There’s a lot to do at Universal Studios Hollywood, and you’re going to want to do all of it!
Luckily the opening of each park area is staggered, so there’s a built-in schedule to get everything done! Read below to find out how to maximize your day at Universal Studios Hollywood without going crazy!
Your Universal Studios tips await!
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7:00 a.m: CityWalk
The Universal CityWalk is a great place to start your day!
It’s easy to access as the exit point from the parking lot or right on the street by a taxi or uber.
Take a photo with the Instagram-worthy wall art, grab breakfast at VooDoo Donuts, and play at the lighted splash pad before the official park even opens!
The best part: CityWalk is open to the public, so just take a quick Uber ride any time you’re in the area and in the mood to play or eat without entering Universal Studios Hollywood!
8:00 a.m: Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The first section to open at Universal Studios Hollywood is arguably one of it’s most popular: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
You’ll definitely want to start here with your Universal Studios Hollywood early entry.
This section has all of the favorites you’re dying to see from the book series.
You’ll find the Hogwarts Express train engine, the Three Broomsticks restaurant, Honeyduke’s candy shop, a look into life at Hogwarts on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Butterbeer, and an open roller coaster around Hagrid’s house; Flight of the Hippogriff.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is full of Muggle Potterheads, so you’ll definitely want to head here as soon as the park opens to make it to the front of the lines. During Early Entry hours the lines for the headlining rides here are only around 30 minutes long!
9:00 a.m: Upper Lot, World-Famous Studio Tour
The Main section, the Upper Lot, opens it’s attractions at 9:00 a.m.
The first thing we did was bee-line for the World-Famous Studio Tour.
This 60-minute tram ride takes passengers through 13 acres of backlot sets and trivia. You see sets from Psycho, Back to the Future, Jaws, Evan Almighty, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Three Amigos, and many more.
It’s incredible to drive through some of the most iconic scenes of your childhood, all while hearing about how the special effects are accomplished and life on set!
Personally, I love TV, movies, actors, and trivia, so I found this ride to be one of the very best things we did during our day at Universal Studios Hollywood!
10:00 a.m: Lower Lot
At 10:00a.m. the Lower Lot opens!
Universal Studios Hollywood makes the most of their limited amount of space by keeping some of their big attractions at the bottom of their hill.
A set of 3 glass-covered escalators lead you to the Lower Lot over the course of about 5 minutes.
Down here you’ll find Revenge of the Mummy, an incredible 4D indoor roller coaster, Transformers, a 3D ride, Jurassic Park, a flume ride, and a Jurassic Park-themed playground for younger visitors.
Since all of the attractions are placed close together it’s easy to knock them out one-by-one before making the trek back to the Upper Lot.
At the height of foot traffic, 2:00-5:00 p.m., lines for the Lower Lot rides max out at only 75 minutes (in the spring). If you choose the rides you care about the most you should be able to do everything in the Lower Lot in around 2 hours!
12:00 p.m: Lunch at The Three Broomsticks
By noon you’re probably ready for a rest, and The Three Broomsticks is your best option.
Found on the left-hand side of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, they have a very organized system of ordering and picking up food so you can spend your time eating and relaxing.
They serve English-style meals like bangers and mash (sausage and potatoes), shepherd’s pie, herb roasted chicken, fish and chips, etc.
We’ve tried a variety of their meals and have found all to be delicious! It’s not only much better tasting than typical park food, the prices are reasonable and the portions are big enough to share with little mouths.
There are plenty of food vendors in each section of the park in case you’re more interested in maximizing your day and bringing something small to wait in line, instead.
1:00 p.m: Rides and Shows in the Upper Lot
Since you’re back at the Universal Studios Upper Lot for lunch at The Three Broomsticks, this is a great time to stay for the rest of your visit!
