Why We Chose VIP Tour for Universal Studios Hollywood

My husband and I have been debating bringing the kids to Universal Studios for awhile. I’d never been and my husband had been many years ago. Since our kids are 4 years old and 1 year old, I had a feeling they might not be able to do most of the rides. So, when my Mom offered to fly up to watch the boys, my husband and I decided to live it up in Los Angeles for the weekend! And top on our list was a day at Universal Studios in Hollywood!

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We spent a lot of time comparing the ticket options. I read a lot of blog posts about what people recommend. Friends gave me their advice. But, my husband is the one who convinced me to get the VIP Experience. I’m a movie and TV nut and the Universal Studios VIP tour gives guests a more in-depth studio tour. Plus, guests jump to the front of all the ride lines (even after the VIP tour ends.) My husband was really stoked about the free breakfast, gourmet lunch and valet Universal Studios Hollywood parking. And they gave us ponchos and little amenity kits. Oh and all the bottled water we could drink! Since we only had one day to explore Universal Studios without kids, we decided this was the way to go!

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VIP breakfast at Universal Studios in Hollywood, California
I was really impressed with all the breakfast options. And they encouraged us to take food and coffee with us! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Checking In

So when you drive into Universal Studios, head to the Frankenstein Parking Lot. It’s the one closest to the park entrance. Pull into the Valet area and then simply walk up the stairs to get to the park. After security, head to your right and you’ll see a door marked VIP. That’s where you want to go.

After checking you in, you’ll be sent upstairs to their VIP Lounge. We had about 20 minutes to eat breakfast. They had juices, tea and coffee. I was also impressed at an assortment of pastries, croissant sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, etc. After we ate, our guide Chris came over to talk about our schedule for the day. He also gave us ponchos for Jurassic Park and an amenity kit that had mints, wipes, lip balm etc.

Insider tip: Don’t eat TOO much because the first things you will do are rides!

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Universal Studios Hollywood Rides

Hogsmeade at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in California
Walking into Hogsmeade blew my mind! But my brain was a bit confused to see it in the bright California sunshine! Photo credit: Darren Cheung

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The first place we went at Universal Studios Hollywood was to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In preparation for this trip, we binge watched all the Harry Potter movies! I’m so glad we did because walking through Hogsmeade was incredible! Since we were in a tour, we quickly walked past the amazing shops in Hogsmeade to get closer to Hogwarts. Our guide Chris positioned us in the best place to get photos in front of Hogwarts. Then, we hit the ground running!

Flight of the Hippogriff

First up was Flight of the Hippogriff. It’s touted as a family-friendly roller coaster. The ride is about 21 seconds long. I’m a total chicken when it comes to rides, and it made my stomach a bit wonky. I’m glad I ate a very light breakfast!

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Then, we headed straight to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The ride line takes you through the inside of Hogwarts, which lives up to the hype! We watched the paintings of founders of each house talk to each other! I assumed it would look like a projection or video, but it seriously looked like the images in the cracked paintings were moving on their own! So cool!

Once we got through Hogwarts, we handed our bags to Chris. You can’t have anything loose around you. Trust me: we got kicked off because my husband had a camera around his neck. Thankfully, we were able to get right back on. For those not doing the VIP tour, there are lockers for you to store your stuff.

The ride itself is pretty cool! You sit in line and you get to fly around Hogwarts. I started to feel a bit dizzy about half-way through, so I just closed my eyes on and off. The ride is a bit longer than I expected, but a must-do ride for Harry Potter fans!

Lower Lot at Universal Studios

Jurassic Park The Ride at Universal Studios California
My husband was the epitome of cool as he held onto his sunglasses when plummeting down the waterfall in Jurassic Park! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

When they say “Lower Lot” they really mean that you’ll be going down countless escalators to the valley below! I was shocked we were still at Universal Studios! After doing the previous rides, even the escalators felt a bit intense! But, I’m not really a ride person I guess! I took a time out from rides in the Lower Lot, but my husband did them all!

Jurassic Park—The Ride

This is a boat ride that ends in an 84-foot plunge. Our guide Chris helped guests get into their ponchos. i walked all the way to the entrance with the group and then Chris walked me out so I could take photos. My husband enjoyed the ride and thought the plunge was fantastic! His shorts got pretty wet in the front row (he failed to wear his poncho.) And it made him want to rewatch Jurassic Park and Jurassic World.

