Universal Studios Hollywood: Everything You Need to Know

Universal Studios Hollywood hosted our trip. All opinions are my own.
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I’ve lived in LA for 5 years and never visited Universal Studios Hollywood. This past summer, we were invited to Universal Studios in Orlando and had the most magical week. Given the fact that we loved the other coast’s park, I just knew I’d love this one too. Finally, we had the chance to visit Universal Studios Hollywood as a family (the kids have been with their dad several times), and it exceeded every expectation I had.  It is one more reminder just how lucky we are to live in Los Angeles and it’s about time to take advantage of this awesome theme park. If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to Universal Studios Hollywood, this post is for you.

As one of the most iconic theme parks in the world, Universal Studios Hollywood offers an unparalleled experience for visitors of all ages. In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll delve into everything you need to know to make the most of your visit, from the best time to go and the thrilling rides to strategic tips like using the Fast Pass and Early Entrance. Plus, we’ll explore the dining options within the park and suggest nearby accommodations for a seamless and enjoyable trip.

Overview of Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood, located in the heart of Los Angeles, California, is a world-renowned film studio and theme park. It is a must-visit destination for movie lovers and thrill-seekers alike, offering a unique blend of behind-the-scenes experiences, live shows, and cutting-edge attractions. The park is divided into Upper Lot and Lower Lot, each featuring its own set of attractions and entertainment options.

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Best Time to Visit

Timing is everything when planning a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood. To make the most of your experience and avoid long lines, consider visiting during the off-peak season. The park tends to be less crowded on weekdays, especially outside of school vacation periods. Additionally, early spring and late fall are generally good times to visit, as the weather is pleasant, and the crowds are thinner.

If you’re looking to experience the park during special events or holiday celebrations, be sure to check the official Universal Studios Hollywood website for event calendars and schedule updates.

Must-Do Rides at Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood boasts an impressive array of rides and attractions that cater to various tastes and preferences. Here are some must-try rides that promise an adrenaline rush and unforgettable memories:

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a. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey: Embark on a magical journey through Hogwarts Castle and the wizarding world in this groundbreaking dark ride. It’s a must for Harry Potter fans, combining storytelling with state-of-the-art technology.

b. Jurassic World – The Ride: Experience the awe-inspiring world of dinosaurs in this thrilling water ride. Brace yourself for a heart-pounding adventure as you come face to face with prehistoric giants.

c. Transformers: The Ride-3D: Immerse yourself in the epic battle between Autobots and Decepticons in this state-of-the-art 3D ride. The intense action and cutting-edge technology make it a must-visit for fans of the blockbuster film series.

d. The Simpsons Ride: Join the Simpson family on a hilarious and chaotic adventure through Krustyland. This motion-simulator ride brings the animated world of The Simpsons to life in a way that’s as entertaining as it is unpredictable.

e. Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride: Brace yourself for a high-speed roller coaster through ancient Egyptian tombs. With unexpected twists and turns, this indoor coaster is a thrilling experience for those seeking an adrenaline boost.

f. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem: Join Gru, the lovable Minions, and your fellow recruits on a heartwarming and hilarious 3D ride. It’s a family-friendly adventure filled with mischief and laughter.

g. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Flight of the Hippogriff: Take a magical journey on this enchanting roller coaster that offers stunning views of the Wizarding World. It’s perfect for those seeking a delightful ride with a touch of wizardry.

With a diverse range of rides catering to different preferences and age groups, Universal Studios Hollywood ensures that every visitor finds something to enjoy. Whether you’re seeking thrills, laughs, or magical moments, the park’s extensive lineup of rides promises a day filled with excitement and entertainment. Be sure to check the height requirements for certain attractions to plan your visit accordingly.

Super Nintendo World: Mario’s Kingdom

Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of Super Nintendo World, a recent addition to Universal Studios Hollywood that brings to life the beloved characters and landscapes of the iconic Mario franchise. Step into a vibrant, interactive kingdom where the Mushroom Kingdom comes to life. One of the marquee attractions is Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge, an exhilarating ride that puts you in the driver’s seat of a real-life Mario Kart race. Race through the colorful tracks, dodge obstacles and compete against friends and family in a gaming experience like never before. The land is also adorned with iconic elements such as Bowser’s Castle and Princess Peach’s Castle, providing countless photo opportunities. Super Nintendo World is a must-visit for fans of all ages, offering a nostalgic and immersive experience that captures the magic of the Mario universe within the heart of Universal Studios Hollywood.

If you do visit, you may wonder if you need the power up bands. My kids talked me into getting the bands to make the most of their time in Nintendo World. However, we had a friend with us who didn’t have the band, so we ended up spending less time in Nintendo World than we anticipated. I would say my kids didn’t use their bands too much, but they did enjoy the bands and I think if we had more time just to spend in Nintendo World, they would have enjoyed them. However, I don’t think you need the bands to have fun – they just make the experience more immersive and interactive. Read on below to see if the power up bands are right for you.

Do You Need the Power-Up Bands?

The Power-Up Bands are not just stylish accessories; they are the key to unlocking a whole new level of interactivity within Super Nintendo World. These wristbands, equipped with cutting-edge technology, offer visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the Mario universe like never before. The bands come in various Mario-themed designs, allowing you to choose your favorite character or collect them all as a memento of your visit.

