Universal Studios & CityWalk

Things to do , Event spaces Universal City
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(4 user reviews)
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Studio Tour at Universal Studios.
Studio Tour at Universal Studios.
Studio Tour at Universal Studios.

Though the rides lack both Disneyland's charm and the sheer terror inspired by Six Flags Magic Mountain, Universal Studios Hollywood's hillside theme park offers some worthwhile thrills fueled by silver-screen memories and an illusion of Hollywood glamor.

There are some real standouts, mostly in the more thrilling lower lot. The Transformers ride is a slick crash course in Michael Bay robot carnage, and easily the best experience in the park from start to finish. Revenge of the Mummy is a short but action-packed ride through a movie property you'd otherwise forgotten. And though Jurassic Park: The Ride isn't quite the magical adventure you remembered it to be as a kid, it's still worth the plunge.

You'll find a mix of 3-D movies and stage shows—bizarrely, Waterworld is highly entertainingon the upper lot, as well as themed areas and attractions for Despicable Me and The Simpsons. Kids will appreciate Minion Mayhem and the adjacent Super Silly Fun Land, though neither are as charming or exciting as you'd wish. The immersive Simpsons Ride, on the other hand, is a clever and wildly entertaining albeit highly nauseating attraction. The restaurant-filled Springfield nails its Simpsons references but comes up short with its food offerings—in terms of price and taste—and some rather drab interiors. That seems to be the standard here: Everything feels about 80% of the way there, especially when taking into consideration the steep ticket prices. Hopefully the introduction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2016 willl change that.

The park's original attraction is also one of its highlights: the studio tour. Most of your time is spent carting through diverse backlot sets of New York, a mutt of European villages, the Old West and familiar movie landmarks—most impressively the 747 crash site from War of the Worlds. The majority of actual live filming is securely tucked away, but Universal compensates with preplanned encounters that mimic special effects: a wet and fiery earthquake simulation, a sudden flash flood and that delightfully rubbery, toothy grin on the face of Bruce—a.k.a. Jaws. While the 3-D motion simulation that replaced the iconically campy (and burned down) King Kong section is a welcome technical upgrade, the tunnel lacks the same immersion and charm of the original—hopefully the similarly staged Fast & Furious: Supercharged (slated for June 2015) will perfect the formula.

Most attractions have the decency to save their souvenir shops until the end. Not here. You can't reach Universal Studios without strolling down CityWalk, a loud, colorful and oppressive pedestrianized street crammed with souvenir hawkers and junk-food retailers. If you've got children, don't be too surprised to find your finances severely depleted before you've even reached the gates of the studios.

RECOMMENDED: Studio tours in Los Angeles

Venue name: Universal Studios & CityWalk
Address: 100 Universal City Plaza
Los Angeles

Opening hours: Hours vary by day: call or check online for full details, incl closing times. Universal Studios: Summer usually from 9am daily. Winter usually 10am-6pm daily. Citywalk 11am-9pm Mon-Thur, Sun; 11am-11pm Fri, Sat.
Price: Universal Studios $95-$115; CityWalk free; Parking $18
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  • Festivals Until Saturday November 5 2016
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Average User Rating

4 / 5

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Probably the only reason why I returned after 10 years was to check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! However, it does fall short of the sister resort in Orlando where there is much more going on in terms of the butterbeer, getting sorted, etc. That being said, not too much as changed in the last 10 years. Some classic rides are the Mummy ride and Jurassic park. Unless you're willing to cough up the price equal to that of a plane ticket to somehwere nearby (which I prefer), you'll likely be spending most of your day waiting in line for 30 second rides. Enjoy! 


You’re still gonna cough up $100 + on tickets, but it might be worthwhile to upgrade to an annual pass if you’re a Socal Resident. It’s like $20 - $30 more for the full year vs just the one day admission. There will be a lot of black out dates, but at least having the annual pass gives you the option to go spontaneously on a Thursday or Friday night.

With the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there is definitely more incentive to go to the park. (and cheaper than Disneyland). Just a heads up – if your friends who’ve been to the Orlando Harry Potter have told you all these amazing things, believe them, but know that the Hollywood location is WAY SMALLER and not as magical. Two rides only (a Hippogriff one which can be skipped, and the Forbidden Journey one which is a 3D ride). Butterbeer is amazing. The interactive wands seemed to not be too interactive the day I went. It’s still worthwhile to browse the shops in Hogsmeade.

For other areas of the park, the Transformer ride is definitely the best. The lockers are also free and keyless which is great if you need to store a bag before a ride.

You can totally take food into the park (snacks, water) just to help lower your cost or prevent you from hitting up Cinnabon 3 times in one day J

Davenport L

I've Always Wanted To Do This And It Seems So Cool But I Need To Know Is It A Waste Of Money

Randy Sauder

Some real quality rides and good viewing of some iconic hollywood props etc. Very well laid-out especially how you access the lower-level attractions via a few escalators that decend to the backside of the studios. This is also where you take the back-lot tour- a very generous 90 min tram ride that is very fun. Comparable value to Disneyland however it is $$ and there is only one fixed price for entry per person; no child prices.