Where to See Christmas Tree Lightings in San Francisco
Get up-to-date on where to see beautiful Christmas tree lightings in San Francisco.
You’ve dreamt of this moment for years, and now the time has finally come: you’re going to Universal Studios Hollywood, one of the most famous attractions the Golden State has to offer. Receiving up to forty-thousand visitors in a single day, Universal Studios makes the list of the top ten most visited parks in the USA. And with amazing attractions such as the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride and a Jurassic World ride, it isn’t hard to see why. This movie park is truly an exciting place to be for children and adults alike.
To top it off, the park received a thorough modernization in 2018, installing new rides and making the classics better than ever before. Of course, visiting Universal Studios Hollywood can seem somewhat daunting, given the huge crowds and the long list of rides. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the luxury of sheer choice, but fear not, as this guide will fill you in on all the need-to-know stuff so your visit to Universal Studios is as fun as can be.
Much like many other American success stories, Universal Studios has humble beginnings. It began as Universal City, CA, a large studio city in the San Fernando Valley with its own mayor, police, and a working farm. At the time, only guided studio tours were available to the public, and it wouldn't be until 1964 that the modern iteration of Universal Studios opened its doors to the public. In the ensuing decades, the park flourished into a major attraction filled with multiple different rides based on the blockbuster films produced by Universal Studios. There are currently around twenty-two rides, shows, and attractions at the park.
One important thing to know if you’re visiting Universal Studios Hollywood is that they have flexible ticket pricing. This means that entrance tickets tend to be cheaper on weekdays than on public holidays and weekends. Ticket prices will also vary by the season, with busy times such as Easter and Christmas being more expensive than off-season periods. If you play your cards right, your Universal Studios Hollywood ticket prices can end up being much lower than you might expect. Note that all entrance tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood are good for one entire day.
The standard entry ticket typically costs between $106 and $145 for adults and between $100 and $135 for kids ages ten and older. This assumes you are buying the tickets in advance, something we highly recommend doing if you plan on visiting Universal Studios Hollywood during the holidays. That means a visiting couple can spend as little as $212 to get in, and a family of four can get away with spending just $412 for entry, which is a decent deal, all things considered.
Of course, even with the entrance tickets, you are still going to be standing in line for all the rides, shows, and attractions. If you’d rather skip the line and buy time for a more fun-packed day, we recommend getting the Express Ticket. Of course, convenience comes at a cost, and Express Entry tickets range from $195 on regular days to $285 on the busiest days. So a couple paying the lowest price can get an express entry ticket for the entire park for just $390, whereas a family of four will pay $780. That means potentially hundreds of dollars in savings, to say nothing of the hours you’ll save as well.
If you’d rather not deal with the hassle of figuring out your transportation arrangements, you can also buy travel packages that sort this out for you. Certain companies offer transport direct from your Los Angeles hotel to Universal Studios Hollywood, allowing for a seamless, worry-free holiday experience. Hiring a minivan typically costs between $140 and $200 for roundtrip service.
Possibly one of the most iconic studio tours Los Angeles has to offer, the VIP tour tickets are a must if you want to experience the full package of everything Universal Studios has to offer. With this ticket, you get exclusive access to behind-the-scenes where Universal’s classic blockbusters were created and where new flicks are being filmed every day. You get to see Universal Studios Gate 1 and take a peek behind the scenes where your favorite Universal films were made. If you’re a film buff, this is the ultimate Universal Studios Los Angeles for you. Tickets start at $362 per person, and on top of the tour, you also get unlimited express entry to all rides, attractions, and shows, a gourmet meal, and access to the VIP lounge.
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Originally known as Jurrasic Park: The Ride, this iconic attraction at Universal Studios first opened its doors in 1996 and was closed in 2013 for a major overhaul. Today, the modernized attraction remains the centerpiece of the park and easily tops the ranked list of rides at Universal Studios. This is in part thanks to its advanced visual effects and lifelike animatronics that make this a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
This is a water ride, so guests board a boat that takes them on an exhilarating roller coaster ride that will leave them soaked. As you glide through the lush tropical setting, your boat takes you through a wild land where scary yet majestic dinosaurs try to eat you. When it comes to sheer wow factor and grandeur, this ride trumps all others and is a must for anyone visiting Universal Studios Hollywood.
This is one of the newest rides on the Universal Studios Hollywood map, but it has quickly become one of the most popular since its soft opening in 2016. This attraction features two main rides. One of these is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a dark ride that transports you through the magical world of the Harry Potter universe, complete with authentic props from the movie, a Quidditch match, Dementors, and a life-sized replica of Hogwarts itself. The other ride is Flight of the Hippogriff, Harry Potter-themed outdoor rollercoaster.
Ever since the first installation was released in 2010, Despicable Me has become widely popular with kids and adults alike thanks to its whimsical story and, of course, comedic Minions. These little yellow guys have been a true hit, so much so that they even got their origin story film in 2015. Minion Mayhem takes things to a whole new level by using virtual reality to “turn the riders into minions” before taking them on a fast-paced adventure. There are a few more exciting ways to have a true Minions experience.
There are way too many gourmet dining options at Universal Studios Hollywood to list here, so we’ll stick to the highlights. We highly recommend using the park’s free WiFi to download the Universal Hollywood App to your phone, as it features detailed information on all the dining options Universal Studios has to offer. The app also has detailed info on Universal Studios Hollywood hours and wait times, which is quite handy for navigating this massive place. It’s also a great idea to bring plenty of water because you’ll need it after a hot day of walking around the park.
That’s right, the iconic Simpsons city of Springfield is at Universal Studios Hollywood, and it just happens to be one of the best places for food in the entire park. As you might expect, the dining options here offer classic American fare but with a Simpsons twist. That means you can get the classic pink donuts that are Homer’s favorite treat, but also delectable fried chicken and biscuits from Cletus’ Chicken Shack. You can even enjoy nonalcoholic Flaming Moes at Moe’s Tavern with Barney.
With all the hustle and bustle of the park, you might opt for food on the go so you can explore as you enjoy a snack to keep going. For that, there are few better spots at Universal Studios than the Palace Deli & Market. Located in the upper lot, this place features to-go classics such as deluxe sandwiches, hardy turkey legs, sushi, and cheesy quiches.
Since you definitely will visit Jurassic World at least once, you’ll be glad to know that this section of the park also includes the Jurassic Cafe, a delightful Costa-Rican-style eatery. Here you can enjoy Central American classics such as citrus glazed chicken, tropical roasted chicken salad, juicy pork, and so much more. The food is delicious here, and it makes a refreshing change from standard amusement park cuisine.
Get up-to-date on where to see beautiful Christmas tree lightings in San Francisco.
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