Universal Studios is an operational film studio and amusement park all wrapped up into one. Definitely a can’t-miss attraction in the fun filled city of Los Angeles. I recently went with a couple of good friends in town from out of state. We were kind of bummed out because we got there a little later than we wanted and didn’t think we would be able to ride all the rides and see everything that we wanted to see. To our surprise when we walked up to the entrance the place looked practically empty.
Yes, those were our actual wait times. We couldn’t believe it either. Apparently the best time to visit Universal Studios is a random Wednesday in February. We walked straight on to every ride, some rides we even rode twice. Since we were able to ride every ride at the park, I thought it would be cool to write a post on what to expect on each ride. If any of you are like me I spend more time at amusement parks being scared and feeling anxious standing in an hour long line wondering what is going to happen than the 2 minutes of enjoyment I feel while actually riding it. I feel like if I knew what I was getting myself into I would be able to have a lot more fun. This post is also helpful for those with medical conditions or young children. Alright, first up Jurassic world!
1. Jurassic World
Jurassic World is considered a “new” ride at Universal Studios Hollywood as it opened last June. Its not really a new ride though, its just an updated version of their old ride, Jurassic Park. The route and the layout of the attraction didn’t change but they added a giant aquarium that uses a screen and special effects to give you underwater dinosaurs not seen in the original ride. They also added Chris Pratt’s character on various screens throughout the attraction assuring us we will get to safety.
The ride itself is pretty mellow. Theres a very small drop in the beginning to get the ride going and another tiny drop after the steep ascent in the middle of the ride. Then its pretty much smooth sailing until you get to the very last 80 foot drop at the end of the ride when you go under the giant T-Rex. You must be 42 inches tall to ride this ride.
Although this is the first ride on the list I would suggest riding this last. You will absolutely get wet and nobody likes walking around in soaked jeans and wet socks all day. That being said you can avoid a lot of water by sitting in the back of the boat. The further up you sit the more wet you’ll get. If you are sitting on either end of each row, also expect to get some extra water. If you want to stay as dry as possible, the middle of the last row is your best bet. That being said, expect water to come at you from overhead in the aquarium, as well as squirted at you throughout the ride. Overall, I thought this was a fun ride, I definitely wouldn’t miss it.
2. The Simpsons Ride
The Simpsons Ride always has the longest line when I go to Universal Studios Hollywood so we always skip it but since we got lucky with no lines this last time we decided to see what all the hype is about. The Simpsons Ride is a motion simulator ride that takes you on a crazy journey through Krustyland on a virtual reality rollercoaster.
The ride begins with someone sabotaging Krustyland. You’ll smash your way through Krustyland with Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie in this crazy over-the-top adventure. Throughout the ride you’ll face simulated drops, twists, and turns. Although it feels like you’re on a roller coaster, it doesn’t actually FEEL like your on a rollercoaster. I know that sounds contradicting but this ride will let you enjoy what feels like a real rollercoaster without all the stomach drops of an actual roller coaster, which is great for me because stomach drops are what I hate most on rides.
There are 24 ride cars that each seat 8 people. After you get situated in the car it virtually rises out of the room and the ride begins. The stimulator combines the sudden jerking physical movements of the car with the on screen motion of the rollercoaster. It also adds smell, wind, and water to make the ride more realistic and feel like your actually experiencing what is happening on the screen. If you have back, heart, motion sickness, or fog and strobe effects issues this ride is absolutely not for you. You must be 40″ tall to ride this ride. Although I found this ride pretty fun I honestly wouldn’t want to wait more than 45 minutes for it.
3. World Famous Studio Tour
The Studio Tour is an absolute must see if you’re going to visit Universal Studios Hollywood. This is the signature attraction at the park. Did you know that Universal Studios Hollywood is an actual working studio? When we went, they were filming 8 different shows that very day. They say to keep a close watch cause you’ll never know who you’re going to see on the tour, although I’ve been on this ride about 4 times and have never spotted a famous person. I was really hoping to see Kelly Clarkson, as she films her new talk show on the lot, but we didn’t have any luck 😂
The 45-60 minute tour takes you on a tram ride past sound stages and through various film sets on the lot with a live tour guide and Jimmy Fallon as your on screen host. Film sets include Jaws, War of the Worlds, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Good Place, Desperate House Wives, The Bates Motel, and more. The tour itself changes from time to time based on what sets are being used to film that day.
