4 Pro Tips to Dine and Lines at Universal Studios Hollywood

If you’re visiting Los Angeles, you’ve probably been warned of the biggest menace locals and tourists alike face—the traffic. This is true even in theme parks, where at Universal Studios Hollywood long lines and crowded conditions can add stress to a day of fun, but trimming the waits can be expensive. Thankfully, we’ve put together our tips to minimize the lines without paying the fine—and enjoy some good dine(ing) while we’re at it.



LA Traffic: while Universal Studios Hollywood is an excellent theme park with some exceptional attractions, probably the major place where the park leaves room to be desired is in their line management. While plenty of improvements have been made with the Harry Potter additions, many of the old attractions have unimaginative lines that can drag on during crowded days. Unfortunately, they have yet to address this in the California park with the return-time system they offer in Florida, meaning the only way to avoid the lines is with the expensive (think $70-120+ daily surcharge) Universal Express system, which allows you one pseudo-front-of-line experience per each attraction in a given day. Unless you can only attend on the busiest days of the year, this add-on is wholly unnecessary, and provides poor value especially with a large party who may want to visit different attractions at different times of day.


Save on Lines via Visit Date: Especially for those with young children (who often want to ride the same kid-friendly rides again and again), it almost universally makes sense to skip the Express and time your trip for a less crowded day.  Unlike Disneyland, it’s a lot easier to capture one of these, as Sundays tend to be significantly less crowded and most weekdays outside of school holidays even more so. That being said, those of you looking for more concrete scheduling tips can look to the Gold Annual Pass’ blackout calendar—as the middle tier, it offers an abundance of dates including Saturdays and holiday periods that are projected to be less crowded as those blocked, so going on a day that pass is valid but Silver is not will usually give you lower crowds than if you based off the almost one-day-priced Silver pass’ availability (where the open days may attract so many passholders it could negate the lower desirability for the day).


Save on Lines via Timing: once you’re in the park, your key to peace is to follow our classic advice of avoiding popular mealtimes and starting your day with the most popular high-wait attractions in the Lower Lot. Save the studio tour for a lull in midday, and enjoy Harry Potter either at the very beginning or very end of your visit. Be sure to arrive at park-open if you’re planning a one-day conquer-all—and follow our tips HERE for a detailed itinerary.


Saving Time for Special Dining: unlike some other SoCal attractions, Universal Studios Hollywood’s park itself does not hold an abundance of must-try dining options, and we overwhelmingly recommend Citywalk and the local area for the bulk of your culinary experiences in LA. That being said, the park does offer a few special options for those hoping for a worthwhile splurge. The Three Broomsticks in the Harry Potter area offers surprisingly large-portioned hearty meals for the cost (two adults who’ve eaten a good breakfast could share a large lunch platter), and Moe’s Tavern near the Simpson are offers comically oversized (and delicious) donuts that will satisfy the family with high value-for-cost.


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