Universal Studios Hollywood Visitors Guide

  • 01 of 04

    Universal Studios Hollywood Basics

    Universal Studios Hollywood
    Photo © 2012 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Universal Studios Hollywood is a combination of a working television and movie studio and a movie-based theme park. The Studio Tour is a tram ride through the real studio sets and a few sound stages with some special effects sprinkled in. Please note that the Studio Tour is only accessible with a theme park day pass and cannot be booked separately.

    Universal Studios Hollywood has immersive environments like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Springfield Hollywood which portrays the quirky world of The Simpsons, physical rides (in a moving vehicle) like Jurassic Park: The Ride, virtual rides, live-action effects shows, musical performances, and more. There are also lots of places to shop and eat, and if you plan on staying in the area overnight, start your search for hotels near Universal Studios Hollywood on TripAdvisor.

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  • 02 of 04

    Getting There

    Frankenstein Parking at Universal Studios Hollywood
    Kayte Deioma

    Getting to Universal Studios Hollywood can be a challenge, particularly in the driving-heavy streets of southern California. However, there is more than one way to get to the theme park, so follow these tips to find the right path for you.

    By Metro

    The Metro Red Line train from Downtown LA or Hollywood stops at Universal City. Across from the Metro station and bus stop is a Universal Studios shuttle which provides complimentary service every 10 to 15 minutes to the front gate of Universal Studios Hollywood. Shuttles continue to run for two hours after the park closes. Keep in mind that it's only a five to ten-minute walk from the station to the gate, but it's straight uphill and the sidewalk only goes partway, so you have to walk on the street at some point.

    Shuttle from Anaheim Hotels

    If you're staying in a local hotel, many offer complimentary shuttles directly into Universal, so be sure to check before booking on TripAdvisor.

    Driving

    If you'd rather drive, Universal Studios Hollywood is located just off the 101 Freeway in Universal City north of Hollywood. The northbound exit is Universal Studios Blvd; the southbound exit is Lankershim Blvd; turn right off the exit. Follow the signs to the Universal Studios parking.

    The park is built into a hillside and situated on two levels with four flights of escalators connecting the Upper Lot to the Lower Lot. The main parking structure is near the main entrance on the Upper Lot. There is also the Frankenstein Parking Structure on the Lower Lot, which can be faster at peak traffic times. Escalators take you up to the main entrance.

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  • 03 of 04

    Maximizing Your Visit

    Lower Lot at Universal Studios Hollywood
    Kayte Deioma

    Universal Studios is divided into the Upper Lot, where you enter, which is the largest section of the park, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Springfield Hollywood and a Lower Lot, where you'll find some of the more adventurous rides. To maximize your time, do your priority activities on one level before moving to the next level so you don't waste time going up and down.

    Buy a Front of the Line Pass

    In an eight-hour day, you can probably fit in everything there is to do at Universal Studios if you plan well and it's not too crowded. If it's a summer weekend or you have less time, you might consider investing in the Front of the Line Pass. It costs quite a bit more, but you can save an incredible amount of time, especially when it's crowded.

    Get In Early

    Since the opening of Wizarding World of Harry Potter, online ticket purchasers can get advance admission into Wizarding World an hour before the park opens, but is subject to availability, cancellation, and change. 

    Choose Your High Priority Attractions in Advance

    In general, the rides operate continuously and the shows are on a set schedule. So if certain shows are a high priority for you, plan around those show times and fill in with rides in between. Show schedules are on display at various locations around the park.

    If you're more interested in the rides, plan to get to the park early to avoid long lines. If you go straight to the Lower Lot while the other early birds are exploring the Upper Lot, it's usually less crowded. 

    Be Aware of the Studio Tram Hours

    The Studio Tram Tour that takes you out onto the NBC Universal backlot takes about an hour. The last tour departs one to two hours before the park closes, so schedule it in early or be sure to be in line with plenty of time to spare before the last tour of the day.

    Keep Cool and Dry

    Waiting areas are usually shaded, and when it's hot, there is a cool mist sprayed above the corrals where people wait in line. There are also cooling stations throughout the park where you can stand and let yourself be sprayed with a fine spray of water.

    If you are carrying a video or still camera, you might want to have a plastic bag or waterproof case handy so you can keep your gear dry. Lockers are available just inside the main gate and are near many of the more thrilling attractions.

    Take Advantage of Child Switch

    If you are traveling as a family, Universal Hollywood will allow one parent to ride an attraction while the other parent waits with the child(ren). Then the other parent can ride immediately after, without waiting in line again.

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  • 04 of 04

    Annual Events at Universal Studios Hollywood

    Chased by a Chainsaw Clown at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood
    Kayte Deioma

    Universal Studios has two major annual events that change the nature of the park, and bring some holiday cheer and screams to their guests.

    • Halloween Horror Nights is a separately ticketed nighttime event that takes place from late September through Halloween. It is the most graphic and goriest Halloween event in Southern California, so it's not the time to bring young children. 
    • Grinchmas at Universal Studios is the annual holiday re-theming of the park, when the Whos of Who-ville escape their set on the Tram Tour and provide photo ops all over the park, including a curvy Grinchmas Tree at Universal Plaza.