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A First-Timer's Guide to Universal Studios Hollywood

Planning a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood as a first-timer? I FINALLY checked my first visit off my LA bucket list this past weekend! I had been to Universal Studios in Florida when I was younger, but I had been dying to check out the one in California. The Orlando park is about twice as large, but I found most of the rides were very similar. Universal Studios Hollywood is built around the real Universal Studios and that was my favorite part about the California one!

universal studios hollywood red carpet

I'm sharing my tips and tricks below in my First-Timer's Guide to Universal Studios Hollywood. Let's go!

When to go:

The wait times are lowest in the fall, winter, and spring time. I went on November 17th for my first time and it was a perfect time to go if you don’t want to wait in lines. We went in between Horror Nights and Christmas season, so the park was less crowded. I do plan on going back for Christmas season when the whole park is decked out for the season with special holiday décor, food, and gifts! The park is only open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. so arrive early to make sure you can fit in everything into your day.

unviersal studios hollywood ball

What to bring:

Water bottles (maximum 2 liters)

Small snacks



Small backpack/purse. Most of the rides have free two-hour lockers for you before going on the ride




What to see:

The park is split between an Upper and Lower Lot. You should try to make it to the lower lot before lunch to have less wait time for the rides. If you go on a less crowded day like I did, I recommend the below schedule as a first-timer at Universal Studios Hollywood:

Harry Potter World

The Simpsons Ride

Jurassic World Ride

Transformers: The Ride 3D

Revenge of the Mummy Ride

The Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour

WaterWorld Show

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (a second time if you have extra time) :)

Photo Tip: On the way back up to the Upper Lot there are beautiful panoramic views of Hollywood. The lighting is perfect if you take pictures before leaving

Where to eat:

I dined inside the park for lunch and then went to dinner at Universal CityWalk which is just outside the park on the way back to parking. I would advise eating inside the park after 2 p.m. to avoid big lines.

Inside the park:

  • Krusty Burger, Moe’s Tavern, and Luigi’s Pizza, inside the Springfield exhibit. I ate at the Krusty Burger. You will find burgers, hot dogs, pizza, and Duff beer!

  • Palace Theatre Café, you will find gourmet sandwiches and salads

  • Hollywood Grill has a variety of food served all day, including breakfast

Universal CityWalk:

  • Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

  • Margaritaville

  • Buca di Beppo

  • Hard Rock Café Hollywood

  • Jillian’s

  • Karl Strauss Brewing Company

  • Tony Roma’s

That's a wrap! Be sure to follow my tips and tricks above to make the most out of your time at Universal Studios Hollywood as a first-timer. My next stop will be hopefully be visiting the infamous Disney Land!

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