There is an awful lot to see and do at Universal Studios Hollywood. It can be really hard to get around the park and pack everything in. The first time you walk in it can all be a bit in your face and overwhelming. This is where our Universal Studios Hollywood Tips and Tricks post comes in.
We show you everything you can do to make the absolute best of your trip to the Studios. Using our tips and tricks you will see more, queue less, and have the best time possible. Enjoy.
If you are looking for cheap tickets we have a full guide here.
2 – Book Off-Peak – Crowd Calenders
Often this is a pointless tip. Most People visit the Park as part of a trip to L.A. You can’t always plan the timings of these trips around
But if you can visit off-peak, do. During the Busy summer months, the crowds and queues can be horrendous.
The best way to check how busy the park maybe is to use a crowd calendar. There are several online but our favorite is UnderCoverTourist.com
Be Warned these are glorified Guesswork. But they use historic data, and public holidays to guess when will be busy and quiet. They can be spookily accurate, or wildly wrong, normally depending on external factors, but it’s a good guide as you are going to get as Universal does not release any data that could be used to accurately predict times.
3 – Go Mid-Week
L.A has a population of 13 million+ People. A lot of these, especially the younger generations really like visiting their theme parks. As they are not on holiday they tend to either be at school, college or working mid-week. This leaves the parks quite a bit quieter at weekends.
As you are probably on holiday or Vacation then it makes perfect sense to avoid the weekends like the plague. It is not always exactly dead on weekdays. But be consoled with the fact that however busy it is it was probably a lot worse on Saturday or Sunday!
This does fall apart a bit during the school holiday months, however.
Celebs – Actors and Celebs Like to work Mon-Fri 9-5 like the rest of us so going mid-week actually increases your chance of celeb spotting when on the tour. No Guarantees but have your fingers crossed.
4 – Consider a two-day pass
It is absolutely possible to see and do everything in the park in one day. Or at least most of what you want to see. But it will be a stressful and hurried day. One that will leave you exhausted. And if you are going at a peak time, it could leave you missing out on some things you really want to see as the queues are just too long.
By getting a two-day pass you can relax a lot more. Explore areas of the park in more depth, queue for more Character meets, ride and experience everything and leave the park happy and content.
Prices are also very low for the second day.
- Off-Peak $149 2-Day Pass vs $109 1-Day Pass
- Peak $169 2-Day Pass vs $129 1-Day Pass
This makes your second day only $40, which is great value. This also makes sense if you and your group are slow at getting about. Packing the whole park into one day can be really tough if you are a slow walker or need some kind of special assistance.
Not everyone can allot two days of their trip just for Universal, there is a lot to see and do in L.A. and taking two full days out just for universal can be undesirable.
5 – Consider a Universal Express Pass?
Another way to get more in is with the Express Pass. This is more expensive than the Two Day Pass but has the added advantage of cutting out queuing almost completely. This would mean you spend more time riding rides than standing in queues. It will also free up a whole day of your trip to do something other than queueing.
The Express Pass is not perfect, however. Apart from the high cost, it only provides one ride on each express ride/show. After that, you will have to queue.
If you are not Going during busy times it can also be a waste of money. In Off-Peak periods there really is no need for the Express. Queues are low and in some cases, rides can be walk-on even without the Express Pass.
However, if you have only one day, and you want to do everything and the crowd predictors are in the red, the express pass may be your only option To Pack everything in.
We Hate the fact that after spending $100’s on an entry ticket that theme parks have the gall to ask for $25 to park! Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do about this. They have the Street parking locked down and we don’t really advise trying to get around the charge in this way at all.
6 – Use the Metro
The only option is not to park. The best method to get to the Park is via the Metro. The RedLine station is only half a mile away from the entrance and there is a free shuttle bus if that is too much. The biggest issue you will face is getting to the red line as we are not the biggest fans of L.A’s public transport. It will invariably mean a change or two depending on where you are Staying. At Least it’s convenient at universals end.
We are victims of convenience and tend to just stump up the cost. If you hate the charges, then it’s people like us who are to blame as we keep stumping up. Sorry.
However, don’t whatever you do be conned by preferred Parking. The walk from the Parking lots is really short you do not need to be right at the front.
