No trip to Universal Studios Hollywood is complete without experiencing our signature attraction, The World-Famous Studio Tour. This legit journey through the actual sets of some of your favorite movies and television shows is mixed with exhilarating attractions and entertaining insights, making it an educational thrill ride unlike anything you can experience anywhere else. And while it’s safe to say there are no bad seats on the Studio Tour, there are definitely some preferred seats, depending on what you’re most excited to see. Let me break it down for you.
The flash flood on our Old Mexico set was added to our backlot tour back in 1968. You may recognize it from films like “Big Fat Liar” and “Fletch Lives”, but seeing it in person is truly something else. A rainstorm starts out of nowhere and before you know it, 10,000 gallons of water are rushing toward you, blasting through windows, knocking over signs, when suddenly… *WHOOSH* It stops just short of washing away the entire tram. How? Movie magic, of course.
Car 2, Left Side
The ﬁrst of its kind on the Studio Tour, this attraction was created under the direction of “King Kong” director Peter Jackson. As you make your way through Skull Island, the tram is suddenly surrounded by hungry dinosaurs and giant insects.
Luckily, Kong is on your side. Actually, he’s on all sides, throwing punches (watch out for dinosaur saliva) and catching tram cars. Good thing the tram roof is built to support that kind of weight.
…it is, right?
Car 2, Right Side — if you want to see Kong’s epic entrance
Car 4, Left Side — if you want to see what happens to Car 5
War of the Worlds
One of the most well-known sets from the Studio Tour is the plane crash from Steven Spielberg’s, “War of the Worlds”. Now I won’t tell you all the fun facts about this set (that’s what the tour is for), but it is a real 747 airplane that was torn apart for the movie and it is truly something to behold up close. As the neighborhood appeared in the film, you can still see the smoking wreckage of the crash and the scattered debris. Don’t worry — the tram will stop for a moment so you can snap plenty of pictures.
Car 3, Left Side
Some may recognize the peaceful village around the water as Cabot Cove, from the classic show, “Murder, She Wrote”. However, this section is most commonly known as Jaws Lake, home of the unstoppable great white shark from the movie “Jaws”. After greeting one of the divers in the water, the tram will pause on the dock (for safety, I guess?), allowing the shark to cause some destruction by the gas pumps before attacking the tram. This is why they tell you to keep your arms inside the vehicle, folks.
Car 2, Right Side — to get a good look at the shark just as he emerges
Car 3, Right Side — to get a good look at the shark and enjoy those fire effects (if it’s chilly outside)
Earthquake — The Big One
This part of the tour has been featured in movies like “Beverly Hills Cop III” and the TV show “Bones”. Much like King Kong 360 3-D, this attraction delivers thrills and action on all sides, so there are no bad seats. The difference here is that all the effects are practical (no 3D glasses needed). Plus, if you missed the fire effects from Jaws Lake or the flood from Old Mexico, Earthquake features both — and they’re on opposite sides!
Car 3, Right Side — for those fire effects (just watch out for the gas truck)
Car 3, Left Side — for that impressive flood
Your tour guide can rattle off dozens of different movies and TV shows that have been filmed on this beautiful block of the backlot (and likely a few current productions!), but none more well-known than “Back to the Future”. While some of the facades have changed, you’ll still be taken back to 1955 (or 1985, or 2015). There’s plenty of fun stuff to see on all sides, but the tram tends to pass by the iconic courthouse and clocktower just once.
Car 2 or 3, Left Side – for the best view of the courthouse
New York Street & Colonial Street & Six Points Texas
A good portion of the tour is spent traveling down streets designed to look like any city but Hollywood. This is where the history of filmmaking on the Universal backlot comes alive with facades everywhere. Because this is a working studio, the route can vary day-to-day!
There’s a government spy on board the tram and the villainous Owen Shaw is on his way to take them out (and I don’t mean to dinner). Fortunately, the “Fast & Furious” crew is aware of the situation and are here to protect you and everyone else on board. After a failed attempt to hide out at Sullivan’s Garage, the tram finds itself in a high-speed chase through the streets of LA, with intense action happening all around it. This attraction uses similar technology to King Kong 360 3-D, meaning that once again there aren’t any bad seats. To take it a step further, the action throughout is pretty similar on either side, and one character is even carried along both sides of the tram by helicopter (before jumping back into their moving vehicle, of course).
Any Car, Left Side – for a good look at the souped-up vehicles right when you enter Sullivan’s Garage
Any Car, Right Side – for a good look at the pre-show dance party and Shaw’s arrival
As you can see, no matter where you sit on the World-Famous Studio Tour, you’re bound to get an unforgettable experience. Just remember to stay seated while the tram is in motion, and don’t put those 3D glasses on just yet. Action!
Let us know in the comments below your favorite part of the Studio Tour and we’ll see you soon!