There are so many things that I love about living in Southern California including how many theme park choices there are. Between Disneyland, SeaWorld, Legoland, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knotts Berry Farm and Universal Studios Hollywood it can be hard to chose which one is right for you. For today let’s focus on Universal Studios Hollywood. My first trip to this Universal Studios was the Summer of 2013 when a radio station that I was working for had a company party at the park. I had previously been to Universal Studios Orlando as well as Islands of Adventure so I was excited to see what this particular park had to offer.
You have options for parking at Universal Studios Hollywood and the City Walk: you can valet, pay $25 ($20 after 3pm) to park closer to the park or $17 to park further away. If you arrive after 4pm you only need to pay $10. Ff you decide to see a movie at the AMC theaters you will only end up paying $2 for parking. If you buy tickets at the gate you have quite a few options.
One thing that I think is brilliant that Universal does and I wish Disney would do is charge admission based on height. However if you purchase tickets online the price changes based on age. Buying tickets online will almost always save you more money than if you purchased them at the gate. Currently if you purchase a ticket through Universal’s website you will receive $15 off.
When it comes to buying tickets for Universal Studios be sure to consider getting a Go Los Angeles Card if you want to see more in Southern California. I have previously blogged about the Go Los Angeles Card because it is such a great deal. If you purchase a 3, 5, or 7 day card admission to Universal Studios is included. This card can be used for locals but it is primarily geared towards those visiting the areas and it can help you see a lot while saving a lot. I had previously used a Go Boston Card which was awesome and that made me curious if there was a Go card for Los Angeles. When I realized it existed I purchased one a few months ago when a friend came to visit and we got great use out of our card.
In addition to getting to go to Universal Studios you can also go to Knotts Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Legoland, Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour, and more than 20 other fun locations. Lets say you wanted to go to Universal Studios where you could pay around $95 dollars (without any discounts) you would pay around $87 to go to Legoland which would total around $182 when for $190 you can get a three day Go Los Angeles card and spend the third day going to Knotts Berry Farm, Six Flags or any of the other great locations included.
Annual passes are an excellent option if you know that you will visit the park more than once a year. The park has a special where you can buy a day get the rest of the year for free. You can chose to upgrade that pass to one that has less block out dates or one that includes parking. I purchased one from the ticket booths at Universal Studios Hollywood last May and used it a good number of times.
I got two free tickets two times to bring friends along with me and I got discounts on food and merchandise inside the park as well as in the City Walk. The only bummer for most people is that the annual pass is not good for the Halloween Horror Nights but you can get discounted tickets for those nights. If you have been wanting to go to see all that they do for Grinchmas in December your annual pass will be valid during that time period.
You can purchase the annual pass at the gate, online or from Costco. I wish I would have known about the Costco deal prior to buying mine but now I am in the know. Currently you can purchase an annual pass at Costco for $94.99 which is good for a whole year. I got mine when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened. The Costco annual pass is a wonderful deal so if you are a Costco member or if you know a Costco member this a great deal to consider. Especially now that more and more exciting things are opening in the park. When it comes to tickets I can not stress enough that doing some research will save you money.
If you do not like waiting in line you can upgrade your ticket to include a front of the line pass. Please note that you can only skip the line once per ride. It depends on how busy the park is and how much time you have for whether or not the front of the line pass will be worth it for you. If you can only spend half a day there during peak season like summer or around holidays then the front of the line pass might be perfect for you.
For attractions like the Transformers ride I would encourage you to consider the single rider line otherwise you could be looking at very long waits. Oh and a word to the wise you can leave your bags inside lockers right next to the Mummy ride which is also next door to the Transformers Ride as well as the Jurassic Park ride. If I remember correctly you can leave your items in there for 90 mins before you would need to pay to get them out.
If you want to try and see some celebrities without driving around the streets of Hollywood hoping to see some the City Walk is a great place to try. Are you a fan on Saved By The Bell? Mario Lopez films his show Extra at the Universal City Walk towards the entrance to Universal Studios. Not only can you see Mario but you can also get an up close look at whoever his guest is. If you are already planning to be at Universal Studios or at the City Walk this is a great addition to your day. Once you know when you are going you can keep checking this website (http://www.citywalkhollywood.com/extra-at-citywalk-hollywood.php) to see who might be on Extra tv.
I have mentioned this before but I will mention it again joining the Landry’s Select Club can be a great idea. You pay $25 to join which will appear on your account so you will get to use that money at one of their restaurants like Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. which just happens to be located at the City Walk. You will also get another $25 credit for the month of your birthday. Now the best feature that would come in handy after a long day in the park is priority seating.
When the park closes or dinner time is getting near a lot of people start leaving the park heading to the City Walk for food. This can mean that the wait times at some places can be very long but if you want to dine at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and are a member of the Landry’s Select Club you will get preferred seating and the long waits should not apply to you.
I hope that this blog post has given you some ideas of how you can save money on your visit to Universal Studios Hollywood. I do have a few other helpful hints for you: bring sunscreen, bring ponchos (for the Jurassic Park ride as well as the Water World show) and bring a jacket because it can get a little bit chilly at night in Southern California. If your phone is low on battery or dies they do have a phone charging station near the entrance of the park. If you have any questions please comment below and I will do my best to answer them!
For more information on the Landry’s Select Club please visit: http://www.landrysselect.com/SelectClubFeatures.aspx
For more information on Universal Studios Hollywood please visit: http://www.universalstudioshollywood.com/theme-parks/