Planning a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood? Here are some tips and tricks to make the most of your park experience.
If you’re planning to get your Harry Potter on, or you’re looking to speak to some Autobots on how to protect our world, Universal Studios Hollywood is the place to be!
From kids to adults, there are tons in store for your trip, and based on my experience alone, I can give you some great pointers on what you can do to make the most out of your experience.
Know Your Park
Considering that many people would opt to go to Universal Studios Orlando to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, because of the rides and attractions, you can still get the base design out of going to the Hollywood Location instead. Choosing to go to California, rather than Florida, you do shave a tiny bit off your cost for tickets, and you don’t have to pay extra to see all of what they have to offer for Harry Potter ($109 for the whole park), in contrast to Orlando, in which to ride the Hogwarts Express to the second location, you have to have a park-to-park pass ($170 for a park-to-park pass), and that’s not counting the Islands of Adventure. Also, buy your tickets online. It costs more at the door.
Can You Bring A Camera or Digital SLR?
You can! But you have to be prepared for some locations to be non-photographic. For example, some rides have it listed on the board outside that no photography is allowed, and certain locations will even have aides for experiences will that tell you that Flash Photography is not allowed (like at Olivander’s in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter). The tradeoff is having to carry your camera bag with you for the duration of the day, which I can tell you from experience can get frustrating if you’re using a messenger bag. There are, however, lockers that you can rent to drop off your bag for specific rides, as some rides will not allow you to bring your bags on board.
Can You Bring Food And Water To The Park?
Yes. Universal Studios Hollywood allows the following items:
Bottled water (maximum 2 liters)
Any food required for special dietary needs
Any food required for medical purposes and medically-indicated nutritional supplements
Baby food/baby formula
Soft-sided insulated bags no larger than 8.5” wide x 6” high x 6” deep
Are There Any Suprise Costs To Worry About?
Parking. At Universal Studios Hollywood, there is ample parking, but the parking ranges from $25 for general parking, and higher for those who wish to be at the front of the line. There is, however, a choice to also Uber or Lyft to the park to save money on parking costs, but you, of course, will be parking somewhere if you have your vehicle, and if you don’t, it may cost more to Uber or Lyft to the park in the first place.
The Fun Stuff
For Universal Studios Hollywood, there’s a shopping district with food stops on the way in through CityWalk, which includes spots like Voodoo Donuts, Billabong, Fossil, Hot Topic, Guess, and even Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., but you may not want to shoot all your loot before you get into the park. Once you arrive, you can get donuts from Springfield that are the size of your head, (We’re sure Homer Simpson would approve), as well as stop at Honeydukes to get bags of different assorted candies, Chocolate Frogs (which are totally worth the cost), and Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans.
There are restaurants to eat at within the park, from Taco Stands to a full Harry Potter-type cafeteria dressed as The Three Broomsticks, which is where I decided to feast. For the less adventurous folk, there’s always the Irish Pub that’s located on the other side of the park just passed Super Silly Fun Land AKA the home of the Minions from ‘Despicable Me.’
Wear Your Walking Shoes
This should go without saying but I’ll say it anyway: There’s a whole lot of walking. If you have smaller children that are stroller bound, you can check the strollers in if you need to during the rides, or to use the escalators to the lower level of the park, but just keep in mind where you last stowed it. The parks change from step to step, and once you swing through the first stretch, you can go from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to the World of the Simpsons with a blink of an eye.
Strictly Harry Potter
For those of you who are really into Harry Potter and you are going to Universal Studios Hollywood just for that alone, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Hollywood is a lot smaller than Universal in terms of their attractions. That’s not to sway you away from it – but it’s to make sure you aren’t disappointed. Currently, Universal Hollywood only has Hogsmeade and hasn’t expanded into having Diagon Alley, but you will see certain stores that were definitely not in Hogsmeade in the cluster of shops.
- It will cost $50+ to get your Wand, but it’s totally worth it. For my experience, I was able to be the one to do the wand selection at Olivanders in front of 30 others, casting spells, and trying out different wands before the wand chose me. I’m 29 years old, and I was still geeked as hell for the opportunity, so imagine how a kid would feel! So be sure that if you are going to do Olivanders and you want to purchase a wand, you set aside some cash for that alone. It does not cost you to go in and experience it, but if you want to be able to cast spells outside of the other shops with the wands themselves, you will need to purchase a wand to do so.
- There are 2 rides on campus, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff. Just make sure that your children are 40” or greater in height, or they may not be accommodated on the ride.
- Yes, Moaning Myrtle’s voice echoes through the bathrooms. It does get a little weird. If you need total silence while using the facilities, I suggest using a different bathroom.
- Robes and Dress Robes are hella expensive, so if your kid (or your adult for that matter) wants to dress up, you may want to purchase robes before your trip online from a different retailer such as Amazon and then pick up the wand at Olivanders. Robes cost over $100 from where I checked. However, if your teenage daughter wants to dress up like Hermione from the Yule Ball for Prom, they do have that dress on site (though I didn’t check the price).
- You may want to do a round through the park in the gifting areas before making your decisions. I went to Filch’s shop under the castle after Olivanders and saw way more keychains and pins and whatnot that I didn’t end up purchasing because I’d already dropped some mad coin on my wand. Spend wisely.
- And last but certainly not least, here’s my opinion: I would rather drink the Frozen Butterbeer than the hot one. It’s kind of like having a Root Beer float, but with better taste. One of my travel partners also said the Pumpkin Juice was pretty good too.
For Coffee Drinkers
There is a Starbucks on site! It is located on the lower level of the park, right near The Mummy, Jurassic Park, and Transformers. You can also use your Starbucks Card to get your reward points, and for those who collect the mugs, there is a special Universal Studios Hollywood mug.
It’s Worth It To Do Meet & Greets For Your Favorite Characters
For someone who didn’t expect to see any characters that I wanted to do a Meet & Greet with, I actually came across the Transformers Section, in which they rotate out Bumblebee, Megatron and Optimus Prime for photos. There are actors inside the suits, so you can actually have full conversations with them – which was pretty worth it, in my experience, at least. Some other characters on site include Spongebob SquarePants and Patrick, as well as Shrek and Donkey, and Po and Tigress from ‘Kung Fu Panda,’ which is a section that’s Coming Soon to Universal Studios Hollywood.
Enjoy your trip to Universal Studios Hollywood and feel free to leave your comments on your favorite parts!