This section has a lot to do! Mature visitors will enjoy The Simpsons Ride and The Walking Dead Attraction (I don’t think I was quite mature enough. The Simpson’s Ride is too graphic for my taste, and the Walking Dead Attraction is similar to a haunted house which scared me half to death!), while younger visitors can ride Despicable Me Minion Mayhem or play at the Super Silly Fun Land.
The Upper Lot is also home to three very entertaining sit down shows. Our 5-year-old loved Universal’s Animal Actors the most! It’s a fun, 20-minute show on how animals are trained to appear in movies and T.V. some veteran animal actors perform incredible stunts with the help of their handlers. It’s all really entertaining for adults and children alike!
My personal favorite show was the Special Effects Show. This 25-minute show takes place in an indoor theater and is hosted by two enthusiastic performers. They teach the audience all about sound effects, stunts, and visual effects. It was really interesting for me to see how sound reels are added in post production and how stunts are coordinated. We saw some awesome demonstrations, too! This really is a cool business!
If you’re in the mood to sit you can also watch the Water World show. Water World takes place at an outdoor water arena and follows the story of two groups of people who are fighting in a post-glacier world. Lots of water effects and jet skis are used in their fight and chase scenes, which make the first few rows a SOAK ZONE!
Tips to Maximize Your Day at Universal Studios Hollywood:
Get up early.
There is so much you can accomplish if you’re willing to hit the ground running! If you can be at each section as soon as it opens and then run to it’s most popular attractions you’re sure to beat the rest of the awe-struck, novice park goers. But if you’re reading this you probably already knew that.
Upgrade to Universal Express Passes.
As I mentioned, we were at the park during Spring Break and the lines only got to 60-75 minutes, but it was still nice to skip the line and get more done! The Express Passes are also valid on shows, which means you can access an awesome reserved viewing area without waiting in line.
Eat on the go.
I firmly believe in taking a break during a busy day, but you do have plenty of opportunities for rest at one of Universal Studios Hollywood’s shows or aboard the hour-long Studio Tour. If you want to truly maximize your day you can stop at a food vendor for a pretzel to eat while in line, or even bring your own snacks in a backpack!
Skip certain rides.
It’s always a good idea to have a best and worst case scenario plan before heading into the park. Just in case the day gets away from you and you can’t do everything you’d hoped, which rides can you automatically avoid? For me it would have been the Jurassic Park flume ride in the Lower Lot, and Water World and The Simpsons Ride in the Upper Lot. (Personally, I would also skip The Walking Dead Attraction, but that’s just because I’m a scaredy cat. It’s probably awesome for people who like being chased by zombies in an abandoned hospital!)
What Not to Miss at Universal Studios Hollywood:
I know you’ll be in a hurry to do all of those amazing rides and see the incredible shows, but there are a few things you really should take a moment to enjoy before rushing past! Check out these Universal Studios tips:
Universal Studios Globe.
Before entering the park you’ll find the iconic Universal Studios globe. Don’t miss it! It only takes a minute (or three, depending on how many tourists are around) to snap a quick pic, and you’ll be so glad you did.
Walk the red carpet.
A red carpet leads you to the official entrance of the park. It may sound silly, but when will you have another chance to walk (or run) a red carpet in Hollywood? Give yourself permission to be silly and take this opportunity!
If you see one of the Simpsons, a minion, or Megatron, stop and wave or get a pic together. There may be a line, but it’s one of the things that really bring the park to life and make the trip count.
The set of Universal Studios Hollywood is really incredible. We are in the land of movie magic, after all! The town of Springfield is brought to life on the Upper Lot, and a French streetscape leads you to Minions Mayhem. All it takes to enjoy these beautiful details is looking up (away from your phone) while walking!
View of L.A. from the Lower Lot escalator.
From the glass escalator you get a great view of the city, the sound stages, and even the WB lot. It’s a really rewarding view of the city you don’t want to miss!
I hope you found these Universal Studios tips and schedule useful!
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*Entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood was provided in exchange for promotional consideration. All opinions are my own.*