Universal Studios

Universal Studios Travel Tips & Fun Times

Have Fun, Save Some Money & Plan Ahead!

Having a theme park themed bucket list is something I think a lot of people have. It’s really no surprise considering so many of us are raised on Disney classics and dream of spending the day in the theme parks we see advertised on our television sets that are centered around so many of our childhood favorite movies. I used to dream quite often of visiting Disney and being able to have my picture taken with my favorite characters or get their autographs in my signature book. As I got older and saw more theme parks cropping up around the world it spoke to my sense of adventure as well as the child within. Last summer my family and I took a vacation that helped me meet some of my childhood goals.

Universal studios Hollywood

My family and I getting ready to go in to Universal Studios

In addition to visiting Disneyland (see our tips on visiting Disneyland HERE) we also got the incredible chance to visit Universal Studios Hollywood. Now that summer is approaching and I know everyone is getting their trips planned, I’ve put together another list of helpful tips that you’ll be able to use when you arrive at your destination. I hope they’ll be a useful addition to your trip guide.

universal park

As with any theme park, planning ahead is crucial. Many parks across the US like Universal Studios Hollywood are huge attractions, especially in the summertime. If you have one of them on your bucket list then there are millions of others across the country who make the trip over for the same opportunity. Book your tickets as far in advance as you can to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Universal Scooby and my daughter

Scooby was having fun playing with my daughter’s hair. She loved Scooby Doo now where’s Shaggy?

Wear comfortable shoes. With a list of fun things to do that include thrilling theme park rides, shows, restaurants, a real movie studio and some of Los Angeles’ best shops you’ve got a lot of ground to cover from the time you enter the park until the time you leave. Wearing footwear like flip flops is a definite no-no if you’re planning to go and spend an entire day seeing all there is to see. Invest in a pair of good walking shoes and some gel inserts, if you’d like, for each member of your family so you don’t sustain any unfortunate injuries or develop blisters. Bring band-aids and a glide-on stick to prevent rubbing with your shoes, they all help!

universal toy story

Yes Toy Story Characters will always be a hit with kids of all ages

My daughter wore sandal socks with well her sandals so they don’t start to rub after hours of wear, you can see her wearing them in the picture above, it’s not super noticeable but more importantly it helped her last all day with the walking. I personally wore my Dankso sandals as they were meant for walking, in fact for myself they are my most comfortable walking shoes, more so than runners. Whatever your preference just make sure they are good quality walking shoes that support and cushion your feet for hours and hours in the heat!

universal minions mom and daughter

My daughter and I having some Minion Fun

Universal Studios Express Pass IS WORTH EVERY DOLLAR. I don’t say that lightly because I know for many like ourselves people are on a budget on what is usually already an expensive enough trip. Trust me though it’s worth it to save time in the line-ups, especially during the summer which is when we went when the line-ups are long and it’s hot outside. I would gladly pay for the express pass each and every time as it was so much quicker and with my arthritis it’s hard to stand for long periods of time. If you have kids it’s worth it, even my daughter who was 12 going on 13 has a hard time standing in line, she very much appreciated the express pass. It’s good to use once on each ride although I think now they have an unlimited one which means you can use it on each ride (with some excluded) more than once. Honestly though we went one day and that was good enough for us, we got on all the rides we wanted thanks to the Express Pass.

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My daughter prefers the rides at Universal Studios compared to Disneyland. Now keep in mind she’s not a big fan of rides anyways and only likes certain ones. She loved Minions of Mayhem and the Transformers ride, she doesn’t like scary rides but her dad does, he says both parks have a nice selection of rides so he’s happy with either when it comes to the rides, Universal just has more fun special effects shows if you will.

universal minion

Purchase Licensed Merchandiseย before your trip.ย I know it’s tempting to want to buy everything once you reach the park but trust me when I say you can save a ton of money if you purchase your merchandise ahead of time. Last year for our trip I bought my daughter a Spider Man shirt on Amazon for a fraction of the cost of what they charge in the souvenir shops. Some things you may want to buy directly from their shops but it never hurts to shop around a bit first. We also always hit up a local store like Wal-Mart which may also have licensed merchandise but we pick up our bottles of water and for my daughter one of those water fans for the hot weather you’re going to be outside in all day at the parks. Save yourself some dollars and get some of that stuff outside the park. If you look at the picture above my daughter is wearing a Captain America shirt that we bought before our trip from Cariloha, it changes colors which none of the ones you buy at the park could do, that we saw anyways.