Revenge Of The Mummy—The Ride

Revenge Of The Mummy—The Ride is just a few yards away from Jurassic Park—The Ride. This time, a few other guests opted to sit the ride out. We spent the time taking photos of the dinosaur character hanging around. My husband again had a great time because he’d seen The Mummy! And he told me I definitely wouldn’t have enjoyed it!

Transformers: The Ride 3-D

I opted to take photos with Bumblebee instead of the ride. I had a blast dancing with Bumblebee! My husband is a huge Transformers fan and he thought the ride lived up to his expectations. He got to fight alongside his idol Optimus Prime for an epic battle of war.

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Waterworld Show

We headed back up the endless stream of escalators to make our way to catch the 12:15pm Waterworld show. The last time I saw Waterworld, I was in middle school. So, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was kind of thinking how weird it is when movies become live action musicals. I was wondering how they’d pull this off.

The Waterworld Show at Universal Studios Hollywood was very exciting!
This Waterworld show was full of excitement, cool water tricks and people on fire! Photo credit: Darren Cheung

What’s awesome about this show is that they set the stage with a bit of backstory. So, if you haven’t seen the movie, it doesn’t really matter. The show starts even before everyone is seated. Actors start spraying water at late guests and joking with the crowd.

Then, the show starts with jaw-dropping special effects! There are jet skis, water skiers, motor boats, etc. And lots of fire! You’ll see actors swinging from ropes and little gondolas. Oh and a plane lands in the water at the end of the show! It was insanely cool! And the actors in the show are also characters in well-known TV shows.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

My 4-year-old is a HUGE Minions fan, so I felt a little guilty going on this ride without him. We went in a little room to watch a video to set the scene.Then, we headed into our row, put on our 3-D glasses and started the ride. Our scene was that little Agnes was trying to give a present to Gru to celebrate the anniversary of their adoption. Super cute story, but I did have to close my eyes a few times with all the simulated drops.

Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios Hollywood, California
I can’t help myself when I see a cute photo op, especially when Minions are involved! Photo credit: Darren Cheung

Insider tip: I heard from other guests that the story changes throughout the day, so it might be worth doing this Universal Studios ride twice.

VIP Lunch in Private Dining Room

Universal Studios Hollywood has a whole restaurant dedicated to serving VIP guests lunch. It’s a buffet lunch featuring sushi, seafood, meat, salad, soup and just about every other type of food. Lots of options for kids, vegetarians, carnivores, picky eaters and everyone in between. Plus, they had an array of desserts! The food was delicious and it was nice to sit outside in the under cover patio and rest a bit.

Insider tip: Use the restrooms here. They are HUGE!

These kids from Despicable Me were a hoot to take photos with at this character meet and greet at Universal Studios Hollywood
I’m all about maximizing our free time, so after we enjoyed our delicious lunch, we snagged a photo with the girls from Despicable Me before it was time to head to the VIP Studio Tour! Photo credit: Wonderful staff at Universal Studios

During lunch, the character of Lucille Ball was walking around chatting to the guests. She was super fun to talk to and to eavesdrop on while she was talking to other guests! Apparently, she travels to Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jameston, NY for their annual Lucy Comedy Fest.

Our guide Chris gave us a full hour for lunch, which was plenty of time to leisurely enjoy our meal and use the restroom. And we had extra time to check out the Minions merchandise in a gift shop and take photos with the kids from Despicable Me.

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Universal Studios VIP Studio Tour

Ok, so this was the part of Universal Studios I’d been waiting for! Instead of riding in a huge 4-car tram like the regular studio tour, we got to ride in a private open-air trolley. We teamed up with another VIP group, so I think there was 20 of us total. Since our trolley was small, we were able to squeeze through narrow alleys and get a lot closer than the trams. Plus, we were able to load and unload quickly, maximizing our time!

Champions Set

Champions is a new show by Mindy Kaling filmed at Univeral Studios Hollywood
We didn’t get to take photos inside the sound stage (since it hasn’t premiered yet) so I was stoked to get to take photos of the outside of the set of Mindy Kaling’s new show! Photo credit: Darren Cheung

The first place we explored was the set of the upcoming TV Show called Champions. It’s produced by Mindy Kaling and premieres March 8 on NBC! The set we toured was a boxing gym that seems to be the main set of the show. They had filmed earlier in the day and were going to film later that evening, so we had to be extra careful not to touch anything. It was AMAZING! I love Mindy Kaling and we knew we’d be watching this show, so it was really exciting to get a sneak peak! The only downside to exploring this set is that we couldn’t take any photos. Or touch anything. My husband and I used every morsel of self-control to keep from taking a Jolly Rancher from the dish on the counter!

