Thursday, July 3, 2014

Universal Studios Hollywood

Last week we had the opportunity to visit Universal Studios Hollywood, located at 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, 91608. I hadn’t been to a Universal Studios in over 20 years, and that was in Florida. I’m not typically one for amusement parks, but my husband is, so when our friends, who have annual passes, told us they could get us in for more than half off, we quickly agreed.

Universal Studios Hollywood is spread out over three different levels on a hillside.* It was easy to get around and I felt that the signage was both clear and useful. They even have easily readable, digital billboards that tell you how long the wait for each ride is. All of the lines we stood in were either fully or partially covered and most had misters as well, so I never felt like I was roasting or working on my sunburn (even so, as always, I recommend wearing sunscreen).

We were there for about five hours on a Wednesday afternoon. It was packed! Despite this, I didn’t find any of the wait times especially egregious. I think the longest we waited was about 45 minutes. The lines moved quickly and efficiently. We went on nearly all the rides. If we’d been there an hour longer, I think we could have easily hit the few we missed, although we weren’t especially interested in those.

I enjoyed everything we did. My favorite ride was probably “The Mummy.” It’s short but incredibly intense and a lot of fun. “The Transformers” ride was really cool. “The Simpsons” ride was hilarious. After that one, my face hurt from laughing so much. I also really liked the studio tour. Universal Studios Hollywood is actually a working studio. On the tour, they drive you around both the indoor and outdoor sets. I’m told that, frequently, you can see filming as it occurs, and even sometimes speak with the actors, but we were on the last tour of the day, so all the filming had shut down. Despite this, it was still interesting and included some special effects, which I wasn’t expecting.

Two warnings. 1. The first ride we went on was “Jurassic Park.” We got thoroughly, utterly soaked. Our friends said they’d never gotten remotely that wet the times they’d been on it before. None of us were prepared for it. We suspect that they may have turned up the water effects for the summer. Anyway, just bear that in mind when you’re deciding what to wear and when you want to go on the ride. 2. I have a sensitive neck, which leaves me prone to neck-related headaches. Some of the rides made me a little achy. It’s something to consider if you’ve had previous neck injuries.

One other thing I will say is that this is not a place for people vacationing on a budget. Our friends got one of us in for free and one of us in with 15% off and that ticket still cost us $80. Also, their annual pass gives them free parking, otherwise that would have cost us $15. Once inside, the snack food cost about the same as at a movie theater. There’s real food too but we didn’t buy any of that. We did have dinner on the CityWalk outside of the park and the prices were fairly standard for LA.

If budget isn’t a concern for you, then consider this for your vacation plans. I highly recommend it! It’s a lot of fun and a thoroughly pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

*Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures because I was lazy. There are actually some really great views, especially as the day wore on and the smog dies down a bit.


Patricia said...

I went there when I was five! I can still remember the Jaws ride and I think we saw the set of Harper Valley PTA. I actually have pictures of both things, taken by my five year old self.

I'm glad you had a good time. And YIKES! that's expensive.

balyien said...

They still have the Jaws thing (or at least part of it)!

And yes, the cost was appalling to me. If we hadn't had the help from our friends, it would have come out to about $200 just to get into the park! I don't go to amusement parks a lot, but I assume that this is typical. I don't know how families with kids afford it.