Picture this: you descend the famous Starway into a lush valley below, the stirring tones of John Williams’ iconic score begin to resonate over the sounds of excited guests. With breathtaking views of tropical trees, a rushing waterfall and the bustling crowds below, the music grows louder as you enter into one of the most celebrated theme parks ever created. And I don’t mean Universal Studios Hollywood — you’re entering Jurassic World.
Descending the Starway may not exactly be a helicopter ride into Isla Nublar, but it comes pretty close. You’ll see the dinosaur paddocks almost immediately (it feels like something might happen there, right? But nah, I’m sure it’ll be just fine…).
So enjoy the ride and focus on the scenery as you are transported into one of the most beloved movie series of all time.
Wait, are those screams?
WHAT TO DO
First things first — it’s time to pet a dinosaur! Hold on, I’m being told that’s inadvisable. Okay, it’s time to take a picture with a dinosaur. Upon arrival to the Lower Lot and to your left is the Raptor Encounter.
The dinosaurs in the Raptor Encounter can be a bit mercurial, given that they’re…dinosaurs. So if you don’t see the Raptor Handlers outside yet, just be patient. They’ll be out in no time at all with the star of the show, Blue the Velociraptor, who is hungry to meet you. Just try to stay very still and keep your hands at your sides. You may even have a chance to meet Sierra and Tango, our Baby Raptors. So cute…and deadly! Juliet the Triceratops might also make an appearance, and there’s always a possibility the handlers could even bring out a Raptor egg. Our handlers are highly trained, so listen carefully to them, especially if they tell you to run.
PRO TIP: If you’re looking to meet a specific dinosaur, just ask one of our trusted Raptor Handlers for the daily schedule. They’re more than happy to tell you when the dinosaur you seek is scheduled to appear.
Let’s not kid ourselves — you’re here for Jurassic World—The Ride, and who can blame you? It’s the centerpiece of this truly immersive experience and it’s as thrilling as it is wet. Look for the entrance under the signature arch just to the left of Jurassic Café. You’ll come face-to-face with a host of prehistoric predators as you cruise past Jurassic World’s exhibits which never, ever experience any containment issues. With a special introduction from some of the Jurassic World cast, prepare for a thrilling journey culminating with a very close encounter with a fearsome Indominus rex.
PRO TIP: If you don’t want to get wet, you can pick up a poncho in Jurassic Outfitters. My advice during the summer months? Don’t. You’ll thank me later.
FOR THE KIDS
It’s a widely known fact that kids love dinosaurs. And climbing. So why not let your little ones climb all over a dinosaur dig site at DinoPlay? They can explore dinosaur fossils and play on rope bridges while you take a minute to catch your breath or dry off. Find DinoPlay just off to the right of the entrance to Jurassic World—The Ride, which is also a great place to utilize our child-switch services for parents.
WHERE TO SHOP
If you’re like me, you’re obsessed with souvenirs. Maybe a little too much. But that’s completely understandable given the amazing selection of clothing, toys, collectibles and more at Jurassic Outfitters. I mean, who doesn’t need a dinosaur mask? After you step off of Jurassic World—The Ride, you’ll exit right through this fantastic showcase of Jurassic goodies. You’ll find all manner of stunning t-shirts, adorable dinosaur plush toys and even some high-end autographed memorabilia for the Jeff Goldblum lovers among us. Which should be all of us, as he is a treasure.
PRO TIP: New items are rotated in regularly, so always check in and see what’s new. I picked up some eye-catching new artwork during my last visit that I’d never seen before. Score!
WHERE TO EAT
Your primary destination for food and snacks while in Jurassic World is the Jurassic Café, located to the right of the Jurassic World arch. Do yourself a favor and show up with an appetite, as the menu here is unlike anything else at Universal Studios Hollywood. Inspired by Costa Rican cuisine, you can dive into delicious fare like slow roasted mojo pork or citrus glazed chicken with cranberry chimichurri. As a responsible writer, I decided to try both while working on this blog. The verdict? Fabulous, and I’m going back for more.
Of course, there are more conventional theme-park-style food options available, too. You can sink your teeth into a burger or chicken sandwich, and the turkey leg platter just feels like something they might also feed to Blue. So satisfy those carnivorous cravings before she eats it all, or simply dive into a delicious Beyond Burger if the herbivore vibe is more your style.
PRO TIP: Gather your meals and head upstairs to the rooftop. There’s plenty of open air seating available with stunning views and plenty of shade.
WHERE TO DRINK
Now we’ve arrived at my area of expertise! There are some delicious beverage options available in Jurassic Café, including the Raptor Refresher — that’s Jurassic blue punch with popping yogurt boba. But if an adult beverage is what you desire, look no further than Isla Nu-Bar, the tiki bar situated just outside the Jurassic Café.
Isla Nu-Bar offers a wide selection of cocktails, fantastic blended drinks and draft beer to soothe your jangled nerves after an encounter with the Indominus rex. And on a hot Southern California day, those frozen drinks truly hit the spot. Our mixologists are always developing new options for your enjoyment, too, so you never know what new cocktail or IPA might be available to try during your next visit.
PRO TIP: The bartenders tell me the piña colada is the most popular drink at Isla Nu-Bar, but their collective favorite is the “Painkiller”. And who are we to argue with the experts?
Hopefully at this point, you’re ready and equipped for your journey to Jurassic World. Be sure to take a few moments as you walk around to soak in all the wondrous details the park’s Creative Team have put in place, such as the dinosaur fossils embedded in the walls. And don’t forget to take a break under the cool water misters located near the benches, or find a spot on the steps to watch your fellow guests shriek as they plummet down Jurassic World-The Ride. Just take it all in, and enjoy a park 65 million years in the making.
When you have finished basking in the awe and wonder from interacting with dinosaurs, more thrills await you on the Mummy — directly across from Jurassic World-The Ride.