Courthouse from Back to the Future

Courthouse from Back to the Future on VIP Experiene at Universal Studios Hollywood
I can’t believe we could just walk right up to this iconic set from Back to the Future! Photo credit: Darren Cheung

Next, we got to walk around the courthouse featured in Back to the Future. It was right next to a street used in Hairspray Live! The clock part was up just for tourists to take photos. I guess it’s such an recognizable set that they usually have to take down the clock if they want to film there.

New York Street

Another cool area we got to walk around was New York Street. It’s also decorated to look like London, Chicago, and countless other cities. The ends of the streets curve so they can connect it to other streets when editing. As we were walking around, I kept wondering how many times I must have seen this street in TV, movies and commercials!

Prop Warehouse

Prop Warehouse at Universal Studios in Hollywood, CA
One of the coolest items was this board filled with hold tags from well-loved TV shows! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

One of the coolest places we stopped on the tour was the prop warehouse. It looks like a thrift store warehouse filled with all kinds of knick knacks, furniture and memorabilia.  It would take hundreds of hours to really look at each item and we didn’t have that long. So we did a quick walk through and our guide Chris pointed out some cool items.

Prop cart for This is Us at Universal Studios Hollywood
This is a prop cart for the show Timeless that I thought was canceled, but must be back in production! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

I spent most of the time looking down the narrow aisles seeing what kinds of treasures I could find. I also started reading as many tags as I could. As we were heading out, I noticed a lady just standing in front of a cart. I was a little annoyed since I maybe wanted to take a photo and she was in my way. After all, I’m a tourist and my job is to take photos of everything! But, then I realized she was standing in front of a cart marked This is Us and she was pulling items for it! Like most people in their 30s, This is Us is one of my favorite shows! It brought me back down to realizing this was a working prop warehouse and all this stuff has been used (and will be used) for television and films.

The Good Place and Little Europe Sets

My husband and I are borderline obsessed with Kristen Bell’s show The Good Place. So, when we saw a set filled with yogurt shops, I squealed! We got to get out and explore the set, which was amazing! Each shop sign was funny and smart! And they had the train station. I could have spent 30 minutes wandering around here taking photos.

VIP Studio tour of The Good Place set at Universal Studios Hollywood
This storefront always cracks me up when I see it in “The Good Place” with Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. Photo credit: Darren Cheung

That set is also used to replicate Europe. They just swap out the signs for ones in another language. With all the little alleys and nooks, it has a European feel. The set definitely felt like we were walking through a side street in Paris. It made me think a lot about our trip to Paris last spring!

King Kong 360 3-D

So by now you know I’m a total ride junkie, right? NOT the case. So, when I was told King Kong 360 3-D was the most intense 3-D ride in the world, I was a bit nervous. But, I actually kept my eyes open for the whole ride. You are kind of in a tunnel and there are screens on both sides. You’ll see dinosaurs and King Kong and he will move from one screen to the other. You wear 3-D glasses and it’s pretty cool.

Earthquake: The Big One Ride

Our trolley drove into a subway area used in an episode of Bones. Inside, our trolley shook as we experienced an “Earthquake” and flood situation. It was pretty incredible to see how they did it for the show! We even got a bit wet when the water gushed in. Had it been a real earthquake, I would have panicked over being sprayed with “subway water,” but this felt pretty clean.

Flood Scene from Big Fat Liar

We drove through the set of a Mexican town and got to see how they simulate rain. We saw the sprinklers, water on rooftops, simulated lightning and a flood! Afterward, we watched the clip from Big Fat Liar (starring Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes) to show the scene that featured the flood. I was surprised how realistic the rain looked. And I’m a Seattle girl, so I KNOW rain!

Fast & Furious–Supercharged

Another ride is this 3-D experience featuring the cast from Fast & Furious. The video was really incredible because it looked like the actors were outside our trolley. The ride was mostly us chasing bad guys. The trolley shook a bit, but not too bad. It was cool, even if you aren’t a big Fast & Furious fan.

Jaws Set

One of the last rides we experienced was Amity Island on the set of Jaws. The town sits on a man-made lake. We watched a guy get eaten by a shark and then the shark came right up to our trolley and sprayed us with water.

