When you think American theme parks, Disneyland is always the first that comes to mind. But, if you are not keen on kids’ characters or tame rides, the only other sensible option is Universal Studios.
Located in Los Angeles, California, Universal Studios sits in its own city called Universal City. Located around 40 minutes from Los Angles International Airport (LAX), University City is home to the Universal Studios theme park and six major film studios.
While the Universal Studios theme park on site generates a great chunk of the operation’s income, Universal Studios is known for some of the world’s highest grossing films, such as ET, Jurassic Park, Despicable Me and Jaws.
Opened in 1964, the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park operates all year round and caters for people of all ages. The theme park features thirteen huge attractions, tours of the studio back lot and is spread over two huge levels, referred to as the Upper Lot and Lower Lot.
As a young couple, we sampled the park from the point of view of a mid-20’s couple after a great day out. The theme park is also a great attraction for younger children and even older people; there really is something for everyone.
There are four main tickets available — a one day ticket, which is priced from $95US, a two day ticket, which costs $109US, a front of the line pass ticket for $149US and a premium VIP package ticket, which starts from $299US.
We sampled the park with a front of the line pass, which we cannot recommend highly enough. The front of the line pass gives you priority access to all rides and attractions one time. So, instead of lining up for (sometimes) over 30 minutes, you can skip the queue and head straight to the front.
The front of the line pass also gets you priority seating at some of the attractions — very helpful if you don’t want to get wet.
While all the rides are enjoyable and have their own positives and negatives, the three attractions/rides we enjoyed most were the Studio Tour, Jurassic Park: The Ride and Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular.
Arguably the most amazing ride and experience at Universal Studios is the Studio Tour. Patrons are loaded on to karts that tour the back lot of Universal Studios. These are the huge studios where some of the latest sitcoms and television shows are filmed.
The Studio Tour also runs through old movies sets, including one from Jaws, Desperate Housewives and a spectacular plane wreck modelled from a used jumbo jet.
Running commentary from insightful tour guides helps supplement this fascinating look into the way movies are made. There’s even a sample of a 3D movie and my favourite, one of the underground train explosion scenes from Beverley Hills Cop.
Our second favourite attraction at Universal Studios was without doubt the Jurassic Park ride. Modelled on scenes from the epic movie, the ride tours an abandoned field full of extinct dinosaurs. The ride ends with a dramatic 26m drop into a stream of water. It’s incredibly fun.
Finally, a Universal Studios tour wouldn’t be complete with real life actors. The Waterworld show is set on a giant set full of water and high-rising platforms. The show is based on a story about people stuck out in the water with no land in sight. As you would expect, it doesn’t end smoothly as an opposing colony invades.
Our day at Universal Studios ran from the moment it opened to the moment it closed. If you do get sick of the theme park, the surrounding Universal City offers plenty of things to do and see.
Universal Studios is an absolute must see destination if you are visiting Los Angeles. No matter how old you are, we guarantee you will love exploring and riding some of the amazing rides on offer.
You can see our full Universal Studios gallery below.
Forget Disneyland — Universal Studios
Universal Studios and Disneyland are often compared when visiting Los Angeles. I've been to both and had the most fun at Universal Studios. It's fit for all ages and a must-see destination for movie buffs and those who want to see how everything is done behind the scenes.
- Things to do10
- Places to see10
- Kid Friendly9