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Characters You Love – Universal also has many characters that we all know and love like The Simpsons, Scooby Doo and Shaggy too, Betty Boop, the X-Men, Spider-Man, Transformers, The Minions, Toy Story and so many more! You don’t get these characters and Disneyland so it’s worth the stop just for them.

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Universal Hollywood vs Universal Studios Florida – As mentioned we went to Universal Hollywood last year (2014) in the summer but we have also been to Universal Studios Florida a few years before that. While we loved both theme parks we have to admit we like Universal Florida more, even though it’s much, much farther away from us. We just found that there was so much more at the Florida one, so much so that we went on three days instead of one. There were more characters to see, my daughter had her picture taken with almost all of the X-Men, Betty-Boop, the Grinch and her personal favorite Spider Man. She filled up an autograph book but in Hollywood she saw about half the characters. She’s not a big fan of rides so seeing the characters was more fun for her.

universal guitar

Universal Florida has the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which is always a favorite, however Universal Hollywood will have it’s own Harry Potter world in 2016 so they will be catching up to Florida that way. If you don’t have a lot of time then Universal Hollywood is a good choice plus when we go to the area, it is closer to home for us (a 2 hour plane ride vs 8 hours of flying). They each have something offer but Universal Florida just has more if you have the time.

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There are so many ways to stay ahead of the game when planning a family vacation to one of the many theme parks that dot the world. I hope these few tips will come in handy when you and your family embark on your theme park adventure!

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  1. Darcy Koch says:

    I was to the Universal Studios in CA way back in the 80’s. I am sure it is much, much different now. I can say it was one of the greatest days of my life being there. I would love to go again.

  2. Cheryl Everitt says:

    I am trying to get all my children and grandchildren to set a date so we can all go let our hair down! Thanks for the info.

  3. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    Some great tips here, wish we had this list before we went to Universal studios in Orlando, mind you that was about 15 yrs ago ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Been there twice but it has been a LONG time!! I want to go back so bad.. Universal has totally changed since the last time I was there!!

  5. margaret peg m. says:

    We are headed to Orlando in June this year and for the first time, we will visit Universal studios. Thanks for all the great tips, especially ‘shopping’ ahead of time!

  6. tanya taylor says:

    WE really enjoyed our trip – thanks for the tips, they will come in handy next time we make it to Florida!

  7. I dream of some day taking our kids to Disney. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Kimberly Frazee says:

    I will definitely put some of these ideas to use on any trip lol.

  9. The tips are very helpful. I would love to go to Universal Studios one day but I live in the north east so it will be awhile before I get there.

  10. Jennifer Boehme says:

    Looks like you all had fun. I would say wear the right shoes is the best tip. I have not been since I was a kid and so much has changed!

  11. This is awesome, I love these photos! I have always wanted to go here. It is on my bucket list for sure!

  12. Cindy Merrill says:

    I can’t wait until my Grand kids are a little older- I think they’ll be happier on a long trip when they’re in grade school. This trip sounds like fun.

  13. So I live a few blocks from Studio City and a quick 15 minute drive to Universal Studies Hollywood, but do you think I’ve ever been there in the 10 years I’ve been living here?! I like looking at the pics and hate the crowds, so this is the next best thing!

  14. Another tip – if you are staying at an on-site hotel (this goes for all theme parks really), take advantage of perks that come with your stay. For instance, many times you get into the park an hour early with your hotel key (I know this is true for the Orlando Disney parks and for Universal). Also, is you are staying in one of the Universal Orlando hotels, the fast pass is included, you just need to swipe your hotel key. It can be expensive to stay on site, but there are some bargains out there in the so-called budget hotels (like Cabana Bay Resort for Universal Orlando and Disney’s Pop Resort).

