Universal Studios was a bucket list item and it was definitely worth the wait. Being an adult is hard! We spend hours working, cleaning, paying bills and saddest of all is that we forget what it’s like to be a kid, free of any responsibilities. Universal Studios brings out that kid in you again. If this isn’t reason enough then I don’t know what is.
This blog is intended to give you all the tips needed prior to going to Universal Studios as well as a summary on the different rides, etc. (spoiler alert!)
Universal Studios operating hours vary and I would recommend you visit this link to confirm the hours. The park usually opens at 9am, and closes at 9pm during the week and 10pm on weekends. If you have the opportunity to go during the week then go. But if you have to go on a weekend then these tips could you save you time, money and hassles.
- Buy your tickets online. Having an online ticket allows you to enter the park at 8:30am (30 minutes before the rest of the crowd). This gives you a huge advantage in getting to the GREAT rides faster. There are different options and you can view the various options here. A 1 day general pass can cost between $100 – $115 ( R1,525 – R1,754*). You do not need to print the tickets. You can just show them the ticket on your phone at the gate.
- Take an Uber to Universal so that you don’t have to hassle with parking. From Hollywood, this can cost about $10-$15 ( R152 – R228*)
- Wearing the right attire can also give you a strategic advantage. Firstly, do not take a bag. I used a leather satchel that tied around my waist (perfect for cellphone and lip balm). If you take a bag or a backpack with then you have to stand in the queue with the lockers at every single ride. This can add on 30 minutes to your wait time. Wear sneakers so that you can run from ride to ride. Also, you should not wear any shoes or “slofs” that can easily slip off. Take a light hoody or jacket that can easily tie around your waist. You do not want to be carrying anything.
- Once you finally enter Universal studios, do not get distracted by all the pretty things! Just run (or jog) to the famous spots such as the Harry Potter ride. Do not get distracted when entering Hogsmeade. There will be plenty of time for photos. The priority is to do all the great rides first so that you do not have to wait long in the queues.
This is just a summary of a few of the rides worth going on while you’re there-
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
This was my favourite ride and was definitely worth the 30 minute wait (this wait is actually quick considering I went back later in the day and the wait was 2 hours!). This journey begins with you walking through the Hogwarts Castle School and being hypnotised by the likeness to the real Hogwarts we’ve seen in the movies. The artworks are alive and move just like what you’d expect in the movie. You witness holograms of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley right in front of you. These little things give you the tiniest goosebumps and by the time you get to the actual ride you are ecstatic and overwhelmed, ready for the 4D experience. The 4D Ride is extremely fun and there will be a lot of surprises along the way. Please note that if you are easily affected by motion sickness, then avoid this ride. Actually, just do the ride and throw up after!! It will be worth it. Get a little taste here.
This was such an amazing ride because it all takes place on water. As you float through Jurassic Park, be prepared to get slightly wet and amazingly surprised
Transformers – 3D
This was an amazing experience. Be prepared to follow Optimus Prime in defeating Megatron. I remember an explosion happening and I could feel the heat from the virtual explosion on my face! Intense!
Despicable Me : Minion Mayhem and Funland
Who doesn’t love minions? This ride is so adorable and the story follows Gru taking you (a human) through a transformation into a minion. So much fun!
Revenge of the Mummy
The walkway to the ride was amazing as the structures looked exactly like you’re entering caves with hieroglyphics etched into the walls. Amazing.
The Simpsons Ride
This ride takes place in a small room. You are about 10 people in a simulator and it feels as though you broke through the building and entering the world of the Simpsons. Absolutely amazing!
This ride follows the journey of Shrek saving Fiona from the “ghost” of Prince Charming. This experience takes place in a 4D cinema. The chairs move, etc. This was quite an experience!
There are a few more rides you can experience while at Universal. I’ve just highlighted my favourites.
There are a few “non-rides” that are worth experiencing as well. I’ve listed them below.
Universal Studio Tour
This tour is a must as you are whisked away in a universal studios cart with a narrator who drives through all the stage sets. You get to see Wisteria Lane, Lake Pleasant (think JAWS) , Jurassic Park and even experience the set from the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock thriller “Psycho.” During the tour, you get to experience a 360 degree 3D show featuring King Kong. Need I say more?
The Tour shows you the secrets behind all the effects you see on TV and in the movies. During the tour, you even experience a flood! It’s insane! This is definitely a must!
Special Effects Stage
This is exactly as described. You enter a huge theatre and they show you how special effects are created in a movie. They start by showing you how they came up with the universal studio track that we don’t really notice before the movie plays. To watch it, click here.
They even demonstrate how they set a man on fire – the tricks behind that. You get to watch real stunt men do a fight scene. Very interesting and exciting at the same time. Try to get a seat in the front row!
This was one of my highlights at Universal as you get to experience a live short film. You witness special effects and amazing acting right in front of your eyes. There was a point where an actual plane crashed in front of us! It’s amazing! See my video below for some highlights (Warning : the video will get you very excited!)
Universal Animal Actors
This is exactly as the name describes. This show introduces you to animal actors and behind the scenes training of these animals. You get to meet cats, birds, monkeys, foxes, pigeons and even rats. This was a truly adorable experience! (watch the video below for some recorded footage)
Just a little note – some of the rides have height restrictions and you need to check ahead for your kids. You can read up on all restrictions here. Many of the rides have sudden drops, turns and harsh movements. If you are prone to motion sickness then you won’t enjoy any of the rides. Personally, I would chance it. It’s worth every minute! I spent about 11 hours at Universal Studios and managed to experience every single ride once and watch every single show once. One day is more than enough to experience everything. If I had to do it again I would buy a 2-day pass just so that I could do each ride over and over again!
Sometimes being an adult is all about how well you can hide the fact that you’re still a kid. Visiting Universal Studios made me feel like I didn’t need to pretend anymore and just for that one day I didn’t have to “ADULT” at all.
Have some fun once in a while……
Check out the summary video
(Music : One Direction: Live while we’re young)
Website: Universal Studios
Photos: Self taken with iphone 6s and a few from google images
* Exchange rate obtained from Oanda.com on the 15 June 2016. The Rand value fluctuates with changes in exchange rate.