Universal California?


We have never been to Universal at all, either coast. We are going for 1 day in California as we have City Passes that include 1 day passes (no VIP). We are not into scary shows/rides or the animal actors thing and will be there on a weekend day in February. I am very familiar with DLR & WDW and have heard that Universal doesn't run at all the same. Does anyone have guidance for me on how to maneuver the park?


I've been to universal ca. I would say the rides there are scarier than Disney. But they are all simulator type rides. And there isn't many of them. You aren't going to flip upside down on anything. Mummy would be the scariest - but it is seriously awesome. Then transformers. Jurassic park is a flume ride. Simpsons simulates a coaster. We didn't do shrek as the time clashed with animal actors which our kids wanted to see.

If you aren't doing the rides I'd arrive earlier and do the backlot tour then look at the different shows on for the day. It's not a big park. We had a vip pass there (one use each ride) and we were done in half a day. (Didn't repeat rides as waits were all above 45min but would have had lines been shorter).

In hindsight we should have ridden first without the pass then used it for repeats when the lines were longer.

Are there any rides you are considering?. If so I'd probably suggest doing those first before the backlot but maybe check the UG as there are some touring plans in the back. (Sorry I lent mine out so can't check them).

(We didn't follow a plan as we had the pass and wanted a break from the intense planning at Disney)


Thank you @Quattro smile

We are planning to do these:

-Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
-Shrek 4D
-maybe The Simpsons ride
-special effects stage
-studio tour
-NBC Universal expreience (props & costumes walk through)

Any idea how long doing those each once on a weekend day will take? Assuming it is best to be there just before park opens? I have the UG so I will peek at the TP but not sure how applicable it will be if we are only doing these few things. Should I still do the same order the TP lists in the book? Does every attraction there run all day long?

Sorry if these questions are laughable, I really have no idea what to expect.


Not silly questions at all. I wish I could be more help. I would say arrive before opening and follow a UG Plan skipping over what you don't want to do.

The park is split into two sections upper (where you enter) and lower where most of the rides are.

Majority of people seem to head towards the backlot tour as it's the first thing you see signs for. They do lots of buses for this though.

So maybe get Simpsons out of the way upstairs and then do anything downstairs on your list before the backlot crowd makes their way down? You can then head back up to do the timed shows.

Minion wasn't open when we were there.

I think safest is to check the plan though. Average waits toward lunch time were 45 min for headliners. Shrek I don't think you'll need to worry about to much. It runs on timed shows from memory and takes a large crowd of people.

I hope someone can chime in that has more experience than me - we've only been the once smile


Hmmm...Talked to my family and they don't want to do Simpsons at all (my kids (tween & teen) don't have a clue who the Simpsons are) and I didn't really care either way. My husband said the same thing.

According to the TP in the UG and skipping what we don't plan to do, this will be our plan then:

Despicable Me
Shrek 4D
Special Effects Stage
Studio Tour
NBC Universal Experience

Do you think we could be done by early afternoon? It seems we might be able to. We are the kind of people that don't loiter around until after the TP is all checked off. We just zip from one attraction to the next.

Thanks for your help @Quattro.


I think you'd definitely be done by early afternoon. None of those things will take too long I don't think if you arrive at opening.

Also - if you're planning on having a pinks hotdog in the park - do it earlier rather than later - they run out! (We were interested to try as the lines for the LA store snake around the block)

Have fun!! (When are you going?)

Edit- the 4d rides at uni really are spectacular. Simpsons is a simulator that mimics a coaster. It's quite fun. Not sure what level of ride you like. It's more intense then soarin or star tours at DL.

transformers is also really cool. A jeep type thing kind of like Indiana. But again a lot more intense and with really fast visual 4d effects like you are in the middle of a robot war. Definitely both worth doing for the experience as they are visually impressive.

Depends on the level of motion/action you like though. I would put those and mummy in my top 3 there. (Mummy
is scary).

(Our girls were 8 and 7 at the time and had no problems with any of them. Space at DL was their favourite).


We have been several times, but ride everything. Even then, have plenty of time. I think you have less than 3 hours of things to do there. The order I would consider for shortest waits: Despicable Me first (newest thing there, will have longest lines). If you like it, Simpson's Ride is very similar. Then to the Studio Tour. After that other 3 things. You are missing about half the park. Transformers is great fun (not scary), as is the Mummy (might be considered scary? My tween loves it). Jurassic Park is a water ride and not scary at all. My kids have always enjoyed the Simpson's ride, long before they knew who the Simpson's were. WaterWorld is a fun show. I wouldn't discount all their rides, Universal is a lot of fun especially with tweens/teens! The only thing we don't care for at Universal is their food. So we leave the park at lunchtime and eat at CityWalk. We enjoy Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and the Saddle Ranch Chop House (they have great breakfast/brunch foods). The last time we were at Universal we had the City Walk pass as well. Left after lunch, went down to Hollywood and did the Stars Homes Tour with the CityPass, after that went back to Universal to finish what we had missed. The CityPass is a great deal, we did a ton of stuff during our week in and around Burbank/LA/Anaheim! Hope you have a great trip!


I appreciate your detailed feedback/advice @Quattro & @Wahoohokie smile

We are not planning to eat there at all as we eat vegan and gluten free and have heard the options focus are not good there at all (just plan to bring in a little snack in our bag). Do they kinda have the same rules as Disney for bringing food in?

I have considered your advice about the rides we are not planning to do. We actually got our City Passes for free and have tons of LA things we want to do while we are down there so just kinda want to do the things listed (if my kids change their mind, we'll adjust while there) and hoping to have the afternoon/evening elsewhere. I get motion sickness on certain rides and I have positional vertigo so I limit what I go on. I go on Star Tours with my kids but I have to close my eyes. Part of the reason we are planning to skip half the stuff is that my tween is pretty sensitive to scary and drops and I am not big on forcing them to ride if not interested as we travel to amusement parks enough that we know one day she'll go again and be ready for whatever she wasn't another time. They haven't watched Jurassic Park/Mummy/Transformers either so it's just not high on our priority list compared to other things. My younger daughter is pretty girly and young for her age still and just super not into "boyish things". Since none of the family members are interested, we'll choose something that they are interested in instead.


Oh! My friend suffers vertigo - that is no fun!

Enjoy your time at uni. the city pass is good value. We couldn't get it our trip as I think you have To go to uni first to collect. Although that might have changed now.


I have never heard of having to go to Universal first. That would throw a wrench in our plans. How long ago did you go? Mine are gift cards.


july 2013.
hmm looking at the citypass site it says this

*If you buy from citypass.com, you may start using your CityPASS at any
attraction and visit the attractions in any order. (If you purchase a
CityPASS voucher or e-ticket from another website, you may be required
to start at a particular attraction.)*

Maybe just check the terms to be sure. I remember reading it at the time we were going and also we wanted the VIP and weren't going to Lego land so we didn't end up getting it.


Gotcha! Sorry about the motion sickness and vertigo, I would definitely skip most of Universal's stuff then, not worth it to feel yucky. My younger one takes a lot longer than his sister to warm up to rides. At 9 she was the queen of Magic Mountain, not a fear in the world! He is 11 now and finally starting to enjoy the big rides, though Magic Mountain is still a few years off for him. I don't blame you for not wanting to eat at Universal, regardless of your food preferences. Most everything we saw looked horribly unhealthy. We like treats as much as anyone, but find if we succumb to the fast food at the parks we feel horrible. Hope you have a great trip!