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Four Hour Tour Plan: Universal Studios Hollywood

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Published: April 23, 2008 at 8:47 PM

Universal 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.

Universal Studios Hollywood

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.]

Readers' Opinions

From Bradley Robertson on April 24, 2008 at 8:53 AM
I agree about Water World. I don't usually see most shows at theme parks, but when I went to USH I had the Front of the Line passes. Since you get priority seating with those and it had received good reviews I figured why not. The pre-show was really fun, and the show itself was spectacular.
From Deidre Dennis on April 24, 2008 at 9:09 AM
What about Revenge of the Mummy? From what I hear, everyone likes the one in Orlando better, but I probably favor this one because it was the first "coaster" I went on and the whole stopping and going backwards thing freaked me out. At any rate, I was just curious about why this attraction was left off.

And yes, Water World is a blast. When we went last year during our vacation, we got the Front of the Line pass as well, and one of the actors soaked us big time. We were near the front and he filled his bucket of water and literally walked over and just threw it on us, all before the show even started. They really mess with the guests, too, so it's a blast. We were so glad it was a hot day!

From Robert Niles on April 24, 2008 at 9:42 AM
This park's a tough one, not because of a huge number of attractions, but because of the length of the shows and the hassle and time to go back and forth from the upper and lower lots.

Mummy was the next attraction on this list, the one that just missed the cut. It's okay, but pales in comparison to Orlando, and isn't as worthy as the other ones on this list.

If you wanted to make this a longer day, I would do Mummy after Jurassic Park, then come up and break for lunch before doing WaterWorld and T2.

From Dan Rosenberg on April 24, 2008 at 11:57 AM
Great Report but doesn't the Simpsons open on May 17th?
From Robert Niles on April 24, 2008 at 12:04 PM
In Orlando. In LA, they're telling me mid-June.

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