I’ve got so much to say about Universal Hollywood that I have created a separate blog for it! We visited as part of our time in LA on our California & Vegas roadtrip. You can read more about LA here…
So what do you need to know before you go to Universal? I did a fair amount of research before I went, but there is still a lot of info I wish I had known. Below I outline my top 10 tips to remember, and be totally honest about those bits to ignore!
1) YOU CAN DO IT ALL IN ONE DAY
Universal was one of the things I was most excited about of the entire trip, and I wanted to make sure we did everything that was on offer. For this reason, we bought a two day pass for an extra $40 each. You 100% do not need two days to do everything!! We were done by about 4pm. Obviously there are no refunds on your second day if you don’t use it, so we just had to suck up spending that extra money as experience, but please don’t make the same mistake.
Also always buy your tickets in advance – you can save $20 each!
2) ARRIVE BEFORE THE PARK OPENS
Get there about an hour before the gates open – this gives you the chance to take the classic photo in front of the Universal Studios globe before the crowds hit.
Then join the queue (or start it depending on how keen you are!) to ensure you get to your first ride without a long wait time.
3) HEAD TO HARRY POTTER WORLD FIRST
Harry Potter world is just magical, you really feel like you are in the films the way every little detail is thought of.
Jump on the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff rides first as these get huge waiting times later in the day.
Head back when you need a rest to grab a butter bear in The Three Broomsticks or the The Hog’s Head (where there is a shorter queue). They offer a regular butterbeer or a frozen one which is very refreshing but both are very sugary! You can pay extra for steins you can keep, I would recommend this as otherwise you just get a boring plastic cup.
There are several shops you can browse including Wizardwear, Zonko’s jokes and Honeydukes sweets. We bought some Bertie Bott’s every flavour beans, and let’s just say they go all out on the vomit flavoured bean!
We didn’t do Olivander’s wand choosing show, but this is busiest in the morning and quieter in the afternoon.
4) DON’T MISS THE STUDIO TOUR – THE BEST RIDE
This hour long experience takes you behind the scenes of tv and film – they were filming Will & Grace when we were there! The tour guide talks you through the various sets you drive through, and is full of facts.
The rumour is that the lines go down during the afternoon, but don’t risk missing it! The queue goes down pretty quickly as screens show film footage to keep you entertained. You are under cover in the queue and on the ride itself so it’s a nice break from the blazing sun.
5) BE PREPARED FOR THE OTHER RIDES TO GET A BIT SAMEY
This might not be what you want to hear – but I said I would be totally honest! Almost all of the rides at Universal Hollywood are motion simulator. This means that it’s not a conventional rollercoaster where you get your adrenaline thrill from the sheer speed of racing around the track. Instead, these rides are indoors with you in front of a big movie screen. The seat you are sat in will move in unison with graphics on the screen which makes it feel as though you are moving at speed, when really you are moving mere inches.
This can make you feel very dizzy and sick, so definitely something to bear in mind if you get motion sickness. I felt pretty rubbish after coming off Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey, Despicable Me and The Simpsons rides so we skipped Transformers and The Mummy as these are also motion simulator.
6) KNOW HOW BIG THE PARK IS
Prepare yourself for how big the park is – it sits across two levels and takes about 10 mins to get between them via escalators called the “Starway”.
Make sure you do everything you want in the lower lot in one go so you aren’t wasting time stood on an escalator – not the most exciting attraction!
Leave yourself plenty of time to get to a show if you are heading across the park for it.
7) CHECK THE SHOW TIMES
Check out show times so you don’t miss something you want to see – use the app or they give you a leaflet.
On offer is Animal Actors, Waterworld (neither of which we fancied so advice is limited on those, sorry).
The Special Effects show was great – the stunts were pretty impressive and it was really funny. It was also great to sit down in an air conned room for a break!
The Walking Dead experience only runs at certain times. I was petrified about this ride, but turns out Sean jumped more than me!
8) TAKE AN EMPTY WATER BOTTLE
Take a water bottle to fill up, there are water fountains outside each toilet which can save you money while keeping hydrated – that LA sun is hot hot hot!
These fountains are also useful if you have bought the butterbeer glasses – you can rinse out the froth so it doesn’t make your bag sticky.
9) USE THE APP
This is really useful to help you navigate yourself around the park. You can also check queue times and set alerts for when they drop. Show times and character appearances are on there too.
Download before you go to pre-plan your itinerary and tick off each attraction as you complete them.
Best of all you can enter where you parked your car so there’s no panic when you’re absolutely zonked after a day of fun!
10) BUY A LARD LAD GIANT DONUT
In addition to getting that perfect Instagram shot that will get the likes pouring in, one of these donuts is actually great value for money! $7 and we got 6 portions out of it over the next couple of days – and it is super tasty too!
I hope you have a fabulous day at Universal! Please leave me a comment if you have any questions xx