Guides and Tips, Itineraries

Our Unforgettable Family Weekend With The Hollywood Plus Pass

June 20, 2024
Universal Studios Hollywood arch and red carpet.

Looking for excitement and adventure, my family of six headed to Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles for a long weekend. It was our first big trip in years, and I was a little nervous about the flight, getting around LA and finding things to do to make everyone happy. Turns out that I didn’t need to be anxious at all. Our trip to California was a fantastic experience for all of us — thanks to the Hollywood Plus Pass.

Our primary purpose for visiting the area was to experience all the fun, food and fandom of Universal Studios Hollywood. However, if we flew five hours and over 3,000 miles, we definitely needed to see some of Los Angeles, too! We wanted to check out the magic of Hollywood, see the glitz of Beverly Hills, take in the fun in Santa Monica and maybe enjoy a dumpling in Chinatown. By checking out its neighborhoods, like Westwood or Calle Olvera, a quick vacation can turn into a rich cultural experience.

There is so much to do in La La Land and we sought out to take advantage of it all. When we heard about the Hollywood Plus Pass, we thought it was the ideal solution for our adventurous family. It would allow us to relish the fun at Universal and explore various LA experiences and attractions. Perfect!

What is the Hollywood Plus Pass?

Chinese theater street-view in L.A.

Hollywood Plus Pass is a digital pass that combines a ticket to various attractions, experiences and things to do in LA. It can save you money, time and effort. It is easy to use once you have set up the downloadable pass. It was fun to personalize our LA experience based on the attractions our kids are interested in.

The Hollywood Plus Pass is divided into the following categories:

  1. Hollywood Plus Pass 3 Attractions (Peak Dates and Non-Peak Dates) 
  2. Hollywood Plus Pass 5 Attractions (Peak Dates and Non-Peak Dates)

We had the Hollywood Plus Pass 3 attractions pass, which worked well with our three-day trip to LA. The pass allowed us to visit many attractions throughout Los Angeles freely. We were able to experience the culture and glamor of Los Angeles and learn more about this diverse, distinctive city.

What activities are included in the Hollywood Plus Pass?

A woman and child looking at a seal.

This pass is for anyone who wants to see more of the second-largest city in the United States AND enjoy all the fun at Universal Studios Hollywood. It works well for families who have opinionated kids like mine. My 16-year-old daughter believes shopping is a must for any expedition. My 11-year-old son, on the other hand, is just as adamant that the MVP of any vacation has to be sports-related. Parents can consider all these opinions and select different activities to (hopefully) make everyone happy. 

Also, for someone like me who hasn’t spent much time in LA, the pass gave me a place to start when planning activities for our trip. Los Angeles is HUGE, and I could have spent a ton of time trying to figure out the best things to do. The pass took that stress away! You have seven days to use the pass, starting after the first time you scan it (or make a reservation with the app), so you don’t have to be anxious about squeezing it all in.

A man kicking a football.

You can choose any 3 or 5 attractions from the following list:

The Starline City Sightseeing Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour was the absolute best choice for us as people who haven’t spent much time in the City of Angels. In fact, it was so good, we picked it as two of our choices! Doing so, we got to span almost the entirety of this massive town. We rode on the Downtown, Santa Monica and Hollywood lines and jumped off to visit famous sights like the Sunset Strip and Rodeo Drive, and got a peek at the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica Pier. 

A group of people shopping and walking across a street.

We also learned more about what we saw and all the famous people and places integral to LA. For example, I found out there are over 2,700 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and that celebrities have to pay $75,000 for the pleasure of being memorialized here. Wow! I loved that we could ride all four lines and switch between them on a whim. Plus, there were lots of pop culture references parents would adore. Not recognizing the hotel “Pretty Woman” made famous? Big mistake. Huge.

And our third option on the pass was Universal Studios Hollywood tickets, of course! 

