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Guide To Universal Studios Hollywood

May 3, 2013 6:00 AM

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(credit: Kristi Marcelle)

(credit: Kristi Marcelle)

(credit: Universal Studios)

(credit: Universal Studios)


Universal Studios Hollywood is a theme park and the largest working movie studio in the world. This is a theme park for movie lovers off all ages and the attractions provide a behind-the-scenes look at movie making, immersing guests in 3D and 4D effects. Built on two levels on a wooded hillside, Universal Studios has full views of Los Angeles and Tinsel town. While adults will recognize more of the movies featured in the rides and studio tour than children, young guests will still be entranced by the action-packed special effects rides. Get Front of Line passes for no waiting or feel like a star on the VIP Experience private guided tour.

(credit: Kristi Marcelle)

(credit: Kristi Marcelle)

Studio Tour

 
The 45-minute studio tour narrated by Jimmy Fallon is a good place to start your Universal Studios visit. It provides an introduction to the movie history of Universal Studios and is a prelude to the special effects you’ll see in the shows and rides. This isn’t a run-of-the-mill studio tour — it’s filled with action and varies depending on what is currently filming. Plan to see a cameo by Norman Bates, get a visit from King Kong and drive down Wisteria Lane where “Desperate Housewives” was filmed.

(credit: Universal Studios Hollywood)

(credit: Universal Studios Hollywood)

Rides and Attractions

 
The rides at Universal Studios are motion-based so expect to get rocked and jostled in 3D and 4D as you evade Autobots and zoom around impossibly steep roller coasters on The Simpson’s Ride. Revenge of the Mummy, the only roller coaster at Universal Studios, is very short but packs a punch forward and backwards. If you need to cool off, take a tour on Jurassic Park but if you don’t want wet pants for the rest of the day, sit in the middle.

(credit: Kristi Marcelle)

(credit: Kristi Marcelle)

Shows

 
While shows are an afterthought at other theme parks, at Universal Studios, they are a main attraction. The movie-making process is in explosive mode at WaterWorld and the Special Effects Stage includes audience participation with a green screen. If you have animal lovers in the group don’t miss Universal’s Animal Actors.

(credit: Universal Studios Hollywood)

(credit: Universal Studios Hollywood)

VIP Experience Tour

 
The VIP Experience’s privately-guided, behind-the-scenes tour is not just for movie buffs. VIP guests see the studios close up and the theme park with no lines; they have unlimited Front of Line access to rides and seating at shows. However, what will surprise you most is how good the food is at your VIP lunch; made by Universal executive chefs, the buffet-style lunch is fine dining with a kid-twist – the make-your-own hot chocolate, and coffee for adults, is mesmerizing for kids and a highlight.

(credit: Kristi Marcelle)

(credit: Kristi Marcelle)

Relaxing Eats

 
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the theme park crowds and the deep fried food try the International Café behind Mel’s Diner. This area of the park is not as crowded and the healthy selection of salad, sandwiches, soups and fruit is refreshing.

(credit: Kristi Marcelle)

(credit: Kristi Marcelle)

Play in CityWalk

 
Universal CityWalk is three blocks of shopping, dining and entertainment. With movie theaters, a comedy club, bowling, and indoor skydiving, CityWalk is a destination that entertains adults, teenagers and families. Even if you don’t plan to stay, it’s worth a walk through to see King Kong clinging to a building and the New York-style neon signs.

Where to Stay

(credit: Kristi Marcelle)

(credit: Kristi Marcelle)

Loews Hollywood

1755 North Highland Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 856-1200
www.loewshotels.com

A stay at Loews Hollywood gives a Hollywood visitor the best of both worlds; easy access to Universal Studios by car or a quick stop on the Metro Red Line and front door access to the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Hollywood’s most famous tourist attractions. The proximity, especially if traveling with kids, means that you can get up early before the crowds arrive and snap photos of your favorite star on the Walk of Fame or play a solo on the piano stairs at Hollywood and Highland with no interruptions. The hotel is adjacent to the Hollywood and Highland entertainment complex, which has endless shopping and dining and is also home to the Dolby Theater (formerly Kodak Theater).

Universal Studios Hollywood

100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
(800) 864-8377
www.universalstudioshollywood.com

Kristi Marcelle is a travel writer and regular contributor at Ciao Bambino and CBS Los Angeles. She loves planning travel adventures with her family, a good glass of wine at the whining hour and the Green Bay Packers. Follow her on Twitter @kristimarcelle.

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