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Universal Studios Hollywood

If you’re a theme park enthusiast visiting Los Angeles, a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood is a must-see attraction. To help you make the most of your time and budget, I’ve put together a complete and comprehensive guide to Universal Studios Hollywood. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this iconic movie park, from insider tips to attraction specifics.

So, let’s dive in and explore the magic of Universal Studios Hollywood!

What is Universal Studios Hollywood?

Map of Universal Studios Hollywood in California

Universal Studios Hollywood is a tourist complex located in the city of Los Angeles, in California (United States).

Its main attraction is its theme park, with its most popular area, the Wizarding World of  Harry Potter. It also has attractions from other well-known movies and series such as The Simpsons, Jurassic World, and Transformers… and a tour of Universal’s own film studios.

Universal Studios Hollywood  is, after the Disneyland Resort, the most famous park destination in California, and one of the most visited in the area. Its Harry Potter, Simpsons and Minions  areas  are a destination in themselves, and the rest of the areas and attractions complement a complex that is constantly growing and transforming.

In addition, this complex includes an outdoor mall (Universal Citywalk). 

When to go?

Universal Studios Hollywood Entrance

When deciding the day of your visit, keep in mind above all that it is much better to go during the week than on the weekend . This is because the people of the area are an important part of the public of the park, and this means that on Saturdays and Sundays there are more people (and queues). 

Avoid going on holidays for the same reason. Of course, if you want to go to one of the special events (especially Halloween Horror Nights) you will have to go on a day in which they take place, which is usually on a weekend.

Special seasons

What I am going to talk about here is the special seasons that Universal Studios Hollywood organizes throughout the year, since it might help you decide on the dates.

How many days to stay there?

Universal Studios Mario Bros

Once you are clear about when you want to travel to Universal, the next question is how many days to stay there. And as usual, it depends. 

The most common is to be in the park for only one day. If you go during the week, arrive early, and organize yourself well (or if you pay for the Universal Express to skip the lines), you will be able to see all the main things without much problem. 

Of course, if you want to enjoy the park to the full you can go for two days, but I think that with everything there is to see and do in Los Angeles, you should dedicate that second day to another activity.

Universal Studios Hollywood Park

Ford Anglia in front of Hogwarts in Universal Studios Hollywood Harry Potter Area

Universal’s Hollywood complex has only one theme park, making it much more affordable to visit. 

The park has two different areas. One is the “Upper Lot” , which is the entire upper part of the park: it includes the entrance area, The Simpsons, the world of Harry Potter, The Minions, WaterWorld…

The other is the “Lower Lot”, which has three attractions: Jurassic World, The Mummy, and Transformers. Both are connected by a series of very long escalators, which take several minutes to travel.

Although there is only one park, it concentrates a lot of attractions, shows, and experiences , and it is essential to know a little about it to make the most of your time once there.

So in this section, I am going to give you details of its theme, and the essential attractions and shows. 

Theme Parks

Filmmakers sculpture from the entrance of Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles

This park is dedicated almost entirely to the world of cinema, as is typical of Universal parks. It opened in 1964 as a tour of the company’s studios, and later it was transformed into the theme park we know today, the first of the Universal factory. 

It has areas inspired by movie studios, the worlds of The Simpsons, the Minions, Waterworld, Jurassic World, and the town of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts from the Harry Potter stories.

Main attractions

Admission to the King Kong section of the Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour
Transformers Universal Studios

Main shows

WaterWorld Stunt Show at Universal Studios Hollywood in California

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hogwarts Castle from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood

Undoubtedly, one of the greatest attractions of the Universal complex, and the reason why many people visit it, is its area dedicated to the world of Harry Potter.

In this section, I am going to give you an idea of ​​everything you can see, do and enjoy in it.

To begin with, I have to tell you that here in Hollywood there is only one Harry Potter area: Hogsmeade   which is where Hogwarts is).

Unlike Universal Orlando, in Florida, it does not have the Diagon Alley area, nor can you get on the Hogwarts Express (the train that Harry and his friends take to go from London to Hogwarts, and vice versa). 

Entrance to Hogsmeade Village from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood

Of course, in the Hogsmeade area, you have a lot to see, do and enjoy.  For the first time, wizards have lifted the spell that hides this magical town from Muggle view, allowing anyone who comes near it to visit.