The Bates Motel

I’m not a Psycho fan, but I’ve heard of Norman and The Bates Motel. It’s an actor who is shown putting a body into the trunk of his car and then he notices us. Naturally, he comes toward us with a knife. Nothing too scary, but very cool to see an actor on this tour.

War of the Worlds Set

Something really cool for my husband was exploring the War of The Worlds set. He’s a Boeing engineer so it was interesting for him to see how they destroyed the Boeing aircraft for the movie. It was crazy to see all the destruction and we thought the set was eerie.

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End of VIP Experience

The Simpsons Ride

After the Studio Tour concluded, we headed to The Simpsons land. We were able to get a quick photo with Krusty the Clown before heading into The Simpsons Ride. Our guide Chris was able to get us into Car 6, which put us right in the middle of the screen. Super helpful since this was a virtual reality roller coaster ride. I used to love The Simpsons, so I did this right. However, I had my eyes closed during a lot of it.

Photo op with Krusty the Clown in Springfield before The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood
We were able to get a quick photo with Krusty on our way to The Simpsons Ride. Photo credit: Awesome Universal Studios staff member

The Walking Dead

This experience uses real actors and they take 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off. I knew The Walking Dead wouldn’t be up my alley. So, I went to the entrance and Chris walked me to the exit. It’s a super quick walk though experience. By the time I got to the exit, our group came out about 30 seconds later. Half the people exiting looked freaked out while the other half laughed.

End of our VIP Experience

After The Walking Dead, our Universal Studios VIP Tour was officially over. Chris reminded us that we could still use our passes to go to the front of the line for any other rides until the park closed. The whole VIP experience lasted more than 6 hours.

Hogsmeade at Night

My husband and I had thought the Hosgmeade looked a bit funky in the bright California sunshine. So, we opted to head back to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as the sun was going down. This gave us the opportunity to get a quick photo with the train conductor.

We loved this photo op with the train conductor of the Hogwarts Express at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood
This train conductor for the Hogwarts Express was so cheerful and we had a great conversation! Photo credit: Darren Cheung

I always rave about how people should experience Cars Land at Disney California Adventure at night. Hogmeade takes the cake! It was magical and felt so true to the movies! We sipped a Butterbeer and just soaked in the ambiance. It was the ultimate way for use to end a whirlwind day at Universal Studios Hollywood.

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Final Thoughts on the VIP Experience at Universal Studios Hollywood

In the end, we thought the VIP tour at Universal Studios Hollywood was definitely worth the money. There’s no way we would have been able to do all the rides we did without that VIP pass. We also would have wasted valuable time looking at maps and trying to figure out where to go. And the in-depth studio tour lived up to my high expectations! It was exactly the type of Hollywood experience I wanted for our kid-free getaway.

We were also very appreciative of the valet service to pick up our car on the way out. We had our car 2 minutes after leaving the park exit.

Insider tip: Ask for Chris to be your tour guide. He guides all the celebrities around Universal Studios and EVERYONE knows him. You’ll really feel like a VIP!

Where to Stay at Universal Studios Hollywood

HILTON LOS ANGELES/UNIVERSAL CITY

The Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City hotel is just a block away from the entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood and minutes from Hollywood. They even have a complimentary shuttle available daily to Universal Studios Hollywood. And then cool off in their large outdoor swimming pool.

SHERATON UNIVERSAL HOTEL

Sheraton Universal Hotel is uniquely and centrally situated in the Hollywood Hills, right next to Universal Studios Hollywood and the Universal Citywalk. You can easily drive to Universal Studios, Walt Disney Family Museum, Warner Brothers, and Paramount, as well as numerous production companies.

BLVD HOTEL & SPA

This hotel has an awesome location! The BLVD Hotel & Suites has the intimate appeal of a boutique hotel in Hollywood with California-cool characteristics. It’s Hollywood and Highland location in Hollywood, CA makes attractions like Universal Studios and the Los Angeles Metro Station walking distance away and close proximity to all the major attractions in Hollywood/Los Angeles area.

