Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood

Carl Laemmle opened his 230-acre Universal City movie-studio ranch to visitors on March 15, 1915, but the advent of sound in motion pictures forced the studio to close the lot to those noisy visitors. Universal reopened to visitors in 1961, outsourcing tours to the Gray Line bus company. Following a feasibility study by Buzz Price - the same man who helped determine the locations for Disneyland and Walt Disney World - Universal decided to start its own tram tour, and what is now Universal Studios Hollywood opened on July 15, 1964.

Universal Studios Hollywood stands atop the Hollywood hills and is divided into an Upper Lot and a Lower Lot, connected by a giant, four-part "Starway" escalator. In addition to its regular attractions, the park hosts Halloween Horror Nights on select evenings in September and October, closing early on those days for this after-hours, hard-ticket event.

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Our recommendations below come from our annual survey of Theme Park Insider newsletter subscribers. Locations with star ratings ranked especially highly among our readers. Click here to subscribe to our free, twice-weekly email of theme park news and to participate in the next ranking survey.

Universal Studios Hollywood remains closed indefinitely due to the state of California's Covid-19 restrictions.

Rides

Ranking

  1. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ★ ★ ★
    Indoor Kuka-arm dark ride inside Hogwarts Castle in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. [Note that it is no longer presented in 3D.] Height requirement: 48 inches
  2. Studio Tour
    Narrated bus tour of Universal's front and back lot film and television production facilities. Includes King Kong 360/3D and Fast & Furious: Supercharged.
  3. Transformers: The Ride 3D
    Motion-base dark ride on the Lower Lot. Height requirement: 40 inches
    Read Robert Niles' review of Transformers: The Ride 3D.
  4. Jurassic World: The Ride
    Animatronic dinosaurs on a shoot-the-chutes flume ride on the Lower Lot. Height requirement: 42 inches
    Read Robert Niles' review of Jurassic World: The Ride.
  5. The Simpsons Ride
    Motion base show in Springfield. Height requirement: 40 inches
  6. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
    Motion base show on the Upper Lot. Height requirement: 40 inches
  7. Revenge of the Mummy
    A 1,906-foot indoor Premier rides coaster with a 40-mph launch and height of 44 feet. Height requirement: 48 inches
  8. Flight of the Hippogriff
    A 984-foot Mack Rides Youngstar coaster in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Height requirement: 39 inches
  9. Super Silly Fun Land
    A spinner ride and water play area next to Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

Universal's big new attraction for 2021 will be The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!, an animatronic dark ride located next to Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. Coming after that will be the first U.S. installation of Super Nintendo World, on the Lower Lot, featuring the Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge interactive dark ride.

Shows

Top Recommendations

  1. Waterworld ★ ★ ★
    Live stunt show that far exceeds the Kevin Coster movie upon which it is based. Located on the Upper Lot.
  2. Special Effect Stage ★ ★
    Live show demonstrating popular film and television effects, in the Castle Theater on the Upper Lot.
    Read Robert Niles' review of Special Effect Stage.
  3. Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle ★ ★
    Projection show in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Shows vary by season.
  4. Kung Fu Panda: Emperor's Quest
    Movie in the DreamWorks Theater on the Upper Lot
    Read Robert Niles' review of Kung Fu Panda: Emperor's Quest.

Other notable shows include Animal Actors on the Upper Lot and the Raptor Encounter next to Jurassic World on the Lower Lot.

Dining

Top recommendation

  1. The Three Broomsticks ★ ★ ★
    Counter service British pub fare in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  2. Hog's Head Pub
    Bar adjacent to The Three Broomsticks. This typically offers the shortest queue for Butterbeer.

Map

Universal Studios Hollywood is located just off US 101 in Universal City, California - 10 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

Strategy

We will be back with our visiting strategy when the park reopens - whenever that might be. Until then, get vaccinated as soon as you can, everyone!

Universal Studios Hollywood news