It is a small snowy town, whose main street will take you to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  

Things you can do and enjoy in this area:

Hogwart Locomotive

Tips to make the most of the day

Entrance sign to Springfield from The Simpsons area at Universal Studios Hollywood

In this section, I am going to give you a series of tips to make the most of your day in the park, as well as a route that I think will help you find as few queues as possible. 

By following these tips, you will be able to see all the main features of the park in a single day. I got it, and that on my visit the park was only open from 9 in the morning to 6 in the afternoon.

First of all, go on a weekday, not a holiday. On weekends and holidays, as well as school vacations, the park is packed with visitors from the area. Therefore, if you go during the week, you will find fewer people in the park. 

Probably, the park closes earlier, but it is worth it, you will make the most of the day than if you spend more hours but spend it in queues. Of course, you may not be able to enjoy the night show in the Harry Potter area.

Streets of Hogsmeade in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood

Second: arrive early. Plan to arrive at the park at least half an hour before opening time. Thanks to that, you will be among the first in line to enter. Also, keep in mind that sometimes the park opens about ten minutes before the official time.

Once you enter the park, follow this order when visiting it:

Entrance sign to Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour in Los Angeles

Where to sleep?

One of the first things that you will reserve for your trip is the hotels. And you will wonder where to sleep. Although Universal Studios Hollywood does not have its own hotels, it is in Los Angeles, which gives you plenty of options. We are going to see various types of travel and my recommendations in each case:

If you are going to focus on Disneyland, with a day at Universal

Pier Hotel in Hollywood
Pier Hotel

One option, especially if you will be at the Disneyland Resort for most of the trip and you are only going to visit Universal for one or two days, is to stay at the hotel you have for Disneyland and travel to Universal Studios on the day. 

Therefore, even if you only go one day, I recommend that you spend the night before or the night after (or both) in a hotel in Los Angeles. Read on for my recommendations.

If you are going to visit both Disneyland and Universal, as well as Los Angeles

If in addition to Disney and Universal, you are going to see more things in Los Angeles, it is best to divide your trip into two: one part in a hotel near Disneyland, and another part in a hotel in downtown Los Angeles. On my first trip, I did it like this and it was great.

And in which part of Los Angeles to look for the hotel?  That depends on the plans you have, put on a map all the places you are going to visit and look for the hotel in an area that suits you well to reach them.

If you are going to use public transport a lot, I recommend that you look for one that is close to a metro station, preferably the Red Line, which communicates directly with Universal Studios. 

It is great option to stay at  Best Western Plus LA Mid-Town  , which is halfway between downtown and Hollywood, and a five-minute walk from the Wilshire/Vermont subway station.

If you are looking for a hotel next to the park

Hilton Los Angeles Universal City hotel pool near Universal Studios Hollywood
Hilton Los Angeles-Universal City

If you are looking for a hotel that is super close to the park, to be able to get there on foot, there are two that meet these characteristics (yes, they are not the cheapest):

Where to book

I recommend that you make your reservation through

It is the leading website for hotel reservations and the one I always use to reserve accommodation for my trips around the world.

It usually has the best prices, even better than on the hotels’ website, great customer service, and in most cases, you can cancel for free if you change your plans. 

In addition, after making several reservations with them, you enter the “Genius” program that gives you discounts of up to 15% and extra benefits.

What tickets to buy?

When planning your visit to Universal, purchasing tickets is a crucial step. There are several types of tickets available, but which one is the best for you? Here’s a rundown of the different options to help you decide.

There are four types of tickets: one-day, two-day, Express, and VIP tickets.

1-day and 2-day tickets

Universal Studios Hollywood retro sign at the park entrance

The prices of one and two-day tickets vary depending on the expected crowd on the day of your visit. On days when the park expects fewer visitors, the tickets are cheaper, and on days when the park expects more visitors, the tickets are more expensive.

If you purchase a one-day ticket, you will need to select the specific day you plan to visit the park when buying the ticket. For two-day tickets, you will need to choose the first day of your visit when purchasing the ticket, and the second day can be any of the following 6 days.

One-day tickets with Universal Express

Universal Studios Globe AmongThe Greenery

This type of ticket, more expensive than one for a “normal” day, includes the Universal Express service, thanks to which you can access the main attractions of the park more quickly.