 

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Wondering if the Universal Studios Hollywood VIP Tour is worth the price? Get a sneak peak inside the VIP Experience at Universal Studios Hollywood to see which rides you can cut to the front of the line, where you'll eat a private lunch, and if the VIP studio tour is that much better. Click to read more or pin to save for later. www.marcieinmommyland.com #universalstudios #universalstudioshollywood #hollywood #harrypotter #wizardingworldofharrypotter #losangeles #california #vip Heading to Los Angeles, California and wondering if you should buy the Universal Studios VIP Experience? Get the inside scoop on the valet parking, breakfast, front of the line rides, VIP buffet lunch, studio tour and more! Click to read more or pin to save for later. www.marcieinmommyland.com #universalstudios #universalstudioshollywood #losangeles #viptour #vip #california #hollywoodHeading to Los Angeles? Find out why you should get the VIP Experience at Universal Studios Hollywood. Jump to the front of every ride line, get a fancy lunch in a private restaurant, explore TV sets and backlots, get valet parking, and more! Click to read more or pin to save for later. www.marcieinmommyland.com #losangeles #universalstudioshollywood #VIP #california #universalstudios #wizardingworldofharrypotter #harrypotter #minionsInsider Peek at Universal Studios Hollywood VIP Experience and Tour

Author

Marcie writes the family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. When she's not traveling the world, she's home in Seattle with her husband and two little boys.

112 Comments

  1. Marjie Mare Reply

    We want to go to Universal so bad, after reading your post, I will try to take my daughter for spring break. Your pictures are beautiful

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh thanks so much! I was surprised how much there was to see and do there!

  2. I’ve been to Universal in Florida and didn’t know about the VIP. Universal is my fav park. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I’ve heard Universal Studios in Florida is even bigger! It’s definitely on our bucket list!

  3. This looks SO fun! I’ve always wanted to go to the Harry Potter exhibit…well since it came out at least! haha
    xoxo

    • marciecheung Reply

      It seriously blew my mind! It was so well recreated!

  4. OMG, that all sounds so amazing! I haven’t been to Universal Studios in like 20 years, so most of the stuff you described is all new to me. I love Harry Potter, so I really want to visit again. I’m definitely going to check out the VIP experience if we go…that definitely sounds like the way to go!

    • marciecheung Reply

      It must have been revamped recently because everything felt state-of-the-art! Definitely worth a trip back!

  5. Looks like you had a really fun day, LOVE that they encouraged you to take both food and coffee with you (not often heard when it comes to buffet breakfast)!

    • marciecheung Reply

      I know, right? It’s seriously the smallest things that make the biggest difference!

  6. OMGoodness this looks like so much fun! I have been to Disney World in Florida, but not Disney Land in Hollywood. It’s on my list. I’ll pin this to refer back to. Thanks for sharing from your own experiences.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Disneyland is such a fun family vacation! Universal Studios Hollywood is definitely geared for older kiddos and adults. I’m looking forward to checking out Walt Disney World someday!

  7. I have been to Universal many times but I have never done the VIP experience. It was very fun to hear about your experience and I feel it now sounds more worth the money.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, we never would have been able to do it all in one day.

    • marciecheung Reply

      It was really impressive! So many details! I could have spent all day just marveling at it!

  8. I was raised in a theme park family. I’ve been to Disney and Universal Studios more times than I can remember, but I never got to do anything this neat!! I’m super jealous and also happy you guys had so much fun. I want to do this soon!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Lucky you! We went to Disneyland for the first time 2 years ago!

  9. Such amazing insight on all the rides! I love universal and Disney in general but this gives an amazing perspective! I hope to do the vip experience one day too

    • marciecheung Reply

      It’s quite a different experience than doing general admission! I’m hoping I have the opportunity to do it again someday!

  10. It’s my DREAM to go to Harry Potter World! I just went to London to do the WB Studio Tour and I cannot wait to go to Florida or LA to see the real deal! This sounds like heaven to me 🙂
    xx, Theresa

    • marciecheung Reply

      Ack! That’s so cool that you did the WB Studio Tour in LONDON! That’s on my bucket list for sure!

    • marciecheung Reply

      That means you can hit up Universal Studios Florida, which is supposed to be even bigger!

  11. Universal Studios was one of my favorite experiences back when I last went to Disney and Orlando like 12 years ago. All these photos make me want to go back!!

    • marciecheung Reply

      I’m hoping to check out Universal Studios Florida one of these years!

  12. This seems like such a fun trip!! Great photos. My husband has been wanting to go here since forever, but I haven’t been convinced. Yeah, VIP option is definitely in our cards someday. Thanks!

    • marciecheung Reply

      I hope you get to do it soon! I’m usually not super into theme parks because I get dizzy on rides, but the VIP experience was the right pace for me!

