Universal Studios Hollywood One Day Itinerary

This Universal Studios Hollywood itinerary will help you plan your day and see all the best attractions for one day at Universal Studios Hollywood.

From the most popular rides and the best time to ride them, this one day Universal Studios Hollywood itinerary will help you plan an awesome full day at the park.

We used this itinerary for Universal Studios Hollywood to plan our day at the park. It was part of a larger theme park trip we did that you can read about in this post: 9 Day Southern California Itinerary for Your Theme Park Vacation

If you are familiar with the Universal Orlando parks you may expect it to be the same but it is not. The layout and attractions are different than Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando.

For this 1-day at Universal Studios Hollywood we wanted to be sure we experienced all the unique things about this park.

first visit pins at universal studios hollywood

Our priority for this day itinerary was to see and do the attractions they don’t have at the Orlando parks, but we ended up doing almost all of the rides at the park.

This was our first visit to Universal Studios Hollywood and I definitely had to learn a few different strategies to explore the park. For one they have the Universal Studio Tour which takes almost an hour of your day and is really popular.

The park is also located on a hill and divided into the upper lot and lower lot. As I was planning our one day at Universal Studios Hollywood I factored in all of these things to plan the best day for our family.

The most popular area is Super Nintendo World that includes the Mario Kart attraction and Toad Stool Cafe restaurant. There is also a Jurassic Park ride, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade, a Minion Super-Silly Fun Land area, and the Secret Life of Pets attraction.

Southern California Theme Park Itinerary Universal Studios Hollywood

Things to Know Before Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

It is a good idea to purchase Universal Studios Hollywood tickets before you arrive at the parks. It will save you time and money.

When deciding on your park ticket you will need to decide if you want a single day ticket or multiple days. You can do the park in 1 day but having 2 days that include a lot of time at Super Nintendo World may be a good choice.

If you decide to purchase Universal Express Pass you may not need 2 days. Express pass allows guests to skip the lines but it is an additional cost to your day ticket. It does not include Mario Kart but it will save you time on the other attractions at the park. Learn more here.

Always arrive early at the park entrance for your visit to be one of the first through the turnstiles. I suggest arriving at least 15-30 minutes before park opens. We like to arrive 30 minutes just incase there are unexpected delays.

Consider the time it takes to walk from the parking garage and through Universal CityWalk to the entrance of the park.

Universal Studios Hollywood is divided into an upper lot and lower lot. The lower lot has some of the most popular attractions and you should plan to visit this area early in your day.

Lower Lot Attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood

  • Jurassic World
  • The Mummy
  • Transformers 3D
  • Super Mario World: Mario Kart Bowser’s Challenge

Upper Lot Attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood

  • The Simpsons Ride
  • World Famous Studio Tour: Featuring King Kong, Fast and the Furious, Jaws, and more
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Super Silly Fun Land: Splash Playground and Circle Spinning ride
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • Secret Life of Pets
  • Kung Fu Panda Theatre
  • WaterWorld (Show)
  • Universal’s Animal Actors (Show)
  • Special Effects Show
lower lot view one day at universal studios hollywood
View of the lower lot from the escalators. Super Nintendo World was being built in the top right corner.

I was very surprised at the amount of time it took to get from the upper lot to the lower lot. Universal Studios Hollywood is built in the hills of Hollywood.

There are numerous escalators to get from the top to the bottom, and back. It takes about 10 minutes but time can vary depending on how busy the park is.

Universal Studios Hollywood is smaller than the Universal Orlando parks but they have attractions that Orlando doesn’t have including the Studio Tour.

So even though the park footprint is smaller they pack a lot of awesome attractions in.

Universal Studios Hollywood offers a virtual line option for popular attractions at different times/days throughout the year. There is not a stated rule to this.

For example on our visit Secret Life of Pets was open at park open and switched to virtual line later in the day. Virtual line reservations can run out and they do not run a stand-by line once they switch. These are free and can be made through the Universal Studios Hollywood app.

We rode Secret Life of Pets 3x on our visit and I’ll go into details later in this article on how we did it without waiting in long lines.

Universal Studios Hollywood offers early entry into the park with specific attractions open at that time. I was unaware of this when we arrived so I highly suggest asking while you are waiting for the park to open. For our visit early entry was for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

We didn’t prioritize riding the Harry Potter attractions or spending much time in this area because we have spent so much time during our time in Orlando and to be honest Orlando is superior.

Universal Studios Hollywood is the same as Wizarding World-Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure. If you are planning on doing this area take advantage of early entry or plan to visit early in the morning.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey will see long wait times as the day goes on. There is also a small roller coaster Flight of the Hippogriff that is great for all ages.

butterbeer at universal studios hollywood harry potter area

Most popular attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood offer single rider. Take advantage of this if the lines are long.