The tour also takes you into a few virtual reality 3D motion stimulator attractions involving King Kong, The Mummy, and Fast & Furious. These parts of the ride involve jerking sudden movements that are not fit for people with a history of heart conditions, abnormal blood pressure, and neck or back problems. I don’t want to spoil your experience and post any photos or videos of the actual tour so just know its truly a awesome experience. Be sure not to miss this tour!
4. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Ride is located inside Universal Studios Hollywood Wizarding World of Harry Potter. To get to the ride, enter through the towering castle gates and into Hogwarts. The line itself is full of magic and wonder, full of familiar places and nuances from the books and movies. A true Harry Potter nerd’s paradise. As the line weaves through the castle you’ll encounter talking photographs, the headmaster’s study, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor common room, and the sorting hat all before boarding the ride.
This ride is always moving. To get on the ride you step on a conveyor belt and head to an empty seat. Each cart has four seats. Once you strap in, Hermione will cast a spell on your ride seat and the ride will lift you into the air. The ride is built so that as your seat is lifted your feet are dangling below you. You’ll follow Harry and Ron on broomsticks in and out of the castle as you play a game of quidditch. During the game you’ll encounter many magical and scary creatures that appear in the books. Things like dragons, giant spiders, and of course dementors. This ride utilizes a mix of animatronics and video to help stimulate the feeling of flying and let me tell you it really does feel like your flying! We actually loved this ride so much we went on it twice.
This ride has multiple physical limitations. You must be at least 48″ tall to ride and have a waist that is less than 40″. Guests whose waist line is at least 40” or greater may not be accommodated on the ride and are strongly encouraged to try the test seat provided at the entrance of the attraction to ensure their ability to ride. This ride is also not suitable for people who have problems with motion sickness as the ride involves sudden accelerations, stops, turns, climbs and drops. I wouldn’t consider the movements of this ride scary but it may be scary for young children as the ride itself is very dark and they may feel completely separated from their parents while in their seat.
5. Flight of the Hippogriff
Flight of the Hippogriff is also located in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This is the first and only outdoor roller coaster at Universal Studios Hollywood. This roller coaster is considered family friendly, as the ride’s biggest drop is only 30 feet and has a max speed of 29mph. Children must be accompanied by an adult if they are less than 48″ tall, however you only have to be 39″ tall to ride.
Flight of the Hippogriff is a gentle rollercoaster that takes riders on a test flight over the forbidden forest. You’ll zoom past Hagrid’s Hut and dip and turn through a pumpkin patch before being taken back to the start of the track. Before the ride begins, riders are instructed on how to bow to a Hippogriff, which has the head of an eagle and the body of a horse, before passing Buckbeak the Hippogriff and preceding up the lift hill. Once you get to the top you’ll have a full aerial view of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
This ride is a must for a family who goes to Universal Studios with their little ones. This is a great introductory coaster for a child who has never been on a roller coaster before. Be sure not to miss Olivanders Wand Shop experience and be sure to grab a Butter Beer on your way out of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
6. The Revenge of the Mummy
The Revenge of the Mummy is probably the most thrilling ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. It is a completely enclosed roller coaster that takes riders from a complete standstill to 40mph in a matter of seconds. The ride itself only lasts for a minute and a half. This ride is hard on your neck and back so if you have any neck or back issues I wouldn’t recommend riding this ride. It is also not suitable for people with heart or high blood pressure issues.
