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Call 1 (800) 434-7894 to speak with a Travel Planning Expert · 7 Days a Week · International Callers +1 (619) 546-5622
What Are the Best Hacks for Universal Studios Hollywood?
Universal Studios Hollywood™ is a hugely popular theme park with a vast number of attractions. If you only have a short time for your visit, you may worry about the time needed to see everything you want. To make the most of your time and money while visiting Universal Studios Hollywood™, follow these tips and tricks.
Book your tickets in advance
Purchasing your tickets in advance is one of the best ways to make sure you do not waste any time. Getting in line for your tickets when you arrive will slow down the start of your day. Online purchases can be made quickly and easily through booking sites like aRes Travel.
Start your day early
Many visitors might plan their trip to Universal Studios Hollywood™ as part of a vacation, and getting up early may not be ideal. However, the earlier you can start your day, the more you can get out of it.
The crowds may be a little lighter first thing in the morning. If you are ready to enter as soon as the park opens, you could even be able to walk right onto your first ride.
Give yourself time to walk
It takes around 10-15 minutes to walk from the regular parking lots to the entrance of the park, through Universal CityWalk. Arriving early should include the time needed for this.
Eat before you get there
If you arrive early at the park on an empty stomach, you might waste the extra time you saved by stopping to get breakfast. While there are plenty of great meal options available around the park, you should take the first hour or so for rides and attractions that fill up quickly. You can always have brunch later at one of the restaurants.
Visit in off-peak season
Summer and school holidays are when Universal Studios Hollywood™ is at its busiest. This means long lines, as well as extra crowds to navigate. If you are able to visit during the off-peak season, perhaps in the colder months when there are no holidays, you can enjoy a quieter park.
Midweek days are quieter
Weekends fill up fast. Midweek days mean shorter lines and fewer crowds. While many visitors may be hampered by work schedules, taking a day in the middle of the week can be worth it for the improved experience.
Remember where you parked
Parking can get a little confusing at Universal Studios Hollywood™. Snapping a quick picture of your parking space on your phone can help you locate it afterward. If you download the Official Universal Studios Hollywood™ App, you can use this as a location reminder.
Use a locker
For a full day out, there are certain items you may wish to keep with you, especially if you have small children. Carrying these around can be tiring and inconvenient, however. Lockers are available around the park for rental, allowing you to safely stow items like extra water or a change of clothes.
Get a Universal Express ticket
The Universal Express™ Ticket costs a little more, but upgrading can get you additional privileges throughout the day. You can use this to skip the line for many of the most popular attractions in the park, although it can only be used once per attraction.
You can also use the Universal Express™ Ticket as a way to get priority seating at the seated shows.
Download the app
The Official Universal Studios Hollywood™ App can come in handy throughout your visit. It allows you to view the waiting times for various attractions and rides, so you can wait until a line is shorter before joining it.
You can also use the app to find times for the different shows around the park, as well as character meetups and photo opportunities.
Start with the busiest rides
When beginning your day at the park, try to head to the most popular rides first, as these lines can become long almost immediately. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™, for example, can be a good ride to get to as soon as possible.
Use the single rider line
The single rider line can be a much faster way to get to a busy ride, provided you do not mind being separated from your group on the ride itself. You can still wait in line together, but you will be split between rows to fill up gaps left by other groups. This wait is much shorter, and can be more than worth it for the busiest rides.
Child switch for families
The child switch system is a great way to make sure parents can have fun as well as the kids. One parent can wait with the kids while the other goes on the ride. Afterward, the second parent can go on the ride without having to wait in line. Just ask about this at the ride and the team members will help you.
Upper and lower lots
It takes time to travel between the upper and lower lots. Make sure to decide which attractions or rides interest you on each lot, and go to each of them before moving on to the next lot. Ideally, you should only have to travel between lots once during the day.
Popular upper lot features include the Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Super Silly Fun Land, the Simpsons Ride, and the backlot tour. On the lower lot, you will find rides such as The Revenge of the Mummy and Transformers: The Ride 3D.
Start with the lower lot
Because the entrance is at the upper lot, many visitors start with these attractions. While this may be ideal if you want to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ first thing, the lower lot is much less crowded early on. Heading to the lower lot and getting to some of the most popular rides there can be a perfect way to get started on your to-do list.
Take in the view
The Starway is the long series of escalators that run between the two lots. It can take around 10 minutes to make the trip, and much longer if you use the stairs instead. Instead of viewing it as a chore, try turning it into a feature of your day. The views are amazing and can provide excellent photo opportunities for you and your group.
Bring your own snacks
While you cannot bring full meals into Universal Studios Hollywood™, you can bring snack foods. These can keep you going throughout the day, and allow you to save your food budget for mealtimes.
