I have to admit that visiting the Universal Studios in Hollywood, California was probably one of the most touristy tourist-things we have ever done. But we loved every second of it, honestly. There are a few tricks to make your visit even more pleasant and I’ll tell you all we learned while we were there. But let’s start from… well, the beginning. First, a brief glance at the history of the park, as it’s quite interesting.
So, it was opened on the 15th of July 1964 and the intention was to give visitors an opportunity to have a look behind the scenes of film production; the one in Hollywood was the first Universal Theme Park worldwide. What served as starting point for the behind-the-scenes tours is today a theme park that attracts about 7 million guests a year. It is devided between the Upper Lot and the Lower Lot, both parts are connected with an escalator construction that is the hugest and highest worldwide. So if you want to go from the Upper to the Lower Lot via the escalators, you’re actually using an attraction – but unfortunately most people don’t really notice. But now that we told you, make sure to snap a picture of you on the escalator 🙂
In the Upper Lot you’ll find attractions such as “The Simpsons Ride” (3D), the “Shrek 4D” experience, the kid’s waterpark “Adventures of Curious George”, “Universal’s Animal Actors”, “House of Horrors”, the Special Effects Stage, “The Blues Brothers”-Show and – not only for us – the main attraction: Water World. That’s a stunt show that’s one of the best worldwide, due to the awesome stunts and special effects. Here’s our first tip for visitors: You’ll get splashed if you chose one of the front rows. So chose your seat depending on the amount of fun you wanna have (or the value of the camera you brought). We loved the front row!
The Lower Lot offers attractions such as “Transformers The Ride 3D”, “Revenge of the Mummy”, “Jurassic Park – the Ride” and the NBC Universal Museum. What still remains the main attraction though is the Backlot and Frontlot Studio Tour. We recommend doing that first thing you arrive at the park. It’s a 45 minutes long tour on a little carriage through a lot of filmsets, such as “Psycho”, “Jurassic Park”, “Spiderman”, “Desperate Housewives”, “King Kong” and so on. Make sure to have your camera ready, as you will find yourself in Wisteria Lane, in front of Bates’ Motel and in Amity, where “Jaws” has his hunting grounds. This year’s new attraction is by the way a whole Harry Potter-Universe, including an Ollivander’s store and stuff like that.
If we would have to rank all the attractions, I think I would put the Studio Tour on first place, followed by “Jurassic Park – the Ride”. The latter one is some sort of water-rollercoaster. And here’s another tip for you guys: Make sure to not take valuable things with you on that. Chose a front seat and get pleasantly splashed 🙂 We really loved that one, even though it’s so much more “basic” than all the hightech 3D-Rides, which are fascinating by themselves. You should remove the provided 3D-goggles at one point when doing those, so you can see that you actually don’t move at all – you’ll only get the impression of being on a roller coaster. It’s so amazing how they fuck with your brain.
As you can see, there’s a lot to do at Universal Studios Hollywood. We decided to get one of the Frontline Passes, even though they are not that cheap (they start at 179 USD). But – as their name suggests – they give you frontline access to all of the attractions. We only had one day at Universal Studios, so we wanted to see everything on that day, of course. You don’t have to wait with those passes, which is nice as it gets really crowded. Every day. Sides from the frontline pass, there are the regular general admission passes (from 105 USD) and there’s the VIP experience. You can get that one from 369 USD and sides from escorted frontrow access to all of the attractions you can visit exclusive areas during the Studio Tour and even get out of the carriage to take pictures, you’ll also get a light breakfast and a gourmet lunch. On top of it there’s a guide escorting you, carrying your stuff, taking pictures of you and providing raincoats for the Jurassic Park Ride. Well… I don’t think it’s worth all the money as we managed to see everything with the frontline pass in just one day. And afterwards we had a huge dinner at Bubba Gump at Universal City Walk right next to Universal Studios.
Our tips at a glance:
– bring water
– don’t waste time and money by having lunch in one of the park’s restaurants or cafés
– if you are in a hurry/have only one day’s time, get the more expensive frontline pass
– bring sunscreen & apply sunscreen
– take a picture of yourself on the escalator; it’s the highest in the world
– don’t take expensive/fragile/bulky equipment with you (like DSLR cameras)
– come early
– remove the provided 3D glasses for a minute while on a 3D ride and be surprised
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608 USA