What’s better than being a guest at Universal Studios Hollywood? Being a VIP guest at Universal Studios Hollywood. Don’t get us wrong , every day at Universal feels like magic. But the VIP Tour feels like…well, extra cushy magic.
So what, exactly, does it mean to be an A-lister at Universal Studios Hollywood? In the VIP Experience, you’ll explore the theme park with a super knowledgeable tour guide, in a maximum 13-person group. The tours last a minimum of five hours and include one (truly delicious) meal, an extended Studio Tour, unlimited Express Pass access, and — well, let’s just get into it, shall we? Here’s everything you need to know about the VIP Experience at Universal Studios Hollywood.
THE PRE-TOUR PERKS
When you hear the words “VIP,” it’s fair to assume you’re about to be peppered with sweet, sweet perks. The VIP Experience at Universal Studios Hollywood is no exception to the rule. And, lucky for you, those fun little bonuses begin the second you arrive at Universal. Here’s what you can expect before you even start the tour:
- Valet parking. This is a huge perk! Just roll up to the main entrance to the Jurassic Parking garage, hand your keys over to a Team Member, and they’ll take it from there. No fretting over losing your keys or forgetting where you parked — you’re a VIP now.
- Complimentary refreshments. Enter the VIP lounge (just look for the red carpet to the right of the entry gates after security) for a comfortable, air-conditioned waiting area before your tour. There, you can enjoy a complimentary spread including bagels, coffee, and other light bites.
- Sun protectants. You’re about to spend a full day in a theme park — there’s no such thing as enough sunscreen! Guests have access to complimentary sunscreen ,lip balm, and ice water in the VIP Experience Center.
Once your group is assembled, fed and sunscreened up, it’s time to explore Universal Studios Hollywood — VIP style!
The tour guides are what make the VIP Experience truly one-of-a-kind. First, they’re perhaps the most knowledgeable folks you’ll ever meet about all things Universal. As your tour guide leads your small group through the theme park, they’ll hit you with factoid after factoid. It’s an inundation of anecdotes to use at your next cocktail party.
Do you know which other major studios you can see from the escalator on the way to the Studio Tour? Or what iconic 80s film the facade of Saul & Sons in the New York section of the theme park is based on? Or who dubbed Universal “the strangest city in the world”? Your VIP tour guide does.
Beyond a sky-high Universal IQ, the tour guides are there to help make your experience exactly what you want it to be. Each VIP Tour is different. Your Guide is given an allotted time to take your group to three things: the Studio Tour, the WaterWorld show, and lunch. Other than that, they have room to improvise. That means there’s lots of time for rides via Express Lanes. While you can’t completely tailor the experience to every little thing that you, personally, would like to do — you are on a group tour, after all — the guides are able to take your input into consideration.
THE STUDIO TOUR
The Studio Tour is your chance to see the ins and outs of how movies get made. But on the VIP Experience, the Studio Tour brings you just shy of straight-up making the movies yourself. While General Admission guests stay on the tram, VIP guests get to hop off and walk the sets. The exclusive access of movie and TV sets — plus certain luxe amenities — make this unlike any other Studio Tour you’ve experienced. In addition to all standard Studio Tour experience, VIP guests have access to:
- The VIP Trolley. Forget the tram, you’re a trolley rider now! Part of being very important means riding on a special trolley, complete with complementary ice water.
- Soundstage stop. Learn how movie magic comes to life inside one of Universal’s massive soundstages. You might walk through rooms that look totally real — until you learn all the walls are removable for lighting and camera access.
- Edith Head Costume and Prop department. Named for the legendary 20th century costume designer, this building homes hundreds of props used in iconic films throughout time. Just one rule: you break it, you buy it. So I’d keep my hands to myself.
- Walk on a real set. VIP guests get to hop off and explore iconic movie sets on foot. It could be New York City, or Courthouse Square, or Colonial Street, but each tour is slightly different.
NOTE: These are all real, working sets! Therefore, all VIP Experience tours are subject to availability based on production schedules and other factors. Each tour is a little bit different.
