Universal Studios Hollywood Adds 5,000 Parking Spaces, Before Potter Rush

January 21, 2016, 4:51 PM · Getting into and out of Universal Studios Hollywood ought to be easier than ever this summer, as the park has opened its massive new E.T. parking structure.

Outside the E.T. garage

Standing eight levels tall and housing nearly 5,000 parking space, the E.T. garage is as about the size of one half of Disneyland's Mickey and Friends parking structure. (E.T. has more levels, but isn't as long as Mickey and Friends.) And with new ramps connecting the garage to U.S. 101 via a short drive on Universal Boulevard, people driving to Universal from downtown Los Angeles should find it much quicker getting into and out of their parking space at Universal.

The E.T. parking garage stands east of the drop-off/pick-up circle, next to Buca de Beppo, just south of the Curious George parking garage and across Universal Boulevard from Jurassic Parking. It's a farther walk to the Universal Studios Hollywood front gate from the E.T. lot, but that's the trade-off for what should be a much swifter flow of traffic into the garage.

Inside the E.T. garage

Universal's installed about a dozen parking toll booths on the garage's first level, which also includes bus parking and electric vehicle charging stations. The garage's pretty much empty now, as crowds continue to be relatively light in the park during this (relatively) rainy winter off-season, with construction ongoing in and around the park.

But when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens on April 7, expect the E.T. garage to start getting put to full use.

Replies (13)

January 21, 2016 at 9:11 PM · I parked in the Universal Studios Jurassic lot for the first time this past summer. Compared to other Southern California theme park lots I have parked in, it was the least efficient parking lot one could imagine (especially compared to the Mickey and Friends structure at Disneyland, which is also a multi-story parking structure).

There was no simple flow of traffic once one entered the structure. Instead, the cars wound their way around cones which blocked off parking areas and were directed towards a specific area of the structure. There were employees telling drivers to turn where the cones were, but no employees actually directing cars toward specific spaces where the cars were currently parking, like at Disneyland's Mickey and Friends. So there was a long backup of cars where the spaces were open, which dominoed back throughout the queue of cars.

I sincerely hope that Universal has improved, or will improve the efficiency of the parking structure before Harry Potter opens, or there will be a parking fiasco come April 7, new parking structure or not.

January 21, 2016 at 9:46 PM · The parking garages have been a mess over the past year or so, as the construction of the ET garage took out some employee surface parking, and Universal's been changing/painting/otherwise messing with the rest of the garages. Things are pretty smooth now, mostly because the crowds are relatively small, but the ET garage looks pretty slick.
January 21, 2016 at 11:07 PM · What's the total number of parking spaces? They have a lot of parking structures.
January 22, 2016 at 1:48 AM · Keeping my fingers crossed that the problems have been sorted out.

There was no good excuse for how poorly the parking was handled last summer during my visit.

January 22, 2016 at 2:07 AM · I remembered one other thing.

Most Universal passholders no longer have parking included on their passes, as the old season passes were phased out last February, and the new levels of annual and season passes introduced since November do not include any kind of parking.

It would be like Disneyland telling all its annual passholders, sorry, you have to pay $18 for parking every time you visit.

I haven't checked the Universal fansite forums lately, but back in November passholders were up in arms and talking about getting Disneyland passes instead, rather than pay a lot more and get a lot less than before.

I feel like Universal is caught in a hard situation because they really don't know how many people will be buying tickets and coming to Universal City once Harry Potter opens. They have to try to limit annual passholders from coming on high attendance days like spring break and the summer (plus most weekend days) because it would be a bad situation having the gates and parking lots close every day because the park couldn't handle the demand. At the same time, passholders don't like how much their privileges have been reduced, both in terms of available days and parking included with the annual pass.

