Universal Studios Hollywood: Tickets, Rides, and Hidden Surprises

Petr Novák

Universal Studios Hollywood is one of the most famous attractions in Los Angeles. The actual movie studios are complemented by an amusement park, and the entire complex holds the title of Entertainment Capital of L.A. I visited the park personally to gather some tips to enhance your visit. First tip: allocate a full day for your visit, although you won’t necessarily have to see everything.

Universal Studios Hollywood: Tickets, Rides, and Hidden Surprises | © Petr Novák, © Unsplash.com

  1. Universal Studios Hollywood Rides and Attractions

    All attractions are based on movies and TV shows. Several signs are posted around the park, listing the attractions and their approximate wait times. As of February 2023, the following attractions were operating:

    1️⃣ The World-Famous Studio Tour

    This is an absolute must-see and the main attraction of the entire park. In just an hour, you will ride a train through the studios where shows like CSI, Desperate Housewives, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon were filmed. Two surprises await you along the way. The first involves a giant King Kong featured in the world’s largest 3D projection. The second occurs in a subway station where I almost dropped my phone out of surprise. I won’t give anything more away, but proceed with caution. Board the trolley on the right in the direction of travel for the best view.

    2️⃣ The Simpsons Ride

    Lines form quickly at this attraction, so I recommend visiting it first. The virtual roller coaster ride across Springfield was one of the park’s best attractions. Near it is a Kwik-E-Mart stocked with souvenirs (although they are quite expensive), and you’ll often find Homer and Bart standing outside. Of course, you can take a picture with them.

    3️⃣ Revenge of the Mummy

    This was a pleasant surprise and the most thrilling attraction in the park. The combination of a roller coaster and virtual effects includes unexpected accelerations and turns. The attraction is cleverly concealed underground, mimicking a real pyramid.

    4️⃣ Jurassic Park

    This is an above-average attraction with a fantastic finale, in which you ride down a wild river surrounded by dinosaurs in a boat designed for about 12 people. The dinosaurs move and can occasionally spook you, so keep an eye out.

    5️⃣ Transformers

    This is another virtual roller coaster, but it was a huge disappointment for me. Maybe it’s because I’m not a fan of the movie, or maybe it’s because the ride malfunctioned halfway through. However, fans of the film will likely be thrilled.

    6️⃣ WaterWorld

    This is an action-packed show featuring pirates, explosions, special effects, a lot of water, and one unexpected stunt at the end. Be warned: if you sit in the first few rows, you’re going to get wet. The pirates are playful and love to splash the audience.

    7️⃣ The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    This attraction is a treat for Harry Potter fans where you can tour the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and ride a roller coaster.

    8️⃣ Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge

    This is a virtual roller coaster ride that, with the help of goggles, will transport you into the world of Super Mario.

  2. Tickets and Hours at Universal Studios Hollywood

    🧭 How to Get There

    Getting to Universal Studios is not complicated. The Universal City Red Line subway station is conveniently located a short walk away from the park. A complimentary shuttle will take you directly to Universal Studios, but if you prefer, you can also walk the mile.

    🕒 Hours

    Universal Studios Hollywood is open daily. The operating hours vary throughout the year and even within the same month. One day, it may open from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm, and the next from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Please check the park’s website before visiting.

    🎟️ Tickets

    Purchase your park tickets in advance online. Ticket prices vary daily. As of February 2023, prices ranged from $109 to $149.

    The most frequent price is $129 per adult. The earlier you buy your tickets, the more you can save. Individuals aged 10 and older are considered adults, while tickets for children aged 3 to 9 are slightly cheaper.

    There is also a pricier Universal Express ticket option ranging from $199 to $299. Apart from the Mario Kart attraction, this option allows you to bypass queues at most attractions. It usually sells for $269.

  3. How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Universal Studios

    📅 What’s the Best Day to Visit Universal Studios?

    The park is less crowded during the weekdays than on the weekends, and busier during the summer and other holidays than in the off-season. If you wish to avoid long lines and the more expensive Universal Express ticket, plan your visit for a weekday, preferably Tuesday. You can track the park’s average occupancy on Google Maps.

    ⌚ When to Arrive at the Park

    The best advice is to utilize the park’s full opening hours. Visiting only for an afternoon is not worthwhile, not only in terms of ticket price, but also because of the limited number of attractions you would be able to visit.

    I recommend arriving at least 15-20 minutes before opening time. Even then, it will be a challenge to experience all the park’s attractions. Try to visit the most popular attractions first as these tend to have long lines throughout the day.

    ⌛ How to Shorten Your Wait in Line

    At certain attractions (The Mummy, Jurassic Park …) there’s a “Single Rider” line for visitors who are alone in the park. Staff fill empty seats with these visitors to ensure full occupancy of the carts.

    Interestingly, even if you’re visiting the park in a group, you might end up seated right behind them. We were lucky enough to experience this three times out of three. The wait time at these entrances is typically about one-third of the regular queue. For instance, at Jurassic Park, we waited only 15 minutes as opposed to 45.

    🍔 Food and Drink

    The snacks in the park are typically of low quality and relatively expensive. If you’d like to save money on food and enjoy something of better quality, consider packing a snack in your backpack. Contrary to Six Flags, Universal Studios Hollywood doesn’t mind visitors bringing snacks in their backpacks.

  4. Photos of Universal Studios Hollywood

    Universal Studios in Los Angeles | © Petr Novák

    Kwik-E-Mart from The Simpsons | © Petr Novák

    Universal Studios Hollywood: Tickets, Rides, and Hidden Surprises | © Mathieu Marquer / Flickr.com

    Universal Studios Hollywood: Tickets, Rides, and Hidden Surprises | © Martin Lewison / Flickr.com

Discussion (1)

Had an amzing time at Universal Studios Hollywood! Studio Tour was a blast & loved the Harry Potter area. Can get crowded, so plan ahesd. Def. worth a visit!

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