With the Power-Up Bands strapped to your wrist, you can embark on a journey filled with virtual coins, interactive puzzles, and engaging activities scattered throughout Super Nintendo World. One of the standout features is the seamless integration with the Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge ride. By syncing your Power-Up Band with the ride, you not only become an active participant in the virtual race but also have the opportunity to influence the outcome and compete against fellow riders.

To make the most of your Super Nintendo World adventure, consider purchasing the Power-Up Bands. You can get them online in advance or at designated locations within the park. The bands add a layer of gamification to your visit. They provide a dynamic and personalized experience for gaming enthusiasts and families alike. Plan ahead, strap on your Power-Up Band, and get ready to unlock hidden surprises as you navigate the Mushroom Kingdom in a way that only Universal Studios Hollywood can deliver.

WaterWorld: A Wet and Wild Spectacle

An unexpected trip highlight for us was the Water World show. Based on the blockbuster film of the same name, WaterWorld takes live entertainment to a whole new level. It has high-energy performances, jaw-dropping stunts, and explosive pyrotechnics. As you take your seat in the specially designed amphitheater, you’ll be transported to a post-apocalyptic world where water is both a precious resource and a stage for epic battles.

The talented cast of performers, including jet-skiers, divers, and actors, bring the story to life. It is a spectacular display of skill and daring feats. Watch in awe as seaplanes soar overhead, daring escapes unfold on watercraft, and fiery explosions add an extra layer of excitement. WaterWorld is a must-see attraction that combines the elements of water, fire, and live action to create an unforgettable and immersive experience for visitors of all ages. Be prepared to get wet and be thoroughly entertained in this wet and wild spectacle at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Studio Tour: A Movie Magic Adventure

We were surprised by how much we loved the studio tour. If you visit Universal Studios Hollywood, you must do the tour. This tram ride is like a VIP pass to the behind-the-scenes world of moviemaking. The guides spill all the juicy details about how the magic happens. Picture this: you’re cruising through the studio lot. You will check out where they filmed the heart-pounding scenes from “The Fast and the Furious,” coming face-to-face with King Kong in 3D, and soaking in the nostalgia of the town square from “Back to the Future.” Feel the rush of a crazy car chase, get awestruck by a gigantic King Kong, and relive classic movie moments.

But it’s not just about the movie sets. The Studio Tour throws you right into Hollywood’s creative hub. You’ll roll through soundstages, and get a peek at how they design sets. You might even spot a celeb or catch sight of an iconic movie car. It’s this awesome mix of learning and pure entertainment. The Studio Tour is a must-do for movie buffs and anyone curious about the captivating world of Hollywood filmmaking. Get ready to ride and roll with the magic!

Fast Pass and Early Entrance Tips

To maximize your time at Universal Studios Hollywood, take advantage of the Fast Pass and Early Entrance options.

a. Fast Pass: Invest in a Universal Express Pass to skip regular lines and enjoy priority access to select rides and attractions. This can significantly reduce wait times, especially during peak hours.

b. Early Entrance: Guests staying at Universal Studios Hollywood’s official hotels can enjoy Early Park Admission.  This allows guest to enter the park one hour before it opens to the general public. This is an excellent opportunity to experience popular rides with shorter wait times.

Where to Eat Inside the Park

Exploring the park can work up quite an appetite. Universal Studios Hollywood has a variety of dining options to satisfy every palate. Some highlights include:

a. Three Broomsticks (Wizarding World of Harry Potter): Indulge in British fare like Fish and Chips or Shepherd’s Pie in this immersive Harry Potter-themed restaurant.

b. Krusty Burger (Springfield, USA): Grab a classic Krusty Burger or a Sideshow Bob Foot Long from this Simpsons-inspired quick-service restaurant.

c. Jurassic Café (Jurassic World): Enjoy a prehistoric-themed meal with options like the Isla Chicken Taco Trio or the Bao Bun.

d. Mel’s Diner (Melrose Avenue): Step back in time to the 1950s at this classic American diner, serving burgers, fries, and shakes.

Where to Stay Near Universal Studios Hollywood

Choosing the right accommodation can enhance your Universal Studios experience. Here are some recommendations for nearby hotels:

a. Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City: Located just steps away from the park, this hotel offers convenience, comfort, and stunning views of the Hollywood Hills. We stayed here for one night and it was a great choice. Their valet parking was $50 a night, but that allowed you to stay at the park the day of check-out until 6pm with no additional fee. Plus, it was literally a 5 minute walk to the park entrance, making it a very convenient choice. 

b. Sheraton Universal Hotel: A short walk from Universal Studios, the Sheraton provides modern amenities and a relaxing atmosphere.

c. The Garland: Nestled in North Hollywood, The Garland is a stylish and family-friendly option with lush gardens and a retro-chic vibe.

d. The Tangerine: For a boutique experience, consider The Tangerine, a Hollywood gem with a mid-century modern design.


Universal Studios Hollywood is more than a theme park; it’s a cinematic adventure waiting to unfold. By planning your visit strategically, taking advantage of Fast Pass options and Early Entrance perks, savoring delicious meals inside the park, and choosing the right nearby accommodations, you can make your Universal Studios experience truly magical. Whether you’re a film buff, a thrill-seeker, or a family looking for a memorable vacation, Universal Studios Hollywood has something for everyone. So, pack your bags, get ready for the ride of a lifetime, and let the magic begin!

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