VIPs? Wait in long lines? What a ridiculous concept! With your Universal Studios Hollywood VIP Experience comes an Unlimited Express Pass, meaning you get to use the Express Lanes on every ride in the theme park. That means less time waiting, and more time riding. We made it onto seven rides during my VIP Experience.
And the best part? The VIP Experience is the only way to bypass the general queue for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge. The regular Express Pass doesn’t come with that perk.
But the VIP Experience isn’t just about skipping lines, it’s about the little things. It’s all about removing friction from your day. Here are a couple examples of little luxuries on the rides:
- No Ride Locker Necessary. VIP guests can just hand their bag to their tour guide as they hop on a ride, who hands it back when you get off. Easy peasy.
- WaterWorld Seats. Snagging seats for this crowd-pleaser is no sweat when you’ve got VIP seats waiting for you.
PRO TIP: Your VIP lanyard functions as an Express Pass for the remainder of your day at Universal Studios Hollywood! If you’re a real thrill-seeker, snag a spot on an early tour — then hit the rides via Express Lane until the theme park closes.
You’ve done everything at Universal Studios Hollywood, you claim? Bet you haven’t eaten at VIP Dining. If you haven’t already done the VIP Tour, you definitely haven’t. I mean, I hadn’t, and Iwork here.
VIP Dining, tucked in the Parisian (so you know it’s fancy) portion of the Upper Lot, is the VIP-only dining room. During your VIP Tour, you’ll enjoy a one-hour, all-you-can-eat experience here. And I do mean enjoy. VIP Dining has (arguably) the tastiest food available at the theme park and CityWalk. The whole buffet is delicious, but I especially recommend the mushroom risotto, the melon and prosciutto, the caprese salad, the asian cucumber salad — I could go on. And, you know what? I will: Don’t forget to save room for gelato, cheesecake and cookies.
The elevated menu, plus free phone charging stations and visits from Universal characters, makes VIP Dining the perfect oasis at which to refuel during a jam-packed day at the theme park.
Here are the nitty-gritty details you need to know:
- VIP Tours start at various times throughout the morning. The number of tours per day varies by season and day of the week.
- Tours are capped at 13 guests each.
- Tours run for a minimum of 5 hours.
- Children must be at least 5 years old to attend, and 17 years old to attend without an accompanying adult.
- Book your VIP Experience here.
- VIP Private Experience tours are also available. Call (818) 622-8477 to reserve yours.
THE SPOOKY VERSION
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the combination of two of the best parts of Universal Studios Hollywood: VIP + Halloween Horror Nights. It’s called the R.I.P. Tour. (Genius.)
The R.I.P. Tour differs slightly from the regular VIP Experience, but the bones (har-har) are the same. You’ll get a guided walking tour of the event, one-time express entry to each haunted house and available attractions, the Terror Tram backlot experience in a VIP trolley, and gourmet dining experience, and more. Check out the full details here. But basically, it’s the VIP Experience, plus a whole lot of guts and gore and jump-scares. Hell really is a place on Earth.
So, should you splurge on the VIP Experience? The short answer: yes. But let’s break it down and see if it makes sense for you. The VIP Experience is awesome for…
- Universal superfans. If you want to soak up every last thing the theme park has to offer, the VIP Experience is an absolute must. As I mentioned, certain experiences, like VIP Dining and the up-close Studio Tour, are only available to VIP guests.
- Folks who want a cushier experience. Treat yourself! Theme park days can be long ones — make yours a truly relaxing visit with the VIP Experience.
- Entertainment buffs. Even the biggest film nerds can learn a thing or two from the brainiac VIP tour guides.
- Parents of young ones. Tired of planning every single little detail of the family vacation? Your VIP tour guide has got you covered. Parents will appreciate someone else taking the lead for a jam-packed day!
Overall? Going VIP totally elevates the Universal Studios Hollywood experience. Whether you’re a first-timer or have an Annual Pass, put this one on your bucket list.
What part of the VIP Experience are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments below.