Insider Universal Hollywood Tips on Saving Time and Money and Experiencing it All

Many families pick Universal Studios Hollywood as a day trip option during their typical vacation to Disneyland. With that in mind, there’s a few insider tips to Universal Studios Hollywood that can come in handy to ensure that guests maximize both their money and time at this popular theme park. Here are our top insider tips to having the best day at Universal Studios Hollywood!

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Buying tickets from Get Away Today is easy and convenient since all their tickets are sent electronically. You can take their vouchers and head straight to the gate without needing to wait in any ticket booth lines. They also offer layaway plans so you can pay off your vacation over time.

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1. Save Money on Tickets

You’ll get up close and personal throughout the working backlot when you take the Universal Studios Hollywood VIP Tour.First things first, don’t buy your tickets at the gate! You can save much more by getting your tickets through our trusted travel partner and save up to $20 per ticket. Save money before you even get to the park- check out our discount ticket page on Universal Studios Hollywood to make sure you get the best deal. Even if you buy directly through Universal, you will save money by buying online instead of at the gate. Planning ahead will save you money!

2. Express Pass during the Busy SeasonImage result for universal studios hollywood

Normally I don’t always recommend the Express Pass but if you only have one day to spend at Universal or are visiting at peak times then it’s worth it to avoid waiting in any long lines. If you visit on a day that is extraordinarily busy, upgrading to the Express Pass is worth it. Similar to Disneyland’s FastPass, Express Pass is a way to beat the long lines by entering a quicker priority line.

3. Arrive Early and Plan AheadHarry Potter ride

Like with most theme parks, arriving early and planning ahead is key to getting the most done and maximizing your time. Since not as many guests arrive as early to Universal Studios like they do at Disneyland, getting there 30 minutes prior to the gates opening will really get you ahead of the crowd. Sit down with your group and make a plan for the day rather than leave the morning to impulse. That way you know where you want to go to first thing and there’s minimal debate.

4. Prioritize Harry Potter

If Harry Potter is at the top of your list, make that your priority in the morning. Head straight to Ollivander’s to do the wand experience- don’t wait until later in the day because once that line builds it never lets up. After that head straight to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey! If you’re not hardcore Potterheads, you don’t necessarily have to experience Ollivander’s since it’s mainly a pre-show before the actual experience of buying a wand. But definitely make sure you don’t miss the area, even for the non-Harry Potter fans, it’s an impressive sight to behold. And the rides are even better!

5. Use Single RiderImage result for universal studios hollywood the mummy

If you and your party don’t mind being split up, using the single rider line can be a great way to beat the crowds and limit time spent in line. Universal uses this line to fill in empty spots in ride vehicles so they’re never sending any empty seats through the ride. You can use single ride for the following rides:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride
  • Transformers: The Ride 3D

6. Do the Studio Tour in the AfternoonImage result for universal studios hollywood

For one, you CAN’T miss the Studio Tour when you visit Universal Studios. This is the most unique part of the whole theme park. Since Universal is a working studio first and a theme park second, experiencing the Studio Tour is pretty cool to witness. Depending on the day you might even see tv shows being filmed! Save this tour for the afternoon when the sun starts warming up. You will be sitting down on a shaded tram for the duration of the tour making it a perfect time to rest and cool off.

7. Use the Universal Studios AppImage result for universal studios app

Many experienced Disneyland guests know to download the Disneyland app and use it throughout the day. But what about the Universal app? While their app may not be as necessary, it definitely comes in handy. You can set alarms on it to notify you when certain attractions have lower wait times, plan your day, check wait times, and use the map to navigate your way around.

8. Don’t Skip the ShowsImage result for universal studios waterworld

Sometimes guests can get caught up in the rides, shopping, and dining and forget to see the shows! This has happened to us before and we immediately regretted it. Definitely take the time to see one of the Hollywood quality stunt shows like Waterworld. The afternoon and evening is the best time to take in the shows while mornings are better spent tackling the popular rides.

9. Go to the Lower Lot EarlyImage result for transformers universal studios hollywood

Since Universal is built on a literal hill- you have these large escalators taking you from the top to the bottom of the separate lots. There are some great views on the way but it can be time consuming taking about 10 minutes each way to get to both areas. Do all the rides in the lower lot at once so you don’t have to make the trip down again. In the morning this area is quite empty making it possible to ride some of those popular rides like The Mummy repeatedly!

10. Motion Sickness? Plan AheadImage result for universal studios despicable me

Since Universal Studios Hollywood is a working studio first and a theme park second, they are limited on the space they can expand their rides. Because of this, many of the rides at Universal Studios Hollywood use motion screen simulators for their ride experiences. The rides that use these screens are:

  • Despicable Me
  • Transformers
  • Simpsons
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (only has a few moments with screens- the entire ride isn’t screen based)

It’s good to prepare ahead and pack whatever motion sickness remedy works for you. I’ve always had good results with Bonine with minimal side effects. I usually take it in the morning and then I’m good throughout the day. Planning for this advance is a wise move if you know that you’re susceptible to motion sickness.

Plan your Southern California vacation now!

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Check out our other top guides to planning your Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood trips! You’ll find tips and tricks on how to save money and experience more.

  1. Save Money on Disneyland Tickets
  2. Universal Studios Hollywood Discount Cheap Tickets
  3. Best Hotels Near Disneyland
  4. Save Money on Discount Disney World Tickets

Disclosure: We have used all the products recommended on Mickey Visit. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products featured.

About Lindsay Brookshier

Lindsay is a college English instructor and has years of writing experience through various nonprofits, charities, newspapers, and online magazines. As the content director of Mickey Visit, she oversees article content and leads our fantastic team of writers to meet guest vacation needs. You can still find her writing weekly content to help make your Disney Parks trip fantastic here on Mickey Visit and Disney Dose- you can also view her recently featured posts on Disney Parks travel on Visit Anaheim, Nerd Wallet and SFGate. Lindsay comes from a dedicated Disney family and enjoys taking her son to the Disney parks as often as possible.

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