Universal Studios Hollywood
Inside Universal is home to the largest, most comprehensive guide section dedicated to Universal Studios Hollywood on the Internet. Here, you’ll find carefully crafted articles dedicated towards helping you plan the perfect vacation to the world’s largest movie studio and theme park.
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or an obsessive fan, our detailed profiles cover every single attraction, retail store, and restaurant available at the park with tips and tricks on how to maximize your visit.
First off, how would you describe Universal Studios Hollywood? Well, the typical answer would involve a major movie studio operating alongside a full-fledged theme park.
So while many other parks attempt to house a small backlot in an effort to claim the title of a “movie studio slash theme park,” Universal Studios Hollywood features a thriving backlot that’s actually used in world-class productions. And unlike other parks, Universal is absolutely the real deal, housing the sets and soundstages used in some of the world’s largest and most elaborate productions. If you’ve ever watched a handful of movies, chances are, some of them were filmed on the Universal lot. So while Universal has admittedly emphasized the theme park aspect of its operations, the studio still maintains a sizable influence on the property.
So while many other parks attempt to house a small backlot in an effort to claim the title of a “movie studio slash theme park,” Universal Studios Hollywood features a thriving backlot that’s actually used in world-class productions. And unlike other parks, Universal is absolutely the real deal, housing the sets and soundstages used in some of the world’s largest and most elaborate productions. If you’ve ever watched a handful of movies, chances are, some of them were filmed on the Universal lot.
Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608
Latitude: 34.1365 | Longitude: -118.3561
Universal Studios Hollywood is located a few miles north of Los Angeles near Hollywood by way of the 101 Freeway. For those traveling on 101 South, you’ll exit at 12A toward Lankershim Boulevard/Universal City. For 101 North travelers, you’ll exit at 11B toward Universal Studios Blvd. From there, you can follow the signs to the parking lots.
From Los Angeles International Airport (LAX):
Follow signs from the terminal to the 105 Freeway. Take the 105 Freeway East to the 110 Harbor Freeway North. After passing through the downtown area, get on the 101 Hollywood Freeway North. Follow the 101 Freeway to the Universal Studios Blvd. exit. Turn right on to Universal Studios Blvd. and follow the signs to Universal Studios and our parking areas.
Take the 5 Golden State Freeway North. Exit to the 101 Hollywood Freeway North. Continue on the 101 Freeway and exit at Universal Studios Blvd. Turn right on to Universal Studios Blvd. and follow the signs to Universal Studios and our parking areas.
Universal offers three tiers of parking: Front Gate Parking, Preferred Parking, and General Parking. Front Gate parking – as its name suggests – offers priority parking directly in front of Universal’s main gate. Preferred Parking, meanwhile, allows you to park close to the park’s entrance, while General Parking allows you to park near CityWalk. Unless you have a desire to park near Universal’s front gate, the walking distance from CityWalk to the park is not far, and General Parking is often the best choice. Like tickets, we highly recommend purchasing a parking voucher in advance online.
Universal has distinct parking structures that are separated from each other. As a result, it’s easy to get lost if you don’t remember your original parking spot. That being said, we recommend taking a photo of a parking marker if you’re prone to forget. Even if you aren’t, it wouldn’t hurt a bit – and it’ll come in handy later on.
Universal Orlando offers guests 5 different areas for guests to park. They are Frankenstein Garage, Jurassic Parking Garage, ET Garage, Curious George Garage, and the Woody Woodpecker Lot.
The Woody Woodpecker Lot is used for both Front Gate Parking and Preferred Parking.
Universal also offers Valet Parking. As of April 5, 2021, the rates are as follows:
- $25 for 1st 2 Hours
- $45 after 2 Hours
Universal Citywalk offers two taxi stands and drop-off points. For those using ride-hailing companies, such as Uber or Lyft, drop-off locations are situated near the entrance of the theme park (near the iconic neon sign/fountain) or near the ET Parking Garage entrance.
For those using public transportation, you can take the Metro Red Line heading towards North Hollywood to Universal Studios by getting off at Universal City. From there, you’ll need to walk across the street towards the hill. Universal also offers daily tram service at the base of the hill to CityWalk.Metro Red Line offers a free shuttle bus to the “Universal City” stop. For more information, you can visit our MTA Guide.