If you are just visiting City Walk in the evening, Parking after 6 pm is “only” $10
On The Day
7 – Use the App
The Universal Studio’s App is PRICELESS. Download beforehand and study it while the park is open. This gives you a priceless insight into what sort of queue times you can expect during the day. How the park is laid out and how crowds flow around the park during the day.
It is fantastic while you are there as well. Remember that FREE WiFi is available throughout the park so you can always check the app. This means you can avoid rides with a huge queue
And playing with the app at least gives you something to do during queuing.
8 – Go Early
If at all possible be there at park opening. In the first hour of the park, you can probably pack in 3-4 rides right off the bat with very little queuing. In the next hour that is reduced to 1-2 and getting worse as the day goes on.
Getting 3-4 of the top rides out of the way early on really does make a big dent into getting through everything in one day.
NOTE – The Lower lot Rides only open an hour after the rest of the park so don’t try and head there first as you will be missing out on the early bird worms! We suggest the Simpsons Ride or Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
9 – Early Entry
Pre-Booked tickets are entitled to 30 minutes early entry at the minute. This only gets you into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But it can mean you can ride both Harry Potter rides before the majority of the crowds are even at the park.
The Flipside is the majority of tickets are pre-booked so there will still be a good number of people, but get there 10-15 mins before the Early entry time and head straight for Harry Potter and you should walk pretty much straight on.
10 – Single Rider is Awesome
It really is. Not available on every ride but when it is you can save hours of queuing. We actually don’t like promoting it too much as if everyone knew how good it was it would lose it impacts a little.
At times it can be as good as a walk-on. You simply walk straight to the front, past the regular queue, past the Express line, and straight onto the ride. And it’s free.
The drawback. You will have to ride alone. The Queue is used to fill up the empty seats created by odd-numbered groups. So as a seat comes available a rider is sent from the single rider queue onto the ride. But remember, you still queue together. And will be on the ride with one or two turns. The Experiences that use it are also really immersive, so you are not really able to acknowledge or interact with your party anyway. So riding solo makes very little difference.
The Single Rider queue can save as little as 75% of your queuing and can be as much as 100% we have literally used the Single rider Queues and been the ONLY people waiting for a seat!
It is also fantastic for those times when you have queued, but after the ride just thought “I really want to Do It Again!” Jump in the Single rider and away you go!
11 – Eat in Queues or at Shows – but be respectful
Some Queues such as transformers, Revenge of the Mummy, and Harry Potter and the Wizarding World you will not be allowed food items in the queue. But for most as long as you have finished or are able to put away, or bin and food by the time you get to the front you are perfectly fine to eat in the queue. This can save valuable time wasted on sitting down to eat.
Likewise, if you have
However, we only advise discrete eating in these situations. You will be in close proximity to other guests so keep it subtle and un-annoying. Especially in the shows, a quick sandwich before the show starts properly or some snacks are fine. A feast of hot dogs and taco’s throughout the show might be a touch irritating to the people next to you!… and you will miss the show.
12 – Don’t eat at mealtimes.
If you do just want a relaxed sit-down meal, to get off your feet for 20mins then there are plenty of options. For most of the day the Restaurants and Cafe’s lie empty and dormant. only to fill to the brim the second it turns midday. It can be hard to say not to eat at mealtimes as that’s when you are hungry. But should you be able to last out with a snack until the lunch rush is over, or skip breakfast so you are ravenous by 11 am you can miss the huge crush of mealtime queues.
13 – Starbucks – Free Water
There are plenty of water fountains around the park but for the most part, these are nothing but a quick thirst quencher. When it’s really hot you will need to drink a lot. And drinks, even soft drinks are not cheap in the park…expect $5 bottles of Water!
Restaurants and cafes are required to provide you with free water even if you are not a customer. If you head to a Starbucks, there are two, one in the upper lot and one on the lower lot, You can normally get a large cup of Ice Water for free. On a hot day, this is heavenly.
To Be Honest, we normally get a coffee too, for a quick caffeine boost, but we always get the biggest cup of ice water as well to keep us hydrated as the day goes on.
Have Your Say
Got a Tip or trick for Universal Studios Hollywood? Feel free to share it below with our readers. We are always looking for great tips to make our trips better. Maybe you have tried one of our tips and think it’s rubbish? Again just let us know. Or if you have any questions just fire away in the comments