I can’t believe how long it’s taking me to get through all of the USA blog posts. I don’t even think I’m halfway through my trip yet. In Part 11 of my American travel diaries, we were exploring all things Venice Beach, Santa Monica & Beverly Hills but it was time for a couple of days in the theme parks! The first stop; Universal Studios, Hollywood.
I’d partnered up with AttractionTix to go on a solo adventure to Universal Studios, Hollywood. Can you believe that I’ve actually been to Universal Studios around 22 years ago on my first family holiday to LA? The park is actually really central to Hollywood and was a short Uber ride from my West LA hotel; The Carlyle Inn. I’m not sure if I mentioned this before but it is so necessary to have a car in Los Angeles, everybody drives and the public transport isn’t brilliant. I used Uber or Lyft all the time and it was pretty reasonably priced.
I was actually a little bit nervous about spending the day by myself at Universal Studios. It was my first solo theme park experience. On arrival to the theme parks, you walk through the CityWalk which is full of bars, restaurants and shops. You don’t need park admission to visit and I’d recommend checking the area out for a bite to eat on an evening. There’s everything from Indoor Skydiving to Hard Rock Cafe.
In comparison to Universal Studios, Orlando it’s very much a smaller park but it’s still got all the classic rides such as Jurassic Park, The Revenge of the Mummy and even Hogsmeade & Hogwarts. The park is actually built on a hill so it’s quite a strange set up with half of the park split by a bunch of escalators.
Obviously been a massive Harry Potter fan, I headed straight over to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to get on Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey. This ride takes you right through the Hogwarts Castle in a turbulent twisting and turning adventure. It’s pretty amazing when you get that feeling of flying over and around the castle. I’ll never get over how amazing the attention to details all at the Wizarding World are at Universal, everything from the shops, rides, performances and restaurants. It’s hard not to feel like a wizard!
One of my favourite rides at Universal Studios is the Simpsons 3-D ride. In general, I just really love The Simpsons area with Krusty Burger, Moes Tavern and the Kwick-E-Mart! I even treated myself to a HUGE doughnut which I’m pretty sure what bigger than my head and only $5! I found that a lot of the rides had insanely long queue times which certainly weren’t accurate. It was very busy as it was a weekend but the queue times were half the estimated time! I do have to say, one of the biggest cons to doing a theme park by yourself is standing bored in the queues. However, there were a couple of rides which had a single rider line which cut down the wait considerable.
For lunch, I headed back over to Hogsmeade. I’d heard through the grapevine that there was a Roast Dinner on the menu at the Four Broomsticks. Obviously, as we were in America I didn’t have majorly high expectations but the $23 price tag put me right off. I settled for Fish and Chips which were actually pretty good!
After heading down the 101 different escalators down the hill to the lower lot, I put on my brave face and headed towards Jurassic Park and Revenge of the Mummy. I’m not gonna lie, these rides are not my favourite and scare the living daylights out of me. My fear of dinosaurs comes from that horrific Dinosaur ride at Animal Kingdom. Whilst I like humming along to the Jurassic Park theme tune, I’d rather not have a T-Rex growling in my face. I got to ride both of these pretty quickly as they had single rider ques and I could store my bag in a nearby locker for free. Although, they aren’t my favourites they are both still classic must do rides at Universal Studios.
One of the main attractions at Universal Studios, Hollywood is the world-famous studio tram tour. This tram tour is a sixty-minute long immersive experience travelling through real-life sets which have been used in many different TV Shows and films and also are currently been used at the moment. I believe they said they were currently filming The Good Place on one of the sets as well as The Voice in the Studios.
Jimmy Fallon is the host as he presents all the working sets to the tram and you experience special effects first hand such as the flash floods, earthquakes and this is where you’ll come face to face with Jaws! One of my favourite sets to visit was Wisteria Lane which was home to Desperate Housewives. It was pretty amazing to see the whole street after being an avid fan of the TV programme. Another great set we visited was the War of the Worlds one with the plane crash through all the houses. Although there’s usually long queues for the tram tour, I’d 100% recommend doing it. When else are you going to visit a real-life Hollywood movie set?!
My day at Universal Studios was coming to an end but not before a spectacular sunset over Los Angeles. I got really lucky and managed to take some great photos of Hogwarts with candy floss coloured skies. I also managed to sneak one last ride in before leaving; Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. Although it was saying a 45-minute queue, I took a chance and must have waited no longer than 10 minutes.
Although this park is very similar to the one in Orlando – just a little bit more condensed, I would say it was definitely worth visiting if you’re in Hollywood. You could certainly do this park in just one day. I did have the advantage of being solo, therefore, getting around a lot quicker. For my first solo adventure in a theme park, it wasn’t so bad. The only downside was getting a little bored with waiting in long queues. Unlike Disney Parks, there isn’t a photo pass service so I was forever asking people for photos!
After visiting Universal Studios, I headed back over to The Grove shopping complex. The previous night I had seen the Christmas lights were to be switched on by Jordin Sparks and a few other famous faces. I thought it would be pretty cool to check it out and met up with my friend Alex. The Grove is probably one of the most popular places in Los Angeles and half of the city’s population had shown up for the event. Quickly we realised we had no chance of seeing anything and decided to go for food.
At this rate, I was slowly making my way around all the restaurants at The Grove! This evenings choice was Umami Burger which served gourmet burgers with a slight fusion twist. The food was nice but nothing spectacular. I then headed back to my hotel for an early night before another very exciting couple of days at the Happiest Place on Earth! Any ideas where that could be? 😉
I’d like to say a massive thank you to AttractionTix for providing me with tickets to explore Universal Studios, Hollywood. If you’re interested in visiting, you can find more information on tickets and prices here. AttractionTix have some great offers, at the moment you can get early entry to the parks!
Have you ever gone to a theme park solo? Do you think you’d like to? Have you been to Universal Studios before?