Universal’s ticket system is separated by four tiers: General Admission, Universal Express, the VIP Experience, and Annual Passes.
General Admission tickets are the park’s best seller, and include one day of admission to Universal Studios Hollywood. We highly recommend purchasing your tickets in advance on Universal’s official website. Not only do they offer the ability for your party to head directly to the turnstiles, but Universal also offers discounts for purchasing your ticket online before the day of your visit. Generally speaking, peak days will receive a smaller discount than non-peak days.
While General Admission is the top seller for the park, be sure to check out the VIP Experience if you’re interested in participating in an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the backlot and studio. The VIP Experience includes a personal guide, unlimited Front of Line access, catered meals, and an extended version of the Studio Tour. Tickets can sometimes be found at the front gate, though we highly recommend making reservations on Universal’s website or by calling (818)-622-8477.
Finally, the Universal Express pass is best suited for time-sensitive guests who need to get the most of their limited day. Generally speaking, if you were to arrive at park opening with a plan, you should be able to hit every single ride, show and attraction Universal has to offer. If you’re only able to spend half a day at the park, the Universal Express pass may be a viable solution by providing you one-time front-of-line access to any ride or attraction. More information on each tier of ticket can be found on our Ticket Guide.
Having said that, regardless of which option you select, we always encourage you to purchase tickets online (and parking!) on Universal’s official website located at UniversalStudiosHollywood.com. This saves you the hassle of waiting in line to access the box office when you arrive at the park’s entrance and gives you the benefit of proceeding directly to the turnstiles. On a given day, this could save at least 20 – 30 minutes of queueing.
If you’re purchasing tickets for a group, be sure to bring proper identification to the turnstiles for each of your members. Universal also uses fingerprints to identify tickets, and the tickets themselves are virtually indistinguishable when you’re in a large group. As a result, repeat visitors should mark their tickets to prevent mismatching identities.
Annual Passes offer guests the opportunity to visit the park multiple times throughout the year. Universal Studios Hollywood is currently offering California Residents 2 Pass tiers: Gold and Silver.
The Gold Annual Pass offers over 280 days, with 55 weekend days permitted, in a 12-month period; along with a 15% discount on in-park food & merchandise.
The Silver Annual Pass offers over 220 days, with 30 weekend days permitted, in a 12-month period.
Both Annual Passes are subject to Blackout dates.
Up-to-date prices and additional information can be found at Universal’s official website, UniversalStudiosHollywood.com.
Universal is organized into two major sections – the Upper Lot and the Lower Lot (also known as Entertainment Center and Studio Center) – that are interconnected through a series of long escalators known as the StarWay.
Despite the distinctions, the Upper and Lower Lot don’t actually revolve around a specific theme, save the fact that they’re separated by a steep hill, thus the labels “Upper” and “Lower.” We can even go as far as to ignore their names and differences completely – as most guests do – but for the sake of organization and convenience, this website is sectioned in accordance with the park – with dining, attractions, and shops organized and bunched with their respective “Lot.”
Upper Lot / Entertainment Center
For the most part, the Upper Lot serves as the gateway to Universal Studios Hollywood, showcasing many of the park’s attractions, shops and restaurants. It’s also significantly larger than the Lower Lot, and it’s not unusual to see guests wander through the park oblivious to the fact that there’s another separate section below. As the original name would imply, much of the attractions in the Upper Lot focus more on the realm of shows, such as WaterWorld and Wizarding World of Harry Potter – to name a few.
Lower Lot / Studio Center
The Lower Lot, on the other hand, places more of an emphasis on rides (housing only 3, which include Revenge of the Mummy, Transformers and Jurassic World) – which is the primary reason many members from our forum recommend hitting this Lot first – especially if you arrive early.
The massive escalator that connects these two lots together is known as the StarWay, which is made up of four large escalators spanning about half a mile long, taking 5-10 minutes to travel through. Though that doesn’t seem like a lot of time, the StarWay is a navigational nightmare. Trust us on that. You want to avoid as many journeys as possible when you’re traversing the StarWay for any given reason, so it’s important to plan ahead.
Also, note that rides run continuously throughout the day while shows do not. We’ll have more information further down on how to plan your day based on that schedule.
