I recently decided to embark on a 36 hour trip from Alaska to Hollywood Universal Studios with my son to celebrate his 12th birthday. He wanted an iPhone 10, but instead, I decided to give him the gift of undivided time with mom. After all, what could be better than memories that will last a lifetime? We had an absolute blast at Hollywood Universal Studios, and in this post, I will share with you how to have the best time at this attraction.
Why Hollywood Universal Studios
My son has been talking about wanting to go indoor skydiving, and when I could have taken him to do this to places like Seattle or Portland that are way closer to Alaska than Los Angeles, I was looking more at the overall experience and evaluating what other things we could do there.
That’s why I decided to go to Hollywood Universal Studios, because the indoor skydiving experience is located right there in City Walk (outside Hollywood Universal Studios), and so it seemed like the perfect way to spend an entire day of fun experiences that will allow my son and I bond like we haven’t for a while.
Hollywood Universal Studios is a theme park that rather, in my opinion, is suitable for older kids to adults and so taking my younger kids there wouldn’t be ideal, which was another reason to do this trip with my son to Universal Hollywood Studios, because it’s unlikely that we would visit it as a family.
A must do before you get there
Depending on your schedule and how long you are planning to be at Hollywood Universal Studios, you should allow time to go find the Hollywood sign.
As I mentioned before, we were there for 36 hours. We left Anchorage in the red-eye Friday night arriving to LAX at 6 am on Saturday morning and returning home on the red-eye Saturday night.
When we arrived in Los Angeles at 6 am, we picked our rental car for the day and started our adventure right away.
I used RentalCars.com to find the cheapest rental car option. They have all the rental car brands but offer better discounts than other places as far as I could tell in my research.
The best thing of all, is that we also got upgraded for free to an SUV while using this service, and including taxes and insurance I was able to rent a mid-size SUV at LAX for $56, which is a super deal and way cheaper than a taxi or Uber would have cost me, not to mention I wouldn’t have been able to store my backpack while we were in the park. I definitely recommend you get your rental car at rentalcars.com
After getting the car, as I mentioned earlier, we immediately started our adventure. Yes, at 6 am!
We drove from LAX to Griffith Park, about 20-25 minutes drive. Here we were able to get amazing views of the Hollywood sign, just from the road alone, but we wanted more.
We discovered the trail to actually hike to the sign, which is off from the Griffith Observatory, and I believe it was like 3.5 miles each way, which I would have totally done, but since we only had one day at Universal Hollywood Studios, I wanted to make sure we had enough time there.
However, by 7 am the parking lot of the Griffith Observatory was packed with people hiking to the sign, I guess it makes sense that if you are going to do this hike you do it early in the morning, because I bet it gets super hot.
How to get the most out of your Hollywood Universal Studios Experience
Depending on the time of the year and the day of the week the lines can get as insane as the Disneyland or Disneyworld lines. With that I mean 2 plus hour waits.
Again, since we only had one day, and because I wanted to spoil my son and I a little, I upgraded before getting to the park, our tickets to the Universal Express tickets for an extra fee.
This upgrade allowed us to get in the FastPass lane 1 time for each attraction.
The implications of this are that if you really loved one attraction and would like to ride it again, you would have to go to the normal line, but at least you can skip the crazy lines one time for each ride.
I can’t tell you enough what a lifesaver this was. Every penny spent on this ticket upgrade for our Universal Hollywood Studios tickets was worth it.
There was only one attraction in the entire park that did not have a FastPass line, and the line was only 20 minutes for that one. However, we used this upgrade for everything else, and we were able to enjoy every single ride and attraction in the park with fun and ease.
Also, I want to tell you that even though we had the express pass, it took us from 9 am until 5 pm to see and do everything in the park. In other words, if you don’t upgrade your Hollywood Universal Studios tickets you should plan a multi-day visit to the park.
Best attractions at Hollywood Universal Studios
As I mentioned we were able to ride everything at Hollywood Universal Studios, and if you haven’t been there you must be prepared to find out that these rides are quite different than the traditional amusement park rides.
Hollywood Universal Studios rides are mostly 3D animated or simulator rides, which it could take a bit to get used to, but they still have few traditional rides.
With that said, here is the list of the best attractions at Hollywood Universal Studios according to us:
For Traditional Rides, The Mummy is amazing. The standard waiting line was 90 minutes and I would have totally done it, in fact, we were debating to ride it a second time but we decided instead to do something else. They also have the Jurassic World which is nice too.
For 3D simulated rides, The Simpsons and the Transformers were the best ones.
Some rides are a combo of both, like Harry Potter and it’s one of the most popular rides with lines of up to 120 minutes.
The most terrifying ride was the AMC Walking Dead. This is a walking maze where the zombies literally come out to get you. It was simply frightening. I don’t think I will be doing that one ever again.
One that I’m not sure where to categorize it under, but you need to do for sure, it’s the Hollywood Universal Studios tour. The tour is about 1 hour long, and it takes you not only to the sets of incredible movies but also has 3 rides included on it, King Kong is one of them.
Trust me, you want to do the tour. It’s not what you think it is.
Where to eat at Hollywood Universal Studios
Depending on your mood and how many days you have at the park, there are two ways you can approach this:
1. You can go out to Universal City Walk and eat there where there is an array of nice restaurants and bars, or
2. You can eat inside Hollywood Universal Studios as you stroll around the park throughout the day.
This time we opted for option 2. There is decent food (and alcohol) served in the park.
We had lunch at Luigi’s, which had huge slices of pizza for $9.99; and we had dessert near by as well.
Allow time to do this too
Hollywood Universal Studios has a lot to offer besides rides and attractions.
There is some great shopping to be done inside at the park, but also at Universal City Walk.
When you are planning your weekend getaway to Hollywood Universal Studios, make sure you allow time to explore everything that City Walk has to offer.
Things that you should explore besides the shops are the vast number of restaurants, movie theater and the best of all the iFly indoor skydiving.
They also have this crazy shop called Its sugar, where they have candy that looks like food, which was a unique souvenir to bring back for my daughter that didn’t get to come with us this time.
Hollywood Universal Studios is a fun place that should not be overlooked on your weekend getaway travel plans. You can create great memories with your kids, your spouse and your friends.
After sharing the pictures with Ben, he wants to do a trip like this too. So why not do an adult trip to this fun location.
Remember, Travel often because Life is a Getaway.