It was a rite of passage we couldn’t pass up with six kids between the ages of 7-14.
Everyone likes Harry Potter. Everyone like Minions. And everyone was, finally, tall enough for rollercoasters.
Make new friends at Universal Studios Hollywood. Kristin Finan photo
Facing a surprisingly long winter break and a strong desire to avoid a couple of stir-crazy weeks at home, we booked flights and an Airbnb in Los Angeles and decided to take a family trip to Universal Studios Hollywood. Unlike their Florida counterparts, with careful planning, both Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland are doable in a day.
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Here are five insider tips to consider if you’re planning a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood.
Tip 1: Go during the off-season
Harry Potter fans will love Universal Studios Hollywood. Kristin Finan photo
If you’re looking for the most affordable and least crowded times to visit Universal Studios Hollywood, you’re going to want to do your research. Typically, weekdays in the morning to mid-afternoon are the best times to hit the park and are also the days with the cheapest ticket offerings. Avoid holidays, spring break, special events and summer to have the most crowd-free experience. You can check out this handy crowd calendar for added insight on when to go and when not to go.
Tip 2: Arrive early
Rides such as Flight of the Hippogriff, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and The Simpsons Ride fill up quickly, so you’ll want to beeline to those right when the park opens, which is at 9 a.m. We were able to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey without using our Express Passes after only a 15-minute wait right after the park opened; by the afternoon, the line was two hours long.
Fans of the Simpsons will enjoy visiting Universal Studios Hollywood. Kristin Finan photo
Tip 3: Try the Express Pass
Yes, it’ll cost you, but if you’re only going to Universal for one day, an Express Pass is well worth it. Because we had some younger riders in our group who weren’t as particular about trying everything, we only got four passes, which worked out great for the adventurous teens and tweens in our family. The passes allow you to skip the line and go directly to the front at each ride, but they can only be used one time per ride.
Tip 4: Get ready for Mario
Even if you’ve been to Universal before, there’s always something new. The latest and greatest addition to the park this year is Super Nintendo World, which will open Feb. 17 and include Battle Team Bowser on Mario Kart, Bowser’s Challenge, a Toadstool Cafe, a 1-UP Factory store and much more. Reservations may be required to enter and capacity will be limited based on space availability.
Tip 5: Have fun
Going to one of the major theme parks can be incredibly stressful, from the parking to the entrance procedures to the long lines. Despite the annoyances, however, theme parks also offer countless memories to be made as a family. We were thrilled to watch each of our kids discover their favorite parts of the park and revel in the magic that comes with stepping into Hogsmeade, splashing through Jurassic World and posing for a photo with Scooby-Doo. It was overwhelming at times, sure, but also completely unforgettable.