January 22, 2016 at 4:58 AM · I'm sorry, but there's an elephant in the room I feel needs to be addressed: why now of all times name a parking structure "ET?" Didn't USH recently close their ET ride? I know that UOR has a parking structure entitled "King Kong" despite the fact that they have been without a King Kong attraction for over a decade; and I know they also have one entitled "Jaws" despite the fact that their Jaws ride closed down a couple years ago; but both of those rides were still around when the parking structures were built! So, again, why ET?
January 22, 2016 at 7:45 AM · @ I don't think it's odd to name a parking lot after E.T., it's Universal's top-grossing film, and the #4 movie of all-time on the inflation adjusted charts (still #12 in real dollars, which is even more amazing given today's ticket prices).
January 22, 2016 at 8:43 AM · Well, ET is a classic Universal film. Even though the ET ride has been closed for about a decade the name still is legendary. People know ET and it's easy to remember after 8 hours of tromping around a theme park, so you can easily find your car.
January 22, 2016 at 11:42 AM · Agree with Spaceman Spiff. I visited USH during HHN last year and oh boy was parking disorganized. I showed up 1 hour before early entry and it literally took me almost an up hour just to park. There were very few employees directing traffic and once inside the garage, there were even fewer employees. It was basically like trying to park at a really crowded mall, except 10X worse. Hopefully with this new ET structure, they finally get their act together. On a different note, before USH announced the MASSIVE AP price increase, I was actually considering buying my first USH AP. But after they announced that there won't even offer an AP that has no block out days and the closest AP to it was $300, I have officially decided not to purchase one. Honestly there "Gold AP" is basically Disney's deluxe AP, except half the cost. That's such a ripoff, so they're have the price of DL but yet they only have 1/5 the attractions of DLR (counting WWHP). Honestly the most I'm willing to pay for a USH AP with no block out days is $200. The only way they can sell me on the "Gold AP" for $300 is if they include unlimited admission to HHN. Other than that, I think that I'll just stick to my twice a year visit during HHN.
January 22, 2016 at 2:56 PM · I also think it's great that a pedestrian bridge is being built over Lankershim, so those who take the subway can travel in droves without waiting for the traffic lights.

I have a feeling there will be many people taking the redline. Some may even park at the North Hollywood station & take the subway over. It's only one stop away.

January 22, 2016 at 5:50 PM · Hopefully this will improve the parking situation at USH. When I visited last summer it took over 30 minutes from when I exited the freeway until I was parked. Even on a busy day at Disneyland it usually takes less than 20, and USH is going to be breaking attendance records this year for sure. I guess I'll have to wait until this summer to find out.

Regarding APs, blackout dates, etc., something I think people forget about is that USH only has about 1/4 the capacity of the Disneyland Resort but they are already getting more than 1/4 the attendance of DLR and are opening the biggest attraction in California this year. If they were to offer a no blackout pass and/or season pass parking, I've got a strong feeling the park would close for capacity several days per week. A closed park isn't a big deal for a local, but if you're a tourist with one day to visit it could ruin your trip. USH is doing what is necessary right now, and if things calm down there will probably be another change.

January 22, 2016 at 7:11 PM · I was going to ask about the subway, because I know it stops close to Universal. Hearing about the pedestrian bridge over Lankershim is great news! I'm not a local, but I'd be inclined to find a solution that allowed me to park near a subway stop, like at say...Target or Best Buy, hop on the subway, and then use the pedestrian bridge to get over to the park.

As for the APs, it doesn't affect me, since I'd only be there one day to experience the park. But were I a local, I imagine I wouldn't be too happy about it.

I think it's interesting how differently USO and USH are run. Not unlike Disneyland and WDW. The good news is that all of the lacking parks can be brought up to the standard of the others. Universal can and hopefully will get their parking situation sorted out, just like WDW will stop dragging their feet and putting out subpar upgrades.

I look forward to going to USH again one of these days. :)

January 22, 2016 at 11:54 PM · Gabriel,

There are 2 stops that have ample parking & would viable for taking the subway.

Hollywood & Highland center (which does cost, but the max daily rate is lower than Universal's parking)

NoHo Arts District (which is free) and located on Lankershim.

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