Five Tips For Using Your Hollywood Plus Pass

Los Angeles Zoo signage.
  1. Don’t get overwhelmed! The Hollywood Plus Pass is super easy to use once the accompanying app is downloaded to your phone. It includes information on all the attractions, including how to get there. However, be sure to map out the activities from where you’re staying and factor in travel time.  
  1. When you choose your activities, ensure your Universal ticket is one of them to get the most from your pass. It’s best to have one day for each LA activity if possible. Don’t make yourself crazy by trying to run all over LA County. Take the time to shop, eat, or just enjoy this remarkable city.
  1. Get your kids involved and let them help with planning. Send them the link to the Hollywood Plus Pass website and get their input on where to visit. For families with several kids, like mine, this pass is a fantastic way to include everyone. And remember some activities, such as the SoFi Stadium Tour, require reservations. Make your choices ahead of time to allow for activities that have limited availability.
  1. Download the SmartVisit app to your phone and add the passes for your whole family before you arrive in Los Angeles in case Wi-Fi is an issue. For activities that don’t require reservations, you just need to show up and scan the QR code on the pass. Only after you scan will you be able to see the transactions in the transaction history tab. There is no need to click “redeem” before getting to a venue unless a reservation is needed. 
  1. Not everyone knows about the Hollywood Plus Pass since it is relatively new.  Be aware you may need to explain it or show your app to the ticket taker.

Getting Around LA 

Panoramic view of the interior of the Chinese Theater.

We flew into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). It is a gigantic airport with many options to get to Universal Studios Hollywood, about 30 minutes away. You may want to consider flying into Hollywood Burbank Airport instead of LAX. While there are fewer arrivals, it is much smaller, more relaxed, and only 4 miles from Universal. This will get you to the theme park that much faster!

Ride-share services like Lyft and Uber are available for those who don’t want to drive a car. However, they are more expensive than other places in the US, as is the cost of gas. If you have to use Uber XL or Lyft XL like us because you have more than four people, the price increases exponentially, and the availability of cars lowers. Also, if you have a big family like me, I recommend messaging the driver after booking to ensure they can fit everyone. Consider the Metro train system if you don’t want to drive or take Uber. We took it twice, and it was super easy, affordable and stress-free. The Universal Studios Hollywood Metro Station is only a 10-minute downhill walk from the closest hotels to the theme park. The LA Metro is clean and bright, and it feels very safe. 

Our Favorite Day in LA? Universal Studios Hollywood 

A family posing for a selfie in front of the Universal Studios globe.

My family and I were itching to get out of our comfort zone and experience more movie-themed magic at Universal Studios Hollywood. We were excited to check out the thrilling rides, live shows, unique stores and mesmerizing scenery in California. We found the charm of the movie-making industry evident everywhere we looked. This is the special sauce that makes Universal such a must-see destination. There is so much to experience at this theme park, yet you can pack a lot into one amazing day there, too. 

Los Angeles is the world’s entertainment capital. So, unsurprisingly, the Studio Tour wasn’t just one of the best things to do at Universal Studios Hollywood — it was a highlight of our visit to Los Angeles.  Besides providing a remarkable glimpse behind-the-scenes of some of our favorite shows and movies, it was a fun change of pace. The World-Famous Studio Tour was a massive hit with the pop culture buffs in my house, and the thrilling WaterWorld show also made positive impressions on our family. We had an absolute blast on our trip to LA! 

Universal Studios Hollywood! is the world’s only authentic, working movie studio and theme park, and it is a fantastic place for a family vacation. With some planning, thoughtful consideration of your family members’ interests, and the will to have some fun, you can have a fabulous, memorable trip to Los Angeles.

What five Los Angeles attractions do you want to see on the Hollywood Plus Pass? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Reply Ivan Bismarck Schmidt Rodrigues July 11, 2024 at 2:51 pm


    • Reply Digital Guest Communications July 11, 2024 at 5:38 pm

      We can’t wait to walk the red carpet with you, Ivan!

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