Universal Studios Hollywood: FAQs for the First Time Visitor

Are you hoping to visit Universal Studios Hollywood this summer? If so, you’ll be among millions of people who will enjoy this world-famous attraction. However, if this is your first-ever visit, it’s always helpful to gather as much information about the park as possible. Although this guide does not replace the official Universal Studios Hollywood …

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The Hogwarts Express locomotive at Universal Studios Hollywood

Are you hoping to visit Universal Studios Hollywood this summer? If so, you’ll be among millions of people who will enjoy this world-famous attraction. However, if this is your first-ever visit, it’s always helpful to gather as much information about the park as possible. Although this guide does not replace the official Universal Studios Hollywood website, there is some helpful information contained therein. Not only will you arrive better prepared, you’ll have a better understanding of what to see and do. You might even save a bit of money, which is always helpful on a summer vacation. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about one of LA’s top attractions.

Where Is Universal Studios Hollywood?

Despite its name, Universal Studios is not actually in Hollywood. In fact, it’s nearly 10 miles from its namesake city. Instead, you will find USH in Universal City, an unincorporated in the San Fernando Valley. What’s more, Universal City has its own fire department, in addition to a LA County Sheriff’s station. Communities closer to USH than Hollywood include North Hollywood, Studio City and Burbank.

Universal Studios Hollywood

100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA  91608
(800) 864-8377

Universal Studios Hollywood sign outside the main entrance
Universal Studios Hollywood Sign (credit: Randy Yagi)

How Do I Get To Universal Studios Hollywood?

If you’re like most people, you’ll be driving to the “Entertainment Capital of LA”. The easiest way to get to the studios is via Highway 101. Whether you’re traveling northbound or southbound on Highway 101 you’ll see exit signs for Universal Studios Hollywood. You will then follow the signs to the parking garages. As you get closer to the garages, there will be staff on hand to take your payment and direct traffic.

Public Transportation

LA Metro

Another great way to get to Universal Studios Hollywood is via LA’s Metro subway system. Although just the Red Line goes to the USH Metro station, there are several places to get onboard. For instance, you can meet the Red Line at Union Station, Wilshire Boulevard at Vermont and at Hollywood/Highland. Conversely, you can meet the Red Line at the North Hollywood station. Of course, the Red Line connects with other subway lines to help you get to the theme park. After arriving at the USH Metro station, you can meet a free shuttle at the main roadway entrance to USH. The shuttle will then drop you off at a designated stop near the entrance to the park.

LA Metro Bus

Another way to get to USH is via the LA Metro bus system. The routes that serve USH at Lankershim Boulevard are 150, 155, 224 and 240. After leaving the bus, you can then transfer to the free shuttle bus. Two other routes, 165 and 656, have a stop one stop away from the entrance.

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How Much Is Parking?

The rate for General Parking before 5 p.m. is $30 and $10 after 5 p.m. If you’re looking to save money on parking, consider visiting the park after 5 p.m. Additionally, Preferred Parking before 5 p.m. is $50 and $20 after 5 p.m. Preferred Parking spots are much closer than those in General Parking so you won’t have to walk as far to the park. For instance, in General, you might have to walk the entire length of Universal CityWalk to reach the park. On the other hand, Preferred Parking allows you to be closer to the entrance to CityWalk. Not only are there these options but Front Gate Parking ($70) and Valet Parking. You can further save on Valet Parking by dining or seeing a movie at CityWalk.

How Much Is A Ticket To Universal Studios Hollywood?

That depends on the day you go and what time of year. For example, if you plan to go over the summer, the price can be as low as $104 to $139 on weekends. In light of this, the $104 rate applies if you’re a California resident and you purchase online. If you don’t live in California, the lowest rate is $109. However, if you plan to go on rides but don’t like waiting in long lines, you should strongly consider purchasing a Universal Express pass. These rates are from $179 for California residents and $189 for non-residents. Of course, if you want to the VIP Experience, that’s available too. Lastly, there are seasonal and annual passes available for purchase. But then again, these options may not apply to you.

Discounted Tickets

You can also purchase tickets online for children ages 3-9. You can determine the price by selecting a ticket category, date and number of guests. If you have children ages 10 and older, you would have to pay the standard general admission rate. On the other hand, a discounted price is available at the front gate for guests under 48 inches tall. Moreover, this special price also applies to adults under 48 inches tall.

Tickets From Third Party Vendors

You can get discounts if you purchase from third party vendors. Nevertheless, you must make sure you are using a reliable source. In other words, don’t purchase tickets from Craigslist, eBay etc. Instead, there are other options like AAA, Costco and Go Los Angeles. You can also find discounted tickets from additional sources like Southern California CityPASS and Viator.

