(This article appeared on MiniTime today: http://www.minitime.com/trip-tips/5-Tips-for-a-Family-Day-at-Universal-Studios-Hollywood-article)
If you’re a movie buff and are headed to Universal Studios Hollywood this holiday season with the family, you’re in for a real treat. But if you have time to research the park, it can be worthwhile as time can really fly during a visit and can feel quite overwhelming.
There are ways to navigate the park to improve your visit, especially when traveling with children. That’s why we have a list of five tips for families spending the day at Universal Studios:
Stay in a hotel near Universal
Staying nearby is a great way to enhance your visit. Nearby hotels have shuttles that alleviate the issue of parking, which can be a great expense and hassle. Plus, at the end of a long day after riding rides in the California sun, it’s nice to be able to be in your room within minutes without having to get on busy L.A. roads.
The Garland Hotel offers a shuttle to Universal Studios every hour, kid’s suites that offer bunk beds, Dive-In movies at the pool and on-site dining.
The Hilton Los Angles/Universal City offers complimentary shuttle service to Universal, as well as packages that includes tickets to the park. They also have a swimming pool to cool off in after your visit.
Make sure the kids are dressed comfortably. There’s a lot of walking so tennis shoes are a must. L.A. stays warm in the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit but it might pay to bring a light jacket. Make sure you grab a map when you arrive and do some Internet research before you arrive so you know what you want to do and what you can’t miss. The park offers complimentary and inexpensive, secure lockers so you can store belongings while on some of their more jolting rides and you can get really wet on some rides
Get the Front of Line Pass
If you’re familiar with Disney’s Fast Pass, you’re a good candidate for Universal’s Front of Line Pass. It takes you right to the front of the line and saves a lot of time. The pass costs an additional $50 per person but If you’re with children who have low thresholds for crowds or are special needs, this is the way to go. It gives you priority access to all the rides, including the popular new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and reserved seating at each show. You can buy these in advance online, always a good idea as they sell out day of.
“Early’ is the Key Word
The whole park can be done in a day. Arrive when they open at 9am to avoid crowds. Closing times vary, depending on the season. Lines certainly get longer as the day progresses. Head right to the lower level to ride the more popular ride first, including Transformers, Mummy – The Ride and Jurassic Park. The park lists wait times on digital signs all over the park, so check them regularly. Another piece of advice is to head for lunch around noon or earlier. Most of the restaurants are clustered together and get very crowded around 1pm.
Don’t Miss These Rides
All the rides at Universal are terrific, but there are definitely ones you shouldn’t miss. If you have young kids and can’t take them on some of the faster and scarier rides, the park offers “Child Switch,” which allows one parent to wait with the child while the other parent and family members ride, and then switch when they depart, without having to wait in line again. It’s a very helpful policy.
You’ll need to check height requirements before your kids go on anything. Universal is very strict about safety and enforces these rules. The majority of the rides (including The Simpsons Ride, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Transformers 3D: The Ride) allows children 40 inches and up accompanied by a companion. To ride Revenge of the Mummy, you must be at least 48 inches and cannot take a bag on the ride (lockers are provided with a fingerprint swatch).
Younger kids will love the rides created for them like The Adventures of Curious George, The Simpsons Ride and Jurassic Park: The Ride, as well as meeting characters around the park, movies like Shrek 4D and Universal’s Animal Actors, a show that features animals on a movie set. Slightly older kids (tweens and upwards in age) will enjoy Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride, Transformers – The Ride 3D, the Studio Backlot Tour (45 minutes long so make sure your kids use the bathroom before you get on) and shows like Waterworld and the Special Effects Stage.