  15. I’m always happy to go to Universal Studios- lots of fun at either park!

  16. David Fultner says:

    We are headed there next month. We can not wait.

  17. Wow, I haven’t been there since I was a teenager. They’ve definitely changed with the new attractions.

  18. Karen Giasson says:

    Someday I hope to go here. Looks like a great vacation for the entire family.

  19. Ooh, welcome back and glad you had such an awesome time!
    I was a veyr lucky girl growing up since I got to go there as a child! My parents took me I think twice, because I remember going to Disney World often. My grandparents lived right in Orlando, and my uncle and aunt lived across the country in the Disney Land area. :)It’s been decades. I haven’t traveled for years because of health, but perhaps one day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  20. I would like to go to Universal Studios the next time I vacation in Florida or California. I appreciate the nice photos.

  21. Judy Bradley says:

    Thanks for your review on Universal. I have been wanting to go and see the Harry Potter attractions! I haven’t been to Universal for a few years, but I always liked it better than Disney. My grand daughter & I love the ET ride. She also liked the water play area. When I would stay with them to care for her a couple weeks at a time, I would take her everyday to play in the water area. My son bought season passes for us all. It was great fun! I am planning to go next month with a friend, very excited to check out the new stuff!

  22. It looks like you all had a blast at Universal Studios! I actually used to work there, so I know how much fun it can be! I have yet to take my littles there, I can’t wait until they get old enough to go! Unfortunately, I moved right when they were building The Simpsons attraction, I hope I can see it soon!

  23. Natalie Lyons says:

    I am saving up and plan to go to Universal Florida in November. I am planning on making it a surprise fro my kids. They have been asking to go there for the past few years. I cant wait to go.

  24. Been to Universal Studios and have to say you have given everyone something to think about. Great review.

  25. Looks like a great time was had by all. I have been to the Universal Studies in California, but it has been 20 years. Seems like it is time to go back!

  26. I want to go to Universal Studios Orlando just for Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

    Another tip I will offer is pick up Bob Sehlinger’s “The Unofficial Guide to Disney World.” It will also contain detailed information about USO including their hotels, rides, restaurants, night life, and excellent itineraries that will save you loads of time and drastically reduce your time in line. They also cover 100s of other hotels and restaurants not affiliated with either park. There is a new book every year, so make sure you have the newest one.

  27. Aimee Robison says:

    It looks like you had a great time ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve never been to Universal Studios Hollywood, I am hoping to go some day. I’ve been to the one in Orlando, and it was a lot of fun. Thank you for another great post ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. One day I hope to get there….one day. So much to do there! Thanks for sharing!

  29. Deborah D says:

    would really like to go someday

  30. Sarah L says:

    I’d like to go back and see the new parts of Harry Potter

  31. rachel cartucci says:

    I really want to go to Universal. My sister and I have been saving and planning it for over a year…we went to take our families together.

  32. Katrina Angele says:

    I have never had the chance to go to Universal Studios but think now would be the perfect time. My son would love the Minions and Buzz Light Year things. My husband would go nuts for the Simpsons. I’d love it all!!

  33. What a fun time you must have had. Your pictures are great. My sister and her family just got back from Disney Land. I think I could use a vacation myself.

  34. WOW!!! Absolutely great advice from A-Z!! Thank you. I am taking notes because we are saving for our trip to Disneyworld and Universal Orlando. Great tips and I will be using all of them!! ^-^

  35. Tiffany Dover says:

    WOW!!! Looks like you all had so much fun!! I would love to go to Universal Studios but perhaps when our boys are a bit older!

  36. Lori Pouncey says:

    This sounds like a fabulous family vacation. My little one is only 3 but this is def on our vacation lists! Thank you for all of the great tips and ideas and for sharing your great photos ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. Richard Hicks says:

    Glad you had a super time there. Great place for fun and memories.