A refillable, non-glass water bottle is an important item to bring. Even on a cooler day, walking around the park means you should stay hydrated. If you do not bring a bottle, however, remember you can ask for free water at places like Starbucks.
Wear a backpack
Style should take second place to comfort when you are planning a day at Universal Studios Hollywood™. Big purses or anything that sits on your shoulder will be inconvenient, as will carrying items in your pockets.
A small backpack will allow you to bring the essentials, while also leaving your hands free. You could bring one backpack for your group and take turns carrying it, if you prefer. Waist bags could also work for smaller items.
Check height and age restrictions
Some of the rides and attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood™ have restrictions. Your child might be too short for some rides. Make sure to check these restrictions in advance, as you might otherwise face disappointment on the day.
Some rides require a “companion”, aged 14 or over, to accompany smaller children. Make sure you have planned for this beforehand.
Many of the rides and experiences at Universal Studios Hollywood™ involve water. Some might be small splashes, but others could mean a soaking. If you plan on heading for one of the water rides or attending a show like Water World, make sure you bring a waterproof jacket or poncho.
Protect your phone
While you protect your clothing from water, do not forget to protect your phone. If you do not have a waterproof cover, use a ziplock bag for any rides or shows involving water.
Back up your power
Keeping your phone or camera charged throughout the day can be a challenge. A portable power bank or back up batteries can make a big difference, as you can use your phone without worrying.
If you do need to charge your phone, there are plenty of spots to do so. Starbucks will let you use your own charger, and you can borrow one from Guest Relations if you forgot your own.
Check closures in advance
Universal Studios Hollywood™ often changes its rides to make way for new attractions. This means certain rides may be under construction when you go. Checking which rides and shows will be available can help avoid disappointment on the day.
Enjoy the wait
Waiting in line is not generally something to look forward to, but it is an inevitable part of any theme park visit. Even with line shortcuts such as single rider, you are likely to spend a significant part of your day waiting.
Planning for this can help you enjoy it. Think of some games you can play with your group while in line, to make the time pass faster. Some rides have even made the waiting time something to enjoy. For example, you can look at the design details of Hogwarts™ castle while in line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™.
Switch up meal times
As suggested above, eating brunch instead of breakfast can give you an extra hour or two at the start of your day. Ideally, you will only get hungry again later, perhaps mid-afternoon. This is a great trick for avoiding the lunch rush.
Eating earlier or later than usual means you can enjoy popular restaurants like the Three Broomsticks without huge crowds. You may also find the crowds for other attractions could lessen slightly at lunchtime, as everyone else goes to eat.
Dietary food guide
If you have a dietary restriction, finding suitable food at a theme park can be a challenge. Universal Studios Hollywood™ has provided a Dietary Food Guide on their website to help you find options for vegetarian and vegan meals. You can also find gluten-free, dairy-free and peanut-free options. Check this out before you head into the park so you can plan your meal times accordingly.
Take time for the tour
The backlot tour is one of the most notable features at Universal Studios Hollywood™, even though it is not a ride in the traditional sense. It gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the making of various Hollywood classics, as well as current blockbusters.
As well as being uniquely entertaining, the tour can give you an all-important chance to rest. A long day on your feet around the park can be tiring, but taking a break might feel like a waste of time. The tour allows you to rest for an hour, and enjoy yourself at the same time.
Plan your day
Planning every part of your day is not feasible, as you will want the freedom to be spontaneous. However, making a list of the things you want to do can make the day go much more smoothly. This is especially important if you are traveling with children or a large group of friends. Make sure everyone gets to pick at least one item on the list.
Play areas for kids
Play areas for children are located on both the upper and lower lots. The upper lot has a water area, which makes it perfect for hot summer days. Try to plan a stop at one or both of these areas if you have children with you. The kids can get a break from standing in line, and you can rest while they play.
Making the most of your trip to Universal Studios Hollywood™ often means starting early and ending late. If you are visiting the area and need to choose accommodation, try to find somewhere within easy traveling distance.
Remember to check the traffic and plan for it, as the Los Angeles area can often be very congested. Knowing how long it will take to get back to your accommodation can help you plan the end of your day.
Pick up souvenirs on the way out
Finding the perfect souvenir can turn a good day into a great one. Carrying it around, however, can be irritating. Even if you have a locker, purchasing items in the middle of the day can be inconvenient. Try to do your shopping on the way out, perhaps as you go through Universal CityWalk on the way back to your car.
No matter what you plan or don’t plan, you will have fun. Get your tickets. Call 1 (800) 434-7894 (international callers use +1 (619) 546-5622) to speak with an aRes Travel planning expert seven days a week or book online now.
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