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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
Purchase Licensed Merchandise before your trip. 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.
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.
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 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.
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!