How to Make the Most Out of Your Visit to Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood (USH) is one of Los Angeles’ most popular attractions. Oftentimes, visiting such a popular theme park is akin to fighting a battle – throngs of people, hours-long queues, non-stop walking… The key to any successful theme park visit is to strategise and have a solid game plan. Here’s my hour-by-hour guide on how to conquer USH in just one day, plus all my favourite photo spots to hit along the way (because did you really visit USH if you didn’t Instagram it?)
Before we jump right in, here are 5 time-saving tips to keep in mind even before you enter:
1. Visit on a weekday
I visited on a Wednesday and never had to queue for more than 30 minutes for a ride. However, if you have to visit on a weekend, take heart that park hours are usually extended, and on selected nights they play the Nighttime Lights show at Hogwarts. You can also purchase the Universal Express Pass to skip the queues!
2. Minimise walking time
USH is split into the upper and lower lot. Walking between the two can take up to 10-15 minutes, so you should try to minimise going back and forth.
3. Get easy QR-code enabled tickets to USH
I entered USH using the all-inclusive 5-Day GO LA Pass. All I had to do was show the ticket attendants the QR code for entry – there was no need to exchange for any tickets, saving me precious time in the morning! You can purchase this pass online at Klook at discounted rates.
4. Pre-book your preferred USH tickets on Klook
These tickets also save you time, as they can be used to enter the park directly.
5. Don’t bring a bag if possible
Many rides don’t allow bags and you’ll save time at the lockers.
– 1-Day Guide to Universal Studios Hollywood –
9AM: Arrive at USH
I reached USH an hour before opening time. The park gates are quite a walk from the Uber drop-off point, and you’ll still need to get through a bag check. By the time I reached the gates it was about 9.30AM and there was already a long line forming. The opening hours vary daily so be sure to check on their website.
10AM: Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Being the kiasu Singaporean I am, once the park gates opened I sprinted to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This is the most popular zone in USH and you should get here as early as possible for the shortest wait times. Run straight through the entrance plaza and take a right at the fork – you can’t miss the Hogsmeade arch!
Once at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I recommend going straight for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride over at the Hogwarts Castle. This 4D thrill ride is one of my favourites and is a must for all Harry Potter fans. Even the pre-show queue, which snakes through the magical corridors of Hogwarts, past the sorting hat, talking portraits, Dumbledore’s office and more, is highly entertaining. After the ride, chill-out with some butter beer at the Three Broomsticks, or walk around the shops in Hogsmeade Village – including Ollivanders, Zonko’s and Honeydukes!
Photo Tip: The best view of Hogwarts can be found from the alley just behind Ollivanders. It’s usually pretty quiet, plus there are some pretty snow-capped buildings right next door.
11AM: Springfield, USA
I left the magic of Hogwarts and entered weird and wacky Springfield – home of the Simpsons. The main attraction here is the Simpsons Ride, a motion simulator that takes you on a jaunt through Krusty the Clown’s low-budget theme park (spoiler alert: everything goes wrong). Besides that, you can also try your hand at various arcade games and have lunch at iconic Simpsons establishments such as Krusty Burger and Moe’s Tavern.
Photo Tip: Krusty the Clown did at least one thing right – the entrance to Krustyland is pretty much Instagram gold.
12PM – The World Famous Studio Tour
This 1-hour long tour of Universal’s backlot is a must-do! Unique to USH, this is the only Universal park in the world where you’ll get to enter a real, working film studio. You’ll visit sets from iconic movies such as Jaws, Jurassic Park and Psycho, and experience unique 4D simulations of King Kong and Fast & Furious.
Photo Tip: Sit on the right side of the tram for the best views!
1.30PM – AMC Walking Dead Attraction
Next, I made my way to the opposite end of the Upper Lot for the AMC Walking Dead Attraction. There are specific time slots for this, so make sure to check beforehand or ask a member of staff. This is a walk-through ‘haunted house’ designed based on the Walking Dead television series. The set-up is rather elaborate so I’m sure you’ll enjoy this especially if you’re a fan of the show. Unfortunately however, no photos are allowed so as to not disturb the zombies lurking inside.
2PM – Super Silly Fun Land & Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
I then moved on to some more light-hearted entertainment. Super Silly Fun Land is a minion-themed waterpark and carnival – kids are sure to have a blast here! Also look out for the SUPER CUTE minion props!
Photo Tip: Keep an eye out for the adorable Minion mascots who are roving around this area.
2.30PM – French Street
This quirky corner of USH took me by surprise. Right beside Super Silly Fun Land, there are a couple of French-themed streets. I’m not sure about the history behind these streets but they sure are photogenic!
Photo Tip: Snap a couple of #ootds here and your friends will be asking if you visited Paris too.
3PM – Special Effects Show
By now, I’ve pretty much covered all of the Upper Lot. My last stop before heading down into USH’s Lower Lot is the Special Effects Show, where I got to see how filmmakers create epic yet realistic effects seen in many of today’s blockbusters.
3.30PM – Lower Lot (Transformers 3D, Revenge of the Mummy)
The Lower Lot is home to the Transformers 3D and Revenge of the Mummy rides, both of which were, as you would expect, super thrilling and action-packed. You can also catch a glimpse of the Transformers robots and the raptors from Jurassic Park here.
Photo Tip: On the way down to the Lower Lot there are some beautiful panoramic views of Hollywood.
5PM – Animal Actors Show
I ended my day with the Universal’s Animal Actors show. I chose to watch this instead of Water World as I’ve watched the latter before in Universal Studios Singapore. Also, one of the main draws of USH for me was getting to know more about the filmmaking industry. This show featured some super adorable pets and we were shown how animals are trained to act in movies.
6PM – Park Closure
I dropped by the Universal Studio Store on the way out to pick up some souvenirs, and that concluded my whirlwind of a day at USH. I managed to complete most of the key attractions in just one day.
I really enjoyed my time at USH and I hope this 1-day guide was useful for you ☺ Now go forth and ride the movies!
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