Universal Studios Hollywood, California
Universal Studios was our final stop on our trip to California, and definitely the highlight of our trip! We blocked off an entire day to spend at Universal Studios Hollywood, and that was probably not quite enough time. If we find ourselves in Hollywood again, we’ll plan another day to spend at Universal – there’s a lot to see, do, eat and drink!
I won’t bore you by writing a book here. We went to Universal Studios in Hollywood, CA for one main reason, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! But, the other attractions were not a let down and should not be in the shadows. So, here are some highlights from our trip to Universal Studios Hollywood, California.
We stayed at the Hilton Universal City. We booked online and you can choose your room the day before. We selected a corner room which overlooked Universal – that was cool. Plus, they had a free shuttle that takes you right to City Walk. City walk has all the shops and restaurants. It’s right next to Universal – it’s basically the same place.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter
We bought our tickets online, which gives you early access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Hollywood, California. We headed straight there after entering the park. We decided to have breakfast at The 3 Broomsticks – that was fun. The food was home-style and the Pumpkin Juice was delicious, but very sweet for a breakfast drink. But hey, enjoy the experience – right!
We walked around a little bit and window-shopped in Hogsmeade and hit the Butterbeer stand – cold or frozen? Which do you prefer? We loved the frozen butterbeer and thought it was better than the cold. I guess they’re going to have Hot butterbeer soon, too! We’ll have to go back to try that!
We wanted to walk the park and see what was what and not spend the entire day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, though we could have. So after spending an hour in Hogsmeade, having breakfast and dubbing around. We decided to go check out the rest of the park. We did come back in the afternoon though!
Don’t worry, there are more Harry Potter pictures (scroll down!)
We visited The Simpsons over in Springfield. There were plenty of places to eat, drink and explore. Just don’t fill up on butterbeer before going, like we did, if you plan to chow down in Springfield!
I think Katie was trying to steal a bite of Chief Wiggum’s Lard Lad donut…
This is the Duff Beer bar at Universal Studios, California. We were too full on Butterbeer to try a Duff beer – maybe next time!
Cletus’ Chicken Shack
There’s no shortage of places to grab a bite to eat. Cleatus’ Chicken Shack is proof of that!
Stop by to say hello to the Patty and Selma, Marge’s sisters who work the Springfield DMV!
Snake Jailbird Breaking Out of Jail
Look up! Snake Jailbird is breaking out of jail just overhead!
Springfield Power Plant
Of course everything hangs on the Power Plant. Watch out, there could be a meltdown any second! Seriously, we were standing on the sidewalk when all of a sudden the barrels next to us started shaking and the sirens started going off — then the stacks started blowing smoke! It’s quite a scene!
After we strolled around Springfield and The Simpsons world, we accidentally got on the best ride at the park. Yes, we accidentally got in line and ended up going on a ride – oops! Yes, that is completely something Homer Simpson would do…
We didn’t look at our map, but we knew we had to make our way down to the lower park at some point to find the Jurassic Park ride. Well, the crowd was moving and we saw an escalator ahead. We ended up walking straight into a line for the Universal Studio Tour. We’re glad we did, the studio tour was the least entertaining sounding ride at the whole park, but in our opinion, one of the best!
Universal Studio Tram Tour
We didn’t know what the Studio Tour was and almost got out of line. We’re glad we didn’t! It was the best ride there! You get in a studio tour cart – and you’re carted around learning all about the studio and seeing actual working stage sets, both new and from classic movies like Jaws, King Kong and more… But it’s also a RIDE! Read on…
Superstore Crew at Universal Studios
We saw people outside of one of the studios where they were shooting Superstore! It turns out they were part of the crew…but their smocks were very light blue? Hmm!
It was about a month later when we saw the Superstore episode that these actors were in! We thought it was odd that the crew were wearing such light colored smocks. Well, it turned out that the light colored smocks were used for the “temp employees” during the Black Friday Superstore mid-season finale! So cool!
The Studio Tram Tour- seriously don’t miss it!
You wind through the studio seeing some of the sets. Check out these building facades…
The Best Part of the Tram Tour!
