Is this the hardest blog I’ve ever been asked to write? Quite possibly. Picking just ten things to do at Universal Studios Hollywood is a daunting task! There are infinite permutations of how your day at Universal could be spent — dozens of once-in-a-lifetime encounters, jaw-dropping rides, and iconic characters you simply need to take a selfie with. So, just whittling Universal down to ten things seems unfair.
But who am I to say no to a challenge? Behold: the ten things you simply have to do at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Snap a Pic at the Universal Globe
C’mon, do it for the gram. The iconic Universal Studios Hollywood globe is instantly recognizable, and will make your friends and family wish they were there with you. It’s the first thing to do at Universal Studios Hollywood. From there, you can walk the red carpet right into the theme park, which you obviously also need to take a photo on. And what’s more quintessentially LA than a glamorous red carpet pose? LA bucket list item: check.
Meet the Icons on Universal Boulevard
Within two minutes of walking through the Universal gates, you’ll run into someone you know. No, probably not your neighbor or someone you went to middle school with. Universal Boulevard is crawling with instantly recognizable characters, including Marilyn, Hello Kitty, Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Gang, and so many more. Stop for a second to snap a selfie with these classic characters — it’s one of the most delightful things to do at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Raise a Wand at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The magic is real at Universal Studios Hollywood. No, seriously. Traipse through Hogsmeade, the wizarding village home to the delicious Three Broomsticks restaurant (the sticky toffee pudding is out of this world), Honeydukes sweets, Hog’s Head, and so much more. Ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and then celebrate with a delicious Butterbeer. C’mon, you really thought you’d step into the wizarding world without flying through the air at some point? Plan your visit with our guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Channel Your Inner Pup at The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash
Do you ever wish you were a kid again? What about…a puppy? In Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash ride, you’ll get to do just that. In this family-friendly dark ride, Max, Duke, Gidget and Snowball take you through the apartments and streets of New York to get you to a pet-adoption event. You’ll appreciate the craftsmanship, too: this ride features 64 animated figures and a variety of practical effects which make you feel like you have stepped into this popular movie. Check out our deep-dive guide to the ride for more info.
Pose with a Minion
It’s easy to feel like Illumination’s beloved Minions are literally everywhere these days. Maybe you’ll even notice the giant one looming over Universal City on your drive to the theme park. But have you ever gotten up close and personal with one? Now’s your chance. Head over to Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and take a picture with everyone’s favorite mischief makers. But, be warned: Universal Studios Hollywood cannot be held responsible for whatever kind of shenanigans the Minions try to pull on you.
Peek at Hollywood Magic on the Studio Tour
It’s iconic for a reason. The World-Famous Studio Tour has been a staple of the Universal experience for decades, and is still one of the best things to do at Universal Studios Hollywood! As in the movies, the special effects have only gotten more impressive throughout the decades. Peep the great white from “Jaws”, familiar movie sets, and immersive ride experiences inspired by the “Fast & Furious” franchise, “King Kong” and way, way more. Plus, television and movies are actually shot on the Universal lot — so you just might see someone you recognize.
Take a Stroll Through Springfield, U.S.A.
“Simpsons” fans will love all the opportunities to geek-out in this section of the park. My favorite thing to recommend in Springfield, U.S.A. is The Big Pink at Lard Lad Donuts. It’s a “Simpsons”classic. From there, head over to Krustyland to play carnival games, including Eye Carumba!, The Full Nelson, Dunk or Flunk with principal Skinner, and so many more.
Get Up Close and Personal with Dinosaurs at Jurassic World
All your childhood dinosaur dreams (and nightmares) come alive at this thrilling attraction. First, there’s Jurassic World – The Ride, a water ride that gets you face-to-face with both the Indominus rex and the Tyrannosaurus rex and ends with a gigantic splash. If that wasn’t enough dino for you, snap a selfie with the most vicious of reptiles, Blue the Velociraptor, at the nearby Raptor Encounter. For more intel, take a look at our guide to the Jurassic World section of the park.
Level Up at SUPER NINTENDO WORLD
Step inside the world of Super Mario at this newest addition to Universal Studios Hollywood! At this Lower Lot world, you’ll snap selfies with Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Peach, explore Bowser’s Castle, and take a ride on Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge. When it’s time to recharge, nosh on Piranha Plant Caprese and Super Mushroom Soup at the Toadstool Cafe. If you’re anything like me, you’ve always wanted to punch one of those ? Blocks — With a Power-Up Band, you can do just that and get a digital coin. Check out our guide on SUPER NINTENDO WORLD for all the details. In the words of Mario himself: Let’s-a go!
Have Your Mind Blown at WaterWorld
Based on the ‘90s flick with the same name, this show is a can’t-miss event. It features insane pyrotechnics and special effects on land, water and in the air. The story told during the show takes place after the events of the movie, but don’t worry, you don’t need to have seen “WaterWorld” to have a blast (pun very much intended) at this attraction. Be warned: if you sit in the first five rows, there’s a good chance you’ll get some splash. For the full scoop, read through our guide to the Waterworld show.
WHEW, we made it. Congrats, team! If you’ve never visited Universal Studios Hollywood before, hopefully you have a good jumping-off point for planning your trip. But I know how this works: some of you are definitely going to have a different “top ten” than I do. So what’re yours? Let us know in the comments below.