  13. Such a nostalgic read. Had been there couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it!

  14. I just yesterday was figuring out my family summer vacation. Universal is one of the places we had hoped to go to. My daughter is 11 and we thought it would be fun to take her to The Wizarding World Harry Potter. Great tips, it looks like a total blast!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh she’d be the perfect age! You might look into getting her a robe and scarf ahead of time and surprise her at the park!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yay! I know I get a bit wordy, but there’s so much to share!

  15. I’ve been to Universal Studios Hollywood and enjoyed every second but I am unaware of the VIP experience which seems like such a blast! I need to go back!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, go back and do the VIP experience! It was amazing!

  16. I enjoyed your reading because I hope to one day go to the park and your tips would come in super handy! I’m glad you guys had a good trip!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Thanks! I hope you get the opportunity to go someday!

  17. We have season passes to Universal FL. Have never done the VIP tour. Since we are there often it’s fun to discover new things. Always find something we haven’t seen before

    • marciecheung Reply

      The VIP worked for us since we only had one day. With a season pass, you can take your time!

  18. Thanks for sharing your awesome fun time. I live in Southern California and have not been there yet. Looks like I may need to go soon. Awesome.

  19. I have been to the universal studios in Florida and it was all that. Would love to check out their California location. Sounds like so much fun.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I’ve heard Florida is even bigger! I might need two days!

    • marciecheung Reply

      It’s so hard with Disneyland trips to do anything other than Disneyland. That’s why we hadn’t done Universal before!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Do it! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter exceeded my expectations!

  20. I went to Universal two years back and looking at your pictures, I feel like going back soon! Hopefully, during the spring-summer break!

    • marciecheung Reply

      I hope you make it back! They are opening a new theatre there this summer!

    • marciecheung Reply

      It was a smart move for our family. I’m sure we’ll be back when the kids are older!

  21. Hannah Marie Reply

    Wow it’s so nice that you get to spend a holiday with your husband. How I wish we could do the same too as my husband doesn’t really want to spend a day in amusement parks.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I’m not usually an amusement park person, either. However, the studio tour is what sold me. It was amazing!

  22. LOVED that you left the kiddos at home and had VIP fun just the two of you! This sounds like the a great way to go for exploring Universal. I’d love seeing all the sets, prop rooms, and other stuff from those fun movies. Also really loved your descriptions of the rides. Great post!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Thanks! I know if we had brought the kids, there would be extra whining and we would have been wiped out just trekking around the park. This was a much more enjoyable way to do it!

  23. Parents day out!!! I definitely need to do one of those with my husband, lol. I never would have thought to go to Universal without our daughter, but maybe I need to rethink that!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, I thought it was a crazy idea at first, but it was definitely the way to go for our family!

  24. We went on a Make a Wish trip with my son and it was similar to the VIP experience. After that I decided I would gladly pay the extra money to enjoy similar service in the future.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I bet that was a very special trip for your family!

  25. Just from reading your post I felt I was able to enjoy the VIP tour through you. I would definitely enjoy the VIP tour if we were able to go. You made me excited at the prospect of going. Such a full and informative post. All of your pictures were great! What a great experience.

  26. I’ve been to Universal before and never gave the VIP option any thought. Looks like it was so worth it! Great post.

    • marciecheung Reply

      It’s definitely worth it if you only have one day and want to see as much as you can!

  27. Amazing and detailed post! I’ve been to Universal Studios Florida so many times and never knew there was a VIP tour. I’m going to have to look into it for next time!!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, look into it! It’s a great way to experience everything in one day!

  28. Gosh this sounds like so much fun – what a great idea! A VIP tour definitely sounds like the way to go. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, it’s definitely a luxurious way to do a theme park!

  29. Ruth-Ann Ridley Reply

    This looks like it would be such an amazing time. My kids would definitely have a blast!

  30. VIP pass means shorter queues, longer enjoyment and perfect viewing spot. This must be an amazing date for you two!

    • marciecheung Reply

      It was perfect for us! I think I would have been grouchy waiting in some of those lines in the heat!

  31. Marcie – Great post! I’ve always wanted to go and do the VIP experience. Was it super busy there?

    • marciecheung Reply

      There were a lot of people, but it wasn’t packed. However, we had family who went 2 weeks before us who waited 3 hours for the Harry Potter ride.

  32. This sounds like such a fun day out! It’s been years since I’ve been there, but clearly I need to go back. I love the water rides, and would definitely try the Walking Dead attraction, I’m a huge fan of the show!