They take you into some of the buildings on the tram, and then you’re in for a ride! The tram turns into a thrill ride! You get tossed around, water gets sprayed, you feel like you’re actually a part of the scene. Since we didn’t know about the ride, it was totally unexpected and really awesome!
The Fast and Furious building — You watch a little skit on a stage, then you get jolted down the road, zooming along at 100 mph (without actually going anywhere) with attacks coming from every angle.
Then in another building you’ll visit King Kong with amazing graphics, the end of the ride is ah-mazing! We loved it!
The Studio Tour ride seem like you’re right in the action! Hang on! You’re in for a ride! I’d post a video of the King Kong ride, but I don’t want to spoil the fun! You’ll have to go to find out how awesome it is for yourself!
This mini set (the boat is about as big as one of the tram tour cars) was used in the King Kong movie!
Another awesome sight was the original set of the movie Jaws. They’ve set it up so a few cool things happen in the water while you’re there.
The tour lasts about 45 minutes and it’s worth every second! I wish we had gone on it again so I could take some video of all the awesome things that happened on the tour!
After the tram tour, we made our way back up to the upper park. PS: The studio tour tram is not in the lower park, it’s a ride on its own – yes you go down an escalator, but that’s not the lower park.
The Walking Dead Attraction
Anyway, we worked our way back up and went to a few more attractions. The Walking Dead I felt could have been better, maybe it’s just because I’m old and not scared of much anymore (lol).
But it was a cool walk through attraction nevertheless.
From there we moved on to the Shrek 4D ride, we had lunch at Mel’s Diner and then found our way to the lower park where the Jurassic Park ride was.
Jurassic Park Ride
Certainly, the Jurassic Park Ride was the second best ride at the park at least us old fogies thought so! The drop at the end is awesome – and if you’re in the front you will get soaked!
Katie got a video of the Jurassic Park ride drop…watch it!
Animal Actors Show
After getting completely soaked from head to toe on the Jurassic Park ride (I don’t know how I was the only one on the raft that got so freakin’ wet) we made our way back up to the upper park to catch the Animal Actors show. That was fun, they talked about how they work with the animals – and of course it was a huge comedy act too!
They even had some Harry Potter owl actors, I think they said this one was one of the Malfoy owls.
After the Animal Actors show we wondered around a little bit and then caught the Special Effects Show, where I was able to sit down again and continue wringing out my shirt and shorts…my socks and shoes were a lost cause at this point (haha).
The special effects show was an awesome behind the scene look at how they accomplish things. You never realize all the effects that go into one little scene. It’s amazing. Of course, the show was full of comedy, too – so funny!
After that show, we were getting a little tired and hungry. We decided to hit the gift shops and grab another frozen butterbeer. We went and got a HUGE Lard Lad Donut from the Kwik-E-Mart in Springfield for breakfast the next morning.
We couldn’t leave without going back over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter again! So off we went to visit all the shops, and of course snap some more photos!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Round 2!
Platform 9¾ Hogwarts Express!
I heard Hogwarts Express is much better in Florida, this is just a model you can take pictures of, but it is really cool!
Hogsmeade is where all the action happens. It’s the entrance to Hogwarts, Diagon Alley and home to shops and Butterbeer carts.
Take a walk down Diagon Alley where you can pop into some stores, and even use your wand to cast magic spells! There are interactive stations where you can wave your wand, cast spells and make things happen! For real!
Hogwarts Castle at Universal Studios
Perhaps the most iconic castle in the world, Hogwarts sits high in the air!
Olivander’s Wand Shop
We went into Olivander’s Wand Shop, which was packed with people!
Honeydukes and Zonko’s joke Shop
We went to Honeydukes and Zonko’s Joke Shop where we scored some sweet treats. Zonko’s and Honeydukes was the same store. Zonko’s was actually just a small corner of the store, I was expecting more jokes…
All in all it was a great day at Universal Studios in Hollywood, California! I wish we could have done a couple more of the rides than we did, and tried a couple of the restaurants. I wish we got a Duff Beer – but seriously, how much can one drink or eat? haha
Watch out Universal Studios Orlando, we’re coming for you next!