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|Universal Studios Information Guide|| |
Welcome to the Universal Studios Information Guide. On this site, we'll provide you with news and information regarding Universal Studios Hollywood. Look for specifics on attractions, park hours and tips for enjoying your Universal vacation.
Ratings are the sole opinion of the author and often make no sense what so ever. Go figure. I encourage you to send me your ratings and reviews of the attractions, shops and restaurants in this park as well. They may just show up right here in the park guide! Now back to the fun stuff.
Back to the Studios - A quick update:
I hadn't been to Universal Studios in years and had fuzzy memories of a hot, hilly studio tour, with a few walk through attractions. Boy have times changed. If you haven't been to Universal in the last couple of years, you're in for a treat. The park continues to grow and evolve from a studio tour into what Universal likes to call "the largest studio theme park in the world." What's more, Just outside the park entrance is the fantastic City Walk entertainment district filled with shops and themed restaurants.
Now, this isn't a Disney park folks, and as such, is quite different than what some will expect. It doesn't cater to younger children, isn't quite as clean, and don't expect much in the way guest services. However, Universal does fun in it's own way and is still full of surprises.
Sprawled across the Hollywood Hills, Universal doesn't conform to the neat hub or wheel layout of many other parks. However, the haphazard design (or lack thereof) at Universal is at once charming and aerobic (to borrow a term) yet leaves you with a sense of adventure.
When you walk through the front gates of the park, you are transported into the bright, clean, art deco Hollywood that never was. The entrance area music sounds like every action score John Williams ever wrote. It is also so loud that it almost forces you forward into the park through shear volume alone. If you do just that and march past the entrance shops, you'll find the key to your Universal day, a digital attraction board (another is located at the top of the Starway escalators). This board will give you show times as well as tell you the wait times for the various attractions. You'll need to consult your park map as well to determine what is most important to you.
If you arrive when the park opens, you'll want to do the most popular attractions before the park gets crowded. Almost without fail, you will find the new Terminator 2:3D and Jurassic Park get crowded first and stay that way throughout the day. My personal list of don't miss attractions also includes Back to the Future, ET and Water World. But, no day at Universal would be complete without the Studio Tour.
Food in the park is largely uninspired and overly expensive, but don't let this throw you; just outside the park exit is Universal CityWalk, a great place to catch a bite to eat and shop. As long as you get your hand stamped and keep your entrance ticket, you will be able to return to the park to continue your adventure. I had a fantastic time at the amazing Cafe Tu Tu Tango at the far end of City walk. They serve appetizer sized portions perfect for sharing with your entire party. The dishes are Spanish, Middle Eastern and Greek. Smaller portions mean I can eat more, right??? You'll find the walls of this bohemian establishment are covered with the work of local artists who paint right there in the restaurant. City Walk is also home to the ubiquitous Hard Rock Cafe, a number of nicely themed restaurants and a small food court (on the second level). More about City Walk in the next update.
I've been told that Universal isn't a highly repeatable experience. That may have been true in the past, but I have been a regular visitor this Summer and continue to enjoy the shows, attractions and certainly dining at the City Walk time after time. Annual passes start at just $8 more than your single day admission, at just under $50 it's a bargain compared to other parks; so go ahead and splurge, you'll thank me later.
Remember, this isn't Disney, the park is small and can get crowded quickly. Employees aren't always cheerful, and the park can get a bit grubby during busy days, but you will have a great time if you plan your trip well and don't spend too much time on escalators riding up and down the mountain. Universal Studios is a delightful place to share the the magic of motion pictures. With time, a little more attention to details, and just a few more major attractions, this park could even rival the mouse.
Tips for your visit:
Keep in mind there are two levels to the Universal Studios Theme Park. The upper level (Entertainment Center) contains the majority of the shops and restaurants, easy access to City Walk, and features the following major attractions: The Tram Tour, Back to the Future The Ride, Terminator, Stunt Show, and Waterworld.
The lower level (Studio Center) - accessible via an extended set of escalators - contains a smaller selection of shops and dining options, plus the following major attractions: Jurassic Park, E.T., and Backdraft. Other minor attractions here consist of: Lucy - A Tribute, Game Works (a small arcade), Seasonal attractions and various street performers. I always spend at least 10 minutes paying tribute to Lucy (especially on hot days, she is air-conditioned you know).
During your inevitable trip on the Starway, take time to look out over the spectacular views of the valley and mountains behind them. If you look carefully, you will see the white sound stages of the Warner Brothers Studio just past the Universal lot.
It is suggested you try and plan to see all the attractions within each area all at once - so as to avoid having to travel up and down the hill for extended periods of time. (Note that alternate transportation to the lower level is available for disabled access and special needs - ask any Universal Studios employee about this at the top of the stairs.)
Again it should be noted that the Universal Studios theme park is adjacent to CityWalk, a shopping / dining / entertainment mall complex. Many visitors find that at meal time, and for some purchases such as bottled water and lunch or dinner, it can be a budget saver to have your hand stamped and shop for these at CityWalk, often they are available there at much lower prices than within the theme park itself.
Universal makes a real effort to reach out to it's Spanish speaking visitors. Almost all pre- shows have Spanish sub- titles, and there are a few all Spanish tram tours offered throughout the day as well. Inquire upon arriving as to their schedule.
Check back often, as we update this site to provide you with information on City Walk, Universal Amphitheater, and special events.
Also feel free to write me about any suggestions, additions, or trip reports you would like to submit to help your fellow travelers enjoy the park on their visit.