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Universal Studios Hollywood Review

War of the Worlds set on tram ride Sarah Auerswald

My sons love Universal Studios Hollywood, and I must say, I had a great time myself. The Universal backlot was turned into an amusement park years ago to maximize profit from the land holdings the studio had, and it has turned into fun for tourists (and locals) ever since.

Universal globe Sarah Auerswald

My eldest son got to visit Universal a few years ago with a school group, but my youngest had yet to get there and, may I say, was quite jealous. And I hadn’t been since way before I had kids, so when the chance came for us to visit as they launched Grinchmas, we jumped at it.

me & the kids at grinchmas tree Sarah Auerswald

We were treated to passes for the park, in exchange for this review.

My first impression was that it was a very small, manageable size, but that belies the massive amounts of the park that lie at the foot of the long escalators. Built into a hill, Universal covers over 300 acres in all.

The park consists of rides, shows, food & shopping, and it’s connected to CityWalk, a mall with shopping, eating and a movie theater.

The Shows

I remember seeing the Waterworld show a thousand year ago when I last visited, and it’s still there. The Grinchmas show runs every holiday season, and there are many more, including the animal actors show. But my kids and I were there for the rides.

Sarah & Raptor Sarah Auerswald

The Rides

My youngest had heard so much about the Transformers Ride, we had to go for that one first. It was about a 40-minute wait, not great but not too bad, because they have a video & audio show playing while you move down the line, which is very thoughtful of them. The ride itself is part simulation, part moving around, and it’s very well done. You absolutely feel like you’re in a firefight with a couple of giant robots, and you fear for your safety at times.

We skipped the Jurassic park ride because I didn’t want to get wet – I know, I know – and we instead headed for the Simpson ride. This one is hilarious, and they also play videos while you wait – of the Simpson episodes! Since my kids and I have seen most of the episodes ever created, we loved waiting in that line. Again, super thoughtful of them.

kids in line for Simpsons Sarah Auerswald

The ride is a simulation where the car you’re in moves straight up to a point that all you can see is the projection screen over your head and all around you – and then the screen makes it feels like you’re riding a rollercoaster and flying into Maggie’s mouth, all animated of course. It’s an incredible illusion and gave me motion sickness a little bit. Too real. But fun. And the kids loved it.

We saw a life-sized Homer and Marge, too – and shopped in the Kwik-E-Mart, a total thrill for us Simpsons junkies.

War of the Worlds set on tram ride Sarah Auerswald

Bates Motel on the tram ride Sarah AuerswaldWe also took the famous Tram Ride Tour of the Universal front lot, as it’s called. It was really fun, especially the King Kong experience, the shark from Jaws and the earthquake simulation, although we didn’t see any stars walking to their trailers along the way. Oh well.

giant guitar at CityWalk Sarah AuerswaldThe Food

I will say it’s nice they have lots of food options in the park, but they weren’t the best food we’ve ever eaten. Since CityWalk is so close and there are so many other options there, if you are looking for a better meal, I suggest you get your hand stamped and come back after eating at one of the spots in CityWalk.

The kids and I had a ball walking around Universal and I think it’s worth going with kids for sure. We appreciate being given passes for this review.

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Sarah Auerswald (598 Posts)

Sarah Auerswald is the CEO and Co-Founder of MomsLA. She writes about life in LA while raising her 2 sons and is the founder of MarVistaMom.com. She was an English Major at Brown University, and yet nowadays feels free to ignore grammar rules anytime she wants. Like Now. She's married, uses a Mac, and grew up in Hawaii.


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