    • marciecheung Reply

      OMG you are so much braver than me! Zombies freak me out!

  33. Can’t wait to visit here again in the near future!!!

    xoxo,
    Angelle

    • marciecheung Reply

      I’m going to keep that in mind for future events!

  34. Oh my god! I haven’t been to Universal Studios in California in so long! I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when it opened in Orlando a few years ago, but didn’t visit the rest of the park. But last time I went to the California one I must have been like 10 years old! So many things have changed! There are plenty of new rides and I have heard they got ride of the Back to the Future experience and the E.T. ride as well, sad, but the new ones seem very promising! I guess it means I have to go again! Thanks for all the tips! the VIP experience seems the right way to do it haha.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, you can still see the Courthouse from Back to the Future, but that’s the only BTTF thing. I was bummed I couldn’t ride the E.T. bicycle. But the rest is really cool and worth a trip!

  35. So So So So Jealous. I am a huge movie buff so this is a dream come true. Thanks for all the information and I would agree that having the VIP tour saves time as having been to one too many theme parks, running around can drain you out quite a bit. Some really great classic film mentions that bring back amazing childhood movie watching memories.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I thought my husband was crazy for suggesting we splurge on VIP tickets, but I’m so glad we did. They are exhausting!

  36. Tyffani Duvall-Stone Reply

    This was a great read! my husband and I are going in June for our 10 year wedding anniversary. I am so glad we came across your blog.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh what a fun way to spend your 10 year anniversary!

  37. Ava Crosier Reply

    I LOOOOOOOOVE Harry Potter and I have been to Harry potter world be4 and its amaaaaaaaaaaaaazing I love it! thanks 4 the cool writing??????

    *!!!!!! not ??????

    • marciecheung Reply

      I was seriously impressed with how amazing all the Harry Potter stuff was!

  38. I have annual passes and I’ve never thought about buying VIP tickets! Sounds like you had a lot of fun! I should think about it for sure!

  39. Hi Marcie.

    We’re heading to SoCal this July for 6 nights and 5 days. We were thinking of doing a 3 day hopper for Disneyland, 1 day for Knott’s Berry, and 1 day at Universal. Oddly and funny enough, we also have a 1 year old and a 4 year old (well, soon to be 5 in a couple of months). But, unlike you, we’re bringing them.

    If I’m reading the online stuff correctly, under 5 is not allowed for the VIP experience at Universal. Do you know if this is true? If not, would you still recommend a VIP experience for a 5 year old (and the baby)? I know mom and dad would enjoy it 🙂

    Also, does that sound good to you — 3 days Disney, 1 Knott’s, and 1 Universal?

    Any other thoughts, comments, feedback, and advice would be greatly appreciated!

    – Jay

    • Yes, under 5 is unfortunately not allowed for the VIP experience at Universal. That’s part of the reason we decided to do it when we were kid-free because it would be 4 years until both kids are old enough. My neighbor took her 5yo daughter and they had a blast! You might look into the Universal Express tickets for your family. It will allow you to jump ahead in line. Summer is a busy season, so that would save you hours and keep spirits high. And indulge in the Butterbeer 🙂 They also have a rider switch option (just like Disneyland) that will be helpful since your 1yo won’t be able to go on most of the rides. And Universal is much larger than I anticipated, so I’d suggest doing one area at a time. The upper and lower lots are really far apart.

      I think your plan sounds great! Will you have any down days during your trip? Your kids might have sensory overload (and you might be exhausted) and need a day to rest in between the theme parks. It took me a few years to realize how helpful it is to lay low every few days to let the kids refuel.

      Have an incredible trip! I have a few posts about Disneyland with babies, toddlers and preschoolers and feel free to ask any other questions you have. I’m here to help!

  40. I am struggling if I go for VIP. They are expensive. After reading your review I think it must be a good choice.
    I will go with my parents in law who are 85+, first time traveling out from San Francisco, two young kids 7 and 12.
    Do they have a VIP expert guide only us ? Or do we combine into another family? Does VIP experience including parking that means we don’t need pay extra?
    Thank you for your in/depth and lively review.

    • Great question! They keep the tour group pretty small. I think we ended up with 9 people and the maximum is 12 people, I believe. Yes, VIP includes valet parking, so you won’t have that additional cost. I’m so glad this post helped! Please reach out with any additional questions. Thanks!

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