Can’t-Miss Experiences at Universal Studios Hollywood™
Like any theme park, Universal Studios Hollywood™ has a long list of attractions. It can be hard to sort through which ones should be prioritized – especially if you can only spend one day at the park and have to make the most of your time. The ride developers managed to fit a lot of experiences into the park’s relatively small size.
There are a handful of attractions that are a must-see, though, regardless of how much of a thrill-seeker you usually are. Universal Studios’ famous movies have inspired many fantastic rides, several of which have been replicated at other Universal Studios theme parks around the world.
Jurassic World: The Ride
This ride replaces the original Jurassic Park water ride that had been in the park since 1996. Like the original, the remade Jurassic World ride is a water ride, but the visuals have been completely redone to make the experience feel more real. Technology has improved a lot since the ride’s creation, so it was overdue for some updated cinematics. The new ride even includes the actors from the newest film in the franchise, also titled Jurassic World.
Of course, the ride’s visuals don’t matter quite as much as the drop at the end. Fans of water slides will be happy to hear that the ride has an 84-foot drop that gives riders a satisfying and not-so-brief surge of adrenaline.
Since the ride just reopened in July 2019, wait times are likely to be long, but it’s well worth it – especially on hot days!
The Studio Tour
Movie buffs have raved about this tour for decades. Rest assured, this isn’t your typical calm, peaceful tour – it’s a surprise-filled thrill that rivals many roller coasters. The special effects include an earthquake, a flash flood, a burning truck, and an animatronic shark! Along the way, you’ll see nostalgic set pieces from Jaws, King Kong, War of the Worlds, and Psycho. (Try not to get too scared when you visit the Bates House from Psycho!)
The highlight of the journey is at the end, where a Fast and Furious special effects extravaganza occurs. You’ll actually feel like you’re zipping through a race scene as explosions roar all around you.
Since the tour is tweaked every couple of years as new movies are released, this is definitely an attraction to check out again, even if it’s only been a few years since you’ve done it. Just don’t spoil any of the surprises for other riders.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™
Even if you’re not a huge Harry Potter fan, this award-winning ride is worth it for the special effects alone. Before the ride, you’ll walk through some of the most famous parts of Hogwarts, including the Gryffindor common room, Dumbledore’s office, the Quidditch pitch, and more. This makes the wait times much more bearable – although the wait times are rarely long, thanks to the ride’s quick load time.
The ride itself is a simulated journey through Hogwarts and the land around it. Riders are strapped into seats on a giant mechanical arm, which swoops and rocks around an intense 3D world. The story told during the ride touches on some of the most memorable parts of Harry Potter lore, including Quidditch, Dementors, the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, and Hagrid’s love of dragons.
A 2D version of this ride was developed at other parks before the 3D version was introduced, so the ride designers have had plenty of time to make the experience just right. Plus, it’s a nice break from hair-raising roller coasters and other intense thrill rides.
Transformers: The Ride 3D
This family-friendly motion simulator adventure is less intense than the Harry Potter version, so it’s a safe choice for visitors prone to motion sickness. Riders are strapped into a car that moves around a track and occasionally swoops and dives in sync with whatever animation is showing on the screen. The story is engaging and accessible, even if you aren’t familiar with the Transformers franchise.
The 3D animation is incredibly well-done, too, which helps add entertainment value to a ride that might not be as thrilling otherwise. Overall, this indoor ride is a great experience for movie fans and parents who just need a break from the heat.
The Walking Dead Attraction
This dark, terrifying walk-through was opened as a temporary attraction, but became so popular that management decided to make it a permanent part of the park! Even if you don’t normally like haunted houses and other scary attractions, this is a must-see experience. If you have small children with you, leave them with another adult in your group – this ride is not for kids!
The attraction doesn’t take long to walk through, but it’s immersive and feels terrifyingly real. Fans of the show will recognize a number of settings and rooms from the show, including the hospital from Season 1 and the infamous prison. Actors dressed as zombies will jump out at you when you’re least expecting it. Since the line for this attraction is usually short, there’s no reason to miss out.
Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride
This ride combines an indoor roller coaster with a thrilling dark room adventure. The journey is fast and unpredictable but isn’t long enough to cause motion sickness in most passengers. It’s a good ride for visitors who want a thrill, but can’t deal with longer roller coasters. Despite being in the dark, it’s fun enough that most kids will still enjoy it. It also tends to have shorter lines than other, newer rides in the park.
The ride takes your picture when you’re not expecting it, so make sure to check the photos after exiting the ride. You might find a surprisingly funny photo of yourself to take home.
This stunt show is based on a box office failure, but it has been captivating crowds since 1995. Jet skis, explosions, water cannons, and a crashing seaplane make this show truly memorable. If it’s a hot day, you can cool off quickly by sitting in the first five rows, where you’ll probably get sprayed by a passing jet ski.
The show was revised in 2014, with new stunts, explosions, and dialogue added to breathe fresh life into the show. Even if you normally prefer roller coasters and other thrill rides, WaterWorld provides a great chance to rest your legs while enjoying a stellar performance.
This milkshake stall is located near the Transformers ride in the Lower Lot, but it should be one of the first stops on your list if you’re visiting on a hot day. The milkshakes are thick and delicious and come with a variety of toppings ranging from fruity cereal to chocolate-covered strawberries. They’re well worth a try, even if you normally avoid theme park food.
If you don’t need a giant milkshake, Studio Scoops also has a variety of soft-serve ice cream flavors and sundaes available. It’s probably a good idea for everyone in your party to try something different so you can share!
This non-alcoholic beverage may have been invented in Harry Potter’s world, but now it’s available in ours! Even in the summer, a warm glass of Butterbeer is surprisingly delicious after a long day walking around the park. You can enjoy this sweet treat at Hog’s Head inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™.
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