The ride actually starts out really slow as you enter a dark tomb lit with green and red lights. In the tomb a mummy comes to life and hisses as riders are warned to run for their lives and the curse is real. The mine car continues slowly into the treasure room where Egyptian hieroglyphs covering the walls and Imhotep appears from sand in a mural putting a curse on the riders and proclaiming “Now your souls belong to me… FOREVER!” The room begins to crumble and you are catapulted at 40mph into darkness. The ride continues for 56 seconds in darkness, going around high turns and small drops and then suddenly stops. Images of Scarab beetles (the ones that eat you alive in the movie) appear on the wall and then you are suddenly catapulted backwards to the beginning of the ride.
Coming from someone who hates roller coasters this one actually wasn’t too bad for me. If your scared of going fast then this definitely isn’t the ride for you but if your like me and don’t like big dives where your stomach drops then you’ll probably find this roller coaster really fun! Many people claim this is their favorite ride at Universal Studios Hollywood.
7. Transformers: The Ride 3D
The Transformers ride is another motion simulator special effects ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. You load onto a vehicle that travels relatively slowly on a track and moves in sync with the action projected on movie screens. The car tilts, twists, and turns to make the motion followed on the screen realistic. You must be 40″ to ride. If you have bad motion sickness I would absolutely sit this one out. The storyline of the ride involves the recruitment of us mortals by the quasi-military N.E.S.T. agency to aid and abet the good-guy Autobots in their epic battle against the bad-guy Decepticons robots.
This ride is in 3D so they have you wearing 3D glasses throughout the duration of the ride, which really bring the robots and their surroundings to life. I was super impressed, 3D glasses have really come a long way in recent years. These ones were actually relatively comfortable and even looked pretty cool. Throughout the ride, riders also feel wind, water, hot air, fog, air blasts, vibration, and smoke to enhance their experience.
Each car seats 3 rows of 4 people. The front row is slightly better, but any seat is a good one. Its on the longer end for rides with a duration of approximately 4 minutes and although thrilling, it isn’t really scary. This ride was definitely a fun experience and suited for the whole family. The special effects are amazing, absolute must ride while you’re at the park.
8. Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem
Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem is yet another motion stimulator ride at Universal Studios Hollywood utilizing special effects and motion to stimulate the movement on screen. This is a cute little ride that takes you on an adventure with Margot, Edith, and Agnes as they train you to be minions.
While you’re in the waiting room you learn that its the anniversary of the girls adoption and Gru has a laser that turns humans into minions. Gru is busy so he lets the girls take over minion training. Once you enter the ride room you are all now considered to be minions. The vehicles for this ride are in an auditorium-style room. You just walk in and sit down. When the ride begins, the vehicles rise into the air. The simulation makes you feel like the ride vehicle starts and stops and quickly drops and climbs. It also tilts and includes some sudden jolts, but nothing too crazy.
Like many of Universal Studios Hollywood’s other rides, this ride is not suited for people with motion sickness. Also avoid this ride if you are sensitive to strobe lights or fog. This is a fun ride for the whole family. Its an incredibly cute, not scary ride, enjoyable experience. You can even get your grove on as you walk off the ride and into a minion dance party before exiting the building.
There’s only 8 major rides at Universal Studios Hollywood. The order in which you go on these rides isn’t too important… however I would suggest doing all the rides on the upper lot first and then make your way down to the lower lot (via what feels like 10 escalators) to ride The Mummy, Transformers, and Jurassic World. It takes about 10 minutes just to get down to the lower lot. As I mentioned earlier, its also a smart idea to do Jurassic World last so you’re not walking around soaking wet all day. Aside from the rides, theres also a lot of cool show attractions such as Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular, Universals Animal Actors, and a Special Effects stage that you definitely shouldn’t miss if you can avoid it. You may want to plan out your rides around the various show times.
Always buy your tickets online before you go to the park. They charge more at the gate. For some reason they charge different prices for residents of California vs non residence… I’m not telling you what ticket to purchase but I am telling you they didn’t check our ID’s at the gate. Do with that information what you will. If you want an annual pass to the park, wait until your inside the park to upgrade your ticket, they give you special deals. The last time I went I payed $99 for my ticket and it was only an extra $54 to upgrade to an annual pass at the park. If you buy an annual pass online, it starts at $174.