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Is Universal Studios Hollywood Accessible?

Universal Studios Hollywood offers a number of accessible services. For instance, there are assisted devices for guests with hearing or vision disabilities. Additionally, all of the park’s shopping and dining facilities are wheelchair accessible. That’s coupled with reserved areas at shows to accommodate guests with disabilities. At USH, almost all of the rides are accessible. However, it’s important to review the park’s website on Ride Policies and Accessibility. The park further makes accommodations for guests with service animals.

What Are The Hours?

During the summer months, Universal Studios Hollywood is open from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. Also during the summertime CityWalk has posted hours from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. You can expect shorter hours of operation during fall and winter months. To make sure you have the most up-to-date information, please visit the official website.

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Does Universal Studios Hollywood Have An App?

Yes, as a matter of fact there is an app for both Apple iOS and Google Android. You can go directly to either platform’s site or through Universal. With this in mind, you should download the app before you visit the theme park. Either way, the official app has helpful information about the theme park. For one, there is an interactive map to help you find your way around. For another, you can find out wait times for popular rides and what times live entertainment is schedule. However, what it doesn’t do is allow you to order drinks and food. In spite of this, the official app has information for all major dining spots, including Hogs Head and Jurassic Café. Also found in the app are menus and dietary options like gluten free or dairy free. You can also purchase tickets directly through this app. Above all, the most important feature might be the list of show times for live entertainment.

Is There A Health Mandate In Place At Universal Studios Hollywood?

At this time, you are not required to present a proof of vaccination to enter the park. Although this may be true, you should be aware of safety updates. For example, it is recommended that you and everyone in your party wear a face covering while indoors. Equally important is to wash your hands frequently when visiting the restrooms. By the same token, there are hand sanitizing stations posted throughout the park for your convenience.

What Should I See At Universal Studios Hollywood?

Character Sightings

When you visit, you can expect to see a number of popular characters from popular TV shows and movies. For instance, you might see The Minions walking past you or even Bart and Lisa from The Simpsons. In the Lower Lot, you can see Transformers like Optimus Prime and Megatron. Also in the Lower Lot, you can watch one of the Raptor Encounters in Jurassic Park. If that’s not enough, don’t be surprised if you see Shrek, Scooby-Doo, The Simpsons and other friendly characters.

Guests riding through water on the Jurassic World ride at Universal Studios
Jurassic World: The Ride (credit: Randy Yagi)

Jurassic World: The Ride

Based upon the Universal film series, you can find Jurassic World: The Ride in the Lower Lot. You can find the escalators to the Lower Lot just past Universal Plaza. On the other hand, if you don’t have a map handy, you can always ask a park employee for directions. The Jurassic World ride is among the most popular and as a result will typically have longer lines. In this case, having a Universal Express Pass will come in handy. The ride itself does have a height restriction and lasts just over seven minutes. However, it’s one of the park’s featured attractions so you should try to visit. There is one vertical drop of 85 feet just before you splash through towards the exit.

Live Entertainment

Each day, Universal Studios Hollywood presents a number of shows for the whole family to enjoy. If you have children, take them to see the Universal’s Animal Actors. Some of the animals you will see are among the most talented in show business. In fact, some animal actors have starred in popular movies like Dr. Doolittle. You’ll also enjoy the incredible Special Effects Show and the long-running WaterWorld performance.

Hogwarts Hogsmeade Street Sign at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Hogsmeade Hogwarts Sign (credit: Randy Yagi)

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Possibly the premier attraction at USH is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In the first place, you have photo opportunities all around this section of the park. For instance, you or your children can take a photo in front of the Hogwarts train with a conductor. In addition, there is a small replica of the iconic train station ticket booth. What’s more, you will see employees dressed like characters from the Harry Potter series and themed rides. In fact, you can enjoy Flight of the Hippogriff and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. In addition to ongoing live entertainment, you can also shop and dine at themed retail stores.

World Famous Studio Tour

Although many will say The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the top place to go, don’t miss the Studio Tour. After all, this iconic attraction helped build Universal Studios Hollywood to the way it is today. In fact, studio tours were before held even before the park opened on July 15, 1964. Even if this will be your first visit, you probably already know some aspects about this famous studio tour. In other words, who hasn’t heard about seeing Jaws, King Kong and the Bates Motel on the tram tour? By all means, this is another attraction where a Universal Express comes in handy. You will board a tram consisting of several cars and employees are on board to provide a narrative. It takes about 60-90 minutes so you should plan accordingly.

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About The Author

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget, NBC and Radio.com. He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.