Like normal day tickets, their price also varies depending on the day of your visit, and you will have to choose which day to visit when buying them. There are also two types: one that gives you quick access once per attraction and another unlimited, which is more expensive.

VIP tickets

Entrance arch to Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles California

This type of ticket is the most exclusive category (and by far the most expensive ) but it will make you feel like a star for a day. Includes, in addition to the entrance to the park:

Tickets for special events

In addition to the normal tickets to access the parks that I have told you about so far, some special events have a separate ticket. 

The most important and well-known of these events are the Halloween Horror Nights. To access this horror event, you must have a specific ticket, apart from the park ticket, which can be purchased on the Universal Studios Hollywood website.

Where to buy the tickets?

When buying tickets, you can do it here with the lowest price guarantee!

How to get to Universal Studios Hollywood?

How to get there from downtown Los Angeles?

Universal Studios Florida Sign On The Wall

Universal Studios Hollywood is the park with the easiest access by public transportation from the city. 

It has its subway station: Universal City / Studio City, which is served by the B (red) line that runs through downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood. Once there, you just have to cross a bridge over a highway and take a free bus that leaves you at the gates of the park.

How to get there from the Disneyland Resort?

Universal Studios Hollywood Nearby Area

Universal Studios Hollywood is about 60 kilometers from Disneyland, but it can be reached by public transport, yes, with a couple of transfers. 

First, you have to get from Disneyland to downtown Los Angeles. One of two, either you take a bus (it will take a couple of hours), or you arrive at the Anaheim station by bus or taxi and take a train to downtown Los Angeles from there (it takes about 40 minutes).

Once in the center, you can use the subway (red line) to get to the Universal City / Studio City stop, where a free bus will take you to the park gate.

Universal Express

Universal Studio Globe Amongst The Palm Trees

Universal Express is Universal Studios Hollywood’s quick access system: thanks to this system, which is paid, you can avoid queuing for most of the park’s attractions. 

The Express is already included in the «Universal Express» type tickets. If you have normal tickets, you can pay an extra in the park to have the Express (as long as they are available, since it is a limited service). Of course, it is always more expensive to buy it already in the park and not in advance together with the ticket.

The Express works as follows: if you have one of these passes, instead of entering the attraction through its normal entrance and waiting in line, you will enter through a different entrance with much less waiting.

There is no need to book a time or do anything else, you can use them whenever you want. 

The Express is also used for some shows: you will be sure to enter the theater first. Of course, you have to arrive at least 25 minutes before the start of the show.

Is it worth to buy Universal Express?

The main question you may have is whether it is worth buying it or not. And it all depends on what time of year you go, how much time you have to see the park, and how well you can wait in line.

If you go on a weekend, or during the week at a time of year when there are expected to be a lot of people in the park (Christmas, for example), it may be very useful. 

How to know? Look on the official website how much it would cost to buy it on your dates and compare it with others. If it is very expensive on your dates, it means that a lot of people are expected. If it is cheap, it means that little is expected and it will not be worth it.

Regarding the time you have: if you only have one day, it is possible that having an Express will help you to see the park more calmly or repeat the attractions. 

And finally, about your ability to wait in queues. If you don’t mind waiting 20-30 minutes to ride an attraction, you probably don’t need the Express unless it’s a busy day. If, on the other hand, waiting 5 minutes already overwhelms you, the Express will be good for you whatever your trip is.

Where to eat?

Universal Studios Hollywood has more and more options to eat, both in the park and in the Citywalk, its area of ​​shops and restaurants. Depending on your tastes , and especially your budget , you have different options that will suit you.

Types of restaurants

Krusty Burger Restaurant

 In general, there are three types of restaurants, both in the park and the Citywalk:

The Three Broomsticks, the restaurant in the Harry Potter area

You can find menus for most restaurants on their website.

These are the ones I recommend:

The Three Broomstick Resaurant building

You can see Universal Studios Hollywood Dining Menu here.

Souvenir photos

Three Giant Transformers And People Taking Pictures With them

At Universal Studios Hollywood, the park will take souvenir photos of you in three different circumstances:

The photographers in the park or with characters will give you a ticket after taking your photo. If you want to buy it, go with that ticket to the “Photo Center”, at the park entrance.

You can also watch Universal Studios Florida Attraction Guide here: