bathrooms available on this Universal Hollywood tour ride. None. Make sure your kids go beforehand. There are bathrooms right next to the queue.

Studio Tram Tour Universal Hollywood location: Upper Lot

Universal Studios Hollywood requirements for height: None

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14. Utilize Child Switch

Don’t let your short child hold you back. You can still ride that ride. One of the best Universal tips is to utilize child switch.

The child switch program allows the whole family to wait in line once. One adult waits with the child while the other rides, then the adults switch without waiting a second time.

Pro tip: You can utilize this program even if your child is tall enough for the ride but doesn’t want to try it.

Bonus pro tip: If you have an older child, he or she can likely ride with both adults.

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15. Check the Show Times

There are several shows offered throughout the day. Check the Universal Hollywood schedule to ensure you don’t miss your priorities.

Animal Actors

Animal Actors is a 20 minute show starring domestic animals that are trained to be in movies. It is a cute show and worth a stop. The stage is outside, so be prepared to sit in the sun.

Pro tip: Check the daily schedule. You may be able to meet the animals.

Location: Upper Lot

Universal Hollywood Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda Universal Hollywood is a short movie starring the characters from the movie. There is some 4-D type stuff happening, including some minor shaking, but everyone can handle this. It is a great option for the afternoon.

This movie plays continuously. You do not need to select a specific time.

Location: Upper Lot

Special Effects Show

The Special Effects show is only offered on specific days as of the time of this writing. This 25 minute show demonstrates stunts and effects used in movies.

Location: Upper Lot

Universal Hollywood WaterWorld

WaterWorld is a 20 minute show featuring jetskis, fire, and explosions. It is loud. You may need noise canceling headphones if your child doesn’t like loud noises.

Location: Upper Lot

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16. Best Universal Hollywood Food

In addition to the restaurants in the park, CityWalk, located right next to the Universal Hollywood entrance, has a lot of good options. If you don’t like the in-park choices, take a midday break to eat. You can come and go from the park as you please.

Pro tip: The park posts its menus online. Consult them before your Universal Hollywood trip to decide where you want to eat.

Bonus pro tip: Some of the Universal Hollywood restaurants will accommodate your allergy. There are gluten free options in several locations. Talk to an employee.

Extra bonus pro tip: Eat at an off time. You can avoid crowds and take advantage of shorter Universal Hollywood lines.

Some in-park dining highlights include:

Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck

Bumblebee Man’s is a food truck serving tacos, obviously, in the Simpsons section of the park. This food in Universal Hollywood is decent and reasonably priced.

Location: Upper Lot

Cocina Mexicana

Cocina Mexicana serves Mexican food and frozen margaritas.

Location: Universal Plaza

Duff Brewery Beer Garden

This Simpsons-themed beer garden serves cocktails, wine, and beer. It’s overpriced and not for kids, but the theming is fun.

Location: Upper Lot

Hog’s Head Beer Universal Hollywood

Hog’s Head is a small bar in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Hollywood. In addition to alcohol, you can get a frozen, non-alcoholic Butterbeer.

Location: Upper Lot

Isla Nu-Bar

Isla Nu-Bar is a bar in the Universal Hollywood Jurassic Park area that has a ton of fun cocktail options. It is not for kids.

Location: Lower Lot

Lard Lad Donuts

If you want to know what to eat at Universal Hollywood to ensure you have a heart attack, this should be your first stop. Lard Lad Donuts is a Simpsons-themed counter service with giant donuts. Like one donut serves at least four people giant.

Location: Upper Lot

Minion Cafe

Minion Cafe serves some of the best food at Universal Hollywood at a fair price. Some of the choices include sandwiches, nachos, salad, and pasta. Do not miss the Felonious Float.

Location: Upper Lot

The Three Broomsticks Universal Hollywood

Three Broomsticks is a Harry Potter-themed quick service that serves English food for all three meals. You can get Butterbeer here as well. What you cannot get are soft drinks. Universal really committed to the theming on this one.

Location: Upper Lot

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17. There Are Lots of Characters

You can meet characters throughout the day in various locations for free. These may include characters from the Transformers, Minions, Simpsons, Shrek, Curious George, Frankenstein, and Scooby Doo. There is even a giant raptor.

Unlike Disney, the characters roam fairly freely and without much handling. The characters are one of the best things at Universal Hollywood.

Pro tip: Don’t miss the giant Donkey from Shrek that talks to you.

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18. There is a Splash Pad for Little Kids

If you’re wondering what to do at Universal Hollywood on a hot day with kids, hit the splash pad in the Despicable Me section. They will get wet. Plan your day accordingly.

Location: Upper Lot

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19. Don’t Miss the Playground

There is a Jurassic Park themed playground, DinoPlay, where kids can excavate fossils, examine dinosaur bones, and burn some energy running around. This is one of the best things to do at Universal Hollywood with kids that doesn’t involve a ride. Save this for the afternoon.

Location: Lower Lot Universal Hollywood

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20. COVID-19 Precautions

As of the time of this writing, COVID-19 precautions have been suspended. You no longer need to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter. Masks are recommended, but not required.

Does Universal Hollywood require reservations? As of the time of this writing, you purchase a ticket for a specific date, but do not need to make a separate park reservation.

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21. There is a Special Event During Halloween

Universal Hollywood Horror Nights is a popular nighttime event featuring haunted houses. This is definitely not child friendly, but is a lot of fun for people who like to be scared.

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22. You Can Buy a Universal Hollywood Wand

Universal isn’t new to the whole making money thing. Enter Universal Hollywood Ollivanders, the store that sells expensive wands with a little show mixed in to force parents to pay for them.

The Wizarding World has interactive areas where kids can use their wands to make things move.

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23. The Park Will Hold Your Universal Hollywood Merchandise

Universal will hold your purchases for you during the day and let you pick them up from the Universal Studios Store on the way out. You won’t have to carry them throughout the day.

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24. No Smoking Allowed

There is no smoking allowed in the park as of the time of this writing. Anywhere. You have to leave.

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25. Is Universal Hollywood Worth it with Little Kids?

The park is awesome for older kids and adults. Hard stop. Will little kids think so? Other than the Secret Life of Pets ride, probably not.

There is very little for little kids to do here. If you can build it into a longer trip, great. If you have limited time, head down the road to Disneyland.

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26. Where Should I Stay When Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood?

There are no Universal Hollywood hotels. However, there are great options within walking distance. Check out the Hilton Universal City.

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27. Spend Some Time in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal Hollywood

The Universal Hollywood Wizarding World of Harry Potter has a ton to see. The detail is amazing. Budget some time to walk through the area at a leisurely pace.

Does Universal Hollywood have Diagon Alley? No, while Orlando has both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, Hollywood only has Hogsmeade.

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Final Thoughts – Universal Studios Hollywood Visitor Tips and Tricks

The park has a lot to offer most people with its great location, amazing theming, and unique offerings. Do not hesitate to add it to your California trip. Use the Universal Studios Hollywood visitor tips to save money sand maximize your day.

Visit Universal Hollywood. You will not regret it.

Universal Studios Hollywood Visitor Tips Pin

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  1. These are great tips, and I appreciate the frequent doses of humor! Prioritizing the things you want to do most by going early is sound advice for most of the theme parks I’ve been to, but especially in California where it gets hot most days.

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