Guests have the option to rent an all-day locker at Universal Studios Hollywood during their visit. Lockers accept both cash and credit cards. Locker sizes are as follows:
- $8 Lockers: Height – 12¾” Width – 11″ Length – 16½”
- $12 Lockers: Height – 16″ Width – 8″ Length – 16″
- $15 Lockers: Height – 21½” Width – 11″ Length – 16″
Stroller & Wheelchair Rental
Guests can rent strollers, wheelchairs, and Electric Convenience Vehicles (ECV) upon entrance to the theme park, across from the Universal Studios Store.
The rental fees are:
- Single Stroller – $18
- Double Stroller – $25
- Wheelchairs – $20
- ECVs – $60
There is a $25.00 refundable deposit fee for wheelchair rentals. ECV rentals are on a first-come, first-served basis and must be operated by a single person 18 years of age or older.
First Aid & Child Care
Universal Studios Hollywood has 2 first aid stations, with a location for each lot. The Upper Lot First Aid is located next to Universal’s Animal Actors. The Lower Lot location is between Jurassic Cafe and the Character Shop. Nursing facilities are available in the First Aid Stations.
Diaper-changing stations are available in all restrooms.
If your child is coming in a group, Universal offers a Child Switch program for certain attractions, which allows a member of your party to sit with the child while the rest of the party experiences the attraction. When the attraction is finished, the party will simply switch roles – the person waiting will experience the attraction, while the rest waits with the child.
Mothers-to be can safely enjoy the following attractions:
- Special Effects Show
- Animal Actors
- Silly Swirly
- Dino Play
- Super Silly Fun Land
Universal Studios Hollywood’s shopping and dining facilities are wheelchair accessible. Outdoor stage shows have areas reserved for guests with disabilities and clearly marked with the International Symbol of Accessibility.
Wheelchairs and Electric Convenience Vehicles (ECVs) are available for rent just inside the park across from the Universal Studios Store..
For the Hearing Impaired:
Sign language interpreting services will be made available at no charge. Guests must contact Guest Relations or call 1-800-864-8377, option 9 a week before the planned day of their visit.
Assistive listening devices for guests who are hard of hearing are provided at Guest Relations free of charge. For guests with mild to moderate hearing loss, amplified handsets are provided at all phone locations.
Video remote interpreting is available at Guest Relations and the First Aid stations.
For the Visually Impaired:
Many attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood can accommodate a guest with a white cane or provide a place to store the cane in the ride vehicle.
Revenge of the Mummy and Flight of the Hippogriff allow canes if they are collapsible and stored in a pouch.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey will not permit guests to ride with a cane due to potential hazards, therefore guests are encouraged to leave their cane with a ride attendant who will assist them at load and unload.
Guests with Service Animals:
Service Animals are welcome in all restaurants, attraction queues, merchandise areas, and most other locations throughout Universal Studios Hollywood.
Service animal stations are located at the following locations:
• In the Upper Lot by the entrance to Universal’s Animal Actors
• In the Lower Lot next to the Starway across from Jurassic World
• Outside the Park by the accessible parking next to the security checkpoint
Certain attractions will not permit service animals on board due to safety concerns. Service animal kennels are available at these rides, and guests may contact any ride Team Member for assistance.
Universal has two types of attractions: rides and shows. Rides run continuously throughout the day, while most traditional shows have a preset number of performances, with an hour typically in-between. Most shows are around 15 – 30 minutes long, while most rides don’t last longer than 5 minutes. Our rule of thumb has always been to schedule your day around the shows- making sure you arrive at least 20 minutes prior to posted performance times. Rides should naturally fit themselves in, but as we mentioned above, we recommend you plan ahead to prevent unnecessary trips through the StarWay.
For more information on attractions – including tips, descriptions and guidelines – be sure to visit our detailed attraction profiles.
Shopping & Merchandise
Universal has a healthy number of shops that provide a wide range of memorabilia and souvenirs. T-shirts, mugs, and other trinkets can be bought at traditional theme park prices (read: overpriced).
To get a more comprehensive view on Universal’s shopping options, please visit our individual shop profiles.
Restaurant-wise, the park as a whole serves typical theme park fare. French fries, burgers, and fried chicken can be found freely throughout the park.
For those who prefer more variety, CityWalk is just a hand stamp away with a variety of American, Asian, Mexican, and Italian cuisine and fast food. Prices are also generally lower as well.
To get a more comprehensive view of Universal’s dining options with menus, please visit our dining guide.