Single rider is a separate line that fills in empty seats. Your party will usually get split up.

Another fun perk is the free first visit buttons you can pick up at customer service at the front of the park.

We did this as we exited the park for a fun souvenir. Do not do this first thing in the morning. Save it for once you have done the most popular attractions.

first visit pins at universal studios hollywood

Can’t Miss Attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood

The best attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood that I wouldn’t miss are:

  • Jurassic World: The Ride
  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • The Secret Life of Pets
  • WaterWorld Show
  • The Studio Tour
  • Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge

Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood does not have on-site resorts like Universal Orlando does. We stayed at the Loews Hollywood Hotel and it was a 5 minute drive to the park.

This was part of our 9 Day Southern California Itinerary for Your Theme Park Vacation so be sure to check it out when planning your family vacation.

Universal Studios Hollywood Itinerary for One Day

For our first visit to Universal Studios Hollywood itinerary we decided to skip The Wizarding World and The Simpsons. We did pop into Wizarding World for a Butter Beer but we didn’t ride any attractions. They both got busy throughout the day so plan on visiting first thing or closer to close.

I also need to note that Super Nintendo World was not open during our visit. This is the most popular area. I highly suggest adding on the Super Nintendo World early access ticket that start at $20.00. This will allow you access to the area before general admission.

7:45am: Left our hotel room. Arrived and parked at Universal by 8:08am.

8:20am: Lined up at the gate for park opening. Park opening was officially 9:00am. Gates opened at 8:25am for early entry.

8:30am: We headed to The Secret Life of Pets to discover it was not opening early. Be sure to ask what will be open and head there. This would be a good time to go to The Wizarding World and then head over to The Secret Life of Pets.

8:30am-8:55am: We used this time to ring the doorbells near the Despicable Me attraction. Minions and other characters will answer. We walked through Super Silly Fun Land too.

8:55am: Walked on The Secret Life of Pets. The line for this attraction is so well done and really awesome. Spend a few minutes enjoying the animatronics and theme before you board the attraction.

9:05am: Started walking to the lower lot. On Jurassic World by 9:15am, the rode The Mummy, and Transformers.

10:00am: Made our way back up to the upper lot for the Studio Tour. This line was held up a bit and we didn’t get on until about 10:30am.

11:20am: Virtual Line opened for Secret Life of Pets. Be sure to download and set up the app before you get to the parks. Used the app to secure a 1:10-1:40pm Virtual Pass.

11:30am: Lunch at the Minions Cafe. We really enjoyed the food. I got the pulled pork sandwiches and it was big enough to share. Kids got chicken fingers and mac & cheese. Everyone liked their meals. (Other dining options are Toad Stool Cafe (Make reservations on the app) and Three Broomsticks.

one day at universal studios hollywood minion cafe

12:10pm: Walked over to watch the WaterWorld show. This is in direct sun so be aware when watching during the hottest points of the day. There is also a soaked zone that you will get drenched. I enjoyed the show a lot. Very fun effects and you can meet the cast after the show.

1:10pm: The Secret Life of Pets Virtual Line pass. The wait was much longer than first thing in the morning. Having a virtual line pass doesn’t mean no line. Expect to wait 20+ minutes. After Secret Life of Pets we went to see the Special Effects Show. This was good but may not be great for younger kids.

We also went over to one of the kiosks for virtual line for The Secret Life of Pets and secured another time for 2:50pm-3:20pm. This printed out a paper return time. I am not sure the rules on this or if you could go back and get another one once you use it.

2:18pm: Watched the Kung Fu Panda show. This is a motion simulation attraction.

3:00pm: The Secret Life of Pets. You may not want to ride this 3x if you are trying to get on The Simpsons and The Wizarding World attractions but for us it was worth it. The ride is not at the Orlando parks and it was really cute!

3:25pm: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter walk through and Butterbeer. The line was very long for butterbeer so I used the app to mobile order and it was ready within minutes.

At this point we headed back down to the lower lot. Wait times were high so we decided to single ride The Mummy and Jurassic World. Around 4:30pm we headed back to the upper lot.

lower lot view one day at universal studios hollywood

Evening Hours at Universal Studios Hollywood

After our second round at the lower lot we decided to call it a day. We stopped at Pink’s Hot Dogs at CityWalk on the way out but there are many places to eat if you are looking for a sit-down.

We love Antojitos and Margaritaville at Universal Orlando CityWalk and I am sure they are pretty similar.

There is a nightly light show displayed on Hogwarts castle if you would like to stay later in the evening. I also suggest riding favorite attractions or ones you may have missed earlier in the day.

I hope this one day Universal Studios Hollywood itinerary helps plan your day at the Hollywood theme park. It is a great park that offers a lot for families that enjoy the Universal parks.

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