  38. Marylou Sakosky says:

    I had so much fun here .Been awhile but your right about plan ahead and we could not of gone at a better time for weather .Oct and nov i really recommend .We had a blast . would go back tomorrow to ..Thank you for sharing you fun time

  39. JC Caudill says:

    We haven’t been to Florida since before my youngest son was born. He is now 11. I’d love to take him and the grandchildren if we can ever afford it. Thanks for the information about the Express Pass. I will definitely look into getting them one! It would make things much easier. I remember how bad the lines were when we went years ago; I can only imagine how they are today with all the new and improved rides and updates. Ty!

  40. M.Clark says:

    I have never been to Universal Studios Hollywood or Florida, but it certainly looks and sounds like a lot of fun. Thank you for sharing these tips.

  41. Carrie Conley says:

    That look like fun, never thought about going there…My dream vacation is a trip to Alaska..

  42. We loved Universal Studios! The Harry Potter part was our favorite! These are great tips and agree, always wear comfortable shoes!

  43. Deborah D says:

    We live in Pennsylvania so I doubt if we’ll ever get there. These are good tips.

  44. Dana Morin says:

    Looks like a great trip, I haven’t been there in years. Due for a trip, thanks for the information!

  45. Sounds like you all had a great time. I’ve never been there before.

  46. Elizabeth H. says:

    OMG!! Thank you for the terrific post about Universal Studios!! Thank you a bunch for the pointers!! I won’t be going there anytime soon. But would love to go one day!! I know my family and I would have a fantastic time!! Thank you again for sharing this post. I enjoyed looking at the photos!! Thank you so much for posting!!

  47. Renee Smith says:

    I hope we can take our family here someday. It sounds and looks so wonderful. These are great tips to keep in mind when we plan our trip.

  48. Sophia,M.,McConnery says:

    Looks like a lot of fun!

  49. Sarah L says:

    We got an Express Pass last year when we went to see Harry Potter. Yes, it’s worth budgeting for.

  50. sandier says:

    Thanks so much for the tips. I am glad too that there are older theme parks. My kids would love to do Universal Studios and LEGOLAND. I totally understand the planning ahead thing. My boys are autistic and every time we leave our house we need to plan, so for a major trip like this, planning would be absolutely necessary!

  51. Trey Smith says:

    Looks like fun. I hope 2 go someday.

  52. Michele P says:

    thanks for the helpful tips, I so want to go back as it’s been 15 yrs since I’ve gone and we had a blast. Plus my 13 yr old is begging me for a Florida trip, so will have to keep your hints and tips bookmarked for future use.

  53. I could really use a vacation. I have never been to Universal STudios, so I appreciate your tips.

  54. Marthalynn says:

    The minions! I would love to take my kiddos there. Thanks for the tip on the Express pass! You’re right, we’re all on budgets but some things are worth the extra expense.

  55. vickie couturier says:

    i would love to take my grandkids there,,they would love to go

  56. CR Williams says:

    I always wanted to go here, looks like alot of fun

  57. Dandi D says:

    This looks like a great place to take the whole family!

  58. rachel cartucci says:

    Jealous! Looks like so much fun. I need to have some fun!!

  59. Francine Anchondo says:

    Great tips.. Love going to different theme parks .

  60. Linda Manns Linneman says:

    This looks like some much fun. I have been wanting to go with the grandchildren but my son thinks they need to get a little bigger. Thank you for sharing all this information. It makes me want to go all the more

  61. WOW! Thanks so much for the Wonderful Review on Universal Studios Travel Tips & Fun Times! Thanks so much for all the tips! They are very helpful! I doubt that we are taking any kind of vacation this year. However, someday I would love to take the kids to these places! It looks like you and your family had a terrific time! Thanks for sharing your wonderful review, all the wonderful pictures, and your personal and professional opinions on Universal Studios Travel Tips & Fun Times with all of us! I truly do appreciate all the tips and suggestions! Thanks again! Michele ๐Ÿ™‚

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