April 23, 2008
Four Hour Tour Plan: Universal Studios HollywoodUniversal Studios Hollywood, Los Angeles, California [Map]
Theme Park Insider's "Four-Hour Tours" are designed to get you and your family to the very best attractions in the world's top theme parks... before anyone can get tired and cranky. That leaves you free to enjoy the rest of your day... with a swim, a nap, or with pressure-free time to wander the park.
Please visit our Four-Hour Tours page for an explanation of the concept, as well as links to additional Four-Hour Tours. The attractions and restaurants selected for this tour are those at Universal Studios Hollywood most highly rated by Theme Park Insider readers. You may click on the attraction links below to see complete attraction descriptions and reviews.
Before you go: Avoid the wait at the park's ticket booths by buying your tickets online at Universal Studios Hollywood's website. If you've got the extra money to spend, Universal offers a VIP Tour experience that makes this trip superfluous. But if you're on a normal family's budget, a one-day ticket will suffice. If you are planning to visit other Southern California theme parks in the same week, you might consider one of the Southern California CityPasses.
When you get there: Plan to arrive at the front gate before the park opens, giving yourself about half an hour extra time to park in USH's garages and walk through the CityWalk shopping complex to get to the park. You can check USH's operating hours on the park's website.
Universal Studios Hollywood is built on the top and side of a mountain, so the park is divided into two levels, with a loooong series of escalators connecting them. The park's front gate is located on the Upper Lot, as are most of its attractions.
1. Universal will open its newest attraction, The Simpsons Ride, in June. If you are visiting after then, make that your first stop as soon as the park opens. Head straight into the park across the Upper Lot to The Simpsons Ride building at the back of the Upper Lot.
2. After the Simpsons, walk next door to the Studio Tour. You'll take an escalator down to the loading queue, where you will board for this 45-minute tram tour of Universal's historic movie studio and backlot.
3. After the tour, you'll head back up the escalator to the Upper Lot, then back past The Simpsons Ride to the escalators (Universal calls it the "Star Way") down to the Lower Lot. At the bottom of the escalators, you will see your next stop, Jurassic Park - The Ride, immediately to the left.
4. Then head back up the escalators to the Upper Lot, walking back toward the front gate. If you've got extra time, turn left and to the theater for Terminator 2: 3D. If not, skip to the final stop on the tour.
5. Wrap up your day with the next showing of what many consider Universal's best show, Waterworld. Yes. the show's based on the Kevin Coster bomb, but don't hold that against this show. If the movie had been half as good as this stunt extravaganza, it'd have been a major hit.
6. Head back into CityWalk, stopping to get your hand stamp on the way out, and select from one of the many sit-down restaurants there for a relaxing late lunch.
[Tomorrow: We head down the road to Anaheim, to Disney's California Adventure.]
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